I've been a Raz Simone fan and supporter for sometime now. I am by no means, at all, even by the smallest of margins, responsible for his success, but I "found" him before he was featured on the DJBooth and helped connect him to the man upstairs (DJ Z). When I "find" these artists (again, I totally didn't find him, but you get the point) and watch them get featured, I end up rooting for them. It's delusional, but I feel like I have a personal bond that extends past a few e-mails. Where most people want their unknown artist to stay unknown, I want each and every artist I come across and feel passionately about to experience success.
Raz is the perfect example. Watching him gain popularity and notoriety over the past few years has been a pleasure because not only does he makes music that I enjoy, but also music that means something. And while his views and followers have increased, so to has the quality and weight of his work. The past few weeks he has put out some of the most enthralling music of his career. I know this series is only supposed be focus on "one song," but to really understand what Raz is building and why I'm so excited - I believe in him more than any other artist right now - you have to go back a few features.
Goddamn. On the surface he is passionate, powerful, and though his music knocks as hard as any trap banger, he has so much heart and substance. I spend a lot of time listening to the music that moves me, but with Raz it moves more than just the music fan in me. Sure, I've worn out these two tracks, but even when I'm not listening, he has me thinking; his words echo in my head long after I listen. I'm not just thinking, "damn I wish I could listen to that cut right now," I'm thinking more broadly about both hip-hop and the world and the way power is distributed in both. I can't remember the last time an emcee challenged me as a person and not just a music lover. His music sounds great, but what he is saying is infinitely more powerful than any snare. His latest effort, "Same Problems," feels like the third chapter in an ongoing saga that is only just getting started.
Again, it sounds great. I love the stark anthemic beat and I'm happy he introduced me to Fatal Lucciauno, but if you only listen for a beat or a flow then you aren't listening the way you need to. Building off the themes of privilege, race and power established in the prior two releases, Raz starts with how race affects the music industry, but with the help of Gifted Gab and Fatal, shows it's just a microcosm, a symptom of a larger problem. What really makes this work, what makes all of these records work, is the passion and pain in Raz' voice. The lyrics are potent, but it's his flow that cuts through me. I don't just believe in him, I believe him. I believe he's mad, I believe he's fed up, and most importantly I believe he will do everything in his power to change it. I want him to succeed because I like his music and I've been there since his DJBooth debut, sure, but much more than that, I want him to succeed because I think he is everything that's right about music. His skill is only rivaled by his depth and passion. He's not afraid to speak his mind and he wants to use his music to make a change. He's everything an emcee should be and more.
So I chose three songs this week instead of just one, sue me. As a long time fan, these last few releases have been on a different level. He is building something truly special and he is making music that matters. Plus, these three dense, stunning pieces come on the heels of his January mixtape, Cognitive Dissonance: Part 2; it's only March and he has put out an entire years worth of material.
The idea of this "1 Song" series is to turn you, the reader, onto something you simply can't miss and right now, as a music fan and as a person, you simply can't miss what Raz is doing.
Tomorrow he will release his Macklemore Privilege & Chief on Keef Violence EP. Tomorrow you need to download it.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]