Rising artist Tyla Yaweh spent most of his pandemic-forced lockdown at home in Orlando, Florida “on 80 acres of land, doing crazy stuff” — including paintball wars on motorbikes and swamp fishing.

“I was being a Florida boy fa sho,” he says. “Keeping myself together, and staying in the studio” — and joining peaceful Black Lives Matter protests, too.

But once his latest release — the alternative-learning hip-hop track “Tommy Lee,” which features close friend Post Malone — started taking off, he knew he had to return to Los Angeles to capitalize on the momentum. “Everything with the record started going crazy, so I had to make my way back,” says Yaweh, 25.

And soon after he did, “Tommy Lee” entered the Hot 100, debuting at No. 65. Yaweh recalls waking up to a call with the news, then checking Twitter and thinking: “This is so real.”

He hasn’t had the chance to celebrate with Posty just yet — though the two have seen each other a few times during lockdown — but once they can, Yaweh predicts some shooting practice and ATV rides. (It’s not too dissimilar a plan from the one that unfolds in the “Tommy Lee” music video.)

But until that time comes, Yaweh is just enjoying the moment — and taking it all in.

Growing up in Orlando, Yaweh listened to a wide range of music, from Hawthorne Heights, My Chemical Romance and The Doors, to Tupac, Biggie and Wiz Khalifa, to gospel. “They’re sounds that I always loved, and they all molded me to be who I am now,” he says.

Yaweh first started uploading music to Hulkshare in high school — and when one track in particular started raking in thousands of downloads, he knew he was onto something. He always wanted to pursue a career in music, feeling drawn to the rich and famous lifestyle early on (as he explores in the “Tommy Lee” music video). His ideal future was so crystallized, in fact, that when he was just 13 he put up a vision board on the wall of his childhood bedroom — and it remains there to this day.

“It was literally everything step by step, everything I did,” he explains. “Move to Cali, perform in front of big crowds, get a deal, all that kind of stuff.” And even though he hasn’t lived with his parents since he moved across the country about six years ago, “they won’t take it down.”

Yaweh quickly started booking himself gigs around Orlando, eventually meeting Matt Zinger and Tariq Cherif, both of whom went on to found Rolling Loud. The pair helped Yaweh land opening slots for artists like A$AP Rocky, G-Eazy and the late Nipsey Hussle, and each trek helped his Soundcloud following grow. But it was his slot on Cash Money Records’ signee Caskey’s U.S. tour that proved most beneficial, and landed Yaweh a meeting with Birdman. “Everything he said that he saw for me is actually happening,” says Yaweh. “He saw a star in me.”

Soon after, Yaweh followed Birdman’s advice and made the move to Venice, though he had a rough go. While hopping from couches to crashing in cars. he was also struggling to get the business end of his budding career together. “I was stuck in a situation where I was making money, but not really off my music,” he recalls. “I was on Instagram, saying, ‘I don’t have management, I’m not signed to a label, I’m doing everything myself.’”

Eventually, that honesty sparked interest from manager Tes Siyoum of London Entertainment (founded by Post Malone’s manager Dre London). Siyoum later came to see Yaweh perform at the Oakland edition of Rolling Loud. As Yaweh recalls: “I was going crazy. I was the first one to perform and there weren’t that many people there, but I was still crowd-surfing. He saw that I was turning up, hit me up and ever since he’s been in the studio with me everyday.”

Siyoum started securing label meetings for his new client, and at the top of 2019, Yaweh signed a recording contract with Epic Records. “They were really watching, like, ‘Yo, this kid is the next star,’” says Yaweh. He released his debut album, Heart Full of Rage, within a month of landing the deal.

After the release of his debut, Yaweh toured North America as an opener on Post Malone’s Runaway Tour (he previously opened a handful of dates on the Beerbongs & Bentleys tour, too). And though Yaweh has lived in L.A. for almost six years now, he says the stage feels much more like his home — which is why he can’t wait to get back on the road to support his upcoming second album, Rager Boy.

“Tommy Lee” offered the first taste of what’s to come, and as it continues to climb the charts, Yaweh is now teasing an upcoming remix featuring the subject himself: Mötley Crüe drummer and founding member Tommy Lee. After hearing the track, Lee hit up Yaweh on Instagram to DM him his number — and “now we’re friends,” says Yaweh. He adds that the night they met up in the studio to work on the remix was “legendary. It gave us all goosebumps.”

As Yaweh continues to gain momentum, he says his friends and family back home are finally believing in the vision he’s had all along. “My next door neighbor, who is my best friend, was telling me: ‘I was worried for you, bro,’ he thought I was going to come out here and end up being homeless on the streets. I was homeless on the streets when I came out here.” But Yaweh assures, “[I’m] never going back. Now, I’m able to put my hands out and help someone else if they’re ever going through that situation.”

2412