A person’s eyes are the windows to their soul, a peek behind the curtain, giving away true emotions in a heartbeat. Eyes are always a fascinating characteristic of individuals, they can be altered synthetically with color, size and shape. It is a futile effort at the end of the day, because eyes also unconsciously adapt to our moods, telling the whole story without saying a word. Fire and fury, cunning, pure joy, pain, all emotions that are easily portrayed through the eye and create deep feelings in others around. When Tana Man told me, “My mom always told me that I was what you see is what you get,”, he must have been referring to his lively, bright eyes that immediately catch one’s attention when he walks in the room. A somewhat sleepy energy (a little of that loud weighing the eyelids down) but focused and ready to go hard at a moment’s notice, Tana Man has been rocking the mic for more than a few years down on the Southside of Atlanta. His energy has carried him throughout his long, crisscrossed across the South journey, which recently brought him up to the Farm festival in Milwaukee, where I was fortunate enough to put my gas up next to his. His energy has allowed him to work above and beyond supporting his family while continuing to hit the road to support his music career, and build up his catalogue of music with artists across the country.
Born in Birmingham in 1987, Tana Man was a musical child from the start. He loved listening to music on the radio in the car. Hearing the songs once or twice, he would have them memorized and belt it out alongside the tracks until he earned a, “Shut the fuck up!” from his mama, a memory damn near everyone must share. He moved from Birmingham to Georgia, and then to Memphis, and back to Georgia, and then made his way back on over to Memphis to finish up high school. He never lost his love of music as hip-hops beat carried him forward. It was during this hectic sprint through high school, Tana Man picked up the pen for the first time. After initially working with groups, he split off to focus on himself. At the ripe age of twenty, right when he was beginning to get a little momentum going with the mic, Tana Man was blessed with his first biological child, a son. This brought the total of his young clan to four, with his girl and a 6-month-old stepdaughter. These quick additions to his young life, unsurprisingly, drove Tana Man to grind even harder to make sure his kids were always laced up in the freshest gear. It wasn’t an easy transition, but the love for his new family always drove Tana to go to 10. That might explain why one will never find anything less than the highest potency gas in Tana Man’s blunts, he’s got to find time to release his mind during the grind. Odds are, he’ll be posted by a waterfall too, letting the words work themselves through his mind, cascading onto the page.
It is not easy to change ingrained behaviors, the daily hustle and grind that drive one, regardless of the potential harm on oneself or those around them. To put it more simply, it isn’t fucking easy to step away from money in the streets and stay on the straight and narrow, the Friday paycheck route. Tucking ones’ pride, understanding what is truly important and putting someone else’s future above oneself isn’t behavior that gets rewarded in larger society. It’s there is no gold star for rock solid behavior. It is good that Tana Man could give a fuck about a pat on the back, if it isn’t moving him forward, he isn’t going for it. It was more than a few years ago that Tana Man found himself tied up, facing 10 years on a heroin-trafficking charge, and when he beat the case it was a sign to him that he needed to shape his shit up. He moved to Atlanta from Decatur, where, “my Uncle had a job for me, at the World Congress Arena. I didn’t want to do it, I felt like I was devaluing myself by working for ten dollars per hour,”, which made sense, given the lifestyle he had been living, “I had to work myself back into normal society.”. His duties as a father kept him focused, the love that his kids had for him and the pain that he saw in them when he was locked up awaiting trial hit him deep. “We had been doing video visits and my kids were on the camera and my daughter just burst out crying, she didn’t understand why I couldn’t come home”, was a moment that permanently etched itself into his brain, becoming a guiding light whenever Tana Man needs a reminder as to who he does this for at the end of the day. People will walk away from you, partners that you once had will snake you over circumstances that you never could have imagined would have split you up. But family is forever, so family is who he does it for.
If it hasn’t yet become clear, Tana Man is a constantly evolving beast. At heart, he is a grinder and a hustler, his end goals have simply pivoted as his life has changed around him. He is always looking to better himself, whether it is in the studio, as a father to his six children, or building his network within the industry. The ability to not only take criticism, but go even further by seeking it out from new sources, is a characteristic trait of every successful artist. Baring ones’ soul on a track can be an incredibly intimidating concept, but Tana Man relishes the ability to continually push himself as an artist. He realized that he has been lacking visuals for many of his older songs, “Songs that are like two years old, I’ll still have people messaging me asking for the video, so I’ve really been trying to work on adding more videos,”, which is without a doubt key in the video driven world of hip-hop. Tana Man may have spent life on an ever-changing road, but his priorities got him cruising dead straight now. It took him stepping back and understanding how much his kids were depending on him. From turning down pool parties from 3Flyy (a damn hard choice, one I couldn’t make) to running his kids to school in the morning before getting to work in time to get off to spend more time with the family, Tana Man has been rockin’ his lane for a minute. The grind never stops, but it is nothing but love for the grind from Tana. Surrounding himself by go-getters and other strivers is what gives him the focus to go above and beyond his parental duties in chasing his dream. He has a solid collaborator in DTigg$, a Milwaukee to Atlanta transplant, the two of them clicking on track after track going crazy out the speakers. He has a new project coming out before the end of 2020, titled Organic Juice. He has been taking his time with is, plotting every move out to make sure he has the entire package fully loaded and ready to go when the release day comes. Make sure you check him out on all the socials, follow the YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, etc., and stay tuned, because Tana Man is coming for your ass.