Bizzy Crook is going places. A self-described workaholic, Bizzy was already posted in the studio for the day when HipHopDX conducted its exclusive interview with the Miami-born, NYC-bred emcee. We aren’t talking home-recording sessions either; catching him at the infamous Quad Studios in New York City is already customary. Even though his occupying schedule also included an appearance on 106 & Park’s “The Backroom” freestyle segment the next day, we didn’t sense preoccupation in the up-and-coming rapper’s voice. One gets the sense that Bizzy takes every aspect of self-promotion seriously; take a look at his day-to-day vlogs, his already-lengthy string of mixtapes (of which he has multiple defined series), and the fact that he seemingly pumps out music videos more often than the average soccer mom visits Starbucks. The buzz generated from moves like these has culminated in Bizzy’s current position as an opener on Kid Ink’s “My Own Lane” Tour. On the flip side, Bizzy mixes his business acumen with the ability to tap into feelings that many rappers stray away from. “When the music is on, I’m the rapper that’s going to rap about emotions that nobody wants to talk about,” he told us. “If It Isn’t You,” one of Bizzy’s most emotional (and personal) cuts, is the perfect example. Check that out above, and when you’re done, delve into the details behind the artist below.
HipHopDX: A lot of your music seems to pull from deep emotions. In your song “If It Isn’t You,” you talk about being lovestruck to the point of being in a mental institution. Is that a true story?
Bizzy Crook: Yeah, one-hundred percent. It’s just something I went through. Suicide is something I’ve kind of battled my whole life, but it wasn’t that serious until it came to a time where I felt like I lost everything, and it led me to that.
DX: Was it hard writing that song, or does the music help you deal with the difficult emotions?
Bizzy Crook: Nah, the Mavens actually produced that. We got into the studio, and it was probably the most natural song I ever did. It was one of those things where, it was some stuff that I wanted to say, but I never mentioned it or opened up about it. So it was like, when we got in the studio, I knew I had to talk about something.
DX: You did a pretty high-budget looking video for the song. What was the creative process for the video?
Bizzy Crook: My man Edgar actually shot the video, shout out to Edgar. Basically we just came together and I was like, “Yo, I need people to understand.” And it was kind of more metaphoric. As far as the video, I didn’t [in actuality] kidnap no guy or anything, but as far as the song, it was a one-hundred percent true story. The visual I just wanted to put out there so people could understand.
DX: You mentioned the metaphoric aspects of the video. Elaborate on those.
Bizzy Crook: As far as the couple getting married, and the whole mental institution thing, it was like a mind thing; barriers you set for yourself. As far as the girl marrying someone else, it was kind of like I never really existed to her. I kind of never really mattered. You know, sometimes we want something so bad that we sugarcoat it into however we want to look at it. So the thing about them getting married was me being the one on the wrong page.
DX: Where were you going into the creation of your 84 mixtape?
Bizzy Crook: ‘84 was the year Jordan got drafted, man. I’m the underdog, Jordan was the underdog…it goes back to the metaphorical thing; in 1984 nobody knowing that Michael Jordan was Michael Jordan. He came into the game third-draft pick, not first, not second, but he came in third. There was no way anybody possibly knew this guy was going to be the G.O.A.T., the greatest of all time. And that’s where I feel like I’m at. I feel like I have a lot to prove and I have a lot of work to put in, but I know what I gotta do.
DX: How was the reaction to that mixtape and the followup, 84: Off Season, been from your point of view?
Bizzy Crook: The reaction has been surreal to say the least. I’ve actually been able to meet a lot of people, rappers, basketball players, football players, who have heard the project, and they pull me to the side and they’re like, “Yo, I know exactly what you were going through on track number six, ‘If It Isn’t You.’” It brings you back to music just connecting people. When the music is on, I’m the rapper that’s going to rap about emotions that nobody wants to talk about. What everybody goes through.
DX: You talked about Jordan a little bit. Why is he such an important figure to you? I know he’s referenced in the titles of the last two mixtapes, and also in the title of the “1984” song you put out.
Bizzy Crook: Man, first off because he’s the greatest. Second, just going back to the '84 thing, just growth is something that means a lot to me. I relate to it. 1984, Jordan came into the game and nobody knew what this guy was gonna do. This guy was not the greatest who had kids lining up for sneakers and all that good stuff. So I feel like this is my 1984: with that project and when I came in, nobody knew what I was going to do and nobody know what I’ll do next. A lot of people slept on me; I was first managed by Mona Scott when I was eighteen. I kind of thought that was going to be it and it wasn’t, and now I’m kind of just coming around people I used to see back in the day and it’s really ‘84. I’ve really grown a lot and I’m only getting started.
DX: You’ve mentioned clothes a couple times. You always seem to be up to date with the latest fashion trends, what brands have you found yourself wearing recently?
Bizzy Crook: My number one favorite brand right now is Hood By Air. I’m starting to get more into the street brands, I used to be heavy into Givenchy, Balmain, and stuff like that. But I’m definitely getting more into independent, upcoming streetwear. This season of Supreme is crazy.
DX: On your song “Paranormal Activity,” you say, “Hell no nigga, I ain’t into being underground.” At what point will you consider yourself to no longer be underground, or do you consider yourself to have already broken out of that?
Bizzy Crook: In a way, I never really consider myself underground because I don’t really feel like I make underground music. Underground is almost a genre you could say. I personally don’t feel I make that kind of music, I always like to say that I’m more on the come-up. When will I feel like I’m not on the come-up? Right now I’m just working, I just want to build a fan base, have people hear the music. I just want people to relate and know that there’s real shit out there.
DX: You also say on that record, “As of late all my favorite rappers hate on me.” Has the industry shown you love or has it been an uphill battle?
