Bout a year ago, I was invited by Jim Conway, a leader of Guerrilla Breed, to photograph Deezy’s album listening party. The name of the album is E.O.D. (Evolve or Decay) I shot some photos for the upcoming artist and saw all the support the man had behind him. His fellow peers attended and even local radio host Mike Ipong offered his thoughts on the songs. At the end of the album, we exchanged information and networked some. He asked what I thought and I said, “I respect the sound and it’s a great beginning, but it leaves me wanting more.” In our interview, Deezy explained Oklahoma City wasn't always his home. Before he lived here, his home was Dallas, Texas. His love for hip hop and business was cultivated from a young age. I asked what hip hop artists have you looked up too. He gave me a list of several.
As a child in Dallas, he dabbled in music, but not hip hop music.. “I didn’t grow up listening to rap. My parents weren’t cool with it. I listened to soul, R&B, and gospel music.” He was into music as a young kid and he was known to sing in his sleep as a child. His musical tastes today don’t mirror what they were when he was ten years old. Between nine to ten years old, the first artists Deezy encountered were Nas, Tupac, Biggie, and Mos Def. The story telling techniques were what attracted him to these artists. These artists would have a lasting impact on his artistic technique, which is evident on E.O.D. The story telling either operated in actual occurrences on the album or was arranged in conceptual form. The influences of his youth were substantial, but different artists have influenced the man’s short career.
If Tupac and Nas shaped Deezy’s storytelling talents, then imitating T.I. helped him develop a passion and aggression. His earliest songs sounded like T.I.’s projects. About fourteen to fifteen years old, Lil Wayne’s punchlines, and versatility shaped influenced him too. “I used to download old instrumentals and rap over them,” Deezy said about imitating Wayne. To Deezy, Lil Wayne knew how to expertly craft double entendres and weave multiple metaphors into his lyrics. He eventually started freestyling and would challenge anyone to a battle. There didn’t have to be a reason to rap. "It was just fun sticking dope words together," Deezy said in reference to rapping as a teenager. The passion could be heard on E.O.D. and is an experience the audience must have to fully comprehend. Freestyling wasn't the ending but merely a beginning. He met people that would help shape his path.
Deezy's brother introduced him to his first mentor Modus and another individual. The three started recording together. Modus took Deezy and started teaching him the process of recording and helped shape the rapper's path. "End of the Road", one of Deezy's earliest projects, was recorded with the Modus. While Modus knew how to record and EQ songs, he didn't know how to master. The two individuals had a sincere love for recording rap and making music and Deezy didn't undercut Modus's influence and guidance. "So he's kinda a mentor of sorts?" I asked. "Yeah, he was the first mentor that saw my drive and ambition," he replied. Their relationship ended when Modus was shipped to Japan; he was in the Navy and Deezy moved to Oklahoma. Modus sold six thousand dollars of recording equipment to Deezy for six hundred dollars. He'd lock himself up in his room to study the beat production software. "I wasn't good at it, so I quit. I stick to what I'm good at," he said in reference to learning beat production. He didn't give up on being a hip hop artist; he knew producing beats wasn't his forte. He decided to concentrate more recording and mixing an album than the beat production itself. Modus introduced Deezy to recording and took the young rapper seriously because the talent was obvious. Though Modus had an exit, he introduced Deezy to Mr. Six-five. Deezy credits the next step of his evolution to a man named. Mr. Six-five. "Where'd the name six-five come from?" I asked. "He's a big ass Mexican that's six-five," he replied. Connecting with Modus introduced Deezy to recording and production and Mr. SIx-five seemed to indirectly move Deezy towards a business mindset.
