Meet the Humans of Downtown: stories and snapshots from the urban core of Las Vegas
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If you’re not already up on Papichuloteej, you will be soon. The 23-year-old alt-pop singer/rapper crafts infectious earworms with catchy, melodic hooks and bouncy beats. He’s already gained a significant buzz. His song “Bye” has nearly two million streams on Spotify, with other singles racking up spins by the hundred of thousands thanks to landing on official playlists.
“Someone at Spotify has a crush on me or something,” Teej jokes.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Teej’s music, but it’s his ceaseless grind that helps him stand out.
Originally from San Diego, he spent his high school years in North Carolina before enlisting in the Air Force, which brought him to Las Vegas three years ago. Though he’d been making music as a hobby while serving, it became his primary focus once he was discharged.
“I just knew the military wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. “I loved and enjoyed music. That’s what made me happy.”
He hit the ground running, linking up with other local artists and performing all over the city. By 2019, he was named “Best Rising Rapper” by the Las Vegas Weekly. By then, he’d already switched his style, trading rap bars for a more melodic, pop-driven sound.
“I just tried experimenting with singing and I hit a pocket with that,” he says. “I found where my voice fits and what I do best.”
Major labels have taken notice but, for now, he’s staying independent.
“I’m not diving head first,” he says. “I’m allowing things to come as they are. If it feels right, I’ll go with it.”
In the meantime, he’s been cooking in the studio with a synth-heavy, Tame Impala-inspired project slated to drop this summer.
Having lost his restaurant gig due to the pandemic, he’s determined to never have to work a day job again.
“I just want to support myself, support my friends and be able to make a change through music,” he says.