Izza: I’m from the bottom of the map….Valdosta, GA…
Ok, now I have to ask, where did the name “Izza Kizza” come from?
Izza Kizza is a name I chose as a cool factor …something different that had an appeal… it also kinda describes my spicy delivery. When you hear Izza Kizza as a name, you can imagine what my music will sound like…. And when you hear my music, you can imagine my name being something like Izza Kizza.
The name definitely does match with the music; they both stand out! You have a very polished sound & strong mic presence. How long have you been laying it down on the mic?
I’ve been slayin’ the iron dragon (a.k.a the mic) for well over a decade…it grew from a hobby…to a art…and into a career. And now it’s a lifestyle. Most people may not realize this, but I engineer myself for my recording sessions. I learned to use Protools when I didn’t have an engineer. I decided “Fuck it, I’m gonna learn this shit and record myself”. So I set the mic up right next to the board and the Protools computer and record all of my own vocals. One day, I will learn how to mix my own records as well.
Dope! Def wish I could record myself. I’ve noticed that your music is more upbeat, electric & fun than the normal down south records alot of us are used to. Is that the type of music you decided to do on purpose to be different or was it something you just made naturally?
Yea I made a personal quest to keep it musical…a creative expression. My music comes from my influences and inspiration. They don’t come from your typical rappers’ influences and inspirations. Yes, I am a fan of the greats like Jay-Z, Biggie, Tupac…but I was influenced by a lot of top-40 radio growing up. Michael Jackson (God rest his soul) had a major influence on me and my performances. MC Hammer, Kriss Kross, Fat Boys, Otis Redding, The Wizard of Oz, Cartoons, etc. On the hip hop side, Outkast was a major influence of who I am musically. Being different and finding your own voice and standing out. Also, Busta, Missy, Luda, all the way back to Biz Markie —artists that had their own creative lane and didn’t take themselves too seriously always had a major influence on my approach to music. I think all music is for an era. I’m more than sure that my music will soon morph into another sound. I’m still growing in term of artist ability, so prepare for change and growth. It’ll probably never be typical, but it will change as far as vibes go.
Also I’ve noticed you are way more lyrical & diverse than alot of other southern artists so I have to know who inspired you & your style?
Well I suppose I answered a lot of that in the last question, but I have many many inspirations. The latest and greatest was the King of Pop…Michael Jackson (R.I.P…I love you man) He taught the world through music, he broke racial barriers, he brought good into the world since birth and persevered through criticism and crucifixion. Generations from grand moms to moms to us to our kids—the world mourns his passing and you can feel it in the air. The world felt so cold on that day. I think we should emulate his spirit—it is one we will probably never see again He’s the best that ever did it and my first and biggest inspiration ever.. As far as lyrics I would say Andre 3000 and Missy were a big influence on my lyrics, flow and delivery.
Definitely R.I.P. to MJ! In May you released a mixtape which was posted @ P&P titled *The Wizard Of IZ*. What was the reason for giving your project that title?
The Wizard of Oz…It was just something memorable to all. I was inspired by the journey itself, but the title kinda gives you a visual. I also had a couple songs already inspired by it so it was yessed into existence. I thought it was dope! See, I came from a very small town down south and journeyed from GA to PA to NJ to NYC to find my Emerald City in order to fulfill my dreams. Along the way I met people who helped me and in the process I found courage, I found intelligence, I found what it is to be real. And this whole journey has led me to where I am today. So the story of Dorothy, the Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man is something a lot of people can relate to, including yours truly.
Wow, definitely makes alot of sense now. Dope way of breaking it down! Featured on this EP are the likes of David Banner, Lil’ Wayne & a few others. When writing for those songs with big features on them, what’s going through your mind while/before writing?
It makes me think in full confidence that I’m headed in the right direction to be able to be next to those people on a song. It would make any artist feel more involved. It gives me somewhat of a chance to show my potential. It’s an opportunity to show that I can measure up to the mainstream competition, also. First thing I do is approach the record so that it works for the artist that I am collaborating with. I’m not into having features just because of name brand value. I like for it to work on an artistic creative level. But I’d be lying if I told you having my name next to a Lil Wayne, Missy, or Timbaland, for that matter, hasn’t helped me get to another level. But it needs to make sense. Working with that caliber of creativity makes you raise your game up artistically. I’m always trying to impress people so I find it within myself to push my creativity to another level to match or exceed theirs. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t, but usually it brings out the best in me.
