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Brooklyn-born, SazE has been creating and mastering his talent for some time now in order to become the next big rapper and producer. In a recent collaboration with producer DON, they put together an album that some could consider a fire record. With solid compositions, well-formulated melodies, and a lot of rhythm, SazE demonstrates his true skills in the riffing game and DON helps us explore the intricacies of song creation. As a former philosophy student at Brandeis University, it’s not hard to find that much of his lyrical writing style is influenced by his major.
Together, this duo make up the collective named SxS, which became the name of their debut album. I had a chance to ask the SazE a few questions about the creation of this album and where he sees himself going with his music. I had a wonderful time speaking to this thoughtful human being from topics of musical taste to human nature to history to emotions and life decisions. The man has been through so much, and like a true philosopher and story teller, he painted pictures of his experiences in these detailed and engaging ways.
An Interview With Boston’s Donald Grunge
Premiere: Sean Gast Hits the High Seas for Love in “Buena Compańia”
The New Jersey-born artist was raised as one of three boys. His father was a Nigerian immigrant and his mother a black woman, and because of this home was filled with “color and flavor”. It was because of his brother and father though that SazE became interested in music in the first place, introducing him to music like Jay Z. His dad also taught the young rapper how to love and appreciate music from the speaker itself, feeling the vibrations and feeling the pride in the music.
From that point on, SazE knew music was a path he wanted to pursue, and he actually wrote his first rap when he was 6 years old with the sole lyrics being “Why you messin’ with the old man?” He said that he then really started making music in 7th grade and deemed it to be his “emotional hard drive” as life’s hardships finally began to creep into his domain. His middle brother was autistic, but SazE said if there was anything that he learned from that relationship, it was empathy and compassion. Later on, his parents would divorce and this would thrust him into a darker place where things reminded him that love is nothing but BS and there are “dark sides to your parents”. To him, it was like the lights were suddenly shut off on him. “You learn about your emotions during times like those”.
In 8th grade, the artist would take part in a rap group, where he would focus on the concepts he truly wanted to touch upon: emotional relatability, concepts and ideas. He wanted to become technically proficient in his art, and each day he would perfect his craft more.
SazE would attend Brandeis University to pursue a degree in philosophy and from that he gained a love for indie-rock music. “I became obsessed with angst in college, especially with the melodies”. He admits that some of his influences included Arcade Fire’s album The Suburbs, and artists like Kid Cudi and Kanye West. “They inspired me to go for it… people will latch onto the sincerity of it [the music].” SazE still recalls, in 2011, his autistic brother died–the same day Arcade Fire won a Grammy for the record The Suburbs. It was a pretty symbolic day, one that still resonates in his heart and mind as something mysterious. “College taught me about loss–it widened my introspective scope”.
In 2012, the hip hop producer began making beats in college and would expand his musical abilities even more. “It felt like being god. It was like adding sounds in and suddenly ‘let there be snare'”. He faced ups and down throughout college and heartbreak from his first real love, but even then, he would continue onward in his musical pursuit to experimental enlightenment. Upon graduating, he moved out to Maryland and that’s when his studio album Sundown Therapy was created. “Sundown Therapy was a self-indulgent album. My introversion makes me so analytical even though I maybe able to express myself…just me, myself, and I are awkward”. He then noticed how upset he was where he resided and decided to make yet another big move back to the main city, New York. There he landed a job on Wall Street, but even then he realized something was wrong. The life he was leading and the job he had went against everything that he believed in. Morals were different, people were different, and it was a lifeless, creative-less environment.
With a big heart and a large dream, he quit his job and began teaching so that he would have more time to pursue music. This is when he met Sean (DON), his producer friend from Chicago, whom he would develop SxS with. Off the album, SazE admits his two favorite singles are “Bungalow on the Beach” and “Paycheck”. If there was a way to describe SazE, it would be a mix between Kid Cudi and Kanye West, where Cudi’s darkness and mystery and West’s epic force and intensity intertwine.
I was curious to know who inspired this versatile artist, to which he replied that he loves Amy Winehouse for her honesty, Frank Ocean for his sincerity, and Lorde for being his muse (calling her “an unapologetic” songstress).
I had fun asking some of my rapid-fire interview questions such as: His one word to describe himself would be “creative”; he is #OnTheVerge of “gettin’ outta here”; and the one album he would be left with for the rest of his life if he had to only choose one would be Currents by Tame Impala (he deemed it to be the “perfect album” in terms of its content because it is all about life, existential angst, and it never gets boring).
The poet is working on his forthcoming album now that he has a studio in his own house, so we should be expecting much more from him in the near future. In fact, look out for his music video that will be released on April 25th!
After our conversation, I am excited to see where this artist will take his creative, and where that will take him.
Be sure to follow these guys on Spotify, and listen to the album above! And check SazE out on Instagram as well!
"I took all my things that make sound, the rest I can do without..."