What do you look for in the next great MC? Is it tattoos, iced out grills, dreadlocks, sagging pants with a wife beater and a huge entourage? That seems to be the trend in the industry right now but I prefer the good ole days when variety was abundant. You had the likes of RUN DMC, Kurtis Blow, EPMD, Kid N Play, Fat Boys, Eric B and Rakim, De La Soul, DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, KRS One, Heavy D and The Boys, Digital Underground, MC Hammer and Ice T to name just a few. Different sounds, messages and personalities is what the aforementioned possessed. I personally don’t want to see every artist with the same look and rapping about the same topics. There are topics that will be similar but everyone can’t be a goon, drug boy or gangster. Luckily, there is a young man in DC that prides himself on his knowledge of Hip Hop history and is paying tribute to those that paved the way with his soon to be released debut album entitled “RiZiometry.com”. His name is RiZion and when you hear his music it pleasantly takes you back to yesteryear in Hip Hop but with today’s vibe. At times you might think you are listening to CL Smooth, LL Cool J with a slight hint of 50 Cent, BUT, genuinely created as RiZion’s own personal style. He can flow with the best of them and his tracks will make you wanna move. He believes in his music and the direction he wants to take it and will not succumb to any pressure to change. Read on about this young man that’s looking to bring variety back to the listeners with his self-proclaimed “Classic”. You won’t mistake him for being a carbon copy of today’s artist.
How did you get started rock’n the mic?
RIZION - One day I was watching TV and I saw this video called “Funky Technician”, by Lord Finesse. I never heard a rap song like that before. Hip Hop up until that point for me never hit me from a creative type side to where I wanted to try it. Listening to the way his rhymes had metaphors and stories blew me away. After that, I happened to go over to a friend’s house and his sister was reading a thesaurus which I thought was crazy. I asked her why she was reading it and she said because she was writing a rhyme and needed to find a word that rhymed with her last word. The whole process she was doing intrigued me so when I got home and took my sisters dictionary and thesaurus and started writing my first rhyme, “Making Papes”.
What role did your mother play in your decision being that she actually had a career in the business?
RIZION - My mom was and is very supportive in my decision. She always pushed me to be myself in whatever I chose to do, but when she realized I had talent she really focused on me understanding the message and responsibility of being able to create music. Also, being around all of the musicians at her gigs helped make music apart of who I am at a very young age. Whenever she sang I just remember getting chills thinking to myself how much I love the way her singing and music made me feel.
You were born in the Bronx, New York but now reside in Washington, DC. What was the reason for the move?
RIZION - Well, my moms and I moved to Atlanta and then Savannah, GA for a while because she wanted to pursue an education at Savannah State along with pursuing her singing career. After she finished school down there and played the club circuit for a while she wanted to pursue an Entertainment law degree in DC and continue to pursue her singing career. We moved to the DC area in 1989 and been here ever since.
Being a student of the rap game, why do you feel that it’s important for today’s artist to pay homage to those that came before you all?
RIZION - Wow, that’s a great question… I remember hearing a quote that, “If a man does not know from which he came, he cannot appreciate where he is going”. If I didn’t know how important and influential Rakim was on Nas, we probably wouldn’t have had Nas be the MC he is. If we didn’t have MC’s like Trick Daddy, we probably wouldn’t have MC’s like Rick Ross. It’s like a cause and effect situation you know. The importance is huge also because respect is really the only thing you have when the money and fame is gone. If nobody respect’s you but you have a crazy bank account, you probably have to watch your back 24/7. In the end, paying homage is part of the game that I see should be done a little more.
Well said and I agree 100%. You are a triple threat (rapper, producer & engineer). Why was it important for you to be skilled in all three areas?
