Hot 97 MIX-Clusive: HighDefRazjah Shares His Thoughts On Hip Hop Culture Today, DJ Mustard, Nicki Minaj, & Brings An Exclusive New Track!
Representing Suffolk, Virginia, Razjah has been doing his thing on the underground scene. He’s worked with some of hip hop’s most talented acts such as A$AP Ferg, Gudda Gudda, and most recently producer Lex Luger. As he looks to make an impact on the hip hop scene by not only standing behind the scenes, but as an artist, Razjah shares his thoughts on today’s music scene, success, and his music going forward.
For those not familiar with your work tell the people who is Razjah?
Razjah (Indigo Child) is a 22 year old producer from Suffolk, Virginia, who produced A$AP Ferg’s past single, “Let it Go,” and is working on the transition into the artist field.
I’ve also worked with Gudda Gudda , Lex Luger, BIA (Pharrells New Addition), and many more. It’s really not who I am right now, it’s who I really want to be based off my accomplishments, my brand, and I just to let my work speak for itself. Razjah is just a Brand of who “Vaquan” is as a visionary.
What were your first experiences with music?
I started as a pawn. I was a small promoter for a Group Called ‘Ill Indies.” They really grabbed my attention and made me grab a passion for the craft. As I was promoting, I started enjoying the music and just wanted to be apart of it. I wanted to build my own legacy. I saw how they recorded and rehearsed and did meetings, and it made me realize, “hey, I can do this too.” Seeing Lex was blow up while I was in High School, it was an inspiration because it gave me hope that it’s possible to make it.
Like we from Suffolk. My city is talented in many areas, with no sources to show people. So, it is up to us to carry the torch, and bring music to Suffolk. I was guided by @BatmanVaPromotr , known as mogul in our state. It was a great learning experience, and from there I felt like I was becoming some sort of music guru. I could produce and handle the business, and promote and market myself and ANY artist.
How did you link up with Lex Luger?
We have been going to school since elementary. We never spoke in elementary school because he was in a higher grade than me and lived different neighborhoods. I mean I couldn’t leave off my street at one point (laughs).
When I made it to middle school, I started to see him a lot more and that’s when we started speaking to each other. We were cool with the same people and hung out with some of the same people in middle school. I used to see him at parties, and he just always was quiet and fresh. I started to connect with him more in high school, and it was kinda like we built a respect level. He used to skip class, always had the baddest females, but it was like destiny. He blew up and I used to follow his videos and articles, to see the formula and the mindstate, just get motivated by it and it made me work.
No handouts. I was consistently working, and the energy around me that was happening brought him to me. We connected back and made like 70 plus beats, maybe a hundred in total in five months. We were just the studio everyday, no breaks, no sleep, Xanax, Mary, whatever to keep up spirit. Not no coke shit. Me, him, and Urboyblack , 14 hours, making beats all night.
Lex is a great man, great mentor and teacher, great father. It’s like we family man. He don’t teach me how to make beats, but he teaches me how to prepare mentally and to be smart.
Describe your sound in three words?
EVIL JUNGLE SHIT
With so many “producers” out there today, how does your sound stand out above the rest?
I try to be weird and think of the most distinct and the most “New Age” sounding elements, but still keep it relevant in time and sound. I also take you to another place, mentally; soundscapes, I be working on beats and songs, and will get to a point and say “Kanye won’t like this, or Jay will laugh at me if I played him this.” So I try to stay in my demographic, so I can grow with the listeners and artist to pursue my longevity and just build to create more. MORE is GOOD, so I’m always watching dark movies and horrors, only for the sounds. F*** the movie, I wanna know what’s them sounds to give you that COLD feeling, shivers ya know? I don’t listen to the radio either so I create what I hear. I see sound.
Nowadays everyone claims to be some sort of producer. Do you feel that the art has gotten lost in recent years due to the misrepresentation of what a producer really does?
Actually yes, because music isn’t as diverse as it was in the 2000s. Let’s think. R&B music doesn’t have the impact it had in the 90’s and 2000’s. All because of a culture change, all it takes is one sound that a human has never heard before, for them to constantly want to mimic the culture of it. And no disrespect, the sound of music is great, but I feel like the bar for production is low.
The craft isn’t being shown that, “I worked two or three days on this beat.” It’s some that they hear and they know how to create the pattern with the stock or simple sounds. A producer is supposed to produce, compose, and create the vision. Sometimes, even with me, an artist can get a beat that’s so dope, that you can’t come up with any content. Because the production is too epic, but this game is a business and hustle, so I respect anyone out here grinding and working to be a great producer. You just gotta progress and get out the box.
Being from the DMV, we see artists such as Wale as the figurehead of the area. Do you believe that area’s talent has been ignored in recent years?
It has, but that only means Virginia as a state. They would have to work on networking and connecting with others, just to build that empire, to be that heavy hitter. Nowadays people have they crews , they do it on they own because they want to be the next to pop, and it’s not about that. It’s about you doing what you love, getting paid for what you love, and you living comfortable. People be having life f**ked up man. Don’t worry about the next man, stay in your lane and just work.
Those such as DJ Mustard have made their impact on radio in the past year with what seems like a never ending amount of hits. Do you ever see yourself changing up your sound to cater more to the mainstream?
