A Columbus hip-hop pioneer, Elliot McDaniel has witnessed the scene he helped raise grow in maturity and stature — a reflection of his own growth as an artist and person.
A member of the legendary Columbus hip-hop collective MHz, McDaniel has seen both of his careers cross paths, and his life come full circle, since starting the group.
Known musically as Tage Future, the Columbus native and Atlanta transplant recently changed his name to only Tage. He brought his moniker back to his high school days, where he learned many valuable lessons about music.
“I’ve been Tage Future since 2003,” McDaniel said. “I wanted to have something to distinguish from just Tage, but now the name Future just has a different sound to it and connotation.”
For his latest project, April’s Steady Approaching, McDaniel revisited the studio by himself, something he hasn’t done in years.
“I just wanted everything to be dope; I wanted everything to be sonically pleasing, and I’m happy about it,” he said.
To understand Tage’s full musical complexity, you’d have to understand his past. McDaniel grew up in a musical family. His dad is a jazz musician and professor, and his grandfather was a music teacher and high school band director. Both men had a heavy impact on McDaniel’s musical development.
“Just being around the house, or when we’d play music on long trips and being around my extended family.” McDaniel said. “Being around a variety of music helped me develop a great musical talent.”
In 2012, during the first-ever induction ceremony, McDaniel’s grandfather, W.T. McDaniel, who passed away in 1990, became one of 25 inductees into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, joining Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Al Green and Otis Redding to name a few. A high school band director and a teacher to many artists who would become viable in the Memphis music scene, W.T. McDaniel was a trailblazer for many in Memphis.
“It was unheard of to be the band director at rival schools,” McDaniel said. “He might have been the only well-known black high school band director at that time.”
Elliot McDaniel’s father, William, is currently the director of the Ohio State University Jazz Ensemble and heads the OSU Jazz Department.
McDaniel goes by Tage when in rap circles, however, during the day in his classroom he’s Mr. McDaniel.
Receiving his master’s in education, McDaniel has been teaching for the past decade. He currently instructs fourth and fifth graders in Atlanta and covers a spectrum of topics as an elementary school teacher.
He continues to teach and work on music. Both loves have had a definite impact on his life and will continue to for years to come, carrying on the pedagogy of his predecessors.
“I come from a family of musicians and educators, and that kind of played out in my life,” he said.