INTERVIEW | RAYZA TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW MIXTAPE ‘ZERO GRAVITY’ OUT 11 AUG 2018

rayzaNEW YORK — I was in the birth­place, where it all began. A friend of mine had hooked me up with a seat on ‘Hush Tours’. A mini tour of the Hip Hop spots in NYC run by those embed­ded in the cul­ture itself, I highly recom­mend if you are ever in the city and an avid fan of Hip Hop such as myself or even just curi­ous about the cul­ture. This is where I first met RayZa, one of the Hush Tour hosts. Instantly I blown away by Rayza’s energy, his high spir­its were infec­tious. His pas­sion for the love of Hip Hop was strik­ingly evid­ent, and it later emerged his MC skills were just as fierce as enthu­si­asm. Known to be sharp at everything he does had people call­ing him, ‘Rayza’ from an early age, and this also tran­spired to his art of MCing.

Of Black & Nat­ive Amer­ic­an her­it­age, born in Queens, New but raised par­ti­cip­at­ing in battle raps through­out the city, it was nice to meet a new­er gen­er­a­tion of MC and get an insight into how the cul­ture has influ­enced him and evolved him into the artist he is this present day, with the influ­ence of vari­ous bor­oughs of New York. The offi­cial Prodigy of Grand­mas­ter Caz and hon­or­ary mem­ber of the ‘Legendary Cash Crew’ lead by Reg­gie Reg, RayZa knows his his­tory and is respec­ted by those who came before him, I was inter­ested to find out more about the man behind the artist. Releas­ing his new mix­tape, ‘Zero Grav­ity’ in 2018 to coin­cide with the anniversary of the birth of Hip Hop on August 11th, it was the per­fect oppor­tun­ity for me to catch up with RayZa and find out more about his latest pro­ject on his own record label EBE (Every Body Eats), named so because every­one on his label both rap­pers and pro­du­cers get looked after.

Rayza, it’s been a minute since we last spoke, I was excited to hear your new mix­tape and I had to hit you up. Firstly, I loved the con­cept of, ‘Zero Grav­ity’, which you explain on one of your skits as Grav­ity being a meta­phor for neg­at­ive energy and keep­ing it Zero Grav­ity is all about not let­ting neg­at­ive people, things or neg­at­ive thoughts con­trol you by pulling you down. One thing which really stands out for me is the pos­it­ive affirm­a­tions through­out your mix­tape. It’s refresh­ing and really sums you up not only as an artist, but also as a per­son, someone who keeps very pos­it­ive, spread­ing good vibes. How do you keep that mind set in this day and age?

Word it’s been a min! But it’s always good to hear from you, glad you reached out for this inter­view. If you’re like me and you study your life and everything you go through you’re going to con­stantly take your­self to the next level if that’s your goal. Any­thing I ever go through wheth­er pos­it­ive or neg­at­ive I always study the situ­ation and myself as far as how it made me feel and my actions as a res­ult. It took a while for me to get my shit togeth­er and I’m still not per­fect (laughs) but I’ve been through a lot of ups & downs to get to this point. One thing I’ve learned is that there are two type of people in this world, people that have things hap­pen to them that can cause them to go to a neg­at­ive place as a res­ult which can end up hold­ing them back from evolving, and people that make things hap­pen regard­less of what life throws at them by try­ing their best to stay pos­it­ive. It’s all about focus. We live in a world full of good, bad, ugly and beau­ti­ful and it’s up to you where you allow your focus to be held. People and life situ­ations will either push you for­ward or hold you back but the choice is yours even when it doesn’t seem like it. That’s the whole point of liv­ing in ‘Zero Grav­ity’, it’s not let­ting any­one, or any­thing includ­ing your­self hold you down. Some­times it’s easy to keep your head up and some­times it’s not, but the harder it is to pull through the stronger you’ll be when you over­come the situ­ation and you have no choice but to over­come what life throws at you because that’s how you sur­vive. I’ll be the first to tell you that we are born to be great, I feel like great­ness is a choice you either choose it or lose it but it’s always in you and the more you go through and over­come the great­er you become. Its ok to slip and feel like you fell face first into some shit you weren’t ready for, we all fall some­times but the key is to pick your­self back up in due time no mat­ter the situ­ation because that’s what makes you great.

