One of a kind with his sound, Yzzi is a modern phenomenon. His heavy alternative hip-hop tracks fused with flawless bars set him apart in today’s music industry. This incredibly versatile singer-songwriter/instrumentalist has had his hands in every possible genre of music and plays a key role in the creation of every track including mixing and mastering. Alabama native, Yzzi continues to create music that transcends space and time.
Yzzi’s single “Don’t Look Back” off of the project “Late Nights Early Mornings” is real hip-hop layered with alternative and electronic vibes. At just over two minutes, Yzzi is able to convey his confidence and multi-skill set through his unique tone and style. He breaks stereotypical boundaries with dark and grungy alternative music. This song is quite deliberately a hip-hop vibe, Yzzi’s catalog boasts a genre-bending medley of music. “Don’t Look Back” is a song about exactly what the title implies. Not looking back on your past because it’s already done, focus on the future and keep hustling. Yzzi gives the listener a retrospective look at his past and an inside look at the life he lives now. “You know you can never change sh*t from the past” is a lyric that proves the overall theme of the song. Yzzi’s delivery and energy throughout the track “Don’t Look Back” is a fresh take on an overall intoxicating song.
Listen to "Don't Look Back" here and get to know more about Yzzi in our interview below!
Can you start by introducing yourself? How did you create the stage name Yzzi?
I am a multi-instrumentalist born in Atlanta and raised all over America. During my childhood I cycled between Northern and Southern Cali as well as Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Tuskegee, Alabama. During my stint in Alabama, I met 2 lifelong friends that would change my life forever. Aether Solaris and Adam Ziyad became the first members of my first band. Everybody had a cool stage name but me initially. I HAD to change that. One day I remember watching some almanac show on VH1 or MTV or something where they list all this old stuff from the 90s and they said that in the year that I was born (96’) the Olympics were held in Atlanta (which is where I was born) and the olympic mascot was “Izzy” like “Izzy a swimmer or Izzy a runner?” I thought was AWESOME like “Izzy playing the guitar or Izzy playing bass?” However several years later, after I had been known as Izzy for years, I was signing my name and I looked at the letters and realized that I-Z-Z-Y and Y-Z-Z-I spell the same thing. That not only blew my mind, it made my name original. If you ever see anyone spelling their name like this… then you know what it yzz
Who are your top three musical influences?
Without a doubt my initial love for music began with Prince. He was my dad’s idol and his originality always spoke to me. He was confident beyond measure and he did whatever he wanted to do both in music and in fashion with no qualms. Also, his multi-instrumentalism inspired me to learn as many instruments as I can. My love for everything Prince also began my lifelong admiration for everything this is “shock rock.” Next, my stylistic influence comes from Parliament Funkadelic, more specifically George Clinton/Bootsy Collins. When I was a kid they really were aliens as far as I was concerned. Their music had this depth conceptually; they were never afraid to imagine and bring otherworldly elements to their music. They always have inspired me to think BIG. Their records were like a universe with its own story. George and Bootsy are almost like the Tolkien and C.S. Lewis of music. Finally, Guns’N’Roses was my favorite band in middle school. When I first picked up a guitar the first thing I learned to play was Paradise City. Slash was my hero! I read his novel, watched every interview, studied every lick and riff. I believe that Slash was the guitarist that made me decide as a pre-teen that NOTHING was more important than practicing so I could play that way one day. And the fact that he is black inspired me most of all because he is as much a real balls-to-wall heavy rocker as he is funky and bluesy.
What was your start in music like? How do you compare it to the tracks you make now?
My start in music was with my band “Monsoon” back in high school. I was lead guitarist and I refused to sing. Truth is, I was terrified of singing in front of people. I did help write the songs which interestingly enough were very clean and middle-of-the-road. We were young and afraid to test boundaries and we wore our influences on our shirtsleeves (literally). However, when the band amicably decided to call it quits, I decided to pick up the mic and dropped the band name and became a solo act so that so show could always go on. It was transformative musically because I began to truly write music and lyrics that painted how I felt. I could be brutally honest without anyone else’s influence on my lyrics or musical decisions.
Can you tell us about the meaning behind “Don’t Look Back”?
“Dont Look Back” began as a motivational chant to help me cope with the loss of my first cousin Blake to a gun accident. He was more like my little brother and losing him was the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. That chant in the hook was the rope I used to pull myself out of the pits of despair. However, the visual concept was born in my protest of religious oppression in America. I preface this by saying I am a spiritual person and I believe in god but not religion. My reason for disavowing organized religion is because it is historically a tool of CONTROL. Religion is the founding pillar in any system used by the elite to control the population. They can convince you to slaughter thousands of people, they can convince people that it is okay to treat women like second class citizens, they can convince you to persecute women for exercising their right to choose, all with the help of the bible. They justified slavery with the bible and lynched black men in church robes. Religion is a governor that they implant in your mind that they use to influence your decisions without your knowledge. Particularly christianity is one of the most bloody religions in history, used to overthrow governments and conquer civilizations for 2000 years. My message in this video was that when europeans first set foot in Africa with christianity we had never heard of it. It was just paper to us because we had our own spiritual beliefs which dealt not with control but with balancing ones life and spirit. The only reason African-Americans are Christians today is because they were beaten and murdered until they submitted. If a witch-doctor from ancient amaZulu were to be given a Holy Bible, this is what he would have done with it.
What’s your creation process like? Do you prefer the write the lyrics over the beat or vise versa?
I prefer somewhat of a hybrid approach. I tend to make a song segment and then once a lyrical idea sparks, I build both the song and the lyrics until it feels complete. For example, “Dont Look Back” started with nothing but that trippy synth lead that drives the melody, then I added the 808 and that instantly brought the hook out of me. At this point all I had was a hook so I built a verse segment and looped it and line by line I brainstormed my verse. Then I came up with the big idea of slighty altering the second hook (which is a major motif throughout the “LNEM” project). Finally, after I had a full run-through of what I felt was a full song, I muted the scratch vocals and did a final take. Then I went through and added little accents in the rhythm to compliment my phrasing. The biggest pillar of my creative process is that I am a certified audio engineer so I can in my home studio and test boundaries without any worry of studio time. This allows me to use the software as my notepad and thus scratching something out becomes as simple as hitting the delete key.
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