(AllHipHop Features) Camejo recently decided to drop a few letters from that moniker, and the Miami-raised rhymer now just goes by BZZY.
While the name has changed, BZZY is still offering his fans music filled with personal anecdotes and introspection. His latest project, A Part of Everything, arrived last September with reflective tracks such as “Journey” and “No Conversation.”
R&B veteran Lloyd also joined the 25-year-old emcee for “If You Only Knew.” Produced by Canadian beat maker Zale, the track consists of BZZY’s deliberation on balancing being in a romantic relationship and battling depression.
The Joshua Tree-set video for “If You Only Knew” premiered January 5 on Tidal. BZZY has been tied to the streaming platform for several years as a Tidal Discovery and Tidal Rising artist. He also performed at Jay Z’s 2015 Made In America festival which live streamed via the artist-owned service.
I once again caught up with BZZY for a conversation about his career and more. We discussed his choice to drop “Crook,” mental illness in Hip Hop, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and hitting the road with R&B sensation PartyNextDoor.
I wanted to start with the name change. What made you decide to switch it?
I felt like it was just time. I’ve been “Bizzy Crook” since the mixtape era, so I just wanted to grow and recreate myself. I wanted to try new things. Like with the “If You Only Knew” video, that’s something I probably wouldn’t have tried before. I’m just trying to grow as an artist.
How did you come up with the concept for that video?
My boy Zale produced “If You Only Knew.” We were going back and forth on ideas. He sent me this Jimi Hendrix picture of him in the desert. I thought it was dope, so I sent it over to Hyper House. Together we came up with shooting that. I saw a picture of a rock star in the desert with a bunch of naked girls, I said we gotta recreate this, and they brought the whole thing to life.
The video opens with you wearing a straitjacket and sitting on a throne. What did that image represent for you?
First, I wanted everybody to have their own interpretation. That concept was basically how you can be a king or you can be a prisoner of your own mind.
You’ve always been very open about dealing with depression. You talked about it again on this song and on the project. You also talked about wanting to become a different artist. Why did you want to make sure that [battling depression] is still part of the art you create?
One, depression helped me find myself as an artist. Two, I’m past that. I wake up every day happy. Every day is beautiful, but that doesn’t mean other people aren’t going through depression. So I always want to remind them I went through that as well and there is a way out. That’s something I’ll always keep in my music because it’s one of the most important parts of my story.
I felt it was interesting that you’re talking about these issues you’re dealing with, but you’re rapping over this high-energy beat. Can you talk about the production for the song? Why did you decide to go in that direction?
Zale sent me the beat over. Immediately, I fell in love with it. It was one of those beats that I loved so much that I couldn’t write to it right away. I need to be in the emotion that I’m writing about. So I would listen to the beat every single day for probably like six months. Slowly, it started coming together.
I feel like there are two ways to tell a story or an experience you went through. You can tell it with your head held high and look at the bright side. Or you can tell it bitterly. In the past, a lot of my music about depression was coming from the more upset side.
Now, as I’m growing as a person, I’m starting to find the good in that whole situation. So I’m telling it from a better place. So I chose that production because it was bright, but the story was still dark. It meshed together very well.
Last year, Hip Hop had a lot of conversations about mental illness because of what was happening with artists like Kid Cudi and Kanye West. What were your thoughts about the way the culture reacted to what they were going through?
Depression is something that everybody in the room will go through, but everybody won’t mention it. Whenever these conversations come up and people speak against it – these are just people that aren’t fully open about saying “I’m not invincible.” Then you got people like Cudi who have always been open about it. Once you’re open about it, you understand “ups and downs” are all part of the journey.
Do you feel like that’s a topic that shouldn’t be used as ammo against somebody? There were a lot of conversations about Cudi, Drake, and whether mental illness is beyond the pale of something that should be included in a diss record.
I look at it like it’s Hip Hop at the end of the day. In a back-and-forth situation, it’s hard to say what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. I guess it’s just according to your own morals and values. I don’t think Cudi would ever be offended by that. Cudi has been open about depression since his first album.
“Letters From Syria” – what inspired you to do that song? Why did you decide to present it in a first-person point of view?
The civil war in Syria has been going on for five years. We kind of heard it as background noise in our everyday lives in the U.S., but a lot of us weren’t fully aware of the capacity to what was really happening over there.
One day, I’m in the studio and the news is on the TV. Me and the producer, DJ Quest, were working on something. I said, “Let me look into this Syria thing.” It really caught my attention. I’m someone with a weak stomach but I’m forcing myself to look at these pictures of little kids in the middle of the street. The more I started looking into it, the more I was heartbroken.
As an artist, I may not have a billion fans yet. But I feel like as artists, we’re responsible to speak for those without a voice. I don’t feel like the Syrians were getting attention, especially from the music industry. I saw a picture of a man holding two kids. I said, “Okay, I’m going to write from his perspective.”
It sounds like you draw a lot of inspiration from photos.
[laughs] I draw inspiration from everything. I can walk through a forest and be inspired. Most importantly, it’s from everyday situations.
Are you working on anything right now?
We just put out the video with Tidal, who have been extremely supportive of me over the last few years. I’m working on the rest of the visuals for Part Of Everything. I’m working on a short film.
You talked about Tidal. You’ve been working with them for a while. How has that relationship worked out? Why have you continued to incorporate your brand with their brand?
It’s been love. We’ll call Tidal with an idea, and nine times out of ten, they’ll be with it. I was the first Discovery artist. They just get my vision. When I called them about the “Syria” record, they were excited about being involved in speaking about social justice. Tidal is a super machine, and I’m honored to team up with a team like that.
Going back to the “If You Only Knew” record, how did you link up with Lloyd?
Me and Lloyd linked up about three years ago when I was on tour with Kid Ink. We just immediately vibed. We got in the studio and did a record on my last project No Hard Feelingscalled “Take Your B-tch.” We had insane chemistry in the studio. We cut like two or three records that haven’t come out yet. When I got this one, I sent him the beat. He sent it back a few days later.
You’ve been on tour with Kid Ink and Wale. Are you planning to hit the road in 2017?
I just did a couple of dates with [PartyNextDoor] and Jeremih.
What was that experience like?
The experience was amazing. I’ve always been a fan of Party. We have stories behind P1. The whole OMO crew were mad cool. You know them boys brought the girls out. We had fun.
That was minor. That was at the end of the show. The rest of the tour was amazing. It was love every night. Ninety-nine percent of the shows were sold out. For the most part, it was love.
So you’ve said you’re re-establishing yourself as a new artist. How would you describe this new artist, BZZY, for someone who may not be familiar with your work?
I want to be somebody, as a rapper, with the effect of a Bob Marley, with the effect of a 2Pac, with the effect of Michael Jackson. Meaning, I’m going to try – with my very best and everything I got – to use my God-given talent to inspire millions of people.
Stream BZZY’s A Part Of Everything below.