Bizzy Crook: Definitely an uphill battle; some people show love, some hate, sometimes it’s somebody you look up to. Sometimes it’s someone you never thought would be a fan of your music, you never know. I love it, I’ve got good people around me and we’re working. It’s Good Luck.
DX: A lot of rappers are choosing to stay independent right now. Is taking that route something you’ve considered as opposed to signing with a major label?
Bizzy Crook: Yeah, I’ve been moving indie now. We don’t have a deal, we’re not shy. Right now I’m good, you know. I’m not opposed to it, but right now the indie ride is working out for me.
DX: Have you found yourself in any discussions with major labels?
Bizzy Crook: A couple people have been reaching out, definitely. But right now, as far as anything I just want to focus on this music and this tour.
DX: What were your surroundings growing up in Miami?
Bizzy Crook: I lived a couple years in North Miami, and then I actually moved to Egypt. My father worked with the Royal Family, so it was kind of different out there. We had, like, security and on weekends would we go to the pyramids and go on camels and all that shit. Moving back to Miami, I got in trouble a little bit then we moved to this place called Cape Coral, Florida, which was still a quiet, small town. So at that point, I kind of just stayed in the crib and was always working on music. My mom was a little strict, just because of stuff she went through, so she didn’t want me out like that. I just kind of stayed in the crib working a lot.
DX: Who would you say your musical influences were as a kid in Miami?
Bizzy Crook: Definitely Eminem, definitely Eminem. Trick Daddy, Ludacris. I listen to a lot of up North stuff. A lot of people tell me, “Oh, you can’t really tell you’re from Miami by your raps.” That’s probably because I grew up heavy on, like, D-Block, Dipset, G-Unit, and stuff like that. I was bootlegging Clue tapes and Kay Slay tapes and putting everybody onto it.
DX: What made you decide to make the move to New York?
Bizzy Crook: I actually lived in New York before, went back home. Then last year I was literally, no exaggeration, in New York every single week of the year, just working. Probably around the end of the year, my managers were like, “Yo, it’s probably better that you move here. You might as well, you’re here all the time.” Then we came up here, and New York showed me love. I was doing radio shows, just running around and working. People messed with the music, man, so I mess with it.
DX: How did your upcoming tour with Kid Ink come about?
Bizzy Crook: I ran into [DJ] Ill Will at a studio out in LA for Grammy weekend, and we just chopped it up. He was actually supporting my music for a minute, and we chopped it up. He played my music for Ink and it was a wrap.
DX: Would you say those are going to be the most important shows you’ve done so far in your career?
Bizzy Crook: Yeah, definitely. I just signed with I.C.M., so we’re definitely going to be hitting the road a lot this year.
DX: Your team is known as Good Luck Music Group. The “good luck” phrase seems to find its way into a lot of your music. What’s the story behind the “good luck” phrase?
Bizzy Crook: “Good Luck” is just something I’ve heard my entire life; teachers, family members, the end of friendships, the end of relationships, I’ve just heard it my whole life. It comes from me being doubted. The Rap thing is not the easiest thing to do, so you know, people aren’t automatically going to root for you. And not even that it’s not the easiest thing to do; there’s a lot of things that play into it. But the moral of the story is that people have been wishing me “good luck” all my life when I told them I wanted to do music. Looking back at it, if I wasn’t as crazy and over-passionate as I am - because I’m crazy - I’m like a maniac when it comes to work ethic. But if I ain’t want it that bad, I could have been deterred from it. People used to tell me “good luck” and doubt me. So looking back at it, there’s a lot of people who turn away from their dreams because they’re doubted. So now we just kind of give them Good Luck. We’re showing ya’ll, look, they wished us “good luck.” They said we would never be on tour, they said we would never be on TV, and we’re here. So fuck what they tell you.
DX: You’re one of the nominees for The People’s Choice spot on the XXL Freshman 2014 cover story alongside some big name artists. How does it feel getting that type of recognition?
Bizzy Crook: I ain’t gonna lie, it’s kinda tight man. The Freshman List… XXL, period, has been crucial in Hip Hop, and it’s something that we all grew up on. Aside from that, the Freshman List is something that for me and my boys, it meant a lot to us every year. I didn’t even know, I was actually on the way home. I was on my way home and somebody tweeted, “Yo, vote for Bizzy Crook.” And I’m like, “I’m not on no Freshman List!” And then I get in the crib and I saw it. It’s crazy, it’s surreal.
DX: What’s next for you project-wise?
Bizzy Crook: The next project is No Hard Feelings. It’s gonna be crazy, it sounds like nothing I’ve ever done. If 84: Off Season didn’t win ya’ll over, then what can I say, no hard feelings.
DX: Is that going to be a tape? EP?
Bizzy Crook: Yeah, it’s a tape. It’s actually, if you’ve been following my music for a while, this would be PS I’m Sorry 3. PS I’m Sorry was the first series I started when I first really came in. So it’s kinda like the third one. PS I’m Sorry 3 is not actually in the title, but it’s kinda like a self-explanatory thing. But No Hard Feelings is just...we’re going in. I want to put together an album, I want people looking at me like I’m crazy for putting that out for free.
DX: Are there any artists that you want to work with specifically?
Bizzy Crook: Definitely Lil Bibby, man, Lil Bibby got a joint that I play a hundred times a day. Isaiah Rashad is killin’ it. Migos, I need to get in with Migos. Yo Gotti, Fab, definitely Fab, he’s like one of my favorite artists. Meek Mill. Just a lot of people, I want to work with everybody and create different sounds.
DX: Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists? You’ve been around the block at this point and seen some things.
Bizzy Crook: My advice for other artists is tell your story. Don’t let nobody tell it for you, don’t let nobody deter you from it. Tell your story and everything else will fall into place, you know.