Nov 14, 2023 - Music

Tee Grizzley distances himself from peers with new record

Tee Grizzley in Atlanta

Tee Grizzley in September in Atlanta. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty

It wasn't always clear how long Tee Grizzley's momentum would last.

  • It's been six years since "First Day Out" became a national smash, but the rapper admitted last year that during the pandemic, he learned video game streaming could be just as lucrative as making music.

Why it matters: Despite consistently releasing projects during that time, Tee had become an afterthought among Detroit's deep bench of street rappers who have been winning over local listeners and national critics over the past three years.

  • But in 2023, Tee, born Terry Sanchez Wallace Jr., firmly reclaimed his title as the most visible and commercially viable Detroit rapper of the last half decade.

Catch up quick: "First Day Out" still roars at concerts, house parties and clubs like "Sweet Caroline" at baseball games.

  • One of the most watched Detroit rap videos ever, its 270M views since November 2016 introduced the masses to the city's style and earned Tee a record deal.
  • Since then, he's made music with everyone from Lil Yachty, Lil Durk and Chance the Rapper to Meek Mill and even Kanye, back when that was his legal name.

Driving the news: The 29-year-old rapper gave away free chicken pitas at L. George's Coney Island on Joy Road this month to promote his new album, "Tee's Coney Island."

What he's saying: "It's just me getting back to my roots, for real," Tee told CBS Detroit about his new project. "I've been in this for a long time and I just wanted to bring it back home."

State of play: His commercial aspirations have never been more apparent — "Tee's Coney Island" includes features from Chris Brown, Mariah the Scientist, Machine Gun Kelly and 21 Savage.

  • But he's still connecting with homegrown talent: The album includes the City Girls-assisted remix of "Gorgeous," from the joint album with Skilla Baby, which seemed like the city's song of the summer.

Of note: Tee is friends with City Council President Mary Sheffield, who presented him with a Spirit of Detroit Award this year at a community event.

  • Sheffield also brought Tee and Skilla Baby to Cass Tech last school year as a surprise for students.

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