Meet 1Up Tee, the rising Detroit rapper with co-signs from Meek Mill, Damian Lillard, Dej Loaf, Babyface Ray and more…

What five words define your sound?

Upper, Conscious, Vice-Versa, Motivational, Detroit.

Tell me something unique about your creative process.

People would think because of the depth in my lyrics that I write them – I haven’t written any of my songs in a while. I freestyle them.

Which song of yours would you like people to hear first? 

‘Lose Lose’ and ‘Good Karma’ – they’re connected and explain my everyday thoughts. 

What inspired you to make that song? 

My everyday thinking of how backwards and hypocritical the world is.

What’s the most vulnerable you’ve allowed yourself to be when writing/making music? 

I shed a few tears while making ‘My Siblings’ which is a song that will be on my upcoming ‘Childhood Trauma’ mixtape.

What’s the best/worst experience you’ve had on stage? 

I went to a high school pep rally in Detroit named Cass Tech, it used to be my dream school –  soon as they seen me walk in to perform they flooded the court and screamed my song. It was the greatest feeling ever. And the worst was when I was performing at El Club in southwest one time and everybody just stared at me the whole time. I’m already nervous when I get on stage but that made me walk off shaking in my boots.

What is your favourite song to perform? 

My favourite song to perform is ‘Good Karma’. They always go upper to that. 

Which artist/song/album made you want to make music? 

J. Cole and Payroll Giovanni inspired me to make music; J. Cole because of the substance in his music, and Payroll because he grew up in the same neighbourhood as me, and I seen him rapping what everybody from Fenkell Avenue lived.

What’s the meaning behind your name? 

Actually my mother gave me the name 1UP because she said I was always ahead of the curve and she didn’t really have to tell me anything. 

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing instead? 

If I wasn’t making music I think I would be trying to get back into football or still playing; I was actually pretty good.

What’s success to you? 

Success to me is being happy. Broke, rich, relationship, no relationship regardless of any circumstances being happy with yourself and what you do is success. 

What moment in your life/career forced you to change direction? 

Quarantine forced me to change direction. That was the most depressing isolated moment in my life. I can say it made me conscious and look at life differently because I had a lot of time to reflect on myself and my life. 

Where can people keep in touch with you? 

You can keep in touch with me by following me on every platform @1uptee. Or just catch me outside in Detroit!

Photo by Shamaal Bloodman.

New Issue

Subscribe to the Viper Newsletter for the latest news, events and offers

Top Stories