I can certainly respect that! Too many upcoming artists try to get big names on their records (singles) just for the name. And speaking of writing, I read somewhere that you don’t physically write but you also don’t go in the booth & freestyle. Exactly what do you do?
Well…I got into recording myself. I’m not the dude who says that he doesn’t write for braggin’ rights or as a follower of bigger influence, cause some big rappers say they don’t write. Me not writing came out of necessity. I didn’t have much choice…it’s simply because I used to live in the studio at the dawn of my career. I could only record when everyone else was finished what they were doing. At night all the engineers and producers would leave, so I couldn’t record. So I ended up learning how to record myself by sitting in front of Protools with the mic and the headphones engineering. And I love to write, but it’s hard to read the paper, press the buttons and speak clearly all at the same time. So, I started punch recording where instead of writing, I would blurt out my thoughts as they came taking the actual pen and paper out of the equation. But by choice…nothing is better than the good old pen and paper.
Ok, that would be serious multi-tasking if you could do all of that once! And although the name is *The Wizard Of IZ*, I noticed you sampled a little peice of *The Wiz* @ the beginning of a few cuts. Which version of that movie do you like more?
The original was good, but The Wiz was waaaay better. I’ve seen both a zillion times though and I can’t see them too much…neither
ever bores me.
Same here! So ok, on that note, out of the Scarecrow, Tin Man & Lion, which one did you like the most?
The scarecrow from The Wiz of course. 2nd would be the Tin Man from The Wiz. My favorite scene is the horse of a different color scene with Quincy Jones…classic! The Scarecrow wanted to get some brain! Lol! Seriously though, he wanted to get smarter and that is what I’m always aspiring to do. Learn and soak in.
Once again, same here! By the way, if you didn’t know, the Scarescrow from The Wiz was played by Michael Jackson. Ok, I know personally that alot of hip-hop artists have their own opinions on the state of the game. How do you feel about the current state of hip-hop?
I personally am very happy with the current state of hip hop. Shit, I am part of the current state of hip hop, so you damn right I like it. LOL! Overall, there are a lot of young cats out there who are coming with a lot of original styles that defy classification. It’s to the point where what the new cats are doing is influencing the older established generation of artists in not only how they approach their music, but also fashion and overall vibe. I like the fact that all the artists are no longer sounding the same. There are some truly original voices cutting through. All of that comes from a smarter listener. The internet has had a big influence on that. It has allowed a million artists to have an avenue to get their music heard and millions of people to say whether it is whack or not. So only the really talented ones are cutting through. I’m not mad at the state at all. I like the real throw back hip hop resurgence, I like the south dance records that have come out, I like the hard gangsta shit that has always been there. There is a place for all of that. Hip hop is bigger than being just one way. That is why I think I have developed a following…it’s because I am not trying to be anyone else except
You stated nothing but real sh!t just now! There certainly is enough room for all lanes of hip-hop to shine. So with Jay-Z latest song out I have to ask you, how do you feel about the auto-tune trend that everyone is jumping on?
Overall it is a tool and it depends on what you do with it. Some people use it creatively, some go too far. I personally don’t have a problem with it. To each his own…not a big deal to me. Some of the music its used on is good…some not so much. That’s somebody else’s swag though. What would I look like using someone else’s swag? It was a great idea apparently but I ‘m looking for the next great idea. I could never make that my total steez.
Definitely agree w/ that. I’ve used it before myself! Was there ever a time where you felt like giving up with making music? & if so, what kept you going?
