TOOTHTAKER (@toothtaker)

TOOTHTAKER (@toothtaker)


May 1, 2020

Words by Ed Crooks (@edmasta)

Ed Crooks catches up with artist Isaiah Toothtaker on life, tattooing and making music with Max B and producer Kaytranada.

Yo Toothy, what’s up man? What you doing right now?
Working on designs, trying to push through a 4 month creative slump… Lately I’ve been having a hard time committing to my desk to draw. I’ve been running full speed for 4 years heavy duty tough work so I’m finally in need of a refuel. It’s all g tho.

How’s married life treating you?
Currently going through a divorce.

So where you from/ where did you grow up etc?
From Tucson Arizona, born & raised. Specifically, Old Pascua.

When was the first time you noticed tattoos?
Everyone in my hood had tattoos. I guess the initial tattoo that stuck out the most to me was my father’s, he had “Zeek” tattooed on his arm. His name was Philip but I think he gave himself that nick name in Prison & had someone tattoo it on him. Every time I saw it I couldn’t help but think: Why would anyone tattoo their name on themselves let alone a nick name, in case they forgot? lol now I think that’s pretty bad ass in retrospect.

How long have you been tattooing and when did you do your first tattoo? I heard you got into tattooing through some dude in a biker shop?
I started tattooing approx 18 years ago & gave myself my first tattoo then as well. I was hanging around the shop & then apprenticing a couple years before that but had been getting tattooed there for a couple years prior to everything. The shop owner & my mentor was the president of the Tucson chapter of the Hell’s Angels. The shop was the classic style biker street shop where people would walk in & pick a design off one of the many lamented flash sheet hanging on the wall.

How did you get to where you are in terms of your style- it’s very unique? Biggest influences etc?
I think this question deserves a different answer every time it’s asked because the more developed I become the more refined my opinion on how I crafted my current stylistics. I appreciate you thinking it’s unique, especially considering it’s applied in “American Traditional” aesthetic.
I think the majority of the influences come from reading more & less visual inspirations.
But all types of art have affect on me, Film, Fashion & architecture even.

Your shop is closed now right?
After selling the building I decided not to relocate the shop or re-open the business.

When did you start rapping and getting known man?
I started rapping when I was a teenager & started formally releasing albums in 2007. I toured the US in 2008 but I think the eve of 2009 - beginning of 2010 was when things really got moving.
I owned & operated “Staring Without Caring” for 11 years.

How was it working with Max B?
We did everything through his mother & manager since he had limited phone access at the time. He recorded all his verses through the prison phone & the producers made all the beats to his raps first then afterward I recorded my segments.

And what about Kaytranada?
Working with Kaytranada was chill, there was a tiny bit of a communication barrier since he was proficient in English & I speak no French. Kaytranada’s first video appearance was in a video of mine shot by director Baz for a song produced by Harry Fraud. A few other now known music producers were also in the video making their first appearance on the scene. So we were already familiar with one another, I reached out & he reciprocated. We had a few more songs than what was released but those beats went to Chance The Rapper maybe, I don’t wanna say for sure & get him sued lmao.

Are you doing much music wise right now?
Nothing. Although I am sitting on a few bangers produced by long time J Dilla collaborator ‘Mainframe’. I feel obligated to do something with them but haven’t had the time lately.

Who are your biggest music influences?
Impossible to answer there’s just too many. So so many.

You can find more of Toothtaker's work on Instagram (@toothtaker).