After watching Tah Mac’s Lavish Lifestyle music video I’m expecting to meet an OTT, bling-obsessed rap star dripping in diamonds. On screen, lounging poolside, he juggles handbag dogs and scantily-clad hooker-likes, rapping about helicopters and landing pads (you know the bling ‘n’ bitches hip hop of yesteryear?). It all just seems so…2001. I mean, isn’t it bad taste in these financially troubled times to flagrantly flaunt one’s fortune?
So it comes as a relief to find that, in person, Tah Mac (real name D. Tah Macintosh) is slightly more humble: ‘I don’t want anybody to get Lavish Lifestyle misconstrued. That record is to make people understand that to every dark day there’s a brighter side to it, and we will get through this situation. And no matter if you’ve got £5 or £50 in your pocket, you can still party until the sun comes up. It’s what you make of life.’
The LA-based, Brooklyn-bred producer and singer has just released album Welcome 2 Tahland, and he’s currently on a UK university tour to promote it. Those unfamiliar with his work can expect conventional American hip hop with British influences and a veritable list of featured talent including ex-Sugarbabe Mutya Buena and Cee-Lo Green from Gnarls Barkley. I meet the teeny André 3000-esq songster at his hotel (the Wyndham Grand Chelsea Harbour, no less) to find out what he thinks of our fine capital…
‘It’s no different to New York City, where I come from. Obviously it’s a bit slower, but it’s still the same vibe. No matter what ethnicity we are, it’s still the same people and we still know how to have fun. It’s cool. I love it. I actually look at it like it’s a home away from home. I’ve been here several times before. I know how to get to Marble Arch, I know how to get to Trafalgar Square, I know how to find various night life things to do. I like the Tate Modern, I like to go to museums - you know things of that nature; quieter places, outside of work. I like the West End, I like to go to Brick Lane, I like fish ‘n’ chips. It’s a melting pot. Just like New York City.’
What was the process of making Welcome 2 Tahland?
Lavish Lifestyle was introduced to me through DJ Lethal and another producer by the name of Tony DeNiro. I had just flown back from here to New York and I went straight to LA and I had this record that featured Aretha Franklin on it – myself and Anthony Roach from The Charlatans, we worked on it together – but I couldn’t get the record cleared in time. So we said: “I need a record that’s going to take me over the top right now”. Ritchie Kotzen (Poison) came in and put down his guitars, and Cee-Lo and Troy Wimbley put their vocals down, and the rest was history.
‘Give Back was a record that I sent to Shania Twain’s management, I sent it to Mary J Blige’s management, I just needed somebody that was going to help me make that global impact. So Mutya stepped up as she was working on her solo project. I was working on tracks for the album that didn’t make the album, and she said “no matter what, I’m gonna be on this song.”’
Who would be your dream musical collaboration?
‘Well as I look at this hotel there’s a mural right there with John Legend, John Lennon and Tupac Shakur. So there’s no such thing as an unheard of collaboration. I’m a big fan of Morrissey right now, very big fan. I’m a big fan of Duran Duran. I was watching in my room that Spandau Ballet’s about to go on tour. It’s amazing. A collaboration that I would like to do right now, that will affect people, is somebody like Sting.’
So all British acts?
‘Because hands down I appreciate the British culture. I think that because the global market has opened up with the Kanyes and the Akons, and the reason we’re making music the way that we’re making it, is because we’re travelling. Once the mind wanders it opens up to other avenues, and that’s what I can appreciate about the UK and Europe - it’s the gateway to the rest of the world.
‘You know I’m on Twitter right now and I’ve got so many different people following me and I’m following those that are in the same mind state as me, we all speak the same language universally, and you just never know who’s paying attention to your situation.
‘The other day I’ve seen Dustin Hoffman following me. Which means something’s happening. It’s a bit nuts. I like it, but I think it’s over my head now. You’ve got Puff Daddy on there and he’s got over 200,000 followers and he’s putting out so much positive energy. It’s about what your day-to-day situation is, and for like-minded people knowing what your situation is about. To see people such as Barack Obama on there, to the Mayor of London - you’ll wanna follow people of that nature. You wanna see what’s going on in their world; how they’re feeling.’
What’s your dream venue to play at?
‘Madison Square Gardens and Wembley. Or that rugby stadium…Twickenham. But doing that stadium I would like to bring out like the least expected people; a star-studded cast such as Rod Stewart…and I’ll have Cliff Richard rock out with me…we’d have an amalgamation of alternative to hip hop to rock, across the board. If I were to ever do a stadium like that it would be a circus.’
Who do you get your fashion inspiration from?
‘That lady right there (gesturing to his stylist at the bar) she’s styled various people. Obviously I love fashion. I love art. I love that bow tie or I look at that skinny tie and I wanna amalgamate these sneakers with those slacks. It’s just understanding to break that theory of a mould, where certain people have that stigma of thinking that a hip hop artist is supposed to have half a million dollars worth of jewellery and some baggy shirts and baggy jeans. Whereas music…is just music.’
Welcome 2 Tahland is available to buy now.