For the better part of a decade, rapper Dizzy Wright has been among the leaders in the independent rap scene. Without the support of a major label, the Flint, Michigan native has managed to etch out his own space in the oft-times crowded arena of hip hop with Billboard charting projects and world tours to boot.
N’DIGO recently caught up with Dizzy to discuss his career beginnings, his hectic tour schedule, and the impact he hopes his music has on his listeners.
N’DIGO: Growing up who were you influenced by and who did you listen to?
Dizzy Wright: I listened to a lot of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. I was really into the melodies and the harmony they had. Also just their ability to rap so fast and change tempo so seamlessly. And then their ability to talk about religious things and street stuff and how they really made it all connect.
As I got older, I got into ‘Pac and Nas and Bob Marley. I was really connected to music where you could feel the vibrations, you know? Those are some of the people that kinda kickstarted my interest in doing music.
What was your first big break or the moment you knew that you could really do this?
Man that’s a good question! I’d say maybe back in 2009; I did a record and gave it to some DJ’s. Side note – I used to throw parties back then. That’s how I paid my bills. So at one my parties, I gave the DJ this record and I remember that the crowd just went crazy, like it was some real popular stuff that was out and they already knew it. I just remember that feeling I got. It was like a mixture of reassurance and relief. And from there, I think I kinda knew.
How’s tour life been treating you?
Ah man, tour life is no joke at all. It’s a job within itself. With that being said, I’ve been experiencing a lot of good energy and the fans have been showing a lot of love. I’m definitely having a lot of fun.
Does that make it easier for you…when the fans show up and show out?
Oh absolutely! Without a doubt. It’s all about that energy exchange.
How would you describe your approach to music?
I more or less just try to make a record that people are gonna fall in love with, more than the artist. All the extra stuff I just look at like a bonus. I just do my thing and try to work hard to keep people interested in what I’ve got going on.
But the collective thing of the music I put out there is really for people to be able to go back after a certain amount of time and….as other kids grow up at whatever age they’re at, we can always find something we can identify with at various points in our lives. That’s what I want my music to be for people.
For those who may have never heard of Dizzy Wright before, what are three records of yours that you think would be a good starting place?
I’d start them out with Plotting, then I’d have them check out East Side just to give them something a little different, and finally I’d tell ’em to listen to Word On The Streetz.
Growth-wise, how do you feel you’ve progressed from your first project to this latest one, State Of Mind 2?
I think now I’m just saying things with a little more confidence and I have a little better understanding of the message that I’m trying to put out there. I try to drop little hints, to not like completely distract people from the overall message, but I think that I’ve developed a lot and gotten better with dropping those hidden gems.
And overall, life is just a little more clear for me than before. I’m basically seeing an elevated version of myself. But with that said, all my material is based off of life experiences, so I guess at the end of the day, it’s all about where you’re at.
In your opinion, what are three essential elements that a good emcee needs?
Stage presence. Passion. Consistency.
What are some of the pros and cons of going the indie route like you have?
The pros is basically I don’t have that weird energy around me of a major label trying to force me to make certain things happen or threatening me that nothing will happen, you know?
The cons to it is you have to do a lot more work to create the momentum behind what you got going on because you don’t have that big machine behind you. It’s a slower grind and a slower process. It’s not like you have someone working for six months behind the scenes to push one record to make it so that you have that big bang.
And that’s why, you know, labels have the mentality that they do, because they feel like they can put muscle behind almost anything and blow that up and it can be endless from there. For me though, I think it’s been better for me this way because I’ve been able to learn a lot more and I’m still learning. I get to be a student of the game and learn it from the inside out.
What’s something your fans would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a killer ping-pong player. I don’t know if that’s something people would even care about, but yeah, I’m super nice on the ping-pong. Trust me, don’t nobody want this (laughs)!
Best advice to young artists?
First off, just pay attention. Pay attention to everything that’s happening around you. Also, never be afraid to handle business for yourself. I would tell people now that the business is extremely important and to keep your eyes open and pay attention. You could have all the passion and be the best rapper in the world and still know nothing about your business. I can’t reiterate enough to pay attention, know your business, and keep your circle small. Watch out for those snakes in the grass.
Favorite quote or affirmation you go by?
“Do the right thing when no one is looking.” I think that is so dope because with all the social media and other things that we’ve got popping, it’s easy to broadcast things we want people to love us for. I think, though, that doing the right things when no one is watching helps you to be proud of yourself.
What’s next for Dizzy Wright?
I just got the word that we’re about to do a European leg of the tour so I’m excited about that. That’s gonna be super dope, to get back out there and get in front of my fans there and feel that energy. Also man, the grind don’t stop, so I’m definitely gonna get back in the studio. I plan to work with some different artists and step out of my element a little.
I think the biggest thing for me is making sure I can move a certain way when people mess with me for being the artist that I am. So that’s the plan – to keep growing with it and trying new things and having fun doing what I love.
(Dizzy’s latest project, State Of Mind 2, is currently available on all streaming platforms. For more information, visit www.dizzywright.com.)