In Depth: Teno // Field Trip EP
Rising rapper Teno put Shropshire on the map last December with his solo debut, the Field Trip EP. A locally renowned lyricist since 2012, from humble beginnings uploading grainy freestyle videos onto YouTube, Teno enhanced his reputation by hitting festivals and smashing stages wherever microphones were set up. By 2015, Teno formed a rap posse called Mucky Goonz, releasing a hard-hitting EP called Livin Mucky. Off the back of this project, Teno gained more opportunities to perform live which further increased his notoriety. Affiliated with Bristol’s infamous Split Prophets collective, in 2016 Teno featured on his most viewed freestyle to date alongside SP for JMB media. Through his Bristolian connections, Teno later became involved with an south-west label called Rogue Ethic, where he continues to feature exclusive content for their media channels.
For a while, Teno took a hiatus from releasing music as he got older and life took over. However out of the blue, Teno re-emerged early 2018 after a video of him spitting the O.D.T. Freestyle lifted from his debut was uploaded to Facebook, accumulating over 20,000 views within 2 weeks. The O.D.T. Freestyle was the first track penned down for Teno’s Field Trip EP. Featuring 7 tracks and 2 features, the EP was praised as a strong release despite leaving the feeling Teno’s best may be yet to come. We caught up with Teno to shed light on his background and to provide personal insights into the Field Trip EP.
Speaking on his upbringing, Teno made it clear that his father was his main musical influence as a youngen. However he also credits his friend Sean Peng for putting him onto UK hip-hop from early. “Props to my old man, most of my musical influences come from him,” said Teno, relieving how his interest in music began. “He used to be a DJ back in the day before he had kids so he’s got a pretty mad record collection. I can remember growing up just hearing all kinds of music from old school dance music, to hip-hop, reggae and mad tribal music. I used to always be updating the MP3 player with all kinds of crazy shit I’d hear my dad playing in the car, or on his record player from the Jungle Brothers or Gangstarr and Public Enemy. I can remember being like 11/12 years old and my mate who I used to skate with back in the day showing me skate edits from Stevie Williams and all the DGK parts. As I was bumping the US shit, I didn't know there was a UK scene at the time really. I met Sean Peng, part of Creatures Of Habit when I was probably 13. I can remember him coming round for smokes and showing me Jehst and Kyza tunes, Skinnyman, Task Force, and all that Junkyard shit.”
“Straight up, bumping the US sound for a while, I noticed the US rappers glamorised different stuff to the UK.” said Teno, speaking on his attraction to UK rap in comparison to the US. “So as soon as I heard the UK scene and what they were spitting about, the different flows, it was just gritty man. You can relate to it a bit more obviously, everyone lives on an estate or a ghetto or whatever. Everyone goes through rough shit. But yeah, just the grittiness and how much of the stuff I could relate to really. Compared to the US stuff anyway, I ain't driving around in no Cadillac with gold chains and shit.”
As a young teenager, Teno became a keen skateboarder and started practising graffiti handstyles to pass time. “Straight up, just keeping it mucky bro.” said Teno, answering what else kept him busy aside from hip-hop. “Skating about, making links, getting influenced a lot by the music really. Graffiti and stuff, shout out my boy 2neker - big ups my day one. He's got handstyles for days. So I'd just cruise around with him, having a go doing some fucking dubs and what not. Just messing around, getting waved really.”
“I was writing bars with my mate Ali,” said Teno, looking back to when he started recording his raps. “A couple people were egging us on, saying to lay a track down. So we got in touch with DJ Buzzword, our local DJ and producer. Hit the studio with him a couple times, made a couple random tunes and put them on Soundcloud and that. From there these guys called Real Eye Nation clocked me and Ali doing a freestyle video. Then Jack, a founder of R.E.N., clocked mine and Ali's freestyle videos and got hold of us. We found out we were all from Shrewsbury - me and Ali thought we were the only ones like, doing it around here. So we ended up linking with Jack aka Kahm, then Kasey who's one of our boys got involved as well. So yeah, just popped off from there really. My boy 2necker who I mentioned earlier ended up serving a bit of time, so we thought fuck it. To honour him we'd do a tune saying 'Free 2necker' and tried to get the EP released by the time he was out. Had a lot of fun and mucky times making it.”
