What kind of lifestyle did you have growing up in Thailand?
“Well I spent alot of time in school because my mother was a teacher, like of course we went to landmarks and locations- I mean everything is like a landmark overseas- but yeah I spent a lot of time in school doing sports and just listening to music here and there, but I don’t think it was anything too specific. I was in this embassy environment around people who spoke my language, but when we would shop it was like a totally different world. But as you know third world countries be learning English and shit. These Americans are stupid to like other countries, so it was like a normal life, just with Asians really.”
Do you think experiencing such a different culture had any influence on your music?
“Yeah I definitely do. I heard different styles of music, like I didn't hear too much hip-hop living in Thailand. The only hip-hop I heard was through my brother or my sisters or whatever they were listening to. I didn't know where they got their outlet from of music because when I turned on MTV it was like a lot of pop songs that I couldn't even understand the language to. And then I heard like Eminem and Dr Dre and Jay Z, very large artists that could make it to an international level on MTV, so that was like my hip-hop. I just think the sounds from all the music that I use to just hear, has lead me not to limit myself with just hip-hop, because I feel like a lot of the new shit I’m doing is more like...I don’t want to call it ‘RnB’ but it’s more of a melodic state than it is a rap system.”
So you mentioned Eminem and other popular rappers. What other musicians did you listen to growing up?
“I guess Eminem was like the biggest part that leaped me into really to wanting to become a rapper, but as far as like what I would listen to and shit, my parents were pretty strict about the type of music I would listen to so I had a Gorillaz CD that really wasn't rap, I fucking had like a Shaq cassette tape, like who gives a fuck about that? My parents would buy me like Aaron Carter cassette tapes and shit. What I remember listening to the most that I bought behind my parents back was the Linkin Park album so that was like the only albums I ever had.”
What made you and your friend Taylor decide to start PreHISTORIC Crew, and what’s the story behind it?
“It’s crazy because I haven’t talked to Taylor in years, like we don’t make music together. I still love that guy though. It was a little coffee-house dig where you showcase your talents in school and shit and I actually played guitar. Like I was rapping and shit all the time but I had never been to a coffee club before and I was doing it with some girl, so I just played the guitar for her- It was some simple shit. And then like a scrawny white kid came up three acts after us and made some super powerful beat on stage with a lot of bass, like no one was expecting it, it was like ‘damnnnnn’ and then I wrote him on MySpace- these were MySpace days- because he commented on my shit, and then I see we go to the same high school so I was like ‘yo, lets link up, make some music’ and then we got together and just made music, made a really cool song that night, and then the next morning I came up with the name ‘PreHISTORIC’ then we started making music under PreHISTORIC.”
So would you say you’re more of a solo artist now? Who is within PreHISTORIC crew?
“I mean it’s not just like some musician shit, so it’s like whatever you doing to the fullest you know what I’m saying? I don’t have to be the only musician or I can be the only musician. It’s a very loose thing so just it’s just a lifestyle I guess. PHC is trying to make history as you go, nothing more than that. It’s not a gang sign; it’s just a logo and just a way of thinking. We just all trying to go down in history, and get our names in the book instead of just fucking working for the man and doing this, that and the third. Let people be able to look our names up in the future.”
In terms of the ‘Ignorant Prayers’ mixtape, how did you and Jeremiah Jae come up with the concept, and how do you think your sounds compliment each other?
“I don’t even know, the truth is, he gave me a beat CD with like 20 beats on it and he was just like ‘rap to whatever’ and then I rapped to 3 of them and then I just ended up rapping to more just because I was like fuck it I’m gonna just do this, and then our mixtape just came out. So it was like no chemistry at all. It was like here are these beats, do whatever you want. And then I just ended up with ‘yo I got this mixtape, let’s call this shit 'Ignorant Prayers' and drop it on ‘Brainfeeder’ and then he was like ‘alright fuck yeah let’s do it’ and then it worked because it was right before his album so it was great. We plan to do another one, but we plan to do it together because like I said 'Ignorant Prayers' was just like here’s the beats and literally like a month and a half- it was very quick-I ended up rapping to a whole bunch of this shit and we just liked it. And he also did the artwork for it so yeah. And in terms of the concept, when I rap I build a concept, but there was just like no chemistry. So for 'Ignorant Prayers' I was just like I’m gonna be ignorant, people always expect the fucking spirits in this world to take care of everything when they don’t even try themselves. They just continue to pray, and expect a sandwich to be made; like you already got the ingredients why you praying for someone to make a sandwich? People just be looking at shit backwards.”
In one of your interview’s you said that ignorant prayers was throwing off the perception of who you are. How does your new mixtape ‘Ghost In The Shell’ show who the real Azizi is?
