FLINT, Michigan — Taylor Tatum states bluntly, “You’re saying that I’m not vulnerable enough.” And before I can confirm her suspicions, she takes a deep breath and expresses, “You’re probably right.” The acknowledgment is needed, and our conversation begins to shift. We uncover one of many truths about music artist Taylor Tatum: she dislikes being vulnerable.
She holds her tongue and dances around moments that have immensely impacted her. Instead, she avoids naming names, brushes off painful situations with laughter, and withholds her emotions behind thin walls that are one experience shy of breaking. “I’m just a normal girl, living a normal life,” she remarks as we laugh. We both know that she’s given me “the cliche bull.”
Tatum and I, unbeknownst to me, have agreed to meet days after an ER visit. We sit on a balcony, basking in the warm sunset, laughing at how she doesn’t wish to show this side of herself on camera, much less during an interview. The music business has taught her many things. Some have stemmed from her early teenage years, where she’d heard a lot about how the industry was “super big on the Illuminati” and dealt with constant disappointment around “people not [keeping] their word.”
The next, coming in and ultimately leaving Jon Connor
’s All Varsity Music Group “because they were trying to create me [to be] the type of artist they wanted, instead of trying to figure out the artist that I was.” She calls her time there “necessary,” gaining skills that she still “utilizes to this day.”
However, those experiences taught her who to trust, what to say, and how to say it. So in my response to her, yes, “There are aspects of your life that you need to go and excavate,” so that who she wants to be, and what she wants to achieve can manifest.
“When I was younger, when I listened to music, it made me want to dance. [These days] there’s no true feeling behind it; There’s no soul.” Taylor Tatum
(Bryce Mata | Flintside)
Yet, musically, things have changed. Over the past few years, the “Day Off” singer has gained popularity. She’s performed alongside her fellow artists from BRB Management at various events, including Vibez Night Club, Live At Carriage Town
, The Local Fest
, Glizzy Fest, Flint PRIDE
, and the 1st Annual Fli City Awards.
This past May, she released her latest EP, Tomorrow
, a collection of pop and 70s funk-inspired songs, including a remixed version of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With U.”
According to Tatum, the EP was encouraged by label mate Ace Gabbana
who gave her the idea to look up the group, The Internet, for inspiration. “Always in a funk,” Tatum didn’t “know what type of beats I should look up.” To her, a feeling was missing from music, and she wanted something she could dance to — something that reminded her of how she danced with friends as a kid. She concluded that she was looking for the feeling and the soul of music.
“When I was younger, when I listened to music, it made me want to dance. [These days] there’s no true feeling behind it; There’s no soul,” Tatum explains. “When creating my music, I was in such a negative space, going through all of this [music] stuff and losing friends and family members. Being in the studio was my space of happiness. I took my negative emotions and made them happy. That’s where I got wanting people to dance, to have that happiness — that feel-good music. It’s a pain in Tomorrow
. There’s pain behind those records.”
And without noticing, Taylor Tatum has shed her industry mask and has decided to take the plunge and do what many have taught her not to do — be vulnerable. In childhood, her pain triggers at home, where “I grew up in two separate homes” because her mother and father were divorced. She reveals that her parents were married right up until she was born.
Taylor Tatum, pictured on her balcony on July 30, 2023. (Bryce Mata | Flintside)
The family drama was constant, as was figuring out how to survive daily, but music became a place of comfort. Her Muslim father, although “super strict,” was into music. And he and his brother became part of the legendary Ready For The World group. These days, she admits her father is a “different man than who he was when we were younger.” He’s tapped into the “spiritual world,” much like herself. Eventually, a bad marriage and pregnancy halted her music career.
“When I turned eighteen, I got married. I got pregnant and had a baby. When I turned twenty, I got a divorce,” she reveals solemnly. “I had my second child when [my first was almost] four. Dealing with two toxic men while trying to do music and follow my dreams, I didn’t know if I was making the right decisions for myself and my kids.”
At the tail end of our conversation, the tears slide down Tatum’s cheeks. It’s a rare display of openness for a woman almost a decade into motherhood. She jokingly asks, wiping her eyes, “Why would you do this,” but we both understand that the moment is cathartic.
We’ve talked about her childhood, her coping with divorced parents, and the toxic relationships that resulted in the birth of her two adorable sons, Tamir, 6, and Taylyon, 3. She recognizes and unearths that what others think about her weighs heavy on her heart but one particular moment sticks out.
Taylor Tatum smiles on the playground with her two sons, Tamir, 6, and Taylyon, 3, on July 30, 2023. (Bryce Mata | Flintside)
While pregnant, she wanted to do a photoshoot but decided against it because of what the label had told her. In a gut-wrenching admission, Taylor regrets it, confessing, “When my kids are around, I make myself uncomfortable because I’m afraid of what [everybody thinks] about what I’m doing. [But] I’m a mother, and nobody can stop me. I’m built for this; It’s in my blood,” she says, taking the palm of her hands, dabbing her eyes dry.
Her boys “love everything” she does. “They watch my, Ace’s, and [Cameron Tyler
’s] videos. They’re our biggest fans. They love everything about it.” And it’s readily conveyed as they voice their desire to take photos with their mother, engage in a push-up competition with me, and run around the playground with the neighborhood kids.
Her children, in many respects, are her greatest avenue of healing. Above all, though, she admits wanting to move forward and embrace her spirituality in a greater capacity.
“I imagine myself knowing who I am completely — being able to control myself in every situation and master my emotions. In five years, I imagine myself being the eagle I’m supposed to be and able to step into any room and shine no matter the situation.”
And it’s at that moment that she and I connect, and who Taylor Tatum is genuinely shines. She isn’t simply a music artist, daughter, mother, and friend. She’s “a spiritual warrior” who “dreams about the future and things like that.” A warrior who “ain’t stopping until I reach the top and grasp the next level.”
Find Taylor Tatum on Facebook and Instagram. Her new EP, Tomorrow, is on all streaming platforms. Check out her latest video, 'Rock With You,' on YouTube.