It is a fact that few rappers nowadays live the life they talk on track, so it is refreshing to hear up-and-comer Teno bring rare, uncensored realism on his debut Field Trip EP.
Growing up in a hamlet near Shropshire and home-schooled throughout his childhood, Teno defected from the mainstream and embodied a hip-hop lifestyle from early. Boasting a far-reaching reputation as a lyricist since the age of 13, Teno – initially know as Jay – began uploading YouTube videos of himself freestyling over classic boom-bap beats on his friends independent channel. By age 15, Teno became introduced to multiple high profile hip-hop artists from hitting UK festivals, which furthered his intense interest in UK hip-hop. Soon he was spitting on stages at parties, raves, almost anywhere a microphone was set up. Around this time, Jay changed his rap alias to Teno and began dropping freestyles more consistently. In 2016, Teno featured on his most viewed freestyle to date, alongside Split Prophets – filmed in Bristol by JMB Media. Around this time, Teno formed a rap posse from his close friend circle and named themselves Mucky Goonz, who collectively released freestyle videos online and hit stages for a time. In 2015, Mucky Goonz released their 4 track debut EP, Living Mucky which included a feature from Res One of Split Prophets. Afterwards, Teno featuring freestyles for a channel called Rogue Ethic, which Teno became closely affiliated with.
From 2016 to 2017, Teno went quiet from releasing music but re-emerged early 2018, when a video of Teno spitting the O.D.T. Freestyle was uploaded onto Facebook by a friend in late January. Rhymed over 50 Cent’s notorious ‘Beat Down’ instrumental, the video accumulated over 20,000 views in two weeks. The attention it received led to Teno being contacted by This And That Media, to feature the bars exclusively in a freestyle for their channel whilst on another wavy weekend in Bristol. The ‘O.D.T. Freestyle’ was the first concept and track recorded for Teno’s long anticipated solo EP, Field Trip. Produced entirely by Sertee, the whole project was recorded over a single weekend. This if anything shows the clear-cut chemistry between rapper and producer. Instead of looking for bigger features, it seems that Teno wants his own rhymes to do the talking. However over the seven tracks featured on the EP, there are also two guest verses from Swerve and J Twenny.
The Field Trip EP opens with ‘Daydreaming’, an informal introduction into Teno’s thought processes. Speaking with a tongue-in-cheek drawl, Teno daydreams a load of fuckry, providing explicit insights into his hardened perspectives. This leads into ‘Slippin’, where Teno continues to spit straight bars for heads to relate to – it’s unmistakable that every word is true, as he describes almost falling off the edge. ‘O.D.T’ is the all familiar track three, which if you haven’t heard yet; mucky as fuck. Next is ‘Recognise’ featuring J Twenny, where Teno shares experiences of more mucky shit he did in his past, defining his driven personality. Track five is ‘Gutter Music’, which packs grimey flows and more gutter lyricism, reflecting on a lifestyle spent hustling. It features a slick verse from close affiliate Swerve, who comes in and duppies the beat with his own deep-set thoughts. A standout track is ‘Opiate Nightmares’, where Teno rhymes with a storyteller flow to describe his raw experiences of real life opiate nightmares. The project ends on a hype with ‘Shots By Neto’, featuring a trappy beat which switches it up from the gritty bangers, proving how Teno can still turn up a rave.
Overall the Field Trip EP is a dynamic demonstration of Teno’s lyrical potential, compact with illicit themes which only real heads could relate to. On average, each track is two minutes long with few hooks, so rhymes come fast and relentlessly. Every instrumental compliments the emotions portrayed through each track perfectly, Sertee deserves props for his heavy contribution to the project. Although the mixing is rough in some parts, the ruggedness is traditional to the sound of independent and especially debut hip-hop releases. The wordplay is frank, forthright and takes little interpretation, whereas the unique flows further distinguish Teno as no amateur emcee. This is a strong release, despite being left with the feeling that Teno’s best may still be yet to come.