First Look Friday: MC + Producer Curzøn Serves Up A Brooklyn Lesson With "Legacy" [Exclusive Premiere]
As indie hip-hop continue to geographically fracture across the digital landscape, young upstart MC and producer Curzøn is embracing locality. Only 18 and already artful in both rapping and building beats, the self-professed "Gotham city's finest" serves up a definitively Brooklyn flow that recalls the early days stylings of Nas, Biggie and even Jay-Z. The Sheepshead Bay native has avoided the globalization trap that has reduced so many young rappers to homogenous hype-beasts, and is instead honing his craft as a bars-busting lyricist that favors smooth productions over the all-systems-turnt-up approach. Okayplayer sat down with the teenage talent and learned first-hand which hip-hop legends keep him motivated to progress, as well as his plans for 2015 (spoiler: they're big).
We're also very proud to premiere Curzøn's newest single, "Legacy." Based in simple piano chops and bass heavy enough to crack a brownstone, the track is an assertion: Curzøn is already ready for his place in the lineage of the East Coast greats. Listen below and read up.
Okayplayer: Please state your age and government name.
Curzøn: 18. Aiden Pompeii
OKP: You rep Brooklyn on your tracks and describe yourself as 'gotham's finest' --where in Bk did you come up?
C: I've moved around Brooklyn a little bit in recent years. Crown Heights for a little while, but born and raised in Sheepshead Bay.
OKP: The sound of Bk these days ranges from Beast Coast rap to Williamsburg indie pop. Where do you see yourself fitting into the boroughs soundscape? Do you have collaborators or a crew that you work with?
C: I like to keep my beats laid back and easy, but make sure it's something that sticks with you. I typically collaborate with producers all over the world. Soundcloud has been such a great medium for me to be able to branch out and get new ideas and expand my music library in general. Most recently I've been able to partner with producers at SweetSounds Studio, and have been spending a lot of nights over there bouncing off new ideas and trying new things.
As far as the BK scene goes, I’m not really sure where I fit. Brooklyn has such a massive history of producing great artists in a wide range of genres, so I think anything that comes from here should add to that diversity rather than replicate the same stuff that the other guys are doing. I mean this is New York, if you’re doing it the same way as the guy next to you, you’re doing it wrong. It’s all a part of the hustle. So in my music, I would say that I’m just trying to craft a voice of my own that adds to that diversity. More than anything though, I just want to make sure that my writing has a strong message, so that people think about what I have to say instead of just seeing me as another kid from Brooklyn who raps.
OKP: Your flow has a definite, timeless NY quality that draws on '90s and early 2000s hip-hop--some lines seemed to be explicitly aimed at building on classic Biggie and Nas rhymes ('smacked God at my christening') more than they're influenced by the current state of rap. Are you a '90s baby? What do you consider your major influences?...
C: I was definitely brought up as a 90's baby, and Nas and Biggie were a significant part of that education. I think it’s impossible to come from New York and not have those guys influence you in some way, their music and sound are ubiquitous to what New York hip hop is and has become. It's those guys, Wu-Tang, Tribe, Big L, then into the new era with Jay-Z, then 50 and then Dipset – this list can go on forever, but those guys definitely have a piece in my upbringing. Yet as much as I draw upon that era of hip-hop, I look to find my own sound from within there. I listen to so many styles of music and keep my influences very versatile even outside of hip-hop – old school rock stuff like Hendrix and The Doors, some funk with Sly and the Family Stone or Prince, and even Jazz with guys like Dizzie Gillespie. As far as newer stuff goes, I just try and listen to as much music as possible; good music that is, I just appreciate really good music.
OKP: These days many MCs are mostly defined by the sounds they select to rap on--tell us about your production process, especially on "Once Upon A Time"; "Ride Or Die" and other current singles/projects.
C: As a beatmaker myself Im very passionate about the process and about getting my sound perfect before it's out there. I know it takes a lot of work but all the fine-tuning that goes into the process is critical in making hip-hop, essentially because it's one of the genres that has been rapidly growing and expanding in the past few years – there are just so many possibilities. "Ride Or Die" was a track I collaborated with a producer named BEARZ out of Texas - He sent me the beat and I came up with hook and verses and tracked it here. "Once Upon A Time" was a beat that I came across collaborating with Dinesh from SweetSounds - We got the beat through a friend of his and we collaborated on getting the vocals and mix sounding tight on that track.
I don't want it to be me sitting on top of the beat, like a painting on top of a canvas. I'd rather be able to play around with the music and really have it relate to the subject of the piece, more like a sculpture with a piece of clay if you know what I mean.
OKP: What's on the immediate horizon for Curzøn? The far horizon?
C: So much is in the works right now. Recently, I dropped a mixtape that I worked very long and hard on. It's all finally getting started and I'm really excited about what is to come. I've been collaborating with SweetSounds Studio on some new content, including my new single, "Legacy" produced by Dinesh Boaz and Darby which is dropping in December. We plan on a follow up single 'Who Am I' to be coming in late January. I never stop writing and thinking of new ideas, so I'll always be releasing content for the fans. The far horizon is easy, I'm blowing up. No other option. It's all just getting started. I look forward to also performing in 2015 so stay tuned for that.