Irving rapper Coach Tev has already become a playground legend in his hometown, and he has not even turned 30. The young man with shoulder-length dreadlocks decoded the African American matrix and went from the basketball court to paid performances and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas, where he studied film.
The lyricist uses some of the skills he developed at UNT to create captivating music videos that complement his sound and raise the bar for the type of content an artist might create with little or no budget.
As a kid, Coach Tev said, he and his cousin spent summers recording their own music videos and rapping over beat tapes that his dad would make for them. Those childhood efforts would spawn industry-ready records and unique use of static shots in his music videos.
“I never had rap dreams,” Coach Tev said. “After high school, I had a homie who was making music on his laptop, and we went to UNT together, and that’s kind of where I started.” September 2015 was the first time he released a song under that alias and he didn’t start shooting his videos until a few years after graduating.
“At first when I graduated I wasn’t trying to shoot my own because I wasn’t confident enough until I got a job doing it," Coach Tev said. "Then after I was doing that job for a few years I was like, ‘I don’t want to shoot full videos yet, but I can start shooting snippets and content pieces.’” Now he has started building momentum in the Dallas music scene because of his consistent and quality content.
This year hasn’t been fun for any artist who had to cancel shows or delay releases, but Coach Tev found multiple ways to stay in the mix. On March 20, nine days after the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic, he released the music video for "Robin," a cut from his 2019 EP Coach of the Year.
On May 1, while Dallas was under a citywide curfew and quarantine, he released a 17-minute set on YouTube called "Isolation with Coach" on which he sat on a couch and performed a few unreleased joints for his fans.
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Coach Tev said he was watching artists as they tried to find different ways to feed their fans during quarantine and "Isolation with Coach" was the best way for him to do that. “I didn’t just want to turn on my phone camera and put it on live,” Coach Tev said. “I feel like I’ve been giving people quality work thus far, so I couldn’t just do that.”
Now, Coach Tev and his team must find ways to expand their reach, even if he's unable to put on performances or do any touring this year. He said he was in the process of organizing a statewide tour and had just finished a collaboration album with Blake Chris and J08’s when the pandemic hit. He said the plan was to release the album this summer and have a listening party to build the energy around the release, but all of that went out the window.
“We finished it months ago and got it mixed and everything,” Coach Tev said. “But because we know how good it is and how we wanted to roll it out with the listening experience, we had to postpone that. So in the meantime, I had to do make other projects and make sure I still got content coming out.”
Coach Tev has recording equipment at home and keeps his camera and tripod in his car, ready to hop out and film his content when necessary. With uncertainty still surrounding the climate of the Dallas music scene, Coach Tev said he will stay in the lab and continue stacking content and finding creative ways to push his music.