Just another day at Taz's house. (Photograph by Kevin Amato)
It's hard not to notice Taz Arnold'the producer/designer's eye-catching fashion sense stands out wherever he goes. Most recently, he had all the blogs (including us) talking when he wore a pair of leopard skin tights while hitting up shows at Paris Fashion Week with Kanye and the rest of their crew (see the outfit here).
So who is this guy Taz anyway? Hip-hop and R&B fans probably know him from his production with Sa-Ra Creative Partners, a group that's signed with Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music. Fashion enthusiasts may know him from his recent design work for luxury brand MCM. But Taz is finally ready to properly reintroduce himself and his collective, known as TI$A.
We've got a first look at his crazy new video "Mission Statement," which was created in partnership with Kenzo Digital (the man behind City of God's Son) for ti$avi$ion.tv. Watch the video below, then continue reading our exclusive interview to get a glimpse inside the unique mind of Taz...
Interview By Brendan Frederick
Complex: What did you want to communicate with this video?
Taz: The objective is to show the aesthetic of the new movement that's building. I kinda look at everything that's happening right now in this whole movement of music and fashion, and it's like TI$A is spearheading that movement. Mixing the brands up and really showing cats how to like be into the arts, and understand the science of art.
Complex: Who is TI$A? That's the name of your crew?
Taz: Tisa, in Swahili, means "ninth born." And "tesa" in Arabic, means "nine." And in numerology, 9 means completion. Eight is infinity when you turn it on the side, and then 9 is 0 and 1 together, and it means completion in numerology. So TI$a would be a complete vision. TI$A Vision. And it also stands for Taz Is So Arnold. I'm so me! But the collective is called TI$A, and it stands for completion.
Complex: What were you like as a kid? How did you dress?
Taz: As a kid? I'll say this. In 1986, I was in a prep gang on 108th street in Crenshaw called "The Nerdz Gang," like the candies. It was a spin-off of being a nerd, but these were like criminal cats riding surfboards, skateboards'all black, mind you'and selling a little weed and shoplifting surf clothes. And that was the first gang that I ever wanted to be in, and like I was in the 6th grade...
I grew up at the beach. Watts is like 10 minutes from the beach'people don't know that. I lived like west of Watts, like Imperial and Crenshaw'that's literally 10 minutes from the beach on the street. I used to boogie board, go snorkeling in the ocean. My dad was a scuba diver; my mom ran on the beach everyday, like 4 miles to the marine and back and she would take me. That was a part of my growing up too, not just the hood. I'm from the hood, but muthafuckas in the hood go to the beach too...it doesn't cost anything'it's free! [Laughs.]
Complex: [Laughs] That's true.
Taz: So that was my culture too. Sea culture, and urban shit. Hippie culture and ghetto shit. That's what I was like as I kid. I was a dude trying to rock the best. I was mixing all the surfboard brands in '86 when I was in the Nerdz. I was getting custom-made suede Vans made with the Off The Wall checker board on the bottom with the brass hoops, different colored suedes...whatever, cause you could get custom Vans then.
Complex: So how did you go from being into the surf and skate brands to getting more into fashion?
Taz: GUESS was real big in elementary school for me. GUESS cost like 80 bucks for a pair of jeans. Kids in my elementary school were wearing GUESS with a $300 leather bomber jacket, with brand new adidas on with fat laces. A lot of these kids, their older brothers and parents might have had money, or a lot of them that I knew, their siblings was selling drugs, or an uncle was selling dope, 'cause that was going on. My parents sold drugs when I was a kid. My mother grew weed at my house in the backyard and sold the weed to her musician friends.
Complex: Did they let you smoke weed when you were a kid?
Taz: I never wanted to; I could have. But I'll put it like this: when my mother was pregnant with me, she took LSD. My mother was a nurse, so I was an experiment for my mom. I was her only kid.
Complex: Would you say your parents were hippies?
Taz: Yeah, they were hippies...it was crazy at my house. Pyramids...my mother is into the sciences. The sacred sciences, magnetizing water, humidifiers in the house to energizer air and shit like that. Her and my dad slept under a pyramid with crystals hanging from it. You feel me? Like in a water bed and shit with a fucking pyramid with the third eye embroidered on the headboard that said "Om". Now I have this tapestry hanging over my bed. I took it from my moms cause it was in her closet. So yeah, that's kinda hippie. They never said hippie, I never thought hippie. They're black, and I was living in Inglewood in South Central, but yeah. I was given LSD when I was 3 years old. A half a tab, my mom said. But I never did drugs my whole life until like 3 years ago, when I started smoking weed. I never even drank alcohol, ever, in my whole life.
Complex: Why not?
Taz: 'Cause I just wasn't interested. I was trying to focus on my mission. Be dope. Get money, get it popping, get a nice car. I was thinking like that in high school. Like, I need a house! I need to be owning shit. I was kinda like a ruthless little kid trying to just kill niggas with style and shit. Shit on niggas like, "Oh, ya'll wearing Fila? Ya'll wearing GUESS? I'ma wear this shirt from Maui & Sons with the custom-made Vans and wear the GUESS."
Complex: So you always had that attitude?
Taz: Yeah, I was always the one with that attitude; I still have that attitude. That's why I outdo cats. I know that sounds like I'm feeling myself, but that's just the truth...I'm exotic with my shit.
CLICK "NEXT" FOR THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW, INCLUDING TAZ'S THOUGHTS ON HIS INFAMOUS FASHION WEEK OUTFIT AND HIS RECENT WORK WITH MCM...