Hailing from Louisiana, Dallas-based rapper and R&B singer Topnotch4real is on a mission to bring his brand of soulful R&B sounds to the forefront. Born Louis Taylor, Topnotch4real is multi-talented, but he focuses his time on writing songs and producing his own instrumental tracks. This summer, he plans to share his talents with the world upon the release of a new project.
“I’m dropping a new album called S.O.U.L.,” Taylor says. “I will be releasing it in two installments.”
The first installment of S.O.U.L., called Sounds of Unique Love, will contain four of eight tracks and will be released in June.
“It’s going to be real deep, soulful sounds,” Taylor says. “Jazz and blues have always been rooted in me. When it comes to me, man, my music is not a sound, it’s a feeling.”
Taylor plans to release the second installment of the album, Something Original, Undeniable Lust, 30 days after the first release. If the name is any indication, the second installment will contain more sexy, sensual tracks, Taylor says.
It’s not surprising that the artist's upcoming musical projects are titled in the form of acronyms. S.O.U.L. follows up his 2018 album, S.E.L.F.I.S.H., which stands for "Someone Everyone Loves and Finds Intriguing by Staying Humble."
Taylor cites the likes of Tupac Shakur, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Marvin Gaye and Bobby Womack as musical influences.
“These are people that were very profound,” Taylor says. “People that touched people with their music. Music is something that I’m very passionate about. I don’t think of music as something that can be done by just anyone. You really have to have the passion and the craft, because it can move masses.”
Taylor says he also hopes to move masses with his music and to create works that are timeless and will make an impact.
“Let’s bring that back,” he says. “That real R&B authentic music. The skits, the interludes, the jazz samples. All of it.”
When Taylor makes music, he is a one-man show. Although his vocals are reminiscent of old-school R&B, he incorporates modern production techniques into his tracks. His latest single, “Autumn Sunday,” is a rap-sung track, delivered over a slow beat with light bass touches.
While Taylor is aggressive with his raps, his vocals show off a softer, smoother side of himself.
“Think of my music as David Ruffin, but with Metro Boomin’ on the beat,” he says. “That soul is there to keep you rooted, but that bass and those drums are there to keep you updated. The music won’t sound like someone’s grandmother is cooking in the kitchen. The beginning might, but when that beat drops, you’ll know that you’re ready to turn up.”
Before he started making music of his own, Taylor produced tracks for the likes of Hurricane Chris and Dorrough. He also produced visual content for NFL teams, including the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins. In 2009, he was named one of the fastest rappers on YouTube after posting a live in-studio performance of an original song of his called “Take it Off.” He was ranked among the likes of Ludacris, Bizzy Bone and Tech N9NE.
In addition to writing and producing all of his songs, Taylor directs his own photo shoots and videos and coordinates his own releases without any major label backing.
“You put me in a room, and one man will get done what you’d have to pay 20 people to do,” Taylor says.
While Taylor has proven skillful in various creative aspects, he admits that sometimes he wishes he could direct his energy toward one.
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“One of my biggest struggles as an artist is balancing the roles of artist, producer and engineer,” Taylor says. “Sometimes, I can’t truly put my passion all into one talent because the other talents need to balance out as well. It’s kind of hard wearing all of those hats.
“Music is always going to change. That’s why I look to make timeless music. You can’t put a time frame on music. If something made you happy back then, I feel that you should get the same feeling when you reminisce on it."
But Taylor's playlist isn't stuck in the past, and he says artists like Youngboy Never Broke Again and Jay-Z are constantly feeding his musical appetite. Nevertheless, he still thinks young artists make the mistake of not aiming for longevity.
"I feel a lot of the music coming out today isn’t timeless, it’s just for the moment," Taylor says. “And I mean, it can really make you move around and bounce, but there’s nothing there that’s just sticking. It’s not really leaving a legacy.”