DALLAS — If you haven't heard her name, you've likely heard her songs.
If not, the teenagers in your life have. And so have your favorite celebrities.
Dallas rapper Tay Money is the artist behind songs like "The Assignment" and "Bussin'," songs that have been heard by millions as they serve as the anthems for countless TikToks of people undergoing beauty transformations, touting various accolades or simply conquering the latest choreography challenge.
The songs are catchy and energetic.
They are no-nonsense calls to hype yourself up.
They are also filled with lyrics that are not-so-safe for work.
The assignment. To make people feel like the best, baddest versions of themselves.
"You turn on the radio, and that's it," Tay Money said. "You're good."
She said the empowering, self-love filled lyrics came from a place of wanting to pull herself out of a dark time and encourage other people who may be in a similar space.
“What really stirred all of it up, really, was heartbreak," Money said. "I knew there were other girls like me, and I just wanted to make them feel good.”
With calls to dance your worries away, forget about stressing about your ex and the reminders to embrace yourself as you are, she said her goal is to push for authenticity and self acceptance.
"I eat what I want to eat. I wear what I want to wear, and say what I want to say," Money said. "That is what makes me feel good, and I want everyone to feel like that because I didn't always feel like that. I didn't always say what I wanted to say, but now it's like... who else is going to say it?"
In fact, a lot of the inspiration behind her lyrics, music videos and persona is rooted in who she was before the millions of streams and hundreds of thousands of social media followers.
Before she was Tay Money, she was Taylor Watson from Athens, Texas.
"It's fun. It's beautiful. Everyone just kind of knows everybody," Money said. "It's like a southern charm thing. We're all so hospitable."
She was a cheerleader, a softball player and was crowned Homecoming Queen in the small East Texas town. After high school, she moved to North Texas with her mom to pursue a career as a hair stylist.
She instantly fell in love with Dallas.
“I just couldn’t stay away from downtown," Money said. "I would stare up into the buildings."
And then, there was Deep Ellum.
“The underground music scene," Money said. "That’s really what it was. In the Deep Ellum area. I had never seen anything like that, and I was hooked. I haven't left it yet. I'm still there."
She has memories of her sixth grade self-performing Destiny's Child songs in front of the mirror, but she admits she never considered becoming an artist.
“I look back, and I see I had love for this, but I just didn’t know it because where I’m from, nobody was making music, so I didn’t even think it was possible or even an option," Money said.
Her first studio session changed the game.
"Seeing people’s reactions in studio," Money said. "I was like, oh, okay. Cool. You like it. Okay.”
What started as small, local gigs has turned to shows around the country and taking the stage at some of the country's biggest music festivals.
Her first EP "DUH!" dropped in 2018. Then came the album, "Hurricane Tay" in 2019 and then "Blockedt" in late 2020.
“When I get in the studio, it’s because I’m having a vibe. I’m having a moment. I’m having fun, and I want you do that with me," Money said.
A lot has changed over the past four years. She has to travel with security. TSA agents recognize her at the airport. Movie stars and Real Housewives are making videos to her songs.
What hasn't changed is her commitment to creating vibe. The other? Her love for Dallas.
“The flavor. The food. The down south vibe. I'm in love," Money said. "You know how when you fly around a lot and you get tired? I get off the plane in Dallas, and I hit a little skip."
She admits she couldn't have imagined that her songs would've taken off the way they have. After all, TikTok grew in popularity during the pandemic, a time when she stopped touring and took a break to cope with the way the world was changing.
"I wouldn't go to the studio, and I would feel guilty because I wasn't working," Money said.
She was worried she was wasting time. In reality, she simply learned a lesson about timing of success.
"You always feel like you're in a rush, or like a competition, but really you're not," Money said. "I'm really big on God's timing."
She recently signed to Interscope/Geffen Records. She has an EP on the way, filled with bops she's been recording and shooting videos for. She is booked and busy.
She is also grateful to be living a life bigger than her high school self, in Athens, could have dreamed of.
"She would be really proud," Money said. "I'm still the same. I'm the exact same."
So, even as her career takes off, she's currently planning to take another huge step.
She's preparing to buy a house. In Dallas.