BZZY is done blaming others. The 26-year-old Florida rapper has spent most of his career on the verge. Between five projects and major performances, every moment felt like it was nearly BZZY’s big moment—until it wasn’t. “I felt like I was in a cycle every year,” BZZY tells me over the phone. “Every year I’d move away, I’d pursue it, I’d get close, and I’d end up back. I was so frustrated by it.”
In 2017, the frustration did not just catch up to BZZY, it devastated him. He found himself on the rooftop of his Koreatown apartment pleading with God for a sign, for anything to point him in the right direction.
“On the rooftop of the building, I broke down in tears and I cried,” BZZY admits. “My original plan for the album… I was in such a bad place that I was just gonna kill myself when I was done. So, the album serves as a suicide note… I asked God for a sign, and shortly after, I found out I was having a baby by my girlfriend back home.”
From that moment, BZZY, formerly known as Bizzy Crook, turned to books and began to look inward. “I had to look at myself and think, 'Okay, this is what I did,'” he explains. “I’m at a point to where it feels refreshing to say something happened because it was my fault.”
Addressing his faults and his flaws slowly led to what currently stands as his brave and harrowing opus: Before I Jump. The record is heavy and bare and showcases every ugly angle of BZZY’s past.
With the album out, BZZY feels free. “I feel like I even breathe a little better,” he says. “I feel like I never have to make an album like that again.” Whether or not this is the album that makes his career no longer matters. The only important note now is that BZZY has confronted his past, and he is ready to move forward.
DJBooth’s full interview with BZZY, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: First question: How are you feeling?
BZZY: After this album… I feel free. I said a lot of things that I never told nobody. I guess, getting it out of my system, just saying it out loud, I feel a weight off my shoulders. I feel like I even breathe a little better. I feel like I never have to make an album like that again. For example, the song “13 Reasons Why,” there’s stuff on there that I confessed to my mom. Nobody in the world knew of any of it.
Being 26 years old, it’s a bunch of things that I just ignored for my whole life and I think it had a subconscious effect on me. I guess I’ve always had a certain discomfort with my spirit, like something just was off. For a while, my earlier years in music, I spent a lot of time just trying to be somebody else, because I was afraid of my truth. I spent a lot of time trying to belong, and I’m just at a point where, “Okay, I never belonged in the first place, and I’m 100 percent okay with that.”
Do you feel like you belong to yourself?
Yes. I’ve always been an introvert; I’ve always been quiet. But I’ve always wanted to fit in. My early years in music, I’d have management and we’d go to events and they’d be like, “You can’t be so quiet, you gotta go talk to this person!” My soul is like this quiet kid that doesn’t wanna talk, but you know, I love this music so much, so I think this is what you have to do. I go and try to talk to somebody with extreme social anxiety, and I probably came off disingenuous. I didn’t want to talk; I didn’t have anything to say.
Well, Before I Jump plays like a record you had to write. When did you first feel that urgency to share?
Last year, I moved to LA. I had a little apartment in Koreatown, had like four of my boys from Florida come with me. I always had friends with me because I was afraid to be alone. I didn’t know how to be alone… My friends and I were never really alike. I’d rather be in bad company than alone, which would lead to more conflicts in my spirit. There was a point last year, where I’d been chasing this for 10 years. Now my mother’s getting older, my father’s getting older, my sister’s growing up, and I’ve been away for so many years—I’m missing birthdays and holidays.
I’m still struggling. When I was recording the album, we were living off ramen noodle soup and alcohol. I’m like, “What the fuck? Is this it?” I felt like I was in a cycle every year. Every year I’d move away, I’d pursue it, I’d get close, and I’d end up back. I was so frustrated by it. My friends I brought were just smoking and sleeping in all day. So, I remember going up on the rooftop one day, and it’s been a while since I spoke to God… Maybe I just lost my relationship with God?
On the rooftop of the building, I broke down in tears and I cried. I cried like, “What am I doing wrong? Am I living wrong? Please, just give me a sign. Give me anything.” The guys that were funding my career, they kinda fizzled out. I wanted to put out this album, and I’m alone now. Now, what am I gonna do? My original plan for the album… I was in such a bad place that I was just gonna kill myself when I was done. So, the album serves as a suicide note. I didn’t want certain people to mourn me for being this sweet guy. I did some fucked-up shit, so if I was gonna jump, this was the stuff I wanted to let out.