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I feel you, that’s real deep and really does come across on this mix­tape, it’s quite reflect­ive and thought pro­vok­ing. The mel­low instru­ment­als really com­pli­ment this notion and when I put it on I wanted to take a minute out of my busy day to actu­ally stop and think about the dir­ec­tion my life is mov­ing in. At the same time your flows switch up to keep it dynam­ic, as a remind­er to keep things con­stantly mov­ing for­wards. The Jazzy flow on the title track, ‘Zero Grav­ity’ has a nice vibe to it, and that smooth flow hints at that out­er body exper­i­ence, pos­sibly from lev­it­at­ing. ‘Smoke Ses­sion’ just reminds me of those 80’s flicks like Kar­ate Kid! Pos­sibly because that’s part of my happy child­hood memor­ies and it’s all a part of being reflect­ive and going back to those places where we felt good. 

 Wow 80’s flicks like kar­ate kid that’s dope as fuck! Yea you was lev­it­at­ing fa sho! Music can make you feel high even when your sober and I’m a king pin when it comes to that type of music. That’s because I’m a king with the pen you feel me? Wheth­er I free­style a track off the top of my head or write it down if I’m going to kick some shit it’s def­in­itely going to make Mr. Miy­agi proud (laughs). I love your com­par­is­on to movies because I feel like a lot of my music is just that. A motion pic­ture that sets a vibe through the flows I use to paint over a beat. We are all Kings or Queens liv­ing out our own movie and it’s up to you how you wear your crown just make sure you put it on before you do whatever you choose to do.

I think it’s a real nice touch you have skits of your con­ver­sa­tions, real life hap­pen­ings which make the mix­tape more authen­tic. The skit with Hush Tours took me back to get­ting hyped on the tour bus! You even have a skit of you play­ing the piano show­ing your diversity as an artist. The sample of Tupac from the on the track ‘Juice’ from the movie with the same title, made me smile. Resur­rec­ted memor­ies of that movie for me but also reminded me of how much of a rare char­ac­ter Tupac was and a unique artist. You have many ref­er­ences to 90’s Hip Hop and artists who came before you, which I think is very respect­ful, but at the same time you do you and don’t try to emu­late them. How import­ant is it to you to pay homage to those artists before you?

 One of the best ways to go far in life is by not for­get­ting where you came from or who paved the path to get you where you’re going. I love every­one and any­thing that has to do with Hip-Hop and rap music because I see the cul­ture as my fam­ily. Wheth­er you’re a lyr­ic­al rap­per, mumble rap­per, pro­du­cer etc. whatever lane you choose I got noth­ing but love for you and what you do because it’s a part of who I am. I may not agree with everyone’s views or life­style choices but that doesn’t change the fact I see them as a fam­ily. Hav­ing respect for the artists who came before me or after is hav­ing respect for myself because without them there is no me. It takes an army to con­quer the world and I feel that’s what we’ve done. There are many sol­diers who fought the battle before I stepped a foot in the field we call “Hip-Hop” who deserve noth­ing but the same respect I would give to myself because without them there would be no RayZa and there would be no us. So I pay homage and salute those who dropped bombs on the mic before me as much as pos­sible because they are the reas­on I’m even able to do what I do. If we treat them like they nev­er exis­ted that would even­tu­ally lead to the down­play of what they did it for and that’s what our enemies want right? For us to hate on each oth­er rather than push the hip-hop & rap move­ment for­ward when we are all kings & queens. If we don’t pre­serve our his­tory through respect for our pion­eers, peers and suc­cessors in this cul­ture then we become tem­por­ary moments with­in the cul­ture and hip-hop is forever. Through music we become immor­tal so let’s do this the right way and push our people for­ward and not in the oppos­ite dir­ec­tion. Don’t be fooled into think­ing it’s cool to treat people in our cul­ture like a joke just because your dif­fer­ent than them because you’ll even­tu­ally become that joke and aint shit funny about that when it comes to your leg­acy. So in my opin­ion there’s noth­ing more import­ant than pay­ing homage to the artist before me, and even after.

Hav­ing heard some of your earli­er music you have def­in­itely come a long way as an artist and developed your style, the pro­duc­tion sounds pretty tight on this mix­tape. You are in a great place to be among­st pion­eers such as Grand­mas­ter Caz and Kur­tis Blow… how did this come about and how do you think that has affected you as an artist?