“Just because you can’t be ignorant and arrogant and show all your feelings and be an asshole to everybody. In 'Ignorant Prayers' I’m very nonchalant, not giving a fuck, humorous, and being a comedian. But 'Ghost In The Shell' is like alright there are some serious things in life that you need to take care of, and it’s just me. When I’m at a party, I’m vibing with my homies, even though I love 'Ignorant Prayers' I’m not gonna play that shit at a party. 'Ghost In The Shell' is just Azizi, what Azizi likes, and what he wants to do and what he wants to promote and whatever of that nature. Like 'Ignorant Prayers' was Jae and I compromising to make a whole new sound and style of sound or whatever. Whereas 'Ghost In The Shell' was pure me, what I’m thinking and only what I’m thinking. I chose the beats and I had a large selection, so it made me feel like this is what I need to tell my story.”
Who would you say inspires you lyrically due to the fact there is such a difference between ‘Ignorant Prayers’ and ‘Ghost In The Shell’?
“I don’t even know. I guess that’s the million dollar question. Life? I don’t sit down in front of a television and be like ‘this is how I rap’. I rap because I’m use to it now, it’s something where I can put my life onto paper. Every day is inspirational when it comes to writing, you never know. It could be a shitty day, and you could write a fucking hit on paper. It could be a great day and it might be an average song on paper for someone. I live my lyrics.”
You met Flying Lotus in the gym! How did that lead to you being signed to Brainfeeder and how has being part of such a successful label helped you progress within your career?
“Yeah I met Fly at the gym and I told him I did music and shit, but I didn’t do anything crazy, I just happen to meeting Flying Lotus at that time. And then I ended up losing my job at Urban Outfitters and I had some mixtapes on me, and then I saw him at the gym again and then I gave him my mixtape. After he hit me up like that night on twitter, and then I checked it and he was like ‘yo, let’s go get lunch’. We got lunch the next day after he heard my music, and then we started building this relationship together, and he eventually signed me. I mean as far as being on Brainfeeder, there’s a lot of progression for the future for many different directions. It’s a good base to be apart of from any angle, on a business side they don’t steal from you at all which is a good thing. We all have to go in a certain direction because I do see the potential in Brainfeeder, I love Brainfeeder, I just want the best for it. I want it to be looked at like Interscope one day. So a lot of people know Flying Lotus, some people know Brainfeeder. I want it to all be like on one thing like oh ‘Fly Lo, Brainfeeder, Azizi, Underachievers blah blah’. I mean it’s not there yet but it’s amazing already. Brainfeeder has its fans and that’s a good thing. Brainfeeder has honest fans.”
Do you plan on collaborating with anyone else in Brainfeeder?
“Whenever the time really, with anyone in Brainfeeder I’m always down. Everyone’s busy and doing what they’re doing so it’s difficult. Like, it’s a bunch of big family so maybe one day, maybe we should put out a collaboration mixtape or album, it would probably be amazing. Actually...nah I’m not gonna spoil it but, they should.”
What is your favourite piece of work that you’ve done so far and are you working on anything at the moment to release?
“I guess one of my latest tracks ‘Crown Violet’. I don’t know why but I think it’s just the beginning for me to really start taking everything seriously and doing things for myself and not really worrying about others anymore. I’m doing an album, but I’m definitely going to have something secretly drop before then very soon, probably something with more than 5 songs.”
Who would you say inspires you outside of hip hop?
“The biggest influence outside of hip hop was the Gorillaz. Outside of hip hop I’m listening to King Krule and Cudi a lot recently; I just take it all in really. I’m very bad with names also, like even with actors, actresses and locations. I don’t give too many fucks so I just don’t remember them as well. So there’s so much I haven’t said but I’m just very terrible at that stuff.”
Do you listen to anyone in the UK rap scene and would there be a possibility of collaborating?
“I really don’t. I use to because Taylor was the fucking man, Taylor got all my music. He’s the one who introduced me to Flying Lotus’s music. Taylor was like my music sense. When I moved to L.A my sense of music of what’s out there was horrible. In terms of collaborations and stuff music is music, I don’t give a fuck where you’re from. If it sounds good and I think we can make a good track that makes sense- it’s all about making sense- and we like each other, it’s organic and we’re not forcing it; because I don’t like someone trying to pay me money, like of course I’ll take the money but when people want to collab with me, I turn a lot of email collabs down because I’d rather us organically come together and make some shit and vice versa. Me not know who you are at all and then you drop a song, and then me not want to promote because I don’t like the song or you creates a problem. So I’m down to collaborate with anyone as long as it’s organic.”
Have you ever been to London?
“Yeah, I was in London for like 1 hour catching a train, and they searched my bags and everything. I was like the only black person to hop off the train and searched by like dogs and shit. But it wasn’t me so I didn’t even care. But yeah I would still come here to perform. Hell yeah. Whenever they book me to come, I don’t discriminate anywhere I perform. The dungeons of hell if they paying me.”
Lastly, what’s your favourite anime show and video game?
“Got to be ‘Hunter X Hunter’. My favourite video games series ever is ‘The Legend of Zelda’. It’s not a game you would continuously play over and over, that would be stressful.”
Check out the other artists on Brainfeeder