Stanza – steps through the fog of fantasy and raps about real life

I was introduced to Stanza last month by way of his mixtape, “Searching for Bobby Fischer”. The cover of this project was intriguing, intelligent, tapped into my desire to want to learn chess and was the first indication of his lyrical strength. After a few listens, I officially added this mixtape to my summer 2010 soundtrack.

Stanza, a Georgia native, showcases lyrical content that compelled me to reach out and delve into the mind of someone who could spit so well. With musical influences ranging from 8 Ball & MJG, Outkast, MC Hammer to Portishead and Greenday, it was obvious this emcee’s capacity for vocal range spanned galaxies.

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DJ SAKIR: So you’re from Georgia…In comparison to most of the other music that comes out of that area, some may consider you an alternative rapper. How has it been artistically for you in an area that is so contrary to your style?
STANZA: Alternative Rapper…I like that! Artistically, I’ve been feeling a bit confined. It’s like I’m inside a box with the lid wide open but it’s too deep to climb out. I’m free to express myself but only if I stay within the confines of the listeners in my area.

“Life is upside down pull up your pants/I need a blessing please right now I’m doing chants/ and if I don’t get it, I’m blowing up a city/Taliban, no suicide I’m dropping off the van” – Dancing on the Poverty Line

DJ SAKIR: This statement made a timely correlation between what is really happening in our lives. It seems as if your lyrics depict things that everyday people deal with versus a capitalistic fantasy world of mainstream Black American music. Were there any deciding factors or influences in your life that made you decide to rhyme about everyday people topics versus cinematic life that some of us wished we lived?

STANZA: Cinema is false. I think cats just got lost in the hustlers mentality and totally applied it to music. Let me explain. When you’re hustlin’, there is no quit or slow down. If you do, then the next person attempting to relinquish you of your block obligation takes over. So when you apply this to music, the “hustler” does what works or what keeps him relevant on the block. No social issues. No real life events. Nothing but what got him on. How many hip hop artist have you heard of that have just switched from the formula that got them where they are? Na, not gonna happen. Dope, cars, rims bitches, and money. They got on with that, so they’ll keep it coming. No hate, it’s just common knowledge. My deciding factor came by default. Working 9-5. Seeing people struggle each and every single day trying to reach a promised, promise land that will never be seen. It’s only right that I speak our language.

“I took a bitter pill this morning/the path I walk is really lonely/my iron heart has been bruised/I’m drowning in the pool with the industry blues” – Industry Blues

DJ SAKIR: A few weeks ago, you made posts on Twitter in regards to Industry Rule #4080. I felt as if I was around a campfire listening to elders speak, unfortunately it was a sad story that has been told in many languages and dialects. Let’s discuss what led up to that poignant rant.

STANZA: It wasn’t anything big at all. I’d recently heard an A&R talking about how artists should do this and that to get themselves known. It was funny because that same A&R got fired from the label. Now that person wants to bring their “expertise” to the “up and comers.” I just feel things like that should be done sincerely, not as a last result. Yeah, sometimes my brain gets full of thoughts and twitter gets the run off. Lol.

“Music today don’t capture yesterday’s mood/and fuckers talk about they love it; that’s so rude/Dope man you ain’t making yesterday’s moves/and those who believe they some present day fools/I can wrap them around my finger and never let them loose/and hang em by their necks from a yesterday noose” – Yesterday

DJ SAKIR: Upon the first listen of “Searching for Bobby Fischer” I thought you sounded very similar to two rappers: Tona from Canada and Jay-Z around the Reasonable Doubt time; that was just me making an incorrect premature assumption. After listening to the project numerous times I realize that you do have a voice of your own that is unique and incomparable. Who else, if any have you been compared to and how do you feel about comparisons to other emcees?

STANZA: Thanks for the continuous listens. Upon the first listen people often compare me to Jay-Z, or Kanye West, Andre 3000 and so on. I love that! Comparisons mean that I’ve made a connection to your musical taste. No one would compare me to those great artists if they didn’t enjoy listening to them. But as you pointed out, the more you listen, the more my individuality shines through. That’s with any new artist. For example, when I first heard Lady Gaga I compared her to Madonna. Then the more I listened and watched, it was obvious that she is unique through and through.

“You cats looking like food to me/but instead of killing dudes I got some school to teach/life is calculus mixed with quantum physics/it’ll take you two lifetimes to begin to get it/I can’t stay after to help with your algebra/decisions gotta take your cues from your religions and that’s a prison” – The First Move

DJ SAKIR: The instrumental you chose for this song coupled with your lyrics of having a hunger for flesh has a very post apocalyptic Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower/Talents, feel to it. Are you a book reader and if so, what books are your top 5? Have they influenced your writing any and how?

STANZA: I’m definitely an avid book reader. Fiction, non-fiction it really doesn’t matter to me. As long as it captivates, I’m all for it. We can imagine anything and bring it to reality in a book and that shit’s amazing to me. Top 5 books? Hmmmmm… That’s hard to say. The Shack, The Alchemist, Pimp, Art of War, The Book of 5 Rings, just to name a few. Human emotion is a beautiful thing to me so I read a lot of books that touch on those subjects.

DJ SAKIR: What other artists of any genre do you have on constant rotation?

STANZA: To be honest… no one is in my “constant rotation”. I normally give songs a few good listens and then just add it to the collection. I play old music now and then but I just can’t listen to the new stuff for too long. Most of it speaks about nothing, and though it sounds good sonically, content wise, I just can’t seem to enjoy most of it.

DJ SAKIR: Besides rap, what other goals do you have for the next 10 years?

STANZA: Well, I want to provide 1 computer to every underprivileged youth in America. Ambitious huh? LOL. I want to crack the elusive independent music marketing code. I wanna tour the UK or at least visit London once before I die. I want to find out the secrets of our worlds future. I want to study the true origin of all religions. I wanna do so much but there is so little time.

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