I’ve always been an advocate for new and emerging artists. I don’t know why, I guess there’s just something about an artist when their just starting out that always seems to amaze me. I think it’s often the passion they have for making music and actually viewing what they do as a craft versus something that they get cut a check for. Lil’ Haze, a Hip-Hop artist straight out of Birmingham, Alabama is the next great sensation from the South – mark my words on this one.
When meeting him in person, his down home welcoming persona almost makes you feel like you’ve been friends with him since grade school. I had the chance to meet Lil’ Haze while he was on tour here in New York with his record label, Birmingham Records. As a matter of fact – this was his first visit to ‘The Big Apple.” “You know one thing I haven’t done yet that I really want to do while I’m here? I want to ride the subway! We don’t have that where I’m from,” stated Lil’ Haze to me as we walked from his hotel in Times Square to a Brazilian restaurant a couple of blocks away to get some lunch. We hung out for nearly three hours that day just talking about everything from our families, how he was enjoying NYC, why he doesn’t eat red meat but will tear up some chicken, fish and veggies; and much more. It’s almost hard to believe that this guy is a father himself of a beautiful baby girl and has overcome so much for someone in his early twenties. Observant, courteous, and polite are not often associated to describe most rappers off stage. But don’t get it twisted, when this kid hits the stage – even the self-proclaimed ‘King of the South’ -T.I., has to bow down and realize this guy is his competition and coming for his crown!
After seeing Lil’ Haze in full performance mode at The Sugar Bar on Manhattan’s Upper West Side for Maria Davis’ Can’t Be Silenced Fridays – this kid got a crowd of mostly patrons in their thirties and up rowdy and crunk like they were teenagers on BET’s 106 & Park! He and his producer, Ole Tyma lit that event up that evening with his performances of Girls In Da Club, What It Iz, and Work That Body. Lil’ Haze is an artist that is passionate when he performs and gives not just a show or a performance – but an experience!
His web site, www.lilhaze205.com is where you can find out more about him, listen to his music and read his bio – as well as his official MySpace page (which I made sure to plug during the interview I had with him). His debut album, Doin’ Da Most is filled with song after song that will rejuvenates that there is still talented artists out there. One of my favorite tracks is the song, Haze Cares. A song he actually recorded after being inspired from his daughter. It also is a song that’s message is very clear to children that if they feel no one else cares, Haze cares. Like it or not, Lil’ Haze is an artist who doing the most to make sure The Ham’ has its staple on the music scene. Stay tuned!
BE- New York: Your debut album, Doin’ Da Most is about to drop soon. Do you have an exact date yet?
Lil’ Haze: Well actually no, we don’t have an exact date man. But we’re looking to drop it this summer actually. Yo’, just be on the look out for it this summer man!
BE-NY: That’s what’s up. Now as a newcomer to the music scene, what do you feel you can offer to new listeners that will be checking out Doin’ Da Most?
Lil’ Haze: Aw man… basically I’m bringing a whole new different flava’ into the game man. I’m offering new lyrical content – you know I don’t use profanity in my lyrics. I’m bringing a clean slate and I’m actually bringing a message within my music. You know, don’t get me wrong about the album title, Doin’ Da Most – a lot of people get it wrong thinking I’m bragging and boasting. It just simply relates to the ties that I intend to unite all people from they’re mental slavery.
BE-NY: Who did you work with on this album – production wise?
Lil’ Haze: Man, I worked with a lot of different cats. I worked with some cats out of Atlanta called Hall of Tunez – they got a couple of tracks on Plies album. I worked with my producer Ole Tyma, residing out of Birmingham, Alabama. And then I’m getting ready to work with Don Vito – he did a couple of tracks on (Young) Jeezy last album. And Jimmy Varner out in the valley… just big up’s… I worked with a lot of different cats.
BE-NY: Are there any collaborations that can be expected on this album?
Lil’ Haze: Well actually for those who don’t know, I cut a record with the Ying Yang Twins called What It Iz. And actually I just cut a record with Ray-J called Work That Body, so we about to get ready to start pushing that record real soon – so be on the look out for that!
BE-NY: Most of today’s rappers from the South tend to represent cities such as Atlanta, Miami, Houston, New Orleans and Memphis. Why do you think it’s important for people to know about ‘The Ham’ (slang for Birmingham, Alabama) and what it’s all about?
Lil’ Haze: Number one, I feel like we have a whole new era in Hip-Hop. You know you got the New Yorkers, you got Memphis, you got Atlanta; and to me I feel like we got a different sound as far as in what we going through. I feel like some people have it harder than others. And it’s like when we make our music, and when we really speak our minds, we’re really coming right from the heart so we’re basically bringing messages within our music and showing you what’s going on in our neck of the woods. You know, it’s no different then where you stay or where Diddy stays just to make an example – it’s all the same just a different way of life.
BE-NY: Who were some of your inspirations to pursue a career in music?
Lil’ Haze: Aw man… big ups to Common ya know what I mean! The people who are really saying something – Outkast, NaS, big up’s to Busta Rhymes – you know I’m really big up on the old school Hip-Hop game. KRS-1, MC Sam – all the old school Hip-Hop heads – Queen Latifah – I definitely want to work with Queen you know what I mean! Cause’ I’m about to bring them all out of retirement – watch what Li’ Haze tell you – you know what I mean, just be on the look out for it though!
