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Tee Grizzley

Who is Tee Grizzley? The Detroit rapper whose life changed on his ‘First Day Out’

Tee Grizzley is a 23-year-old rapper out the West Side of Detroit who exploded overnight in 2017 with his breakout hit “First Day Out”.

The song was literally recorded and released the day the rapper was released from prison. “First Day Out” took off and was able to garner two million views within a couple of weeks and currently has 43 million plays on YouTube.

It didn’t hurt that LeBron uploaded an Instagram video of him singing all the words to Tee’s hit song while working out (the day after the Cavs lost to the Warriors in last year’s NBA Finals), which tripled the song’s sales. So how did a kid who had everything going against him rise from the bottom and become a success?

Tee Grizzley grew up in the Joy Road area of Detroit. Mainly raised by his grandmother, when Tee Grizzley was coming up as a youngin’, he was exposed to the street life — drugs addicts, alcoholics, drug dealers, and constant violence.

He was never really involved in gang life as a kid and stayed on the right path for the most of his life. However, Tee’s mother and father were in and out of the prison a lot when he was young.

Grizz started getting into music in elementary school after being inspired by his uncles who put him on to hip-hop and rappers from his city. In middle school he even started his own group called the All Stars Ball Hard with three of his homies.

He went by the name ASBH Tee and the group frequently posted songs on YouTube.

In 2011, Tee’s mother was sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug trafficking and his father was was murdered one year later.

Despite all of these trials and tribulations Tee was able to become the first person in his family to attend college at Michigan State University, where he studied accounting and finance. However, after running into some money problems during his freshman year, he decided he had to make some extra cash.

Tee Grizzley was arrested for an attempted robbery at a jewelry store in Lexington, Kentucky. A customer in the store ended up pulling a gun on the Detroit rapper and held them there until the cops came.

He was also sentenced to 18 months to 15 years for a series of robberies at Hubbard Mall at Michigan State University that occurred in February 2014. He is permanently banned from Michigan State University campus in Lansing, although he did make amends with some of his victims by paying them their cash back on IG.

It was in prison that the Detroit rapper was given the name Tee Grizzley while he was imprisoned. He explained,

“That’s what people was calling me in there because I let my beard grow out, my dreads was wild, I was in there acting crazy. Working out, getting real big, just acting a grizzly in there.”  

Tee Grizzley’s imprisonment left him with a lot of spare time, which he spent reading and enlightening himself about the world. He talked to people in prison who had life sentences and learned valuable lessons from them. It was here the Tee Grizzley was able to write the lyrics for the song “First Day Out”.

On October 16, 2016, he was released from Michigan prison and he released “First Day Out” that day. The song details the struggles Grizzley faced throughout his life, especially being in and out of the prison system and finally making it out for good.

Dreams Don’t Have Deadlines 🐻🙏🏾

A post shared by Ain’t it a Blessing! 🔥🐻🙏🏾🔥 (@tee_grizzley) on

He talks about how people switched up on him once got locked up and how they are hitting him up now that he has become famous. The song definitely has a similar vibe to Meek Mill’s hit song “Dreams and Nightmares”.

“First Day Out” has been well received by the public and celebrities alike. From one song alone, Grizz received cosigns from Chris Brown, Trey Songz, LeBron James, and Jay-Z.

Chris Brown and Trey Songz brought out Tee Grizzley to perform at the Joe Louis Arena last year and the crowd went absolutely crazy. There’s no doubt the dude is a star.

He can also thank LeBron for getting his song to the next level. Once people heard him singing over the lyrics, they had to find out what that track was and sure enough that’s the boy Tee Grizzley. He told TMZ during the height of his glo up,

“LeBron James has tripled my song sales after his gym session.”

LeBron’s cosign was exactly what Grizzley needed to catapult his song to the top of the charts.

Tee Grizzley also received a cosign from a true legend in the rap game, Jay-Z.

Hov tweeted about the Detroit artist saying that Tee Grizzley inspired the creation of 4:44.  

Jay even talked about Grizz in an interview saying,

“I hear his music and I believe his story, people don’t realize how difficult that is, you can put words together and that’s fine but there a million zillion words out there you can make up any story but when someone story resonates with you that’s hard to do. You can’t just rap about this fantastic tale of like foreigns and I jump on a plane.”

To get a cosign from any established artist in the industry today is an achievement in itself but to get the respect of Hov speaks volumes of Tee Grizzley’s talent and promise for the future.

Tee Grizzley has already released an album called My Moment and others singles “From the D to the A” and “Second Day Out”, which all go hard. If you haven’t listened to them go check them out on any music streaming service.

Pretty much all of his tracks bang and he even has a collab tape with Lil Durk, called Bloodas, that’s straight fire. We can’t wait to hear what Tee drops in 2018.

Detroit’s crumbling public schools may be a sign of things to come

Detroit’s public schools have been gutted by a conflation of social, political, economic, and racial issues and the city’s public school system appears to be at a breaking point.

