Tiko Texa$ sits in her backyard porch, twisting a Fronto leaf as she turns on a chopped and screwed remix of her latest mixtape, titled “Purple Soul.”
“Slim K and the Chopstars reached out to me about doing the project, I never even asked them. Which is crazy to have these big Houston names reaching out to me, telling me, ‘We wanna drop it on your birthday,’” she said.
Taking it further back, Tiko Texa$ is a female rapper who’s worked with the likes of musicians such as Madeintyo, Rome Fortune & OG Che$$. Hailing from the “Mo City” community of Houston, Tiko currently spends her time residing in Los Angeles.
Professionally rapping since 2012, Tiko Texa$ has since released three mixtapes, each titled, “Chanel Purse & Gold Teeth”, “281”, a reference to her hometown’s area code, and most recently, “Gold Soul.”
Ever since hearing Nas’ “One Mic” in elementary school, Tiko knew she was interested in rapping. Forming a group in the 6th grade with her sister and two friends, titled “4GK” (4 Ghetto Kids), Tiko and her companions would spend their time writing raps and calling record labels.
“[The record labels] would play around with us, knowing we were just kids,” she reminisces.
That aspiration didn’t last forever though, as coming from a family of doctors and engineers, Tiko’s surroundings weren’t the most encouraging to start a rap career. Taking the route so many American students do, she went to college and minored in writing.
After graduating, Tiko set her eyes on establishing a career in the acting and modeling industries. She came out to Los Angeles for the first time in 2012 to pursue acting. Following a string of gigs, such as starring in a USC short film, she began to get attention from the modeling world.
“I actually had the chance to sign with modeling agencies back then. But they told me that they’d be watching my social media very closely, and I felt like they were [trying to] turn me into something I wasn’t,” she said. “In the end, it wasn’t my first love like music was, and I just didn’t see it as worth it.”
Tiko eventually met musicians Brooke Candy and Count Mack, who were living in the same apartment complex as her at the time. Living with strict muslims, Tiko resorted to smoking outside. During one of her outdoor bouts, Brooke and Count Mack ran into her, welcoming her to come to their apartment. It was through them that she began freestyling and taking rap as a serious venture.
“We was sharing $5 pizzas together, me, Count Mack and Brooke. We were broke as s***. We didn’t have s***, but a dream,” Tiko notes as she reflects on the times she spent with the duo. “[Brooke] was stripping for Azealia Banks for f$500, like what? I remember she wanted me to go and I was so scared! I was like, ‘nah I can’t go, I’m gonna be a rapper!’”
Early on in her career, Tiko was tagging along to record label meetings with associates. After being told she’d have to give up her image and have her material written by others if she wanted to make it, Tiko became disenchanted with the concept of label politics. This is no more evident in her first officially released song, a freestyle titled “FTI (F*** The Industry).”
The following year, Tiko experienced her first taste of the rap scene at the movie festival South By Southwest. Following showcase performances, she had a chance encounter with the elusive rapper and now close friend, Lil B. Handing him a hard copy of her mixtape, she didn’t know what would end up of it. To her surprise, he tweeted her a shout out from his Twitter account the very next day, which at the time had nearly one million followers.
Fast forwarding to present time, Tiko’s latest mixtape, Gold Soul, was premiered through Complex Music on March 10. Compared to her first two projects, Tiko delves in much more personal subject matter, such as heartbreak and betrayal.
Speaking on the change in style, she commented, “Making trap music is fun for a while, but if you really want a legacy, you need to make music that resonates with people.”
Halfway through our interview, we’re interrupted by the blaring noise of a police helicopter riding overhead. Pausing her train of thought, Tiko laughs, “That’s the thing about LA. Crazy s*** all the time.”
But the insanity doesn’t phase her, as she goes on to say she feels most home in Los Angeles, as if it were exactly where she was meant to be.
Having distributed most of her music digitally, Tiko attributes the internet for many of her close relationships. So much that the executive producer of all her projects, Trill Spector, has never met her in person, staying across the country.
“I have no idea what Trill Spector looks like. He could be black, white, purple, green, I don’t know. But that’s the beauty of the internet, it connects people from around the world.”
Tiko has big plans for the future.
“Bigger houses, bigger shows, free shows for the people. I have a song with Lil B coming out soon, and eventually when I work on my debut album, my friend Big Sean promised me a feature. I’m gonna continue to grind,” she said.
Tiko Texa$ can be found on Instagram and Twitter at @TIKOTEXAS, and her music can be located through her SoundCloud profile, soundcloud.com/TikoTexas.