In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to become famous and live an influential life no matter where you live. Gen Z is eager to find new talent, and apps like TikTok make discovering artists easy thanks to sophisticated algorithms. The artists who can manipulate the system can become sensations overnight. And that’s exactly what Tai Verdes did.

The California native recognized the video sharing app’s potential and capitalized on it after releasing his viral hit “Stuck In The Middle.” Now, over a year later, Verdes has 2.4 million followers on TikTok, over 9.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, is preparing to release a new album, and is gearing up for a tour. His entire life changed in one year thanks to the internet – and things aren’t slowing down any time soon. 

Verdes was on the road to stardom long before his singing career took off. Determined to make it one way or another, the singer attempted other avenues, like modeling and acting, and even auditioned for a reality television show – which he won. With $50,000 in earnings from his time on MTV’s Are You the One? and a global pandemic hindering his burgeoning modeling career, Verdes turned to music, a skill he’s been honing since he was a kid. 

The thing about TikTok, though, and a music career in general, is that you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to prove to your worth as an artist, or risk becoming a one-hit-wonder, or, as it relates to TikTok, a bygone viral sound. 

Verdes proved himself, though. He certainly has no work aversion – the musician was working multiple jobs when he became TikTok famous – and when Arista gave him the opportunity to make a full-length record, he released a top-notch debut album. 

TV is Verdes’s story of climbing to success despite all obstacles, with anecdotes of relationship woes, familial discord, and life as a young adult, all set to upbeat yet chill tracks that make it impossible to feel anything but happiness when listening. Even when hearing lyrics like “You deserve to be loved // I deserve to be alone,” you can’t help but smile and sing along. The bright anthem “A-O-K,” is the album’s most successful song, charting on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, and the track ends the record, perfectly punctuating TV and Verdes as an artist. 

Part of Verdes’s appeal is his authenticity. When scrolling through his socials or watching a video of him perform, it’s clear his music is a natural extension of himself. Whether he’s skipping his graduation ceremony, pursuing a relationship, or getting high, he’s doing so honestly, and to a beat that makes others want to join.

Verdes is making music in an unprecedented time – one where the internet has given anyone with a Wi-Fi signal the opportunity to share their art. And this opportunity has allowed Verdes to join the growing cast of teens and early twenty-somethings making music about their experience in a way we’ve never seen before, with raw emotion and deep subject matters. Gone are the days of young sensations maintaining wholesome facades through their mechanic records, and here to stay are young artists proving their authentic view of the world is valid and worth hearing.  

By no means does Tai Verdes have a sprawling catalog or a tremendous fan base, but his work thus far shows he has the talent to acquire both, and with a forthcoming album, he’s certainly going to try. I, for one, can’t wait to see what he does next.