RIZION - It was very important for me to learn how to produce and engineer because there would be times I would go into the studio and get got. I would spend crazy money and leave out of there with like 2 songs. The songs wouldn’t even be mixed the way I liked. They would sound good on the monitors in there but when I listened to it on the car or at home it really sounded whack. I started doing my own research and found that no matter how much expensive equipment a studio has, it comes down to the knowledge and talent of the producer and engineer to get the sound sonically the way you want. So instead of me spending G’s in the studio, I got my cash up, went to Guitar Center and bought a couple of books on mixing, and here I am today.
How have the streetz responded to your music?
RIZION - So far, the reviews have been unbelievable. The ladies are truly showing me love and commenting on my song called “Lover’s High”. I’m talking about some major love from ladies all ages. Some people have told me I sound like LL Cool J on a few of my tracks. I have heard some people say one of the songs remind them of 50 cent. It’s funny because my album is paying homage to all those MC’s and even more. The best way to pay homage is to compliment them by letting them hear the influence. At all times it’s very important to be yourself, but if they influenced you it’s a given some people will hear it in the flow or the beats especially if you produce and write everything yourself.
Have you received any radio play?
RIZION - I haven’t gotten any spins yet. I’ve been focused on getting my music to the record pools around the country and performing in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area as of now. I hope to get some play real soon though.
What role did Atlanta based multi-platinum recording artist Creo-D (famous for the early 90’s hit “Dazzey Dukes”) play in your development?
RIZION - Creo D is a true O.G. and great friend. Without his encouragement or guidance I would never have developed the production or engineering skills I have today. I always could rhyme, but finding the right mix of production and engineering usually takes big money. However, he showed me how to develop the skills myself because in the end, nobody is going to work harder perfecting your music than yourself. One of the big defining points of how he helped me was when he took me to Atlanta to witness one of his shows in 2006. 95.5 the beat in Atlanta had a concert with Ludacris, Ying Yang Twins, and Young Joc headlining along with some old school acts. He allowed me to be the DJ for his group Duice and to see the crowd’s reaction to his song “Dazzey Dukes” that came out over 10 years ago showed me the importance of making certain types of beats and songs. Up until that point, most of my music was focused on limited topics that really couldn’t be performed. The lesson I gained was how important the “show” in Hip Hop music is. After the concert, I started focusing on making beats and songs that could move the crowd.
Have you worked with any other industry notables to date?
RIZION - I’ve worked with a band called Violet Says 5, a group out of Takoma Park, Md, my mother Selena McDay is on two of my tracks, and I also worked with a singer/rapper from Atlanta named Valencia that was on the song “Party”, on my album.
What type of show will the fans get when they come to see RiZion perform live?
RIZION - The fans are going to be entertained. I believe in letting the fans know who I am and getting to know the fans at my show. They are going to see a dude enjoying his show the whole time with everybody in the place feeding off of his energy. The fans will also get to see a couple of dime pieces dancers I keep with me for certain songs. Overall, they will be entertained…
Let’s talk about your debut LP entitled “RiZiometry.com”. Explain the meaning behind the title.
RIZION - RiZiometry.com is an album I created with one goal in mind, show people how much I love and respect Hip Hop. I chose to focus on this avenue coming into the game because I want to earn the legends in Hip Hop respect. Respect is the most important thing to me because the money is going to come ya know. Money comes and goes, but once respect is lossed you can never get it back. The album will show hints of influence throughout while still being creative individually.
What do you have in store for the listeners with this LP?
RIZION - In store for the listeners will be an album that everyone can party to. Trust me, put on track # 7 “Lover’s High” with your lady and see what happens! I’ll give a money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the results. Also, I pay homage to one of the MC’s line for line Common with a track #2 “I Still Do”. It’s a song which is a metaphor similar to Commons song “I Used to Love Her”. The middle of the CD you take a ride with me to the club, but by the end of the CD were on the block in the cipher with straight Hip Hop. I think it will be a classic because of the storytelling and consistency from track to track.
I’ve listened to your CD and believe it to be a classic in the making. What I found most refreshing is your variety and the absence of profanity. Was this a conscious effort on your part to minimize the use of profanity…and if so why?
