It’s been said that Texans have more fun than the rest of the world, and TayMoney is no exception. In under two years, the Athens-born, Dallas-based rapperhas racked up millions of views and streams, thanks to her witty punchlines,technicolor streetwear, and primary goal: “I just want to get the girls to shaketheir butts and the boys to bob their heads and watch,” she says. She may be herefor a good time, but make no mistake—Tay Money is serious about her music.

Tay Money spent her early years listening to the likes of Britney Spears andChristina Aguilera, but that all changed when she ventured into her older sister’sCD collection as a pre-teen. There, she heard hip-hop for the first time—namely,J-Kwon and Nelly—and she was hooked. “Once I found it, I started freestylingwith my friends,” she recalls. “They told me to do it for real, but I was nervous.”With a rap career out of the picture, Tay Money started working as a hairstylistafter high school, but knew that there was more to life beyond her rural hometownand circle of friends. “Those people weren’t moving forward,” she says. “Idreamed of being a superstar. I started thinking, ‘What can I do? Where can Igo?’”

The latter question was answered in 2015, when Tay Money went to a rap concertwhile visiting her mother in Dallas. “I had never seen a music scene​​like thisbefore,” she says. “After that, it was a wrap.” She moved to the city, working at ahair salon and modeling while befriending artists from the underground rap scene.Yet, she still didn’t feel fulfilled. “I was so tired of doing someone else’s hair,”she says. “I wanted to be the one getting ​my​ hair done. I needed more. I wassupposed to be bigger than that.”

All it took was one night of freestyling at a friend’s studio for Tay Money torealize that rap would be the avenue to her dreams of stardom. Eager to be takenseriously, she studiously observed her artist friends, seeking their advice about herrhymes. The initial recordings that resulted didn’t feel authentic to who TayMoney was, however. “I was looking for acceptance from certain people,” shesays. “After a while I was realizing I didn’t like anybody’s ideas, so I got themout of the studio and I recorded by myself.”

With greater confidence in her skills, Tay Money released “Na Na” in September2017, and debuted a sound all her own, distinguished by bouncy trap beats, anunmistakable Texas twang, and catchy, braggadocious rhymes—“He say he wantmy na-na/ I’m like, ‘Nah, nah’/ Chase me if you wanna but I’m out here chasingcommas,” she raps on the hook. Her sour-then-sweet perspective means that herlyrics are guaranteed to be quoted in the Instagram caption of a girl who’s “feelin’herself,” as she describes. The visuals, directed by Hype Trilliams, double-downon her feminine but feisty demeanor by showing off her candy-colored aesthetic,an ode to the pop and hip-hop of the early aughts that still inspire the rapperbecause “everyone was free and happy back then.”

After following up with songs such as “Moneyway,” which samples Yung Joc’s“It’s Goin Down,” Tay Money was selling out shows in Dallas within months.But one risky move in the summer of 2018 would take her music far beyond thecity limits: When her team shot down her request to do a video for “Trapper’sDelight,” she chose to secretly film one anyway—and it has racked up over threemillion views and counting. “I knew it was the one,” Tay Money reflects. “Itshowed me that when I have a gut feeling [while working] in this industry, I’mgonna follow my gut.”

As Tay Money’s streams skyrocketed, she tapped producer Dustin Cavazos tokeep her momentum going. She became extra picky about her lyrics, and learnedto take her time while recording, alternating between writing lyrics and freestylingto ensure that every line packed a punch. When the time came to put out an EP,her only challenge was selecting six songs from the numerous recordings she hadon her phone. The tracks she chose became ​DUH!​, released on November 16,2018. It’s a 15-minute, official introduction to the rapper’s repertoire, fromempowering lyrics (“You need a way, not a ‘him’”) to infectiously egotisticalones (“You mad at me? Tell your dude watch his hands”), with references toMean Girls​, Juicy Couture, Nike Air Force Ones, and other fond aughts memoriesthroughout. “I only rap about money and partying. That’s it,” Tay Money puts itplainly. “I want to keep my music fun.”

There’s no better time for a female rapper to do just that, with the wave ofsuccessful women such as Cardi B, Saweetie, and Asian Doll—some of Tay Money’s inspirations—paving the way. “Because of them, other people take meseriously,” she says. “People get it misconstrued that female rappers have sex toget their way to the top, but I’m not like that. I have more power because of that.”With a more respectful rap scene and Tay Money’s indisputable ear for hits, it’ssafe to say that the Dallas artist’s party won’t be stopping any time soon.