Lil’ Teddy was a student of mine when I taught Digital Media at Clark High School. Every week I would give him an assignment and he wouldn’t do it. Instead he would make a mixed tape album cover. It didn’t matter what I would ask him to do, no matter what he would make an album cover. At one point I remember sitting behind him watching him scroll through stacks of hundred dollar bills for 10 minutes. This kid was totally on his own agenda.
During mid semester I needed to give him a grade and he hadn’t done any of the assignments. I asked him to show me what he’d been working on all year and he showed me dozens of album covers. These album covers were dope. He clearly knew what he was doing. I asked him why he was so invested in making all these album covers and he replied, “ Ms. Akasha, I’m a rapper.” A friend of mine is a sound engineer and deep into making beats. I asked him if he would be interested in recording some high school kids rapping and he obviously said yes. We turned the theater at the CAC into a makeshift recording studio and invited Lil’ Teddy to record a few songs. He asked if he could bring his best friend Tarrence Hilfiger and we told him we’d be honored. When they arrived we told Lil’ Teddy he could make the lights any color that he wanted. He chose red. Then I told Lil’ Teddy that we could project anything he wanted on the theater screen and he said “Ms. Akasha I want to see molten hot lava.” Lil’ Teddy laid down his first track in a bright red room with volcanic eruptions of molten hot lava exploding in the background.
A couple days later at school he asked me to take some photos of him in some ubiquitous street wear label. I asked him why and he said that he wanted to be famous and was hoping that if he hash tagged the clothing line they would notice him. Jac had just asked me to shoot a lookbook for DNO so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for Lil’ Teddy to get some exposure. He was also really hyped on the brand. Intuitively we invited Tarrence Hillfiger.
The other two models are my friends Stash and Derris. Stash is a super talented rapper and Derris is a gifted photographer. They’re not in high school but are great humans. I asked them to be involved in the shoot because I felt like they would vibe well with Lil’ Teddy and Tarrence Hillfiger. It was really cool to see them all interact during the shoot – good vibes for days!!
Photographs by Akasha Rabut