“No weapon that’s formed against thee shall prosper.” Biblical words 22-year-old Blizz lives by. Not shy to ink, it’s tatted right on his forearm, serving as a reminder to the phrase “no struggle, no progress.”
When some listen to Blizz, they hear a nice flow on a good beat–just another rapping bul around the way. So what? Others listen and hear someone who’s created a name for himself online, became tight with New York promoter and DJ Tex Styles, opened up for Teairra Mari and got radio play. That’s all what’s up to the blind ear, but you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Listen closer and you’ll find a deep story greater than any local buzz. Purpose: Towards a better life for his nieces; it’s for all the times his mother struggled to keep a roof over his head; and for his sister who was diagnosed with kidney failure.
A few weeks ago at a quiet park just a few minutes walk away from his mother’s New Jersey home, Blizz shared with Aliya Faust his greatest struggles that motivated him to pursue rapping. Below, the self-proclaimed “undefined” artist opens up about being evicted, leaving college, the death of his father(s), and the results of which birthed his first mixtape, Live Your Dreams or Die Trying (Aug 2012).
DOWNLOAD THE ‘LIVE YOUR DREAMS OR DIE TRYING’ MIXTAPE HERE
ALIYA FAUST: How’d you end up in New York?
BLIZZ: That’s where I’m originally from. I moved back after they took my financial aid away in college. That’s when I was like, if I go back to [New] Jersey with my mom, the transportation not that frequent. It’s not constant. If you go to New York City, then it’s just always bus after bus. I went back to school, got my certificate in medical assistant and that’s when I found my dream in writing. I knew how to use words. I was never a rapper. I just started rapping two years ago. It was so easy to me and I felt like it was my gift this whole time.
Tell me about the first track on your mixtape.
“Into to My Life,” I’m still struggling with that right now. My sister [was] diagnosed with kidney failure. Right now she’s going through a lot of things. She lost a whole lot of weight, like a hundred and something pounds. Basically, my sister is dying. Slowly, and painfully. She goes to dialysis four days out of the week and I just found out I’m a universal donor so I’m going to give her my kidney.
Yeah, so I have to boost myself up for that, before I go under the knife and everything. Basically, [the song] is just about a lot of struggling I’ve been going through in my life. I’ve been evicted so many times, back and forth between New York and Jersey my whole life. I got evicted at least five times.
Your own crib?
Nah, my mother. Out here [in New Jersey]. Once we got evicted, we’d go back to New York. Then we’d come right back because her boyfriend was here and she had a job out here. But her credit was very, very bad. The only way we was getting around was because of my step-father. [He's] been in my life since I was a baby. He’s like a father to me. My father lived in New York. He died when I was 13. I wasn’t that close to him but it hurt when he died.
The fact that the relationship was at a total end?
Yeah, I love my father–even though he wasn’t always there–just as much as I loved my step-father–even though we used to bump heads a lot. The hardest part of my life was in 2008, my graduating senior year. I was going through so much. I was going to drop out of school, we was getting evicted and my step-father died in my arms. It was just so much; that’s why I went to college. I was like, ‘You know what, I gotta get away from Jersey. I have to get away from here because I’m stressed.’
Is this specific story reflected in your music?
Yes. Like, when my father died in my arms, that specific story is on “Star is Born.” That’s why I had to change up. That [left] a big impact. Even going off to college, I was starving. I went to Virginia Union University. Down the street was Virginia Commonwealth University. Used to go there, me and my homeboys ain’t have no money in our pockets, my mother used to barely send me money, used to go rob people. Beat them up, take their money. And I felt bad. I’m not that type of person. But, it was just, things I was going through. I wasn’t going to class, I was smoking a lot of weed…
So how’d you turn out that around?
When they kicked me out of school. Well, they didn’t kick me out, but they snatch all my financial aid away because my GPA was under 2.0. That’s when they said, ‘You gotta pay out of pocket.’ I said, ‘Forget that. I’m not going back to Union if gotta pay that out of pocket, being as though I already owe y’all money.’ That’s when I came back to New York. I asked my aunt if I could stay with her. That’s when everything started progressing for me. I went to get my Registered Medical Assistant certificate. I did that for a year and that’s when I started writing. It all started coming together. I only can talk about what I know. I said if I don’t live my dreams, it’s not going to come for me.
What exactly made you turn to music though?
I wanted a better life for my nieces. My motivation is my nieces. I have nephews too but, the whole thing that really impacted me was when I came back from college, my mother was living in a hotel. All three of my nieces, my mother, my sister, two beds, 1 TV and a small little bathroom. It was just so disgusting to me. I was like, ‘I can’t live life like this, I gotta go back to college.’ Even though I was struggling in college, I said, ‘I can’t be here. I can’t watch my family go through this.’ And all my life, I saw my nieces go through it without they father. When you’re older you start to see more and that’s what [did it for me]. I wanted a better life for them. And being as though my sister is dying, I felt hungry for it. I feel like I’m the only one that’s left. I’ve been there for them every step of the way.
What’s your ultimate goals? In life and in music.
My original goal was to be a radiologist. But my dream is to be an undefined artist. You would never be able to define me. I can speak political, I can speak about my life. Anything you put me [in front of], I can adapt to it. You can put me on a real gangsta hard beat. Anything. But, I’m not a gansta! [Laughs]. I’m just a guy who was brought up in the hood. I’m just a regular hood nigga.
What inspired the mixtape name?
Everybody said [the mixtape name] Live Your Dreams or Die Trying [was] similar to 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Trying, but that’s not even where I got it from. Every day when I go to sleep, I dream. When I wake up, it’s the same dream. When I go out and go to a work interview, it’s the same dreams. Live your dreams or die trying, it’s not going away. That’s all I think about, is my dreams. So I can’t talk about something else aside from what I believe in.
Are the tracks on the mixtape building up to everything you’ve just been explaining?
Basically. I got some club tracks and, just stuff people want to listen to. I would definitely be a great asset to this [rap] game.
And you’re in the best city to be doing that.
Best city. New York City baby [laughs].
On the mixtape, are they your own beats or sampled?
My own beats. Not beats that I made, but beats that I used from people on the Internet. There’s only a couple tracks that I did vocals on–Jay Z’s “Star Is Born” and Meek Mill’s “Used To Be.”
What’s your favorite song on there?
“Intro To My Life.” First song on the mixtape. Then, “Used to Be.”
Who’s your favorite artist right now?
J. Cole. I relate to him. He’s somebody I really look up to. He only talk about what he’s been through. You can understand where J. Cole come from and his music is so inspirational.
How’d you create a name for yourself around NYC?
My personality just clicks with a lot of people. Every place I went, from work to school to around the neighborhood, everybody liked my personality so they spoke to me. Being as though and they feel like I’m a real nigga, they would listen to what I had to say. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, everything. They know who I am but they didn’t know I was a rapper. It blew them away.
Now, let’s talk about your tattoos. Any music related?
Nah [not directly], a lot of them just [relate] to my struggle. My best friends/brothers. One of my best friend’s got killed; she got hit in a crossfire last year. “Loyalty before royalty” came from my man that’s locked up right now–check my “Used to Be” track. The [reasons behind the tats] are all in my music. The struggle. I’m tatted up!
To learn more about Blizz, follow him on Twitter @Blizz917.