In the rap game, often the loudest voice with the most brawn behind it gets the attention. In Seattle, though, there’s a new wave of emcees preparing to flood the market. At the forefront is White Center’s Taylar Elizza Beth (aka Taylar White), a loquacious but soft-spoken talent looking to sonically solidify a new space for herself in the Seattle hip-hop movement.
On her first release, 2014’s The BLK EP, White performed in a traditional, old school hip-hop style with staccato phrasing and verbiage-packed lines. But over the past three years, the 24-year-old rapper has developed a completely new voice, a kind of lean-in-closer-whisper-tone flow, displayed masterfully on her newest EP, Fresh Cut Flowers (set to drop tomorrow).
Given her flexible and intimate style, it is no surprise that White, over time, has developed a new rapping persona. The tone of her latest work makes you feel like you’re hearing secret after secret from the artist until finally it’s clear: she’s got all the tools and the talent to boot. “The new record is like a letter to myself,” she explains. “Music is a way of keeping myself accountable for the decisions I make.”
On Flowers, White, coming off a recent performance at the Upstream Music Festival, is confident, alluring and daring. Listening to the EP, you feel like she can be her own protective mother lion and vulnerable cub all at once – a fierce guardian as well as the young, creative artist still discovering her way.
There’s the opening track, “Synthesis,” which makes you privy to her inner dreamscape. “I will fuck you all up,” she whispers, almost menacingly. Or on “High and Haunted,” where she admits she’s “afraid of myself” while also asserting that there is no slowing down. In “Storm,” Flowers’ most compelling and emotionally vulnerable track, White entreats a loved one to be her “storm tonight” because she can’t “escape the rain.”
White’s emotional range is vast – but one wonders if all of this truth telling and public self-baring is sustainable. To help her along the journey, White is supported by her loving family and close-knit creative community. But what does she do in those times of serious confusion? “Number one, I call my mom,” she laughs. “I will always call my mom when I start to doubt myself or think I’m a piece of shit. She just reminds me of my strength. She listens. She reminds me who I have been my whole life.”
As a performer, White is a dynamo. At a recent gig at the Laser Dome, bits of bright light shot into the otherwise dark theater while White, almost ghost-like, stood on stage and let out a barrage of rhymes. There are few as good as she is holding the mic.
While White has recently established her own voice as an emcee, her community at large is also creating a new voice – even a new sonic movement – for the city. To sustain the momentum, White relies on a crew of local peers – including DoNormaal, SassyBlack, Guayaba and others – who work together in unison with a sense of comradery and creative forethought.
“After you go through so much shit, self-care and community are really important,” she says. “But I want to make it clear, we are all our own entities.”
It’s living in this community that pushes White forward, taking her music to new heights in the face of anxiety, paranoia and dealing with the ever-ticking hands of time that loom over her like some devilish inspiration. She’s even already begun writing her next record and collaborating with more artists.
“In a lot of ways, I feel that I’m running out of time,” she explains. “I know that I want something. I want an end goal so badly but I’m not there yet. But I have this feeling that if I don’t push myself, I’m not going to make it.”
Yet, in some ways, White has already made it. She’s establishing herself in Seattle while creating boundary-pushing rap music. It’s just a case now of letting the rest of the world hear her most cherished secrets.