I’m always mak­ing sure I evolve as an artist because even though I see the cul­ture of hip-hop and rap as my fam­ily it’s still com­pet­it­ive as fuck and right­fully so, that’s what makes us great. Put it this way when me and my fam have get togeth­ers me, my broth­ers and cous­ins always play street bas­ket­ball. I’m not about to come on the court with the same moves from the year before I’m com­ing for the win so I’m mak­ing sure I take my shit to the next level and keep my game sharp because that’s just how we do. With rap for me take that scen­ario and mul­tiply it by ten thou­sand and that’s how I feel about devel­op­ing my style on the mic. Im always lev­el­ing up and learn­ing new tricks to show nig­gas I ain’t come to play games even though we fam (laughs). I use to battle rap in my hood all the time and even came in first place when they threw a rap battle com­pet­i­tion at my school where all the rap­pers came out, that’s because there would always come a point where I would tell myself time to take this shit to the next level and that’s’ nev­er changed. Being among­st pion­eers such as Grand­mas­ter Caz, Reg­gie Reg, Scoob etc. there’s no way it’s not going to affect you as an artist I mean they are pion­eers and have know­ledge for days. But to me they’re not just pion­eers they are friends who’ve taught me shit not only in hip-hop but out­side of it. I’ve always fol­lowed my energy when it comes to hip-hop and for some reas­on it always puts me exactly where I need to be and it’s prob­ably because I know who I am and when you know who you are God takes care of the rest when you’re will­ing to put in the work. Being a part of the Hush Tours fam­ily is price­less and that’s where I ori­gin­ally met these pion­eers and many more, from there we became friends because that’s just what happened and its always been love ever since and I got noth­ing but love and respect for my big bros. Their just dope as shit man, wheth­er you talk­ing out­side of music or in it they are great friends peri­od. I always thank the CEO of Hush Tours Deb­ra Har­ris for believ­ing in me since day one, she’s amaz­ing and what she’s cre­ated and built makes her a hip-hop legend in her own right through what she does for the cul­ture. She’s just a super dope per­son and a busi­ness geni­us and I’m grate­ful that she believed in me to make me a part of the Hush Tours fam­ily. She’s had over a mil­lion people on the tour like yo come on! That’s over a mil­lion people that have learned the roots of the cul­ture thanks to what she’s cre­ated and above all she’s not only great at what she does she’s a great per­son. Being around these type of people can only make you bet­ter at whatever it is you do wheth­er you’re talk­ing your craft or just life itself.

I didn’t really know which angle you would be tak­ing with this mix­tape but you found that per­fect bal­ance between that nuskool sound and those strong 90’s prin­ciples of con­scious thought, so someone like me can get down with it! It just works and I think it will be received very well around Europe, it has a uni­ver­sal vibe to it. You must be look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing out­side of the US, how did that come about?

That’s dope as fuck man love is love it’s great to get feed­back like that, espe­cially from people such as your­self who keep the bar raised high for what you expect from an artist so that means everything to me. Since I meet people from all around the world every week who always ask me to come where they’re from and per­form and I finally got my pass­port (laughs) I’m mak­ing it hap­pen. The mix­tape is drop­ping so it’s the per­fect time to go around per­form­ing it and Lon­don, Par­is and Ams­ter­dam are three places I’ve always wanted to go so that’s where I’m start­ing! I’m blessed to have inter­na­tion­al con­nec­tions and I’m put­ting them to great use. Ill also be per­form­ing in Aus­tralia very soon with one of my pro­du­cers Sad­i­va from Mel­bourne who is a fuck­ing beast at mak­ing beats so Aus­tralia look out I’ll be there soon.]

That all sounds really excit­ing, I wish you all the best with your per­form­ances and I look for­ward to hear­ing your future pro­jects and see­ing you in New York soon!

 You can check out Rayza’s mix­tape, ‘Zero Grav­ity’ out on  Datpiff.com avail­able for down­load or Sound cloud now or catch him at a show near you in Lon­don, Par­is and Ams­ter­dam soon. Make sure to fol­low him on Ins­tagram @RayZa_Eb3 for live updates and inform­a­tion on where he’ll be Per­form­ing!

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Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide

Faizah works in clin­ic­al research by pro­fes­sion and has been an avid Hip Hop lov­er since the early 90’s, hav­ing cre­ated her own Hip Hop event, ‘Break­in’ Bound­ar­ies’ in the early 2000’s which was pre­dom­in­antly based around the con­cept of bboy battles, she has worked with sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al events pro­moters and dan­cers to inspire oth­ers through this art­form.

About Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide
Faizah works in clinical research by profession and has been an avid Hip Hop lover since the early 90's, having created her own Hip Hop event, 'Breakin' Boundaries' in the early 2000's which was predominantly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with several international events promoters and dancers to inspire others through this artform.