Mr. Six-five and Deezy and Syndrome hit it off right away. Deezy, Six-five, and another person formed M3RD, which stands for Mentally Motivated Masterminds and the three represents cubed. Although Deezy moved to Oklahoma, he traveled to Dallas or Houston to record weekly to biweekly with Mr. Six-five and Syndrome. They quickly recorded a mixtape called All Work. No Play. It was a Lil Wayne styled mixtape—remixed pop songs and they rapped over the remixed editions of the songs. In two to three months, the three artists had recorded nearly one hundred songs and the mixtape was not treated as a side hustle. They treated their project with a professional mindset; they placed the songs on CD's, placed them in albums, shrink wrapped the albums, and applied barcodes. They sold them everywhere: open mics, street corners, and a farmer's market. The first tape wasn't the end either and the trio recorded a second mixtape, but it was never pressed. Mr. Six-five ran into trouble with the law and their forward momentum slowed to a halt. Deezy still speaks to them every once in a while. That wasn't the end though to his budding artistry. James eventually enrolled into the University of Central Oklahoma's music program called the Academy of Contemporary Music.
He eventually graduated from the ACM—the Academy for Contemporary Music in Bricktown. He would meet Jim Conway and joined Guerrilla Breed. He recorded E.O.D. which was a huge season for him. He worked three jobs at one point in time. While Modus introduced Deezy to recording and Mr. Six-five did business with him, Jim taught the young rapper some things. "I would say he's given me the know how in releasing a successful project and putting together successful events," Deezy said in reference to their relationship. Conway, Triple 8, Javon Spaxx helped Deezy put together the E.O.D. album release party and listening party. I've seen each artist help Deezy on a show and perform with him. He traveled to Florida for work and has plans for releasing a second album. I asked him about why he does what he does. Before I continue, I must note there have been others that have influenced his mindset and artistry. The article is not am exhaustive list of these people. It's just highlights. Family was a huge factor too. Deezy even references them in lyric form, referring to his parents entrepreneurial practices and habits. His artistic pursuit and handling of business is a reflection of that. Of course, his own wife and children are motivation too. Mr. Six-five, Modus, and Jim Conway are figures that have helped direct his ultimate path of artistry and business. Besides individuals influencing his path, I asked about his personal motivations: why he does it.
I know for most artists there’s always a why—the reason they pursue their creative works. I asked Deezy, “Why do you rap and love hip hop?” “I just feel like me when I am rapping,” he said. The why doesn’t simply stop there either. “The meaning and the core of it spoke to me,” he replied. Hip Hop’s essence speaks to the man and calls out to him. Art is sometimes purely personal. There’s always an artist that moves out of the personal realm into the business side. Deezy has a grasp of the business arena of music and entertainment. For many years, rap and hip hop was associated with gangs, violence, and drug use. However, Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, and others have defeated the stereotype and will continue to do so. “There’s no one way of being successful in black culture and hip hop. It’s not some cookie cutter thing: selling drugs, being hard all the time, being hood. I need to tell my story,” Deezy said. For many youth too, that typical imagery doesn’t speak to them. The creative entrepreneur knows he’s growing an audience.
His why isn’t intrinsically tied to personal motivations. Deezy believes in having a more positive message and being yourself. Success isn’t not a predetermined rode that others can outright mimic. It’s a path carved out through a journey. He didn’t directly state this, but many of his responses indicated he’s conscious of the influence he has and is going to have in the future. E.O.D represents all of this mentioned. It represents growth, influence, focus, intellect, passion, creativity, and passion. As the title album states, a person is always evolving or decaying and Deezy is always evolving.
Deezy's ventures aren't limited to hip hop either. He works in the insurance industry, reads a lot, and has future plans for real estate. Not many artists think like this early in their career. "I feel like I am in a place where I can take a loss in music and it not bankrupt me," Deezy said. He was talking about finances and how he's saved money for the art and business side of things. Early on in his rap career, Deezy is demonstrating how an artist can do business and art. Before, we ended the interview at Starbucks I asked him another question.
"How much of this hard work versus luck?" I asked.
"It's all hard-work. Luck is when opportunity meets preparation. I've turned down offers because I didn't think I was prepared."