All Luh Tyler does is “tour, tour, tour” — or at least that’s how he describes things at first. The 17-year-old, who speaks in the same measured cadence and raspy voice heard in his raps, has back to back interviews from his London hotel room this particular July afternoon. Tomorrow night, he’s got his own show independent of Wireless Festival. “When I’m not on tour I'm really chillin’,” he says with a toothy grin over Zoom. Throughout our conversation, the rising star plugs in mundane details like these; remnants from when he led an ordinary teenage life. “I'll just be laying in the bed, chillin’ at the house. Being with my family.”
Just over a year ago, Tyler Meeks had recorded some of his first raps on an app called BandLab. Three months later, he released his first song. Before the new year, he’d signed to Atlantic Records. “It was easy for me,” Tyler, who was born in Tallahassee and is still based there, says of his decision to drop out of high school to pursue music full time. “Probably difficult for my mama.”
It didn’t take long for “the coolest teen rapper in America” to hone in on his sound and cash in on success (and maybe most importantly, ease his mother’s anxieties in the process). Last November’s release of “Law & Order” shortly followed by “Back Flippin” was the one-two punch that propelled him into the mainstream, with My Vision (most of which was impressively recorded in just a week) serving as the strong debut that locked things in. Tyler’s brand of low-stakes yet remarkably focused Florida street rap firmly places him next to peers like Real Boston Richey and Trapland Pat, who’ve both been rapping for twice as long. Most recently, Tyler was featured in XXL’s Freshman Class: “It feels good to get recognition from people now, other artists, ’cause I used to be watchin’ them,” the rapper, who’s already collaborated with Atlanta-based plugg producers and Michigan artists Babytron and Veeze, told the publication. “And now I’m here with them.”
Perhaps the biggest draw to Luh Tyler’s music is his knack at keeping things simple: “Whatever come out of me, that's what it is,” he tells me. “That's how I think.” As GQ put it back in March, The Tallahassee rapper’s music is all in the spirit of “good, clean fun.” BRICK spoke to Tyler about his rapid rise, Southern rap at large, and the mark he hopes his music will leave.
What does a typical day look like for you when you’re not on tour?
I don't get up early. I get up at 12pm or 1pm, get ready, do whatever I have to do during the day. If I got an interview or something, or go perform at a show. After the show, I’ll probably just go to the studio and make some music, then go to bed. I'm finna go on another tour with Moneybagg Yo, and maybe Uzi. I'm going to be home for one week, and then I got Rolling Loud Miami.
That's a lot. It’s obviously really different from what you were doing a year or two ago as a high school student. Was making that decision to pursue music and to leave the typical day-to-day of a teenager a no-brainer for you?
It was easy for me, but my mama was telling me "Nah, you can't leave school yet.” She was like "You think you big now? What if you leave school, and next week it stop working or whatever? Then you done left school for no reason."
How does she feel about it now though?
Oh, she feel good now.
Before you started rapping, did you have an idea of what you wanted to do?
I didn't even want to go to college. But I was ready to get out of school. I'm like, “I ain't going to college, That's four more years of school, I ain't doing it.” So I was thinking getting a trade or something. I can't even drive, but I know truck drivers make a lot of money, so I was thinking about that… or what it called? Niggas who fix the air conditioning, they make a lot of money too. I would do some shit like that. Right now I don't make enough money to invest in stuff, but maybe one day I could invest in land, a business, and then let that money generate.
In other interviews, you mentioned how one of the biggest things that’s changed for you has been your ability to provide for your mom. How has life changed for your family?
They life changed a lot too now. They don't gotta work no more. I really just be doing me and then helping them out. My mom’s still in Tallahassee, she don't want to move. And I'm still out there. I still got most of the same friends, the ones that's been around since I was jit for real. They all stay around, and I still be at the same places. I still be outside.
You don't see yourself going to LA or something like some other artists do, you feel like you're going to stay in Florida?
Nah, LA too big, too crazy. I be telling my mom I want to go down to Miami or Broward or something. Miami my favorite place.
I hear a lot of Miami in the beats you choose. As someone who hasn’t been rapping for a super long time, your music has a distinct identity. How did you hone in on it?
With beats, I don't really know the names of the instruments and stuff. So I have to listen to a song by somebody else that I like, and then I just show the producer and be like, "Can you make something like this?" And then they'll make it like that. Or if I started out with a producer, and they got a lot of beats I like, then I just keep working with him. Xair, he probably my main guy. I just put my email on my Instagram. He sent me a beat through the email, and then I just noticed every time I check my email it says “Xair,” and I'm liking these beats. So then I just hit him up. He staying Broward too, so I seen him down there when I went down to Miami.