There have been times in my life when I may have felt doubtful of myself. Like, was I good enough to be a big artist? Would people accept what I do? Is my sound what people want to hear? Do I have the drive and determination? I still question myself to this day sometimes. But I realize this is all I ever wanted my whole life, so even when it’s bad, it’s still good – cause I’m doing what I love. Right before I signed with Timbaland, I had my doubts if the music business was for me, or if it would ever happen for me. But God tapped me on the shoulder while I was sitting on the bench in the sidelines and said “You’re up!’ and I jumped in and joined the game. There have been low points, but I wouldn’t say they made me want to quit music. They have made me stronger and more equipped to deal with stardom. I’ll never quit music. It’s in my blood and too much a part of who I am as a person. But there are certain stresses that aren’t exactly normal people type stresses. I could live without that shit, but it comes with the territory. You in or you’re out. This business is one you have to be built for. A lot of sacrifice we don’t understand in the heat of pursuit. Then, by time you notice, you’re in too deep. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it in the end. And you know what they say…anything worth having is worth working hard for.
There are way more fun records on this mixtape than personal tracks. Was that the initial plan when making this project?
I represent that style of hip hop. I have a socially conscious side to me, but we have Common for that. I have a street side to me, but we have 50 for that. I have a hazy smoked outside to me, but we got Snoop for that. Although it may not be the only style I do, for the most part, I want people to enjoy themselves with my music. That is my lane. There are too many listeners and artists who take themselves too seriously. I’m here to bring the fun back to hip hop. Where are the Nice and Smooths, The Biz Markie’s, The Salt ‘n Pepa’s, UTFOs, Luke Skywalkers, Das Efx’s? I will tell you…they are right here in Izza Kizza. That is overall what I represent. It’s the other side of hip hop that people don’t recognize so much anymore. When you come to my show, you realize that instantly. My show is like no other…pure energy.
You can definitely hear their influence in your music. And I must say, it’s certainly refreshing. I see that you’re signed with the NY based independent label, Decon Records. How did that situation come about? & what are your plans being on an indie label?
Yea I started dealing with Decon a little while ago. I feel more comfortable dealing with a label like Decon because I’m connected with the staff…I can reach the people I need to reach, I have relationships with those guys, I hang out with them. The vibe is authentic. They respect the artists’ minds and it doesn’t feel like some vague situation you’ve gotten yourself into. It feels right. My manager also manages 88-Keys (Someone who is a good friend, and I respect greatly). 88-Keys did a deal with Decon for his Death of Adam album, and I saw how it was promoted and marketed and was impressed ( side note: that is me on the hook of “Handcuffem’” on his album) . When my situation with Mosley Music/Interscope ran its course, I wanted my next situation to be one where I had a lot more control of the creativity outside of the recording sessions. Somewhere that I had influence on how I was being presented to the public as opposed to a big corporate giant, where I am just a number who may wait forever to get a record out. At Decon, it is more like being a big fish in a small pond as opposed to the opposite.
That’s definitely what’s up!! New artist Drake mentions ‘Money, Cars & Clothes’ as apart of being successful. What is success to you?
Success to me is definitely not money, cars, or clothes. Don’t get me wrong…everyone one has somewhat of a fetish for those things, including myself. But I think each individual has a different definition of success also and I think success to me is changing who you are for the better. It’s making a difference in whatever you do, doing your best, doing what you set out to do. For me that would be making my family crest worthy of mention. I’m the first person in my entire family to do a lot of things…the first to have a record deal…first in my town to make it to B.E.T.—on TV period. I’m the first to shoot a music video or drop an album nationally, just to name a few. I’m creating new family history and breaking the cycle…creating a new cycle. I don’t know my great great grandfather, don’t know where he has been or where he came from, so I want the following generations to be able to follow their roots. I want them to be able to know the names and have a legacy to begin with. That would be success to me.
Yes, totally agree! Before we end this
off, let the people at P&P know about any upcoming shows/tours you may have & how they can reach you.
So yea…feel free to reach out to me at www.IzzaKizza.com to find links and updates to anything Kizza related. I have free music available for download via www.myspace.com/izzakizza. It’s also available on
iTunes. “Connect the Dots” ft. Colin Munroe video coming very soon. Single with Missy coming very soon, debut album coming in September, Alize cross-country campus tour coming in September towards a college near you…check me out…its good shyt…Izza Kizza over and out.
Izza Kizza – *Wizard Of Iz* (Full Mixtape)