Nah, I wouldn’t. I never want to sound like someone else, his sound is winning right now. He’s dope, and I would love to work with him. Niggas can joke and say all his beats sound the same, but he is in a zone where somehow, them same sounding beats are everywhere and he is collecting checks. So it’s like when my sound really gets out there, I have faith that it would be accepted for a long time. I try to perfect at things, but at the same time, I put things and do things in a certain order, to show progression. Never skip the steps.
We see artists such as Lil’ Wayne get into messy situations with their label. Do you feel that many artists today are not educating themselves enough on the business side of music?
I think what Wayne and his label has going on is totally different from another situation. They are like a family. For years they built an army and a brand.
Rather some other niggas sign to labels and people they met five months ago. It could be good or bad business, but it’s still business. So it’s all in how you make your decisions and handle yourself. This game will bring you to a point where you have to make decisions like a hustler.
With hip hop, and music in general not being the money maker it once was, do you think we will ever get to a point where people are making money again in the art?
Of course. The culture is changing again. People like Travis $cott, Young Thug, Metroo Boomin. Their style, their lifestyle is influencing the culture. Travis is a visionary, a rockstar.
I think him and Big Sean are the next big ones man. Their sound is so outta here and he has a message. Kendrick and Cole are messengers, gatekeepers, their gonna be legends. Drake and A$AP Mob are creating a sound and culture with fashion, and those different but smooth beats. More messages and situations need to be shown, and not just seeing the same content of music vids and all that.
There are many up-in-coming artists that go to Twitter and different social media sites to try and force feed you their music. For someone who wants to be discovered, what is the best strategy to get someone’s attention and one day work with a producer such as yourself?
Just learn and research the business, and make sure you know how to make smart decisions, because your brand is everything. Learn how to conduct yourself in a business space and continue perfecting your craft. Don’t spam a muhf***ka after muhf***a , with your music. I learned you gotta let people gravitate to your sound.
The energy and timing has to be perfect. Space and time, so you gotta learn marketing techniques to keep yourself relevant and in a mindset of you’re gonna make it. Everything you ask for, comes to you in many forms, and people. I’m open minded so I move by god, faith and energy.
There are plenty of female MC’s out there trying to make their way into the business. Why do you feel they are not getting the attention Nicki Minaj is today? …
First of all Nicki got the talent, the cakes, and a story to make her who she is. Nicki not going nowhere. However, it’s possible for a female artist to brand themselves as queens of the craft. Have an image, and grab the attention of a culture and a lifestyle to become an icon like Nicki. But trust me, there’s some dope female rappers that’s about to SMASH. Sex Sells, sex with dope lyrics and a sexy voice gonna sell more. More visuals, more content.
What kind of impact are you and Lex Luger looking to bring to the game?
A culture shift. A sound. We’ve had time to build with each other to learn how we gonna do this. We’ve been working on building with other local artists and producers in our area, KinoBeats, YoungMoneyYawn, Reese Cool, and more. There’s a lot of dope artists out here that’s working and just need to learn the business and execute the plan.
We have fun and all, but we get work done. Hella work. We have so many different sounds that y’all have never heard before. My sound is gonna create a sort of energy where artists are gonna need one for the album. My 808’s are so digital and crisp, when they hit you.
Feel it in ya heart, his Beats are gonna crack y’all Heads, trust me. He can take over a Summer, or two, or three. It’s just he’s young and has a family, and he’s comfortable, but now it’s like, he’s in work mode. All of ya’ll favorite artists been hittin’ him.
You guys stepped out from behind the scenes for the video “Commas.” Is this something we are going to expect more from you two?
Yeah Man, I’m working on my first EP as an artist. Executive produced by me and [Lex Luger]. The songs we have been dropping has nothing compared to what’s in both of our arsenals. Like I said, don’t move too fast, you gotta surprise muhf***az .
People think you ain’t moving ‘cause they don’t see it, but me and him as artists are gonna be a great experience. He has some tracks in his folder that’s gonna be hits man. He saving ‘em. We have no release dates, but we got some videos and songs that are gonna drop all this year. “Drums,” “BlvckAmerikka,” “Mona Lisa,” where Lex killed and SMASHED that production. When I drop this, “We Been Up,” I think people gonna look at me as different, with longevity, and diverse. Dropping maybe All-star weekend.
Is there anyone you are working with that may surprise us?
Me and Lex are working on an EP with BIA, Pharrell’s artist, #SMokedOutSeason , Gonna BE CRAZY. I’ve had conversations with some artists in the game right now about working. Me and Travi$ have been messin’ with each other. Met him at Trillectro last year and he was like, “yo let it go was hard as f**k, take my number,” and its like that blew my mind. Me and Ferg stay in contact. He’s been like a big help with me, teaching me how to be humble and really molding me to practice patience, but me and him working, man ‘o man.
Where do you see your growth in the next year?
I kinda don’t measure growth, I mark and track my progression and goals to see how hard I’ve really been working. So I just hope to solidify myself as a super producer. Doing the artist thing along with it. All the greats have perfected both. Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, Eminem, like movie directors man. They are like the sound gods, so me and Lex are working on doing that.
So what’s next?
Just blessings. Focusing on perfecting my EP, and while I’m doing that I’ll be dropping songs and working on productions for people’s albums. Working with artist close to me in my area; RARI, MiiaMonet, KSess, LoudPAkZay, and more so it’s just building and help build with other people. Create an empire, and turn it into one of the biggest brands nationally. Better yet…global.
You can check out his exclusive new track “We Been Up All Night,” below.