Who are some artists from Tallahassee specifically, or even just Florida, that you feel like people need to pay attention to?
It's really me, Wizz Havinn, 50jittsteppa, Real Boston Richey, some other people. I have some unreleased stuff with Wizz. When it comes to collaborating, I don't really care if they got a big follower count, or if they a big artist or whatever. If I like the music, then I'll do a song with them. If I don't really listen to an artist, I probably won't.
Tell me about the process of recording My Vision… It feels very focused, and deliberate, which is a big deal for a debut project.
Some of them songs came from when I was first making music. Some of those songs real, real old.
September or something. I think “On A Tuesday,” I made that in September.
So September 2022 is an old song to you. That gives us perspective of just how fast this has happened for you…
Yeah, that's old, a year. And the song “You Was Laughing,” I made that a long time ago. Then I had went down to Atlanta, when I got in there with MexikoDro, and Popstar Benny, ForeveRolling too. I did a song with Anti Da Menace, we recorded that in Atlanta. I was only there for a week or two, but I didn’t make everything there. I had some from Miami, but most of what was on there - “My Vision,” “Poppin Shit” with Anti Da Menace, “Moncler On My Coat,” they were made in Atlanta.
So, at least 50% of the album was recorded in a week, in Atlanta.
I think it’s cool that you have your bread and butter sound, but can rap on a plugg beat, or a Michigan-type beat, which is something that’s apparent on the album. I think you and Tony Shhnow are similar in that way.
When I seen Tony Shhnow, I asked him who he be getting his beats from, and he showed me everybody: Popstar Benny, MexikoDro, PoloBoyShawty, all them from Atlanta. They got good studios down there, and rappers I meet be down there a lot too. Veeze be down there, DoeBoy, people that I just tap in with when I go there. I only got like 20 songs out now, but I’ve got over 100 unreleased songs. Tony just put me on with them, and then they came to the studio.
I’m assuming you listened to a lot of the early plugg on SoundCloud from a few years back too.
Old Playboi Carti and stuff like that. Yeah. And I don't know what happened to that one guy, but it was that one, “Gassed Up Shawtyyyyy” guy, That song. I used to listen to that.
Yeah, Nebu Kiniza!
Other than finding music on SoundCloud, I wanted to ask if you have ever owned a physical CD?
Nah. I had ... I forgot what it's called. The little MP3 player. I forgot what they're called.
Yeah. That's it.
What kind of stuff did you have on your iPod? What were some of the first things you put on there?
Migos, YoungBoy? I remember that.
That makes a lot of sense because what you're doing feels like a very contemporary iteration of that stuff, plugg being very Southern too. But with guys like Veeze and the stuff coming out of Michigan, what specifically about it is appealing to you?
I like Veeze because I feel like he don't got to try too hard, He just say whatever on his mind. I don't really be into all that serious rap, like the sad rapping, getting deep into stuff. I like just saying fun stuff, whatever. I’d never force myself to say, "I got to make this song like this." Whatever come out of me, that's what it is. That's how I think.
A lot of times the appeal of Southern rap is more the how. A stylistic thing. “What do the beats sound like? How is the person rapping?” Right?
Right, exactly. That's what I'm saying because some people be sounding too serious. Then you got somebody else sounding like, "Oh, they weren't even trying.” That just appeals to me more. Like Young Thug can say anything, and it would sound good.
With your music and the connections you’re making outside of Florida, how do you feel it's going to push things forward? What would you ideally like your influence to be?
To have all the kids coming up and be like, "I want to be like Tyler," or something like that. About how everybody want to be Kodak, YoungBoy, or something like that. We on different vibes and stuff, but I just like how the fans love them.
Earlier you mentioned how you don't really gravitate towards serious or sad sounding music—
Sometimes, only sometimes. I listen to Billie Eilish or like Fridayy.
Do you envision yourself maybe changing things up then? You’ve got artists like Future for example who do a little bit of everything: classic trap, the sad, hedonistic stuff, R&B...
Yeah, changing it up so it don't get old. Try a different vibe and stuff. Whatever the new trend is, hop on that. Right now I don't think a lot of people heard me on plugg beats. I got a lot of plugg stuff, but it's all unreleased. I got a whole bunch of plugg stuff - enough for a whole project.
What do you feel has been the most challenging part of adapting to the music industry and being an artist?
I don't know. My other family members, they think we stupid rich or something like that. They think we can help everybody. Can't help everybody. Not yet.