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Te’Jani Turns Dark Thoughts Into Deep Noise

Recording artist's newest EP 'On Prozac' is a vulnerable confessional

A young black man, musical artist Te'Jani, sits on a window sill wearing a sweatshirt that reads, "When I die don't pretend to care."
Te’Jani (Photo by Kat Osygus)

In January, singer-songwriter, producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Te’Jani Inuwa did something he had seldom done before: He celebrated his birthday.

“Growing up poor, my parents never had much,” Te’Jani says. “So, if you asked for anything you were already asking too much.”

Presents were clearly off the table, so by age 11, he vowed never to celebrate Christmas or his birthday.

Yet, by January 2023, Te’Jani relented. On the eve of the release of his vulnerable confessional EP On Prozac, with a release show scheduled at the venue where he cut his teeth as a performer through open mic nights, Te’Jani realized that people wanted to support him.

“[I said], I need to allow them to support me,” Te’Jani says.

Growing up in a religious family, Te’Jani was unmoved by worship music, but when Guitar Hero 3 game came out, he picked up guitar.

Throughout high school, he cut his teeth at Evening Muse’s open mic nights. Attending college at Queens University, Te’Jani focused on a career in track, but he put athletics aside and turned to music. He interned at Black Pearl Studios where he crossed paths with producers, engineers and musicians like Ike Byers, Matt Square, Mike Larry, and Tré Ahmad — Te’Jani performed at Ahmad’s Homecoming concert at Neighborhood Theatre in June — plus video producers Rudy and Judson Kovasckitz.

After gaining recognition with the Living Quarters collective and Summer Camp project in 2020, Te’Jani released his eclectic and critically-lauded Gimp EP, followed in 2023 by On Prozac.

“It’s the culmination of a breakup and accepting how much I was being an asshole,” Te’Jani says.

He wasn’t taking care of himself and ended up in the hospital for four days. He also told his parents that he wasn’t Christian anymore. “That was not received well,” Te’Jani says.

That low point is behind him, and the second half of 2023 promises to bring his name to new heights. Following Ahmad’s Homecoming in Charlotte, Te’Jani played his first show in New York City, a Sofar Sounds gig in Brooklyn in July. He’ll share a bill with local R&B bedroom-pop soulsters Alan Charmer and Cam Cokas at Snug Harbor on Aug. 11.

Behind the knobs, he’s currently recording a new album for Charlotte emo-rockers Dollar Signs in Boone, but plans to take some time off to develop his own new material in the fall.

“I’ve always had dark thoughts,” Te’Jani says. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but as long as I’m here, I’ll be making noise [and] I hope to have an impact on people.”

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