Schools are threatened with closure if they can’t raise students’ test scores, which are among the worst in the country. Detroit educators are now racing against the clock to get their students up to par, or face forced shuttering. 38 Michigan schools, including 24 in Detroit, are in danger of being closed.

A report by Chalkbeat documented one Detroit principal, Alisanda Woods of Bethune Elementary-Middle School, who is taking a hands on approach to get her students up to the necessary standards.

Woods told Chalkbeat, she and her staff face an uphill battle, “We’ve got sixth graders at a third-grade level. We need to take it up a notch.”

Chalkbeat documented the struggles that educators and students face alike as their schools are threatened:

“Most observers suspect that schools like Bethune face shuttering if things don’t improve. Woods and her staff could be fired. And her students could face yet another disruption to lives that, in many cases, have already been rocked by violence, homelessness and other trials of poverty. All of Woods’ students — 100 percent — are from families whose incomes are at or below the federal poverty level, she said.”

There’s many different factors contributing to the educational crisis in Detroit. For one, school choice has seen students opt for charter schools or schools in surrounding Detroit suburbs over local public schools.

A December 2016 report from Vice News analyzed how school choice has hurt public education in Detroit, stating:

“In Detroit, choice has come largely at the expense of the traditional public school district and schools… As students joined new charters, public school enrollment and funding fell. Unregulated competition pushed these schools into near-unrecoverable insolvency and allowed dubious for-profit charter operators to prosper without establishing a track record of better outcomes for students.”

The school choice and “free market” approach in Michigan was designed by now Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, so luckily the entire nation gets to look forward to an outcome similar to Detroit’s.

But Detroit’s citizens and educators are not willing to stand back and let their schools crumble. Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, a group focused on rebuilding Detroit’s public school system, released a report with a proposal to fix the Detroit school system.

Tonya Allen, CEO of an organization leading the coalition, said of the report: “This is our time. This is our responsibility, and these are our children. We’re committed and willing to do the hard work to get this done.”

The coalition’s report focused on 6 points of emphasis.

First was to get kids to school. With the report noting that over two-thirds of Detroit students missed 10 or more days of school in 2015-2016, attendance issues are pervasive.

Second, the coalition outlined a plan to keep students in Detroit. In the past 25 years, enrollment in Detroit public schools has fallen 73 percent and currently 25 percent of Detroit students are getting educated in the surrounding suburbs, according to the report.

With schools getting funding according to numbers of enrolled students, the issue of retaining students is paramount. The coalition’s report states:

“Schools receive funding based on enrollment. When so many Detroit students attend schools outside the city, funding declines, which undermines every program. Increasing the number of highly qualified teachers and improving school leadership are the two most impactful steps schools can take to improve student learning. But Detroit schools have a hard time competing with neighboring districts to recruit and retain the best teachers and principals.”

Getting top educators to Detroit schools is also part of the initiative:

“Create a compelling narrative about Detroit and launch ‘TEACH DETROIT,’ a citywide portal and recruitment and outreach campaign for current and new teachers and leaders, similar to other cities’ efforts across the country.”

Third, the coalition aims to improve literacy rates, which is a particularly stark issue for students in low-income areas:

“The challenges start early. Low-income students tend to start school far behind; by age 4 they have heard 30 million fewer words than their more advantaged peers. It is very difficult for them to catch up.”

Detroit is dead last in the nation for early literacy rates for low-income students, currently reading proficiency rates are at 9.9 percent for third-graders in Detroit. This simply has to change.

Fourth, the report wants to set up students for a future in employment or further education. Not only does this improve prospects for low-income students, educated citizens have a direct impact on the economy:

“Detroit needs more jobs and more graduates who are prepared for those jobs. Detroit has only one job for every three residents, far lower than comparable cities. Three-fourths of our jobs are held by nonresidents.”

Fifth on the report is a plan to invest heavily in special education. A lack of funding for special needs children currently forces Detroit districts to allocate funds from their general budget in order to provide for special education, hurting special needs and standard education in Detroit.

Finally, the coalition calls for collaboration and accountability from their community leaders.

The current state of the Detroit school system is a tragedy. It also may be a worrisome harbinger of things to come, with Betsy DeVos now in charge of the entire public school education system of the United States.

Public schools across the country, in cities and rural areas alike, are in serious trouble. As charter schools and school choice have segregated student populations at rates reminiscent of the mid-20th century.

A September Los Angeles Times article reported the rates of segregation:

“Nationwide, nearly 75% of black students attend so-called majority-minority schools, and 38% attend schools with a white population of 10% or less. Similar statistics apply to Latino students: 80% and 40%, respectively.”

These are all very worrisome trends for America’s public schools. It’s incredibly important for kids to be educated in diverse settings. We know ol’ Betsy isn’t going to help us out with this, but answers are needed.