By Robert Serge Saint-Pé
Lib Life caught up with Afro-Pop Artiste, TeddyRide, who recently got nominated nine times at the just ended 2020 MTN Liberia Music Awards. Though he only won one of his nominations, the self proclaims “Sugar Daddy” is continuously climbing to greater heights.
To say someone is the voice of his people is a great statement, but in his music, this artiste truly talks about the implications of social illness. However, when it comes to TeddyRide, he is both the sound and the voice of the youth as he forms his own pathway into a better future.
Born on April 24, 1996, the 24-year-old hitmaker is crafting the Liberian pop sound into something that can only be described as “TeddyRide’s sound”.
What’s so refreshing about TeddyRide is the humility he exudes along with sheer gratitude. During our interview, he sat politely in his living room where he played some of his latest songs, and it did not feel like we were having an interview.
In 2014, TeddyRide released his debut single, “Pretty Mama” in which he featured Chilla Coolnanee. The song received major radio plays, and he has evolved and grown into the man and artiste he is today.
Hailing from Liberia’s Grand Kru County, originally known as Darius Kumorteh, TeddyRide is a personification of the landscape he has grown up in and lets it shine through his works. Kumorteh, defined in his native Kru dialect, means “The whole world business” is crafting the special sound that is rightfully taking over Liberia and has aspirations of getting his music worldwide.
In just a period of six years, the trajectory that Rema is on is hard to compare to, he has his own unique musical style which has made him a household name in Liberia’s musical industry, and has also lent him numerous hit songs banging on radio stations and entertainment areas.
It is a success that came as a result of TeddyRide’s exposure to a plethora of musical styles at a young age such as Teddy Pendergrass, an American singer after whom the musician was named. Teddy’s father knew that his son would become someone famous and talented and at a young age, he began fulling that by writing his own songs while still in elementary school.
At school, he used to perform for his then classmates which later brought the name, TeddyRide. Since then, it’s pretty evident that he has mastered his talents for some time now as he flows effortlessly throughout on instrumentals that make it seem like it pours out of him magically.
The pillars of TeddyRide’s distinctive sound can be rooted in his hustle – referring to himself as a ‘pathfinder’ throughout his creative and individual process. It keeps him focus on his surrounding, remaining entirely humble and consistent in his personal life and musical career.
We caught up with the enigmatic TeddyRide below to dissect how is he doing and how it feels to be him at the moment. When it comes to the sound he is pioneering and creating, TeddyRide tells me,” I feel like my music is about people’s implications and not about the vibe. As a universal language, my songs are relatable to people’s day to day activities. And he is definitely not wrong – the impact TeddyRide is having in the music industry is mostly due to situation songs like “Zagalogo”, “Pray For Me” and amongst others.
“Sometimes, it’s not about what I’m saying”, TeddyRide begins, “sometimes it’s just about making music and I think people can look at their lives and relate to my songs”. Referring to the energy that is embedded within his music, it’s undoubtedly catchy. Sometimes a great song is one you can easily relate with and just feel the energy reverberating from the airwaves. Luckily for us, TeddyRide has tracks that can do it all.
When it comes to how TeddyRide is doing, he is thriving to match his little fame to make some positive impacts on the life of people who surround him. TeddyRide: “Apart from making music, I want to leave a legacy behind for others to benefit from”. He recently cut ties with his former record label, African Entertainment Music Group, and decided to have his own, Teddy Movement. The movement comprises 255 members and is to take initiatives in sanitary services, music, and that of other impactful things in society. It is refreshing to know a Liberian entertainer is using his fame to provide for others.
Starting TeddyRide as a “character in school”, he has always been a lover of music who used to demand his mother to put him in the church choir. He never got to join, but he certainly seems to have grown into Liberia’s music industry with the help of Beat Master Exclusive, one of Liberia’s pioneering in music production. TeddyRide said, “In 2014 after we were done recording ‘Pretty Mama’, Beat Master gave me five free beats to bring back with five songs. At the time an instrumental cost $150 USD, so I was shocked and did not know what to do nor how to write”.
There’s a lot of Liberian artistes, and to emerge as a special one, TeddyRide had to find his style through practicing his lyrics at home and now it’s clear he has found his own way to forms his own path for people to eventually follow in his footsteps.
Even though he won the Afro-Pop Artiste of the year by the MTN Liberian Music Awards, TeddyRide feels like his music genre instead belongs to that of dancehall. He claims, “I feel like people don’t understand my music. When I first started, people used to asked me what kind of music I was doing. Interestingly enough people still don’t know what kind of genre of music I make. The people in Liberia who give the awards feel like because I don’t put patois in my songs, they are not classified as dancehall songs”.
Like his native name, “Kumorteh”, he is thriving to take his music worldwide and have it as the whole world’s business. TeddyRide has over thirty composed and featured songs released under his musical belt and has an album (EP) of seven tracks titled, Sugar Daddy.
Aside from music, TeddyRide is a senior student of the African Methodist Episcopal University, majoring in mass communication and minors in public administration. He is also the father of six-year-old, Lovester Kumorteh. He claims that if he was not doing music, he might probably be a journalist.