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In the Field With Azizi Gibson

Updated: Oct 26, 2020


Azizi Gibson recently dropped his new album Reaping the Benefits, offering up hard-hitting yet dark and melodic music, reflective of how the world is collectively feeling at the moment. Azizi’s lyrics are introspective, and he is unapologetically himself. Azizi comes with guest features from The Under Achievers’ AKTHESAVIOR, Tate Kobang, Akeem Mimiko, and Ferg.JP.Azizi seamlessly blends the alternative world with hip hop, drawing on his many influences and making a sound all his own.

His Follow the Leader tour had to be pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the shows have been rescheduled for later this year, and until then, you can enjoy Reaping the Benefits on repeat.

The ladies of In the Field Radio had the pleasure of going In the Field with the rapper who was quarantined in Los Angeles to discuss his new album, his love of Anime, gaming, and more!

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. This interview aired in its entirety on May 11, 2020, on 91.3 FM WVKR. Tune in every Monday at 10 PM EST. Also available via the TuneIn or Simple Radio app by searching WVKR.


Erin Boogie: How has quarantine been for you?

Azizi Gibson: I feel like, because of what I do already, I’m a work from home kinda person, so I’m usually already an isolated person, but it kinda sucks not having that option to go anywhere. The transition hasn’t been too bad, but sometimes it does get a little bit crazy because I’m like, “damn, I really do wanna motherf*ckin’ go out and just walk in the thrift store and not buy some sh*t. Walkout and go home and feel very satisfied.

Lady D: You're supposed to be on tour right now.

Azizi Gibson: I know. Today would have been like the third date of the tour. It’s so sad.

Lady D: The Follow the Leader Tour. I see the reschedule dates. I was like, “oh, he's coming to Brooklyn!”

Azizi Gibson: Oh yeah, we’re gonna be all over the place still. We just gotta make sure no one’s gonna be coughing in the f*ckin’ stands.

Erin Boogie: Have you done any virtual performances?

Azizi Gibson: Nah, I haven’t. I have been seeing a lot of people do these online things, but you know what, I’m gonna hold tight from all that. I’m not in a rush to perform. I really want to perform, but I don’t want to do it virtually. I like that in person sh*t as much as possible. If it was a jam session, that’s different. You know if you’re like just jammin’ out with some people making music and you wanna be live with that, cool. I don’t really want to perform for people over the internet.

Erin Boogie: You just dropped the new album, Reaping the Benefits. Was that a direct response to canceling the tour/quarantine?

Azizi Gibson: No, I was already prepared to drop a project before all this quarantine stuff really went crazy, so everything was kind of going according to plan. I was gonna just drop it a little bit earlier. I would’ve been dropping it two weeks ago instead of the day before we were supposed to leave for tour.

Lady D: You’re super consistent with putting out albums. There have been 10 projects dropped, at least. There have been at least two projects a year.

Azizi Gibson: I try to keep it like that. I have that amazing fanbase, but you know how it is. They’re really selective on what type of stuff they want to promote endlessly, whether it’s the Drake or the Kendrick’s or the J. Cole. I love all those artists, but they have the grace of not having to… I don’t want to say be as creative, but I’m going to say be as creative year-round. Know what I’m saying? Niggas can go away for three years and be cashing out on the same single they dropped. More than what I make in two or three albums, sh*t like that. They get the luxury of not having to pressure themselves into doing so much. If you’re appreciative of what you got, then I guess you don’t have to do as much.

Lady D: I’m sure your fans appreciate you not leaving them hanging. They can depend on you.

Azizi Gibson: The good thing is I love making music, and I love dropping it. All and all, it works out. It’s a fair trade.

Lady D: I was listening to the album, and I was vibin’ with it, but then I was like “shouldn’t like these songs at all.” I feel like they sound very anti what I would want to be going on, but I was still f*ckin’ with it. “The Year of the Dog.” I was like, “why do you like this?”

Azizi Gibson: I feel like, you know, it’s a more classy, intellectual, ratchet song, you know what I’m saying? It’s like we all like that future sh*t. We all like the wild sh*t, but this one is some h*e sh*t, with your pinky up. That’s exactly what I was going for—some really classy ratchet sh*t.

Erin Boogie: Was “Should Have Cheated” related to Keyshia Cole’s “I Should Have Cheated” at all?

Azizi Gibson: Nah. I don’t know why people were saying that. My boy said that. But nah, that’s the last song I put on the album. I made that maybe like, literally seven days before the album came out, and that was the only song that came during this quarantine that I put on this project. All the other songs I’m saving. This song, I was just drunk with one of my best friends, and then I just pulled up the Protools, and I freestyled the hook. I was like, “f*ck it, lay a verse down dog, get on the album,” and he laid it down. I sent it to my other homie from high school, and I was like, “f*ck it, lay a verse down,” and then just went ahead and made a little masterpiece with my bros from back home.

Lady D: Where is home? Where are you from?

Azizi Gibson: By D.C., Maryland, Virginia. Prince George County.

Erin Boogie: You moved around a lot as part of a military family.

