Osaze O. Akerejah aka Saz.É is an up-and-coming rapper with much promise and and great amounts of skill to go with it. His raps of love, love lost, personal struggles, partying, and family are sure to strike a chord with any listener. If you are looking for hybrid of new-school and old-school hip hop that overflows with emotion, be sure to listen to his two mixtapes: A Little Black Box and Invincible Tommorow. Saz.É prides himself on his versatility, lyrical depth, and personal connection with his audience. Here’s my interview with the man himself, as we talk about music, college, maturation, and his career.
What made you want to first start rapping? What keeps you inspired to continually make music?
I first started rapping at age 6 cuz my brother put me up on a lot of hip-hop. Early on he had me listening to NaS and Jay-Z. I picked it back up around 7th grade to help me deal with my parents’ divorce and shit. That’s when I decided I wanted to make a career out of it. I remain inspired to make music mostly because I love music to the core. My essence is art and I feel like it’s my best way to connect with people and change lives, as well as preserve my sanity. Haha.
Who are the main rappers you draw interest from?
I always say Jay-Z taught me how to rap, in terms of complex rhyme schemes and varied flows and such. Him, along with Kanye and Lupe’s very directed and thematic writing style really shape me.
I remember in high school that you used to act. How has acting helped you in your rap career?
It made me very aware of painting pictures and a lot of times we as artists try to use other people as lenses to further discuss bigger topics or even issues we ourselves have dealt with. Acting made me very good at getting inside other people’s heads and making very relatable music.
Of the songs that you’ve made, which one is your most personal and why?
I have a song from Invincible Tomorrow called “The Road” that basically chronicles my battles with depression. I wrote the song when I was at an all time low, I just lost my brother and my house and my relationship just fell apart. Writing the song kind of brought me back and reminded me that whenever I feel like dying I have to cling onto the things I love more than anything.
How have you used the networking/music-rich area of Boston to bolster your image and reputation? How is it different from the Franklin/Jersey music scene?
I’ve been mostly networking on the creative front; doing shows with other artists and such provides a lot of networking opportunities. Plus, you never know who knows who, so I’ve met folks that fuck with my shit that have ties to big name producers and stuff. That’s just how city life rocks out. It’s different than Franklin/Jersey because it’s definitely much harder; you’ve got a city full of folks who all think they got it, most of which are from the area and kind of have the upper-hand on you.
What was your greatest performance? And how have you improved your stage presence since your first show?
I honestly think performing at Harvard was epic because I was rocking out in front of a bunch of folks from all over the world, bad girls from France and what not. Haha. And without having a reputation or anything I brought folks to their feet just based on the music being good. My stage show is a lot more playful and comfortable now, I crack jokes and what not and really command the stage when I’m up there. I’m pretty sure that just comes with time though but then again not everyone can be a general!
How have you improved as a rapper/artist since your first mixtape? What do you see yourself needing to improve on at the current moment?
I got better with writing and writing. Haha. That’s so broad. But like, I’ve improved on the actual technical aspects of rapping, flows, timing and rhyme schemes. In terms of writing, I’ve just improved my techniques when approaching material, I paint pictures and lay out emotions and feels a lot better. I’ve also stepped up my musicality a lot. Better with melodies and planning out music as a whole now. I’ve been told I have to work on making radio/party songs but I don’t know if that’s something I should really be that concerned with.
What is the greatest misconception that most people have about rappers?
That we’re not musicians. The way GOOD rappers map out verses is very similar to any type of musical arrangement. And of course that we are all ignorant and only care about bitches & money and money & bitches.
Most rappers don’t just listen to Hip-Hop/Rap, so what other artists outside of rap do you listen to?
The Beatles take up the most room in my iPod actually. I have everything they’ve ever made. Arcade Fire is my favorite band. Janelle Monáe, Coldplay, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and there’s a lot more, man. Too many to name. Listening to other genres is really important for musicians. I think it’s a critical part in molding artists as opposed to rappers. Tell these niggas to broaden their horizons.
What is the thought process and build-up that goes on before you make a song? Do you ever find yourself improvising your lyrics/ad-libs?
I always think about what type of feel I’m trying to inspire. What kind of themes I’m really trying to get across. I think good music does 3 things: conveys emotion, inspires emotion and sounds good. I try to keep all lyrics pre-meditated but ad-libs usually just pop out whenever I’m feelin’it. Sometimes you just swag out and get into it in the booth and say some shit you ain’t plan.
What has your crowning achievement been as an artist since you started making music?
Haha. Probably getting co-signs from professors. Having a poetry professor call your work beautiful will make you feel like you’re going in the right direction. One of my philosophy professors had both of my tapes in his iTunes; that was ill too. It let me know I was making thought provoking yet gorgeous shit.
If an aspiring artist ever finds themselves down on their luck, what advice would give to them to stay focused?
Re-assess why you’re doing it. If your motive is strong enough, you’ll find the strength to persevere. I also tend to think about the artists that failed before making it. The Beatles got told they didn’t have the right stuff a few times…and they ended up being the greatest band of all time. Inspires me.
Every artist goes through “writer’s block” once and a while, how do you work your way around it?
I try not to dwell on it. My boy once told me that if you’re going through writers block it’s because you’re low on life experience. So I go out and try to discover new shit, whether its new music or I’ll read or something. Just getting yourself into some new circumstances and experiences.
How have you used Brandeis and your major to your advantage in a music perspective?
I’ve been able to meet a lot of musicians that have changed my life, whether by stories of how they grew up or by showing me mind blowing music. Like, this chick put me up on some classical music that kind of changed my musical perspective. And my major (Philosophy) just helps me with thinking deeper into things when writing and better explaining shit, and really saying what I need to say.
How was growing up in Franklin made you into the person you are today? What experiences do you cherish?
Franklin gave me a lot of confidence. My town was full of a lot of love and a bunch of young folks tryna go out and get it so that really inspired me. I really miss senior year. Lol. Niggas were wild’n out, we just got real reckless. We felt like we were about to go out and rule the world anyway so we kind of stopped giving a fuck for that year/summer.
If you could choose one song that would sum you up in a nutshell and let people know who you are as a person, what song would you choose? Why?
Hard ass question. Haha. Umm, I think “Dear Daughter” gives listeners a very good glimpse into who I am as a person, an optimist very aware of the world’s ills, but still trying to bring some light to it.
What are your other hobbies? Do you take them as serious as rap?
I like to drink. Haha. But nah, I do like to party, read. I write poetry and I’m big on movies. I actually started planning a movie; don’t know where it’ll end up though. Nah. I take nothing as seriously as music.
If there was one aspect/area of the world that you could help through music, what issue or place what would it be?
I want to help kids with self-esteem and depression issues because it’s a battle I know well.
What should the people expect from you in the upcoming months? What music/artists do you recommend the people reading this to listen to?
“One Hell of an Internship”, my next recording project, is coming up either end of this year or early next year. Everything produced by my boy Dom?. And as far as what you need to check out, if you haven’t already gotten Frank Ocean’s, Lupe’s and NaS’s newest projects, you’re definitely losing. Really looking forward to “good kid, m.A.A.d city” from Kendrick Lamar as well.