RIZION - First of all thank you for that. To answer your question, I believe it’s important to set the tone and set the trend. I won’t judge anyone for what they put in their music, but I will judge myself. With doing that, I try to keep my content focused on Hip Hop and where I aim to be. I’m from the streets, and in my music you will hear this. However, I want the people that buy my album to hear a dude that is trying to inspire himself and others to make it out.
If you had to send (1) track from the CD to an interested A&R, which song would it be and why?
RIZION - If I had to send one track I would send the song “I Still Do”. The song highlights the strength I have of storytelling and shows my love for Hip Hop. I think the A&R would have to respect that.
Now, you have your own record label HLFW (Honesty, Loyalty, Friends & Wealth). Tell me about it and are you currently looking for a record or distribution deal?
RIZION - HLFW is a family owned label that I started with my mother because we wanted to have a label that people knew was really about the music rather strictly corporate. Honesty, Loyalty, Friends, & Wealth are the order in which our label operates. We have HLFW and HLFW/Soul. HLFW will be predominantly for Urban and Hip Hop music. The soul division will be for Adult Contemporary and the more alternative artist we sign. Currently we are looking for a distribution deal and artists. After I release my album this September and my mother’s CD in March 09, we will then decide on a distribution deal to accept for our future recordings.
Do you have plans to release a video for your lead track? If so, when and which track?
RIZION - Absolutely. The single “Lover’s High” will have a video and there is also plans for” I Still Do”. I met the video producer through Howard University in DC through a professor named Alonzo Crawford. “I Still Do” will be done by a graduate film student at Howard named Maria Williams and “Lover’s High” will be done by a video producer named CalmThesis.
Talk to me about this E-zine concept you are working on.
RIZION - The E-zine concept is called “Block to the Barbershop”. It is a way to connect beauty salons and barbershops to the streets. Everyone gets their hair done at some point in their life and reads a magazine of some sorts when waiting for their turn. The E-Zine will be a way to take that concept to the next level by helping aspiring artist, models, stylist, barbers, and musicians to have a way of being spotlighted online and eventually in print using the huge network of barbershops and beauty salons across the country. Each month a barber or stylist will share the cover with an artist or model that earns it for that month. So far, the interest has been crazy in the DC metropolitan area.
Any other projects or business ventures on the horizon you would like to discuss?
RIZION - Thanks for asking but my main focus is my debut album “RiZiometry.com”. I do thank you for taking the time and talking with me about the album. Your magazine is the best I’ve seen to focus on independent artist.
Thank you very much. How can the readers find out more about RiZion?
RIZION - My website has it all…videos, pod cast, music samplers, press clippings, bio information, pictures and more. The website is www.RiZiometry.com
Before you go, you have to give me your Top 10 hip hop artist of all time.
RIZION - Wow…Top ten? That’s hard…But hey, here we go. 1. Tupac 2. Rakim 3. Biggie Smalls 4. Jay Z 5. Scarface 6. Nas 7. Kurtis Blow 8. Big Daddy Kane 9. Krs One 10. Ludacris.
It was a pleasure interviewing you and I think you definitely have a “Classic” on your hands. Any shout outs you would like to drop at this time?
RIZION - Thank you bro, I truly appreciate the opportunity. I hope the people know how real this magazine is. It truly is giving an opportunity to the streets. You can’t ask for more than a chance… First and foremost I’d like to give God all the praises for allowing me to get this far. I want to give a shout also to my mom, family and all of my friends for supporting me. I’d like to give the DMV a shout out because that is where I rep. All the people that came before me starting with Marvin Gaye, Dru Hill, J Holiday, Raheem Devaughn, Chuck Brown, Wale, Tabi Bonney, Violet Says 5, the Go-Go bands Backyard, EU, Rare Essence, TCB, CCB, and all the radio stations WPGC, WKYS, HOT 99.5, WERQ 92.3 for supporting me. And thank you again for this opportunity Nine5Four. RiZiometry.com in stores September 5th.