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Public eye: Taj Reed, 25

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein
Taj Reed, 25

Union Square

What do you do? I’m a model and a musician. I’m a third-generation musician, actually, after my grandfather and my dad.

So the modeling is what pays the bills? Yeah, and it offers me networking opportunities. A friend of mine suggested I do it when we were in college. I would never have otherwise; I’d much rather be part of the creative process than be the muse.

If you do say so yourself! How do you deal with so much time in the spotlight? I dunno, growing up I was sort of the nerdy kid.

That’s what they all say. No, no, really. I was a nerd with big glasses. I’m sort of awkward about the attention. I don’t take compliments very well. Especially when someone on the street recognizes me for something I’ve done—I still haven’t really gotten used to that.

I guess that speaks well for your humility. Yeah. My mother has really helped with that. She’s always kept me levelheaded. Her name, Deborah, is tattooed on my chest.

Mama’s boy, huh? Very much so. And I dunno, I figured she wouldn’t have approved of any other tattoos. [Laughs] I was like, “Hey Ma, I got a tattoo,” and she was like, “What?” And I was like, “It’s your name! On my chest!” And she was like, “Ohhhh, look at this!” She wants me to show it to all her friends, which is probably not appropriate. [Laughs]

Every mom’s dream. In as many jobs as I can, I make sure that they don’t photoshop it out. My mom was a model—she stopped to have me—so that’s part of why I try to have her name in all my photos.

What kind of music do you do? I guess you could call it new-wave soul? I’ve worked with a lot of people on their projects, but now I’m working on the first project of my own, along with my friend Andre. It’s basically our rendition of music that has influenced us throughout our lives: everything from Sean Lennon to Little Dragon to 112.

What’s your instrument? My voice.

Between your voice and your face, that’s a lot of reliance on your body for money. [Laughs] I do have crazy health regimens. My friends think it’s kind of odd; I have what they call my “man kit.” I’m really into argan oil and natural products. I guess my life is very holistic.

More from Taj

“My dad was a rapper in the ’80s and ’90s called True Love.”


Waterfallz B
Waterfallz B

I have always been and will always be proud of my son...TAJ...I LOVE YOU