Azizi Gibson Is Bringing Realness Back To Hip-Hop [Exclusive]
Azizi Gibson. You’ve probably heard of him by now; originally signed to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder Records in 2012, he’s collaborated with Waka Flocka, DJ Paul (of Three 6 Mafia), and Big KRIT, and went on his first solo headline national tour this summer promoting A New Life, his third full-length album. Currently residing in Los Angeles, he actually spent much of his childhood abroad, growing up in Frankfurt, Germany, and Bangkok, Thailand, before moving to Maryland in his early adolescence. He’s currently working with some of the top producers in the game and putting out music that, much like his life, melds cultures and experiences into something fresh and unique. His bars and flow are easy to both relate and listen to; there’s a familiarity in its feel yet a distinctiveness in his lyrical content. He’s looking to change the game with his next album, and his new single, “Levels”, is a feel-good track that you want to share with everyone from your mom to your mailman. We got the chance to exclusively premiere the video for “Levels,” and to talk to Gibson about his top five musicians, and what he has in store for the future.
You grew up in Germany and Thailand before moving to Maryland. How do you think this has affected your music?
I think it’s made me more open to try things—being experimental is in my blood, it’s in my veins, because I wasn’t raised completely in a box. When I moved to America when I was 11, I realized what the box was.
What made you leave Brainfeeder Records, the label you started on?
We didn’t see eye-to-eye and I wanted more for myself.
What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
Who’s on your Top five right now?
Outkast, Eminem, Linkin Park, Gorillaz, Pharcyde.
What do you have coming up in the pipeline?
I’m working on an album, another crazy album. I’m working on the “Golden Age” album, the album where people will realize they’re being lied to and what they’re listening to isn’t real—the lifestyle they promote isn’t real. We all indulge in stupid music, we turn up. But this turn up stuff, this trap music, it’s all a fake lifestyle. There should be a realness in music. And my new album, it’s still going to slap, it’s still going to make your head nod. It’s just going back to the foundation [for] what created me, not hip-hop.
How do you think your music makes people feel?
That everything’s okay.
What’s your new song “Levels” about?
[It’s] a song everyone needs and everyone can relate to. It’s not about a color or what side of the fence you’re on, it’s a song [that lets you] find a middle ground and enjoy it for what is. I feel like there are so many people putting out “conscious music”—a lot of it is black conscious music, and it becomes a label, a style of [consciousness]. This is a song I wanted to put in peoples’ hands to help people—it has nothing to do with money, or Azizi, or anything. It’s a song about where you are in life and what you appreciate. It’s a song that I delicately wrote so that it doesn’t feel one-sided.
I wanted to give people something that they actually can hold on to, that they don’t have to feel weird holding on to, and that they can give to make that next person feel better—feel better in a not-too-corny way, but in a cool way.
Images by John Peterson.
Stay tuned to Milk for more premieres.