SoCal Rhymer Is Riding the Wave To Greatness
1:00PM ET December 8th, 2012
Contributor : Malcolm Strong
A Rocky Williform Company
DEEzo has been putting in work. The SoCal native is nothing if not ambitious, but he understands that you have to be more than ambitious to make it in this game. Born Derrick Reed in Fresno, CA and raised in San Diego, DEEzo’s estranged father worked as a hip hop producer, and realizing that as he got older inspired him to look back at older eras (and other genres) to seek inspiration for his own work.
“I feel like that music speaks to me because what they were saying was raw and uncut,” DEEzo explains. “[There was] a group singing a dope ass song and talking about dating 16 year old girls when they were thirty! It was just real and raw and uncut. It was just crazy to me. Over the years--all this digital sh*t--I feel like its losing the value of the sh*t. Me going back and listening to that music is like the core of when music was rich.”
“It’s like food,” he adds. “If you bake a ham or whatever-that first slice is the best slice. With leftovers, it gets weaker and weaker. I feel like [those] artists were the best music. That’s why I study them.”
In an age when most rappers can’t name an album or artist that dropped before 1996, DEEzo’s love for popular music’s rich heritage is evident. His track “Apollo Creed” showcases what he feels is a unique perspective and flow, and again, it hearkens back to a slightly older era. “[That song] defines who I am as an artist at the moment,” he reveals. “The production reminds me of that old Ruff Ryders sound. I feel like I did it differently than anybody else would attack that beat.” He attributes that unique approach to his diverse tastes. “I just feel like when I grew up and studied music, I didn’t just study hip hop--the hip hop way to write a song and format. I studied R&B and just dopeass songwriters. The way I rhyme, the way my cadence is, is more melody-driven. I feel like I attack the way that a singer would and put it in hip hop form.”
But again, DEEzo understands that being unique won’t be enough to open doors. Though doors have most certainly been opening since he crafted his debut single “Diamond 2 Step” back in 2008. He’s been featured in XXL and performed on BET’s “106 & Park.” And his mixtape “22 Summers “ generated tremendous buzz online. More than anything, he’s learned the importance of building strong relationships as a young rhymer. “[The industry] is like high school, kinda,” he explains. “You gotta know somebody to get the opportunities to be successful in the game. You can’t just be talented anymore. Even if you’re the dopest artist in the room--if you don’t know the main person or the person next to the main person, you won’t prosper. I feel like I grind like the biggest artist does, to the best of my capability. But its about who you know. I didn’t know that [beforehand.] Now I do.”
And DEEzo is passionate about SoCal hip hop and where it is right now. And he’s passionate about where he can take it. “In southern California, I feel like, as a whole—after Kendrick [Lamar]—its really, really opening up,” he says. “Artists like myself, I feel like it’s the best time to really go hard. He’s bringing the light back out here. It’s good. In San Diego, it’s more of a tourist city, so its kinda hard to get a core fanbase because everybody is in and out. The only artist we had was Swayze and he wasn’t even a real hip hop artist. I feel like the type of artist I am, I can go back to LA or I can stay out here and grind and keep progressing. I can’t leave what I start. It’s getting bigger and bigger.”
“I’m just trying to keep progressing. Just put out the best product, get on a couple of tours. I feel like if I can get on a couple of tours and outperform these big artists, there’s nothing you can tell me. I feel like I’m one of the greatest artists out. I just gotta keep displaying my talent. If its 7000 in there to see whoever, I want at least 5000 to know my name and look me up and become a fan."
Be Sure To Follow DEEzo at Twitter.com/RealDEEzo