Hip Hop Artist TAZ Uses Music to Discuss Mental Health Struggles

Taz is a recording artist and entrepreneur from Hampton, Virginia. Through her former web-series The Tazmania Show she’s interviewed many celebrities, and worked for respected companies such as BET, Viacom, and Vibe Magazine. Today, she is CEO of C.A.S. Agency, a full service consulting and entertainment company specializing in media coverage and event production. 

Within the last couple of years Taz has become a hardcore advocate for mental health awareness. After her own battles with depression, anxiety, and losing friends to suicide, she decided to use her platform to bring awareness to it. In January, Taz will be dropping her highly anticipated 5th EP, Mentally iLL. The title serves as a double entendre to represent Taz’s genius as well as her openness about mental illness and suicide.

Ursula: 

First I must ask, how did you not become star struck talking to such big names like John Legend or Neyo while hosting the Tazmania Show?

Taz
I’m not gonna lie, there was always a moment when I had a little bit of butterflies. Growing up, I was obsessed with 106 and Park and Rap City: The Basement. I remember when I got the call for John Legend, Neyo, and Eric Benet. I couldn’t believe it was really for my show!

Ursula

How do you feel about doing music as well as conducting interviews?

Taz:

There’s not a lot of women that do interviews and look like me. That’s how I feel when I look at journalists or podcasters, but the landscape is changing. Naturally I am artist so that was the hard part, trying to contain being a rapper but knowing that interviewing is what I wanted to do.  That’s why I kind of stepped away from doing interviews to finally focus on music. I thought you had to pick one, but honestly that seems to be changing as well.

Ursula
Whenever you write music or look for artists, do you search for more conscious lyricists or is it more of a wide scope? 

Taz
It’s a little bit of everything, I am a natural born lyricist so that’s what I prefer. Still, I love the new sound the younger generation is creating as well.  I think music has a purpose based off of your mood, I can’t just limit it to a certain type.

Ursula

The album drops in January right?

Taz

Yes, January 28th on J. Cole’s birthday. He’s the reason I started rapping so it’s my birthday gift to him!

Ursula
That’s quite the compliment. Why is this EP so important to you? 

TAZ

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All of my music has always had a purpose, but this project allows me to go speak in high schools and colleges. I partnered with NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness. My music has never done this. This album is powerful and brings people to tears. It’s not all dark though. There are also fun turn up songs. Some kids may not be receptive to my speeches, but they’ll be receptive to these bars! I’m talking about some real heavy stuff, but it’s very easy to digest.

Ursula

Will there be a clean version of your album available for younger listeners?

Taz

I do have a clean version of Mentally ILL.  I’ve never made clean music, but they’re booking me to come and speak at so many schools, and I don’t want anyone’s teachers or parents upset about the language. When I go into these schools, I ask students to raise their hand if they ever feel strange or hopeless. There have been times where a whole cafeteria of kids hold their hands up. We can’t stop every person from attempting suicide, but we can start the conversation and make it look cool instead of embarrassing.

Ursula

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Taz
I see myself making a living off of my music and my mental health speeches. I want to get into production, engineering, and song writing for other artists. I see myself  launching the first leg of my version of No Limit Records, Roc-A-Fella, or Bad Boy. I want to provide job opportunities for other people and creators.  Hopefully this album will be the thing that opens up the doors for  the other things we’re talking about.

Ursula
I appreciate you letting me pick your brain and ask you some questions. I definitely tip my hat to everything that you’re doing right now because it’s so positive.  Is there anything else you want to say to our audience? 

Taz
First and foremost, thank you God. That’s the biggest, the number one, the All Mighty because without God this wouldn’t have happened. Also, I just want to give a shout out to the people involved on the Mentally ILL album that helped bring this to life. Mentally ILL was not just the brainchild of me and I just want to give a shout out to Chris Chiles who produced, mixed, and mastered the album. Farro Jarro, he also produced on the album. BJ the Photographer and Beacasso based out of L.A. who shot the cover art. I only have one feature on the project my homegirl, Ventage from California. Shoutout to Kirby Carroll, my publicist. Shoutout to Lady, my fiancé, and NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness for partnering with me on this album.  Finally, I want to announce that we’re going to be launching the ILL Tour very soon so be on the lookout for that.

Ursula

How can people book you or look for your music, merchandise, or events?

Taz

If anybody wants to book me, they can contact me at @TazmaniaShow on Instagram or on our website thecasagency.com. That’s where we have artists, tech events, and networking events.  If you want to download all of my albums or get merch, everything that we talked about today is on my website thecasagency.com.

Written by: Ursula Brantley 

Instagram: Ursulamersel