September 22, 2009

Breez Evahflowin

Breez Evahflowin

Illustration by Pearl Rachinsky
Breez is a little grumpy when we talk about rap in the music industry. His pessimism is understandable: this is a man who’s a founding member of the Stronghold Crew [Immortal Technique, C-Rayz Walz, Poison Pen] and who has achieved success in the battle rap game appearing on MTV’s Directed Effects television show. Such accolades – especially in the realms of battle emcees – are short-lived, akin to major league pitching where “a pitcher can be phenomenal their first year, their ERA is crazy low, they’re a new sensations, but over the seasons the ERA goes up…after a few years, most of the batters in the league have that pitcher’s number already, so when they come to the plate, they know exactly what they’re coming with.” Breez’s second full-length is Breez Deez Treez and is released independently via Domination Recordings.

How you doing?

I’m here umbrella shopping, it’s kind of nasty out here…somebody stole my umbrella at work. It’s really coming down here in the city right now. We’ve had like a week’s worth of rain…

Which do you prefer, writing music or battling?

Nowadays, writing music. But if you had asked me that 10 years ago, it would’ve been battling. I guess I wanted to do something different; the negativity of the battles was getting to me after a while. It was the same thing day after day after day…

Why did you move to North Carolina?

Things weren’t going so good and an opportunity came up for us to move down and live in this incredibly gorgeous house, for like half or even a quarter of the rent we were paying in New York.

You’ve been rapping for well over a decade and you don’t release an album until 2008, so maybe you can explain why that might have been?

A lot of it was disorganization on my own part; I really couldn’t get it together that had a cohesive theme throughout. I had albums in the works forever, but nothing ever came outta that. Most of the labels I was working with didn’t want to release an album, they wanted to release an EP. In the middle of all of that, I just kept pushing back the whole album idea one year after another after another…and before I knew it, 8 years past and still no album.

You’re hesitant to give control to a major label, if you had sacrificed a little bit, you might have some more work to show to people?

Absolutely, yeah…definitely if I had given up a little more, I would have more to show for it. I was hip hop crazy there for a little while. There was a movement here in the city that bordered on some puritanical shit in terms of hip hop. Everything mainstream was evil and bad and it was this irrational hate of mainstream music/machine. I definitely gave in to that heavy and fell in with a lot of that type of thinking. But that’s where I was.

How have your impressions of the industry changed since then?

It’s more of an understanding that it’s business. People just create products for a specific purpose and they shouldn’t necessarily be judged on it or for it.

What are some things that have prevented you from getting major label status?

At the moment, it’s just not a realistic goal…I’m way past my prime. There’s vehicle in place to support the kind of stuff I’m doing right now. Like, I’m trying to pioneer Adult Contemporary Hip Hop, music from a 38-old, for people in their 30s and maybe people in their 20s who understand what I’m talking about.

A lot of people who are popular in the music industry are a little older…

Well if you listen to what they’re doing, it’s more like “keeping up with the Jones’” than innovating or creating anything new. It’s like they’re making music for 25-year-olds. I think the most disturbing thing I’ve heard in years is Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got” where he’s talking to “little mamas” and it’s like he sounds like this dirty old dude who’s hitting on kids.

What did you think of Kingdom Come?

I hated it. I gave it a full listen too.

Who is holding it down?

I like a lot of the indie dudes.

What kind of material is on Breez Deez Treez?

It’s a memoir of sorts…questioning what I’m really in it for, what does the music mean to me? Playing around with different ways of presenting myself vocally; instead of the high-pitched, screaming I was doing a lot of during the Detonator Records days with all the ‘grabbing my dick’ rhymes.

Would you say your “number’s up”?

It’s the nature of the game. I remember – I got into the Blaze Battle by going to the first Blaze Battle, by screaming at everyone backstage and everyone on-stage about how I should have been in there and I could serve all of them. I wanted the guys who were known for battling, I wanted them.

Did you achieve that?

Heck yeah! I’ve gotten further with battling than pretty much anyone has – except for the money part of it. But like I said, it only lasts so long.

Is it safe to say that without battling, you wouldn’t be where you are today?

Absolutely. Battling was really me just coming out of my shell. I was not the popular kid in high school, I had like 4 or 5 friends.

What is it about the mainstream that bothers you?

I used to hate everything: the style, the way people talk, the values of the performers…everything would just turn me off. Now it’s just a little sad. It’s like the fall of the dinosaurs; all you hear about now is shrinkage and indies taking over and online distribution…it’s just not what it was before. It’s trying to evolve and keep up with the times, but it’s pretty much on the way out; it’s the luck of the draw at this point, it’s who ever makes the catchiest Youtube video. A record company is going to be old news.

You doing lots of shows?

No, not really. I got a really good job. If it fits in my schedule…

Shout outs?

I definitely want to shout out Daveytree and Noah D for the soundtrack of this album. I also want to shout out DJ Fisher for taking on this project: doing distribution and pressing CDs – which is a risky venture in this day and age. A big shout out to Manitoba. It was the first time I saw snow in July… I got to hook up with those guys Mood Ruff and I got on their song “Pressure Content” [from I Do My Own Stunts] with them – they didn’t give me credit for it on their album.

Last words?

I know a lot of people are like ‘yo, this is the dopest album ever!’ – Naw, I’m not like that. Not everybody is going to listen to it…I would prefer you don’t pick it up if you’re not going to listen to it from front to finish as an album. I would really prefer you listen to it as an album…it’s not for everybody. I’d love feedback too, I’m very easy to reach at

Breez Evahflowin

3 Responses

  1. dope painting! the interview was very interesting too…. this is really thoughtful music – something we need more of these days. Its definitely thriving more in the Underground than it is in the mainstream. (as has been the case for a long time!)

  2. Oh Mood Ruff… Hahaha!!! This was a dope interview, but the comic nerd in me wishes you would have asked him about his Comics, working for Marvel and DC etc…