Azizi Gibson: I lived overseas until I was almost 11 years old. Thailand. Singapore. Military brat.

Erin Boogie: How did it influence you and your music to be around all these different cultures?

Azizi Gibson: I feel like it’s just in there, you know? It’s just the reason why it is so— I feel like I can hop from this sound to this sound, by being the same artist but also sounding very different but also still keeping that base where you’re not being weird. Some artists do weird sh*t, and I’m like, “dog, this sounds trash.” “Well, somebody will like it.” I don’t operate like that. I need to make sure it’s leaving the studio, and we like it. I think the cultures definitely helped me blend everything in together. I still sound like the same artist, but I could do so many different types of things, or I could just stick with the same thing. I feel like the cultures help me mix that in really well.

Erin Boogie: Talk about linking with AKTHESAVIOR for “Change that Back.”

Azizi Gibson: Oh yeah, that’s my boy. [The] Underachievers are my guys. Five years ago, they put me on. I went on my first tour with them on their first tour. It was me, Denzel Curry, and Underachievers, and that’s how Denzel Curry got to where he was, and Underachievers got to where they were, and that’s how I got to where I was. Those have been my brothers ever since. I’m not fond of making too many friends in the game just off of clout. They’re actually good friends of mine, like we don’t have to make music, obviously because we only have one song so all the other hundred times we’ve chilled we just be smoking and sh*t.

Erin Boogie: Did you guys actually do that song in the studio?

Azizi Gibson: Yeah, we did it together.

Erin Boogie: What was that vibe like?

Azizi Gibson: It was like just regular homie sh*t, you know? It was just like play a beat, smoke a blunt, we doing this? Aight, we are doing this. And it just happened. A couple of hours, it was a track. Funny story, he had to rewrite— he spit his verse, but he was drunk as sh*t, and then he had to come back the next day and re-spit it.


Erin Boogie: What was your favorite memory from the video shoot?

Azizi Gibson: When they were doing the blinky light part, where were in those suits, we were just getting really faded ‘cause it was f*cking up our eyes to the point like the last 30 minutes of the music video we’re definitely blind. Just like walking stoners. We couldn’t see anything else. On the ride home, I was like, “yo, I can’t see sh*t” because the light was blinking forever.

Erin Boogie: How long ago did you guys make that video? It has a very right now feel to it.

Azizi Gibson: We made it the last week of January. I lied—last week of January or first week of February. Or third week of February. In between that. Somewhere in February, middle of February area.

Erin Boogie: I was watching it and was like “did corona(virus) influence this or could they tell the future?”

Azizi Gibson: I’m trying not to let corona influence sh*t. It’s like damn be wary of it, but I’m not dropping music because of corona. Not trying to let corona get in the way of too much. It’s there. Mindful of it. Not trying to do too many gimmicks at this stage.

Lady D: All the visuals are crazy. Do you have all those ideas in your head?

Azizi Gibson: Yeah. I think of some wild sh*t, and I’ll just send it to my artist like Chimera Act. I gotta give it to my artist for just creating the sh*t spot on. He brings it to life just as much as I’m saying it. The things I say to him, he’ll really bring to life as way better than I imagined it. So now, I feel like the art consistently gets better because I know that I need to make sure that I need to describe everything in a weird way because he’ll catch on to it in a weird way. I can’t give you an example, but I’ll say the weirdest metaphor, and he’ll understand it, and it will be shading of something. I’ll be like I need that Frogger shading mixed with a— I’ll just say some wild sh*t, and he’ll be like “like this?” And I’ll be like, “damn, you know what the f*ck you’re doing.” I spend a lot on the art because when I was growing up in Thailand, we didn’t have BET obviously, we had MTV, we still had rap music, but it was shared. It wasn’t just a straight African American music channel, so I had to go through rock and then the rap segments and then R&B segments and all that stuff. The things I would go towards when I was younger— like my favorite projects when I was younger were the Linkin Park, I forget, the “something” Theory. I should know, don’t kill me, but the Theory album. The Gorillaz are my favorite band. “Clint Eastwood,” it’s a cartoon cover. I was a kid. I didn’t know sh*t. Cartoons. That’s tight. Buy that one. F*ckin’ and the Linkin Park joint was a big ass robot. That looks tight. Boom. Basically, I’m just saying that a lot of the sh*t that I was into, I was attracted to by the f*ckin’ artwork. I listen to Korn because there were kids doing hopscotch on the f*ckin’ cover like in sick ass cartoon. It’s the wildest music. But I was attracted by the sh*t just simply from the cover, and that’s why I put everything into my artwork.

Lady D: I was wondering if you had anything to do with it.

Azizi Gibson: Ain’t no label gonna— I mean, I’m 29. Ain’t no label down my throat telling me what to do.

Erin Boogie: Did he do the album cover for Reaping the Benefits?

