Detroit rapper Tee Grizzley scored a viral hit with his debut single, "First Day Out," which appeared on YouTube in late 2016. The song's raw lyrical approach and visceral storytelling connected with millions of fans and put Grizzley on the map. Within months of the release of his 2017 mixtape My Moment, the rapper was signed to a major label and on tour with 21 Savage. Multiple mixtapes and studio work like 2018's Activated cemented his reputation as a ruthless lyricist and a powerful force in his era of rap.
Tee Grizzley was born Terry Sanchez Wallace in Detroit in 1994. Originally part of the Allstars BallHard crew and known as ASBH Tee, he served a jail sentence of nearly three years for armed robbery. After being released, he recorded the harrowing, slow-burning "First Day Out" with producer Helluva. The song was a regional hit and racked up millions of views and streams. Its success led to Grizzley signing a deal with 300 Entertainment, supported by major-label Atlantic. A handful of singles were released during the first few months of 2017, including "From the D to the A," featuring Lil Yachty. The commercial mixtape My Moment arrived that April and debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at number 44, despite no guest appearances to boost its profile. Following a few more singles, Grizzley and Chicago rapper Lil Durk released the collaborative mixtape Bloodas in December 2017.
Grizzley kicked off the 2020s with the release of several new songs, including "Red Light," "Payroll," and in June of that year, "Mr. Officer," a song that addressed police violence and included guest performances from Queen Naija and the Detroit Youth Choir. That track landed on his mixtape, The Smartest, which arrived that same month. Debuting just outside the Top 20 on the U.S. albums chart, the introspective set featured appearances by Lil Baby, Meek Mill, and fellow Detroit native Big Sean. ~ Paul Simpson