Uzi, Nigerian-American Rapper: "We Don't Live in Huts and Walk Around Naked"
The savage lands of Dade and Broward counties can be a wild place at times. The Chevys roar like lions, and bass pounds from their trunks like a foot drop from an elephant.
Nigerian-American rapper Uzi was born and raised in South Florida. And all his life, he's had to answer questions about his family's country, culture, and customs.
But for the Miramar spitter, the underground sounds of Texas, Chicago, and the Pac Jam, are a clearer influence on his sound.
We caught up with Uzi to find out about his hustle, the slums of Lagos, and what to expect from his music.
What's the new song "Watchin' Waitin'" about?
I been putting in work and trying different ways to market and promote and hustle. It's more important to have a work ethic to really get out there.
How did you get started?
I been rapping since 2005'ish from freestyles I would do at lunch time in a circle. It wasn't till 2007 that I started going to open mics and I got into the underground scene in Miami and Broward. In 2010 I put out "Don't Stop, Get It Get It," and that reshaped my sound and took me to a different level to where a whole lot of DJs were looking my way.
Where are you from?
I'm born and raised here. My mother and father are both raised in Nigeria.
I been meeting a lot of Nigerians over the past year, is there a much of a community here in South Florida?
Yeah, there's a lot of Nigerians here. I never known there to be like one particular neighborhood, but we're all spread out. Nigeria is a huge country, we spread out like crazy. I have family on almost every continent.
What do your parents think about your rapping?
My parents, they don't really understand or get it , they think it's just horrible language, but they understand the passion I have for it and believe that I'm actually working toward a goal. Moreso they want me to do school opposed to music though.
What are you pushing now?
Right now I'm still getting the last promotion for "Watchin'." I took it to Daytona, Fort Pierce, Cocoa.
What do people ask you about being Nigerian?
The question I've got most since I was a kid is 'are there lions and elephants in your backyard? Do you live in huts? Does everybody walk around naked all the time?' And it's like, no, we're civilized, My grandfather has a house bigger than your whole block.
Have you been over there? What's it like?
I've seen mansions from people who have a whole lot of money to villages without electricity. One year we went to my mother's village and stayed there for two months with no hot water, no running water, no computer, no internet...I didn't have the things I'm used to.
Did you have friends or family out there into rap and hip hop?
Yeah, my cousins put me up on Wiz Kid, Two Face, Dbanj, he just got signed to Good Music for his Cruel Summer album. I think it's good they coming up in hip hop as well, they got skills over there. Rick Ross did an alternate "Hold Me Back" video out there.
What music did you take out there?
I put them up on, some more street Rick Ross, Yukmouth, Big Kritt, Kendrick Lamar, and other people that's hot over here, but without global hits.
I heard of a tradition called "spraying," that's a lot like Making It Rain...
Yeah, we been doing that for years. Basically as somebody dances you put money on their forehead, throw it in the air, it's basically just paying somebody to dance.
What are some differences?
Seeing different walks of life. I've seen the hood or the ghetto here, and over there, and it's like ok...what we think is the ghetto and the hood doesn't compare. There were some mucky places we went to. There's a small city in Lagos that when we drove through it I was like wow, it was run down, just trash, and gutter, and sewer.
But at the same time, there's a lot of big money over there too right?
My aunt who worked for an oil company and the houses she had, my uncle built a huge compound, just the whole works. You see the bad and the good. I believe thats with anything.
What kind of music are you writing?
Daily life. I'm a partyholic and a very ambitious person and like to see success. I write about putting in the work, I write club records, partying, and girls.
Who is your biggest influence right now?
Tech N9ne. He's an independent monster and incredible rapper. I try to see what successful people do and see what will work for me.
Who else you like?
Texas is one of my favorite states in hip hop. Rapalot records, Zro. More than what's on BET and MTV. I like Yukmouth, Twista, Big Krit, MGK, Yelawolf. A lot of those faster rappers I take bits and pieces from.
How do you describe your sound?
My music is crazy high energy. I believe style is one of the most important things, so i try to work on style, flair, charisma, so that my music stands out. I make that music that gonna get you moving, cause I'm putting out what people wanna move, dance, shake, and rock in their car to get a good feeling.
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