Azizi Gibson: Nah. The reaping the benefits cover I was like yo— ‘cause I had preHISTORIC Till Death cover and my homegirl Kristen played my wife in it, and I was like I just want to have the Grim Reaper marrying this girl. So I set up this fake wedding, we took the picture, it was the album cover. It came out amazing. The back cover is super fire. And then, I did it again on this project I did with Southside from 808 Mafia called Grim Meets Evil, and it’s like we’re outside of a house, and I’m wearing the Grim Reaper outfit, and it’s the same girl Kristen, and then we’re waving hello, and she’s serving me drinks at the end. So then I went away and did a bunch of art covers for a bunch of sh*t, and now I’m trying to come back with more of the still pictures with the Reapers. It’s basically me taking my wife on a date, and we’re out in the gondola out in the Long Beach River having wine with each other and sh*t like that. We just took it on a Polaroid, but it looks so cool.

Erin Boogie: That was taken on a Polaroid?

Azizi Gibson: Yeah. I just try to go hard with the costumes. Like, try to make cheap costumes look so God damn real.

Erin Boogie: Talk about using the Grim Reaper imagery.

Azizi Gibson: I use him because he’s got a bad name. Not a lot of people really know what he’s associated with. He’s got all these powers and stuff like that. People are scared of the death imagery, so they associate the Grim Reaper with negativity when he’s not out here murdering niggas and stuff like that. He could. He definitely can because of what he is and his responsibility, but he’s taking the steps that he needs to take, and he’s on his path. So I just feel like I want to be compared to something like that. I have all these powers, but I’m still taking the steps I need to take, and if people don’t really— people just think I’m from here. People don’t really know where I was raised. People don’t really know how I was raised. Or what I’m doing so the misconception is just me being from LA when people don’t know I’m from LA or me being from Maryland and then not even knowing about the past. I feel like the misconception of Azizi. No one really f*ckin’ knows who he is. Though, no one thinks I’m evil or walking around with a big ass knife either.

Lady D: So the Follow the Leader cover for the tour. We got the Reaper. We got Malcolm. We got Martin Luther King. Is there a message that you had?

Azizi Gibson: Yeah, it was a statement. It was not to be on some— I never feel like I’m up there with the greats, but I feel like what I’m talking about in my music and what I represent once you dive into me is powerful in itself. You know what I’m saying? So it’s like I want people to know that if you want to, there’s a lot of messages and a lot of meaning in my life, and I’m still young, and there’s so much more to come. And it’s gonna come. Eventually, it’s gonna be in everybody’s faces because everyone is gonna need a break from just music that really don’t have a start or a finish. It’s just fun music. You know what I’m saying? It really can’t get you through the day. It really can’t get you through the times. It’s not really— hey, what are the three songs you need if you’re stranded on an island for the rest of your life? About 95% of the music I’m hearing today would not be included if I got stranded on a f*ckin’ island for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t even be a part of this generation. I would not choose music from this generation, unfortunately. I just see myself as somebody that has something to say. We all have something to say, but it’s much deeper than people think.

Lady D: What producers do you like working with?

Azizi Gibson: The majority of the producers on this project, Holy Beats, produced most of my latest project, but Mills, Douglas, and Kamandi have been producing for me for many years. I probably only have about five songs outside of them. Outside of Holy Beats, Mills, Kamanda, I probably only have about five tracks out of the past five years that I haven’t done with them. I try to do sh*t really in-house, and I just think moving with a crew and building that chemistry is just dope. I’m not opposed to working with other artists. I’m not opposed to working with other producers. It just hasn’t happened in a way that works best for me. And the experiences I have of working with new producers are always 50/50. It’s always the n*gga needing something right now, or he doesn’t understand how the business works. It’s a lot to deal with.

Lady D: You seem so laid back about it with such a huge output. At the same time, you have this art aspect that goes with it.

Azizi Gibson: It’s kind of funny because I really just always, for the past seven, six years of my life, I just thought all this was natural. I didn’t know niggas was out here handicapped like for real. And like honestly, y'all need to select your stars better because there’s people out here that just do this because they do this sh*t, and it’s in they blood. No offense to nobody, and again I’m not trying to be nobody friend, and my fanbase loves me. And understands where I come from and respects what I feel. I’m not an artist trying to target people and make them happy. I’m an adult person, I play video games, I love anime, and I want everybody to be happy. That sounds like you want to f*ck with me, then come through. If you don’t, I’ve fought a lot of battles, and I know that’s not one that’s worth fighting for.

Erin Boogie: What can we expect next from Azizi Gibson?

Azizi Gibson: I’m gonna definitely drop another album this year, but I’m going to chill out for a while. I’m gonna just focus on some music videos. I got some other projects that I’m working on. Outside of music so I’m just trying to get everything together. I just realized I’m at this point where I have all these ideas, and anytime I speak about them out loud, it seems interesting, so I need to start putting them on paper and doing that. I’ve done enough music, I feel like for everybody, and to already have the next project done, which is f*ckin’ insane. So I’m just about to chill on it and figure out the best way to release it and the best time to release it. And I’m not a music junkie. I don’t want to say I’m the person who’s in the studio all the time. Surprisingly I’m in the studio the least.

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