I asked God for a sign, and shortly after, I found out I was having a baby by my girlfriend back home. She called me and asked me what I wanted to do, and I just had to deal with it, because I feel like I got the sign that I asked for.
How did you transition from that headspace to one where you could dissect your feelings?
I started reading a lot of books. I started reading a book called The Untethered Soul, and on the very first page it speaks about the two voices that go back and forth in our head. Yo, my whole life I thought I was crazy! I thought I was the only one who heard those voices. I guess, it was a bunch of moments like that, that showed me we all deal with the same exact shit. We’ve all had fucked-up things happen in our childhoods that turned into fucked-up adulthoods. I guess that comfort let me be more empathetic.
Man, there were songs that I thought about removing because I didn’t wanna ruin certain relationships. Like on “13 Reasons,” I mention pimping my cousin out at 15. I look back at my 15-year-old self in disgust. How do you even do something like that? That’s something that happened at 15, and from 15 to 26, that’s not something I ever faced. Then I wondered, “Man, why do I always have this depression?” I guess it’s a bunch of stuff that I never addressed. I put it under the rug, and then [the] rug gets taller and taller and taller, then you just have a mess. That was the weight that was on my spirit.
How did it feel to call yourself selfish so often across this album?
There’s a Chinese proverb that says: “He who blames others is lost. He who blames himself is on his way. He who blames no one has arrived.” I think I spent the better part of my life blaming others. Everything that happens to me, I was fine blaming others. I’ve been at moments at my career where I felt like I was closer to imagined success, and then I lost it all and blamed others.
As we get older, blaming others doesn’t provide you with an actual solution. I had to look at myself and think, “Okay, this is what I did.” I’m at a point to where it feels refreshing to say something happened because it was my fault. I’m finding my blame in every situation.
Which song was the most important to write?
I would say “13 Reasons Why” only because… When I write music, it’s almost like my higher self is speaking to me. I always say that music is my personal journal that I just share with the world. Part of it is, I was so shy as a child, that I would just express myself in words on paper. So that record is… I told you, I’m on a rooftop and I’m wondering why do I feel anxiety, why do I feel guilt, why can’t I be myself? On that record, I answered all of those questions without even knowing what I was doing.
Along with the record, you also opened up a hotline for fans.
That has been life-changing. A friend of mine, who actually prints our merch, he shot me a text: “Can you talk to my little brother? He’s suicidal.” I realized, throughout my life I’ve always been the guy that people call when somebody’s suicidal. I mean, I’m kinda suicidal myself, but I always play the light for these people. So I got on the phone with this guy, and we ended up talking for two hours, where, by the end of the conversation he was in a much better place just because I listened. I heard him out, and a lot of times, that’s all we want. Then I felt a lot better. I felt like that was a purposeful thing.
I called my team like, “Yo, is there any way we can open up a hotline?” People call crying and by the end of the conversation, they’re in a much better place because it’s about being heard. The call comes to my phone, and in the event that I can’t answer it, it’s forwarded to my team. It’s these stories with a lot of similarities. A lot of times, it dates back to stuff that happens when we were younger, most of the time: your addiction to anything. All these things tie back to our childhood. It’s comforting for them, knowing that they’re talking to somebody who’s been through it. That’s probably the most important thing that I’ve done in my life.
With Before I Jump out, do you feel heard?
Yo… Every day I get the craziest DMs from people all over the country. The album’s moving a lot faster than I even realized. Yesterday, I went out with my family and I asked for the bill and she’s like, “It’s taken care of,” and she pointed at another table. I went to say thank you and the guy was like, “Thank you for this album.” It’s crazy that people are saying this album is keeping them going when this album was my suicide letter. The stuff on this album, I wasn’t encouraging people to keep fighting. I was actually checking out. The reaction to it, and what I realized now… Something that I’m pushing a lot is: don’t jump. Ironically, the guy that was about to jump is now telling others not to jump. I feel like I got a responsibility to spread that message.
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