Today Reach Records and rapper, Tedashii celebrates the release of his highly anticipated fifth studio album, NEVER FOLD. As the follow up to his 2016 critically acclaimed release, THIS TIME AROUND—NEVER FOLD continues the journey while boldly exploring new soundscapes and styles. Heralded by chart-topping singles like “Gotta Live” featuring Jordan Feliz and lead single, “God Flex” featuring Trip Lee—the 17-track project evokes the Texas-bred rapper’s renewed creative vision and commitment to persevere. The album also features appearances by LeCrae, Crowder, 1K Phew, Jarry Manna, Parris Chariz, Sara Reeves and Kam Parker.
Inspired by the pointed declaration of Luke 9:62, which states, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and turns back is fit for the kingdom of God,” NEVER FOLD gives us the Tedashii we know and love: fully transparent and self-aware. He’s a man who’s been tested time and time and again. And while he may have the battle scars to prove he’s been in the trenches, his infectious joy and strength remain intact. “I want to invite others to join me on this journey,” says Tedashii. “Not just to see what God has done, but what He’s doing now. Never Fold is a reminder to never back down.”
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A Personal Testimony In Album Form| Posted April 12, 2019 What You Need To Know: Born to Samoan parents, Tedashii grew up in Lufkin, Texas. Now in his early 40’s, Tedashii’s family resides in Denton, Texas. He first came to know Christ as his Savior during his freshman year at Baylor University, and it was also during his college years that he began to take music seriously and explore his talents and passion for hip-hop.
Since 2006, T-Dot’s released five full-length projects and one EP. His last album, Beyond Paradise, dropped five years ago. Therefore, a great deal of hype awaited current release Never Fold and its 17-track offering on March 8. Tedashii based the project off of the teachings found in Luke 9:62, which states as follows: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and turns back is fit for the kingdom of God." To Tedashii, “Never Fold is about celebrating life in the midst of adversity. It’s a reminder to not succumb to the pressures of life when in the end, it’s what makes diamonds of us all.” (Reach Records profile biography)
What it Sounds Like: As expected due to the extended number of tracks, a variety of styles are explored throughout the project. CCM (Christian Contemporary Music) guests including the likes of Crowder, Jordan Feliz and Sarah Reeves, the culture of trap, and just straight bars are all battle tested throughout the 17 tracks. However, the overall sound that prevails is “feel good” music that begs the listener to simply smile.
Standout tracks lyrically include “Full Effect,” “Hold Me Down,” “Splash II,” and “Get Out My Way.” Such tracks pinpoint hope, encouragement, and celebrating life while also focusing on Tedashii’s personal skill set beyond a mic.
Spiritual Highlights: Tidbits of Tedashii’s faith walk are sprinkled throughout the album. “Home” featuring Crowder portrays the parable of the prodigal son from Luke 15:11-3 in a renewed way. “I’m skating on thin ice (Yeah) / and my hope is within Christ (Yeah)” resonates deeply for those listening knowing hope is available regardless of our failures.
“It Is Well” serves as the ending of the project and is bittersweet. A featured unknown female vocalist sings the renowned hymn in the Samoan language, adding even more of a beautiful undertone of worship. CHH’s own Swoope tends to the keys for the track, serving as a refreshing surprise.
Best Song on the Record: Lyricism is always a personal draw for me, relating to a personal love for hip-hop. Therefore, “Son of Sam” steals the accolades of best track from the project. Essentially, the track summarizes Tedashii’s five-year hiatus from hip-hop while spilling out emotions of anxiety, depression, and doubt. However, one of the staples of CHH is the hope bound to the music. Even though transparency depicts personal struggles, reconciliation, and a leap of faith, solutions are interjected, proving his testimony stronger than ever.
Final Word: Never Fold is a collection of artistry, worship, celebration, and clarity defined. Tedashii takes fans on an elongated journey detailing a roller coaster ride of emotions from the past five years. He beautifully bridges the gap between CCM and CHH, yet hasn’t forgotten how to appease hip-hop purists either. This project possesses a certain complexity which warrants repeated listens and careful inspection to capture all of its beauty within. Much of what fans deal with on a daily basis in the form of emotions and hills and valleys are depicted throughout. Thankfully, also offered is the reality that God loves and heals all situations regardless of their nature. That hope is painted continually from start to finish. Rarely do artists of our culture take the time to lay out their story on an album, and a unique treasure is revealed from Tedashii’s heart - enjoy wholeheartedly.
Worth the Wait| Posted March 09, 2019 Never Fold is the fifth studio album from Tedashii. The 17-song, 54-minute album is his follow-up to his excellent 2016 EP This Time Around and is his first full-length album since 2014’s Below Paradise. He did release a few songs in 2017 and 2018 that are not included here (“Way Up”, “Messenger” and “Splash”, though a revised version of the latter song is included), and two that are, “Gotta Live” (featuring Jordan Feliz) and “Smile”. It’s been way too long since we got a new full-length album from Tedashii, but the wait has definitely been worth it. The album features a number of special guests, among them Lecrae, Trip Lee and Crowder, and he uses multiple songwriters and producers. Never fold and the pain of losing his son Chase are themes that shows up throughout the album.
