Keeping our interview series rolling, we find ourselves in New Jersey as we’d like to introduce you to Dzh. Coming off the release of his latest full-length offering Under This Hoodie, Dzh is looking to be mentioned when it comes to the NJ music scene. We recently had the chance to catch up with the budding artist where we discussed his last project, NJ music scene, recording process and much more. Check out the exclusive Q&A interview down below.
Give us a little background about yourself: Where you based out of? How old are you?
Alright, so I’m Dzh. I’m a rapper, singer, and producer based out of Madison, NJ. Because of how my family moved when I was little and financial issues, I come from a few places in NJ. I’ve lived in Bloomfield, East Orange, Morristown, and Madison, but Madison has been the residential home for the longest in Morris County. I’ll say that moving back and forth has definitely shaped me into the person that I am now, and though it’s been a struggle and issue for my family and I, I wouldn’t trade it back for anything and it’s been a process.
How long have you been making music?
I’ve been making music and releasing it since 7th grade, so around 11 or 12-years-old. At that time, I was pretty much remixing anything and everything, because I couldn’t produce for my life, so that I could get my name out there regardless of sound. I just know I needed exposure and knew I could do this if I took it seriously.
How did you start making and what gave you the motivation to stay with it?
Ight, so boom: I’d always be writing stuff down as a child, when I was young, before my family and I moved, but I just never put it to the microphone until I got an iPhone. I started making music more serious after this little middle school incident with me rapping to a girl, and getting terribly rejected, happened. Everybody loved it and I kept writing songs and freestyling back then as much as I could. When I was in high school and my mom got me an iPhone, it had Garageband and from there, I was creating anything that I loved. My most famous adlib, “YAYA”, comes from a record called “Yaya” by Asaiah Ziv; I’m not sure how it came about, but it just stuck with me and I’ve been rolling with it ever since.
Pretty much most of my old discography and older works were off of an iPhone until December 2018, which is crazy to think about because so much has changed since then. I think what’s been motivating me to stick with is that I’ve had so many opportunities in these past few years come to me, meeting incredible people who I call family from years ago, and just being able to spread my story to others and having them relate touches me a little different than usual. I’m a people pleaser, which is a blessing and a curse, so if it relates to you in any shape of form and you enjoy it, I’m happy and that pushes me to go harder.
What are some of the biggest mental tools you can obtain to be successful in this field?
For me, personally, it’s definitely patience. Just when you think you’re ready for something bigger than you, I promise you that you’re not even not. I cannot stress that enough; I’d always think that “oh, yeah, if this rapper did this, then I can do it too” and I’ve come to see that it’s easier said than done. Another thing you should soon quickly realize is that you cannot please everybody. Knowing this is extremely important and it’s best that artists realize that it’s not possible to do this. Summed up, if you try and please everyone but yourself, you’ll definitely lose sight of who you once were.
Being an artist, things can get difficult at times. What has been the toughest time you’ve ever faced in your artistry?
Man, where do I begin?… One of the toughest times I’ve faced going down the artistry life was dealing with my faith. Time and time again, terrible things would happen to my family and it’d seem like things wouldn’t get better, so certain situations would have me doubting Christ and my overall faith to believing in Jesus. It was a hard pill to swallow, but I realized that He was either preparing me for a battle that I won or keeping me safe from the what I should stay away from. Not knowing what will happen next is terrifying, but knowing what’ll happen next is even more trash too because you know EXACTLY how it goes.
Do you have a favorite musical project that you’ve worked on?
As of right now, it’s definitely Under This Hoodie. The concept, the tracks, the features, the producers, and the artwork were something I’m extremely proud of. Just the artwork alone was a process; I was going back and forth with my photographer about which song went with which picture and so on. Beats were constantly be edited, and man, were there were so many takes. The process was incredible and I can’t wait until I do something like that again.
What steps do you take during your song making process?
Honestly, that can vary from time to time. Sometimes, if I have the beat right then and there, I’ll just go off and won’t stop until the song is finished. That’s also how I do features too. Sometimes, at my job, I’ll get inspired, grab receipt paper, and just write until what I say sound good and stash it in my pocket until I get home and record them. I really just get inspired from anything and just run with it. I love to just freestyle too; the best ideas come from that too.
Being from NJ, how’s the music scene out there?
NJ’s music scene is very diverse and similar at the same time. NJ has plenty of slept on gems who are better than today’s artists like Samad Savage, Kaleb Mitchell, Solis, Idayja, J1da and so on. However, depending on your circle, New Jersey’s support system is kind of trash. Everybody is trying to beat each other and be better, rather than show support and work together. The support system is no good depending on where you’re from in New Jersey, but if you find a group of friends who create as much as you do and more, you’ll go far. Montclair, East Orange, and Newark are definitely places that have this talent it’s crazy that lots of people think that people don’t check out NJ artists like that. We get thrown in New York’s shadow so easily, but if people took the time to discover our music, you’d probably wanna live here.
Can you talk about your debut Album Under This Hoodie a little bit?
The mixtape was done over a span of 7-8 months; some of those records are from 2018 as crazy as it sounds. Under This Hoodie is more of an introduction project more than anything; I started getting better with releasing better sounding music, so it was only right to release a project this year. Each track is a piece of me; Bruce Banner and Hulk is like an alter ego kind of rap, Dead Roses is more of why I have these trust issues and problems in and out of the music world, Patience focuses on my patience and so on. Under This Hoodie is just what it is: you get to see who I am, wear my lenses, and have people understand why I wear a hoodie and what’s “under it.” Sheesh, that was corny. But, UTH is about really about me, who I am, where I grew up, and so on. It beats every mixtape I’ve put out and I couldn’t be more happy about it.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/840783776″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
If you were to describe your sound, how would you describe it?
As crazy as it may sound, I don’t think I have a particular sound yet because I’m still finding it myself. Because I’m still discovering what my strengths and weaknesses are, I think it’s too early to tell because I love hopping on anything and everything I make and/or whatever my friends send me. If I like it, I like it, if I don’t, it’ll stay in the vault until come across it again.
Are you currently working on new music?
As well as getting these singles together, I’m working on about four projects at once right now, that’s really all I can say.
Well, there you have it folks. Thank you for your time Dzh and glad we could give the people a clear overview of the man behind the work. Are there any last thoughts you wanted to share?
I will be releasing music really soon and the message I wanna encourage to others is to move the unfree and unfree the movement. Also, remember Proverbs 14:23!