On The Record: Tailz
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Ewa Beach hip-hop recording artist Kerry “Tailz” Smith is currently in the most productive phase of his music career. While life couldn’t get much better than it is now from a professional standpoint, steps towards any sort of national acclaim have only just begun for the 27-year-old.
The chance to make a name for himself outside of the comfortable, sometimes unruly confines of the local music industry with his mainstream ready raps may seem like lofty goals for some, but Smith believes the time to make his move is now because he’s all about setting his goals high and expectations even higher.
Backed by his latest studio album, “Lavengers presents Music Major,” Smith, who moved to Oahu from Las Vegas as a boy in 1992, finds the Hawaii hip-hop spotlight shining on him as bright as ever.
“My parents instilled in me at a young age to stay ready so that you don’t have to get ready,” he said. “I like to take things a day at a time. I don’t expect things to happen, but I do try to put myself into position and speak things into the atmosphere for them to happen and if they do, they do and if not, we keep working.”
Since the release of “Music Major” on Soundcloud, promotional efforts have been firing on all cylinders as the rapper known as Tailz has performed to capacity crowds while opening for Wiz Khalifa and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony in recent weeks.
“One thing that I’ve found is that you have to believe in yourself first,” he said. “You have to believe that you are on the same level as the greats, if not better and that’s just with the music.
“As for the business, what the industry really is, I’ve learned that you have to be on your A-game all the time. You cannot procrastinate.”
While it’s impossible to determine the exact residual impact of the performances other than album and song downloads, there are dozens of rappers who would have done just about anything to be in his shoes. From likes, retweets and comments on social media combined with spins by local DJs at the clubs, the work has paid off.
“Over the years I’ve done shows here and there, but never back to back like these past few months,” he said. “Nothing in life comes easy, and nothing in life comes free. The opportunities that I have been blessed with are just a small reflection of the sacrifice and work that has been going on behind the scenes. At the end of the day, it all starts with believing in yourself first and taking action.”
In a nutshell, “Music Major,” led by club-friendly single “Peaches,” is a well-crafted collection of radio ready tunes that well defines the times, tendencies and trends of young America. If the sounds of Drake, Schoolboy Q. and DJ Mustard were family members, the solid audible efforts and topical material of Smith would be a first or second cousin.
“The whole ‘Music Major’ idea came from me going back to school,” said Smith, who is taking online classes via Florida-based Full Sail University.
“This project is different from my last mixtape because it was organized and had a meaning behind it. I also believe that I’m also on the same level musically as the Meek Mills of the industry. I may not be out there with all the press but God willing one day I will be!
“As far as the music industry goes my vision of success is to one day get recognized and take home a Grammy!”
While the focus of Smith and the Lavengers squad will continue to be placed on the future, they continue to forge forward with confidence and resilience. Positive self talk, constant reminders to remain two steps ahead at all times while paying special attention to detail have made the planning, numerous phone conversations and late nights in the studio well worth the ride. What’s to come next is even more exciting.
“I’d rather make music here than anywhere else because the amount of people creating music here on a professional level is nowhere near the number of people creating music on the professional level in Atlanta, or California,” said Smith.
“If we’re speaking on terms of independent unsigned artists, the market for hip-hop in Hawaii is still growing. Outside of that I believe as long as you have young people, you’ll have hip-hop fans, from there it’s all about letting them decide whether you got something hot or not.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.