My favorite songs are “God Flex”, “Get Out My Way” and “Gotta Live”. Here are a few comments about each song on the album. There’s a Heaven – This song is written by Justin Lay, Sean Hamilton, Jimi Cravity and Tedashii, and produced by Hamilton and Cravity. This short opener features distorted vocals over keys. God Flex - This song was produced by Daramola and Cardec and written by Daramola, Cardec, Jacob “Biz” Morris, WHATUPRG, Ace Harris, Trip Lee and Tedashii. It features Lee and Daramola on vocals and Swoope on orchestra. This is a hard-hitting song that will pull you in right away. The song was based on a real moment in Tedashii’s life when God showed up less than a year after his son Chased died. He had to let go of pride and humble himself to see God as good. Trust God, he is going to show up in your moment.
Key lyric: But he gonna swing low in the chariot and carry me home Get Out My Way – This song is written by Cardec, Wes Writer, Lecrae and Tedashii, and produced by Cardec. This song features a great collaboration with Lecrae. It’s a hard-hitting song. Every day is a struggle. People are throwing stones and trying to make them stumble. They’ve taken a lot of hits but they are getting through it. Son of Sam – This song is written by Zach Paradis, GAWVI, Chad Gardner, Daniel Steel, Derek Minor, Andy Mineo and Tedashii, and produced by Minor. The song features a brief intro from Mineo. On this song Tedashii shares his struggles after losing his son Chase. He’s trying to figure out who he is. He’s all alone and struggling, but encouraged by friends. He feels like he’s dying from grief, suffering panic attacks. His heart is getting harder to heal. Home - This song is written by Alex “Juice” Hitchens, Mashell, Zach Paradis, Ace Harris, Tedashii and Crowder. The song is produced by Paradis, Mashell and Harris, and features Crowder on the chorus. In a passionate vocal, Tedashii sings of hurt and grief. He did his best, but confesses that he needs God’s help, who gave him love that he didn’t deserve. He refuses to waste a day. The electronic drums shine on this track.
Key lyric: Looking for the shade where the trees are dead Trying to find my way to the peace inside Splash II - This song is written by Zach Paradis, Mashell, Ace Harris, Iggy Music, Wes Writer, Parris Chariz, Jarry Manna and 1K Phew. It is produced by Paradis, Harris, Iggy Music and Mashell. The song uses the same chorus as “Splash” featuring 1K Phew that was released in early 2018. Other vocals are provided by Jarry Manna and Parris Chariz. This upbeat song is about making a splash for God. Water – This song is written by Zach Paradis, Tumeh Gailor, Royce Munroe, Lloyd Musa, Ace Harris, Jeremiah “Sick Pen” Bethea and Tedashii. The song is produced by Paradis and Harris. He sings of being cleaned by the water and how Houston made it through the flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Diamonds – This song is written by Steve Tirogene, Sean Minor, Jamal Wesley James, Dustin “DAB” Bowie, Desmond Jamal Rasberry and Tedashii. It is produced by Tirogene, Minor, and Desmond South. The sound features a good beat driven by the percussion. He’s got a lot of pain his heart, trouble in his soul and feels like he has the whole world on his shoulders. He has a lot of pressure on his body but diamonds are made just like that. Life will test him each day but he’ll never fold, he’ll get through.
Key lyric: I got blessings on the way I can see a better day Step into Love – This song is written by Jordan Sapp, Sarah Reeves and Tedashii. It is produced by Sapp and features Reeves on the chorus. Life has been hard and he almost gave up. People may change but God is always the same, so why should he quit. We need to step into love like you've never been hurt before. The song features keys and a good beat driven by electric drums. My Lifestyle – On this song Tedashii sings of battling depression and grief. The devil put him through hell, but the Lord helped him through it and gave him a reason for living. He’s still unashamed and with the people he came with. Gotta Live – This song was written by Chris Howland, Zach Paradis, Jordan Feliz and Tedashii, and produced by Ace Harris. The song, which features a memorable chorus, features Feliz on vocals, and reached number one on Billboard’s Christian Hot AC/CHR chart. Tedashii has said that this song is about perseverance and encouragement. Life is meant to be lived as the gift from God that it is and we should see that as a reason to keep going and never fold.
Key lyric: Everybody has their doubts but you can't stop now Hold Me Down – On this song Tedashii expresses appreciation for those who stick by his side. He sings of doing what he does for his family and a cousin in prison. He tries to love his enemies and use their energy. The song ends with a young rapper on the last verse. Smile – This song was written by SAK PASE, Philip Green, Marquis Rachad, Ace Harris and Tedashii and produced by SAK PASE. It was first released in early 2018. Tedashii has said that the song, with its easy going and uplifting rhythms and singing, fits the mood of what he wanted to create to help people smile and have joy. DJ Blak offers additional vocals.
Key lyric: Life is hard, but it's getting better We all harmed, but the scars, they not here forever All In Love – This song is written by Kelvin Wooten, Kameron Glasper, Chris Owens and Tedashii. It is produced by Chris King and features Kam Parker on the chorus. This is a song to Tedashii’s wife who has been with him through it all. With her he been blessed, feeling like he hit the lottery. Full Effect – This song was written by Wesley E. Smith Jr., SAK PASE, Ace Harris and Tedashii and produced by SAK PASE. Tedashii brings a confident vocal on this song. He’s in his element, at his best. He sings that life is curtains, drawn back, but God came to open the blinds and let the sun in. Won’t Bring Me Down - This song was written by Tyron, Boosen, Joshua Toala, Cardec, Evan Ford and Tedashii. It was produced by Tee-Wyla, Cardec and Ford. The song features a female vocalist on the chorus. God never told him that it would be easy, just that He would be with him through the nightmares and broken dreams. His help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121.2) It is Well – The closing song is a short version of Horatio G. Spafford’s 1873 hymn “It is Well With My Soul”. The song is sung in another language by a female vocalist. It is a beautiful, piano driven, song.