Despite the Mucky Goonz receiving acclaim following the release of their debut Livin’ Mucky, the collective were unable to capitalise on its success as the members disbanded, taking different directions in life. “Straight up, to be honest with you, I got sucked into the muckiness.” said Teno, answering if he felt life changed after Livin’ Mucky. “Nah, literally I love making music and that but I just had a load of personal shit going on at the time. Yeah, just got in too deep with a lot of stuff. It all sort of fell off after we released the EP, I wasn't making much music. Got sucked into drama and dumb shit really. So I didn’t really make much music for a while to be honest. We dropped the Livin' Mucky EP and it got good feedback, people hyped it. Got a lot of love from the Split Prophets lads, did a couple cyphers with them and I got introduced to my donny Senso who runs Rogue Ethic. I bumped into him at Boom-Bap Festival and just clicked straight away, so I started making music with them guys.”
“We done a couple local gigs, shows with Beats and Bars that’s run by Trademark Blud and Tricksta,” said Teno, relieving his most memorable live performances. “Trademark put us on a few times, we done a couple shows in Shrewsbury. Hit up a couple open mics, bare places. Boom Bap Festival, any festivals with a mic I'd hit that. Then just going to hip-hop nights in Bristol, making links and getting about. At the first ever Boom Bap festival I went to I jumped on the open mic, I also jumped on a mic at Boomtown, on the Loose Lips daytime stage with my boy Treece aka Charlie Boy Manson. Check him out, he's sick to be fair.”
As years passed by, Teno continued writing lyrics and came to a decision to compile countless pages into his debut solo project. “Literally, I was sat on pages and pages of bars,” said Teno, answering why he felt it was time to create a debut. “I just couldn't be arsed carrying on doing these little bar videos so I thought, fuck it. I'll pile it all together and see if I got enough for an EP. I then got introduced to my boy Sertee, I got linked some of his beats, felt he had the riddims that I deemed the missing piece of the puzzle really. When he's laying his drums down on his beats, the drum patterns are perfect. He's got an ear for it man, sick producer. He was sending me beats constantly, everyday. So I sieved through which beats I liked the most, put the concepts down and just got busy with it. He came up, I'd never even met the kid before. He came to mine and we literally set it up straight away. Got busy, went through a load of new beats he made and just got straight on it. Next day we had seven tracks done duppied. He did a little mixdown on it, then I got hold of Konchis from Scotland - he's a wizard with the mixing and mastering. Got him to master the project and yeah that’s pretty much how field trip was made.”
Sertee was significant to the release of Teno’s debut, producing the entire project and providing beats whenever needed. Before the projects release, Sertee contributed the instrumental for Teno’s O.D.T Freestyle featured for This and That media last summer. “Shout outs Dom and Todd, them guys are on it - keep smashing it.” said Teno, answering what followed off the back of his O.D.T Freestyle dropping. “But yeah, I uploaded a freestyle / bars video on Facebook which got bare views, it was popping off. Dom who runs This And That Media got hold of me, asked if I wanted to do one of his Sidenote Sessions down in Bristol. He's had sick emcees on it. Res One, Sylla B, Springa, Danja, Index, all the Split Prophets boys, too many too mention, bare man. I was pretty hyped to hop on that really. So I went down to Bristol and recorded the This And That Media episode, and it popped off really man. I had good feedback from it, it was hype. Then some Australian producer called Sypha Prod got hold of me asking to feature on his project so I said 'yeah man, I'll hop onitt.’ He's got Jack Danz and Joe Snow on the project, me, Vitamin G and Adam koots on the project. But yeah, some sick emcees on it so I was hyped to jump on that.”
Teno’s hard-hitting debut Field Trip EP was released December 10th, 2018. Compact with illicit themes and straight up muckiness, the project solidified Teno’s stance in UK hip-hop and provided intimate insights into his illicit lifestyle for heads to relate to. “It all just fell into place nicely really,” said Teno, providing first-hand insights into the concepts of the release. “It all just come together nicely from the first track, which is Daydreaming. Always used to catch myself daydreaming - you can dream anything, be anything in your dreams. So that track goes in on some crazy dreams about this and that, madness really. The second track called Slippin goes into the bars, to sort of relate to... There was a year I was hitting bare benzos and shit, slipped off majorly. It just explains that and whatever. Same as later on in the EP, there's another track called Opiate Nightmares. A lot of people will relate to that, because loads of people been getting fucked on this opiate crisis recently, the benzos and the xanax and all that. Turning into zombies. So people can relate, everyone's been a zombie for a while. When you come back, you realise init. Those that know, know and will relate to that one. The other tracks are just gritty, Teno. The Field Trip EP is just a little insight into the madness, I just make music for people to relate to.”
Teno, thank you for your time. Any final shout outs?
“Yes bro big ups! Yeah man gotta shout out everyone that’s supporting the music, big ups too all my Goonz, my Fine Dining boys and my Rogue Ethic family! And of course my top donny producer Sertee, a lot more ish too come from me and him this year.”
Words by Evo @ethanevo
Photography by Dan Griffiths moonheadmediaphotography.com