BE-NY: I had read somewhere that you stated you have a lot of respect for Will Smith too, correct?
Lil’ Haze: Exactly! That’s one man I did left out. You know, one of the reasons I got so much respect for Will Smith is because he’s not scared to be himself. He’s not afraid to just speak his mind and just be you! Just do you regardless of what a person says about you. Like when Eminem tried to come at him – he (Will Smith) brushed him right off his shoulders! Wasn’t nothing he could really say to him because he’s already a ‘made man’! Forget all that controversy and stuff, just live life – you know what I mean!
BE-NY: How was life growing up in Birmingham?
Lil’ Haze: Man, for me – life was hard! Even though – I’m blessed to have a big family and what not. But growing up for me, I’ve always been going from house to house… it’s hard man, it’s a struggle. Especially when you don’t really have a role model in your life, you just out there on the street out there by yourself just learning the ropes by yourself. But it was just kind of hard and I’m blessed to be in the position I am in right now. I just kept that Man upstairs first and I’m still here, I’m still surv
BE-NY: Do you think growing up in Birmingham made your hustle even harder to get your name out there as an artist, versus if you have had grown up here in New York or another major city?
Lil’ Haze: Man… definitely man! It’s like this – in Birmingham it’s totally different from New York. Life out there is nothing like New York you know what I mean? But… yeah, yeah!
BE-NY: What do you have for new artists that are trying hard to get their music out there? Here in New York I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of artists passing out the mixtapes, passing out the demos trying to get them heard. What’s your advice for people like that?
Lil’ Haze: Man, actually I got great advice – KEEP DOING THAT! Keep giving away your CDs. Just do it for the love of music, it ain’t all about the money even though we’re in a recession right now it is about money; but actually it’s not! I’m doing it for the love of this music right here man, because the music is so instilled in me. Music is strength, power and knowledge. It all boils down to if it ain’t no money or no cars or nothing – people still going to be listening to music! That’s what it’s about.
BE-NY: How did you hook up with the Ying Yang Twins? I seen the video for What It Iz, so I wanted to know how you hooked up with them and on this album, will there be any other videos for selected tracks?
Lil’ Haze: I hooked up with Ying Yang Twins through Label mates. If anyone remembers Ghetto Mafia? I hooked up with them through Ghetto Mafia, they from Decatur, Georgia. They had the song called (sings) “Straight from the Dec…” Old school jam man! Them boys still doing it though, but that’s how I hooked up with Ying Yang through Ghetto Mafia. They like ‘ace-boon-coon!’ And yeah man, we’re definitely fenna get ready and shoot another video for this record I worked with Ray-J on called Work That Body. So, it’s going platinum baby… it’s been a long time coming. I’m real blessed being in the position that I’m in right now.
BE-NY: MySpace.com/LilHaze05 is your MySpace page. Now tell the truth – do you actually log onto your MySpace page or is someone hired to do that?
Lil’ Haze: Actually man, I’m on my MySpace page everyday! Everyday man! You know I gotta stay tuned in with my people man! That’s the only way. Because I feel like if you having somebody else working your page man, you won’t… you really don’t know who you talking to. You may see somebody in the club and then they may know you just by talking to you on your MySpace page and then you don’t even know who they is because somebody else been working your page. But I’m definitely on my page everyday man, so hit me up cause I’m a holla at ya! It’s whatever, I’m here!
BE-NY: What promotions do you have to get the word out about the album, Doin Da Most? What, street promotions? Any CD signings? I know you’ve got something coming up here in New York.
Lil’ Haze: Yeah, actually man I got a couple of shows coming up. I’m actually on the road right now. I’m getting ready to start doing this college tour, just constantly in the studio. Just getting my name out there by giving away CDs, giving away posters, giving away flyers, I got water bottles, I got thongs – you know what I’m saying?! With this t-shirt and no draws… just doing the whole nine, just doing it all man! Just trying to make my life a little bit better once this music thing really gets ready to pop off, I’m going to make a whole lot of peoples lives better. You know, that’s what it’s about – its about eating man, it’s about unity man! If you ain’t got no unity, you ain’t got nothing! I ain’t no better than the next man out here.
BE-NY: Last question. How did you get the name Lil Haze? Is it because you know ‘the chief?’ (Laughs…)
Lil’ Haze: (Laughs…) Nawh! Man, actually it’s a long story but at first it was called Little Hazel – I wasn’t supposed to let nobody know that but I’m just gonna let the world know because I don’t bite my tongue for nobody. At first it was called Little Hazel, actually a girl gave it to me back in my classmate days around the seventh grade. I always used to beat on the desk and I used to wear the little hazel contacts, so she called me Little Hazel. (Laughs…) So I changed it up to Lil’ Haze and put a meaning behind it. “Lil’” expressing the youth or smallness, and ‘Haze’ I’m referred to as no matter where I go my presence will be acknowledged by every departed set of eyelashes! That’s what Lil’ Haze is baby! Stay tuned!
Written By Phonz Reyes