“There’s so much of a stigma placed on Hip-Hop in general. The competitive nature of a rapper to be the biggest, richest entity has outshined the actual art of Hip-Hop itself. There has always been a comparison between Hip-Hop and Rap or the emcee vs. a rapper. In reality, we all do the same thing from different perspectives. I feel whether you are a conscious rapper or in the booth making “trap” music the level of respect across the board should be the same for each artist.” – HAZ3 (On The State Of Hip-Hop) / HAZ3 is a Spoken Word/Hip-Hop artist here in Milwaukee. Working in the game since 2004, he is known for taking his personal experiences and relaying them with a lot of expression and striking details. Which usually results in moving performances. His end game is not that of the typical artist. He doesn’t want the fame or the big bucks. Instead he just wants to keep growing in his art, motivate others, and bring some variety and respect back to the game. The Illixer had the privilege of picking the mind of the down to earth Milwaukee emcee and getting to know him a little better. Check it out after the jump.
The Illixer: What is Haz3’s story?
HAZ3: HAZ3’s story happens to only be one chapter of my life. I previously would perform under the alias of Datruth, until faced with situations in my life that made me question whether what I believed in was “true”. I felt I needed a name that resembled what I was going through. Therefore, HAZ3 came about and I stuck with it because it serves as a constant reminder to never be naïve enough to think I KNOW everything.
TI: Let’s say someone was interested in listening to your music for the first time. What song or project would you suggest that they start with and why?
HAZ3: I have a poem that was actually inspired by the instrumental version of Rihanna’s “Rehab.” This poem ended up being a little too wordy to be a rap song, so I stripped it of the beat and offered it to the poetry community as a depiction of who I am at this particular stage of life.
TI: How do you go about preparing for a performance?
HAZ3: When it comes to choosing a piece, I usually have about three that are ready to go, and I end up performing whichever one feels right at the moment. For performing, I’m usually somewhere zoned out. I like to be alone listening to music. Even during a set you may catch me somewhere reciting lines or free-styling to whatever the band is playing. That is how I keep my energy up and my mind focused.
TI: For those who are unfamiliar, explain a little bit about your brand Fly Forever Entertainment.
HAZ3: Fly Forever Entertainment is made up of five Milwaukee artists. No deal, just grinding trying to get our names out there. It’s made up of: myself, Royale, Knoble, Solis and AMiR. We have a little something to offer everyone. All of our styles are different which is why we decided to work as a group. We all share the same hunger and a natural feel for music.
TI: Where does your inspiration from your poems and lyrics come from?
HAZ3: Day to day life, victories and struggles, the idea that everything in life can change in a split second. That’s what inspires my lyrics. My songs and poems serve as a snapshot of a moment I may never encounter again. I try to capitalize on the beauty of each moment.
TI: You have about eight years under your belt. Share one of the most memorable experiences in your career thus far.
HAZ3: The most breathtaking experience I’ve had thus far was the opportunity to travel with the 2009 Milwaukee Poetry Slam team. I learned so much in the time that we were together and I truly feel that it helped me grow as an artist. I literally stumbled into a slam one day at the Miramar Theatre. I knew no one, had two of my friends with me. But it was one of the first times I met Dasha Kelly face to face, she had such a nurturing spirit that it really helped me to feel welcome. I don’t recall where I placed in the slam but it was enough to make it onto the team. The biggest lesson I learned from the team was that anyone could write a poem, and anyone can be good at it, but no one can do it like you. That sticks with me to this day as a reminder that there is a reason why I do what I do. Being around so many great writers also taught me to pay attention to detail, it helps to paint the picture for the audience.
TI: Who is your favorite poet of all time and what is your favorite poem by that person?
HAZ3: Too many to name. I aspire to be as powerful as most of the poets I’ve had the luxury of being around. They each hold their own and possess elements that I would like to obtain at some point in my career. From Dasha Kelly, Dan Vaughn, Kwabena Antoine Nixon, Mario The Poet, Autumn Blaze, and the list could literally go on for days. The poetry community is really like a big family, sometimes I feel I may be a distant cousin but at the end of the day these people have my back regardless. I can’t focus all of that energy into one specific person or piece.
TI: Your bio states that you are not on a quest to become a star. So what are you ultimately trying to accomplish with your music and poetry?
HAZ3: I want to be recognized and respected for my art, plain and simple. I feel like too many people get caught up in trying to impress crowds or make money. My only goal is to express myself and be heard.
TI: What is the main difference between spoken word and rapping in your opinion?
HAZ3: Spoken word is the freedom to say what you want, when you want to. Rapping is a more structured form usually causing you to restrict a style such as spoken word and fit it into a 16 bar verse.
TI: If you had to choose between spoken word and rapping, which one would you pick and why?
HAZ3: That’s a tough decision! But I’d have to pick spoken word basically because of my previous answer. Some of the messages I attempt to convey don’t always fit into a rap song.
TI: Are you working on any upcoming projects or ventures that you would like to discuss?
HAZ3: I’m currently working on one of my first collections titled The R3DEFINITION. It will be a mixture of poetry and rap. The main concept behind this project is taking everything you know and redefining it, essentially making things better or worse than they may seem. I also will be performing at Nostalgia I for Poetry Unplugged on May 1st. This will be a part of the “Respect My Broken English” series and I will be opening for the artist Awthentik.
**My Two Cents: It was interesting learning more about HAZ3. I appreciate the fact that he is driven by something different then a lot of other artists. Also, the fact that he does poetry too is awesome. It’s always nice to have a handle on more than one thing. To hear what HAZ3 is about musically, check out his Reverb Nation page. He has some pretty decent tracks on there. -MinM