Black Wall Street: It was a start to many rap careers for both emcees and producers alike in the early 2000s and is the collective of many of the major street players of the last decade.
When The Game co-founded the label in 2002, he subsequently created a bond with a then-buzzing producer/DJ at the time from Parkslope, Brooklyn named DJ Haze.
Now nearly a decade later, after extensive touring and music collaboration for other artists, DJ Haze dropped his own debut The Color Purple LP and talks about the heyday and mayday of his relationship with the BWS headman.
While Haze says his relationship with Game has disintegrated, he’s quick to defend him from what he believes are misconceptions about the Compton rapper. He attributes his multi-coast sound to the relationships he’s established through The Game and said New York never reached out to him the way the west coast did.
Speaking on New York rappers, he said, “I just didn’t get that full reaction that I needed to get something going and it just seemed like Game, he was a lot more cooler and as much as people talk about him being a dick and all that kind of shit, I didn’t see that, like he was the coolest rapper I had ever met.”
HipHopDX recently caught up with DJ Haze to talk about his long awaiting debut release, the status of Black Wall Street and his relationship with the label and how rapidly Haze believes the newest sound changes.
HipHopDX: What was your vision with The Color Purple LP?
DJ Haze: Well my vision with The Color Purple was basically I wanted to do a mixtape all produced by myself. I was doing mixtapes and my goal is that I wanted something that I produced. I got kind of tired playing other people’s music. I wanted to do a mixtape of all songs that I produced, I put together. So it was always something that I’ve dreamed of doing like all these mixtapes with Game and other rappers and then I was like, I want my own official mixtape so this is it with The Color Purple.
Definitely everyone should go get the album, it’s well worth the $10. It’s a good project, I put some time into it and it’s nothing rushed and all the artists definitely gave their all and shout out to every artists that’s on there. Cassidy, definitely Cassidy cause he promised me that he was gonna get on the record and we finally got it in at the end and he definitely did his thing. Definitely Joel Ortiz, you know everybody showed me love and I didn’t know what to expect when I made this project. I didn’t know whether everybody was going to be like, “Yes I’m going to do it” or no or try to hit me with a crazy price or something like that and believe it or not, a lot of people did it for free, I was like, “Oh shit, I didn’t know I had that kind of power.” And I guess it was from putting out mixtapes and staying in the scene and being affiliated with Game so definitely shout out to Game, shout out to everybody.
DX: Yeah there’s some crazy features on here and it almost feels like 2005 with some of these, some you’ve worked with already. You’ve got Cassidy, Game, Jim Jones and more. What made you select these because you’ve always been someone to work with artists from all over?
DJ Haze: Basically the artists that I have on my project are people that I’ve worked with in the past so it was just easy to reach out to them whether they be connected to Game or maybe they were working in the studio with Game and I saw them there and I hollered at ‘em. So basically it’s a lot of affiliates of Game so where the connection was a lot easier. It was also a lot of people that when I was out there throwing mixtapes out in 2008, 2009, 2010, it was just basically the same artists that were out the grinding with me or that were even out there before me and I always was a fan of.
DX: Like I mentioned before, you work with a lot of people from all over and your sound changes up. You’re a guy from Brooklyn but what do you think has been your identity over the last few years?
DJ Haze: I think it’s the people that reach out to me that tell me like, “Yo, I downloaded your song,” or “Every time I put on my iPod, I’ll hear a Haze drop over the song.” I look at it like my sound is from everywhere because a lot of people hit me up from everywhere. I get a lot more love from outside of New York. I’m from Brooklyn; I’m from New York. I love New York to death. I had the ability to move out to Cali and live in L.A. and I was going to do it but there’s just no place like New York to me and I’ve been around the world with Game and my whole thing was, everyone showed me love outside of New York so I can’t sell myself short. I wasn’t like, “Yo I’m gonna stay New York style and people are just gonna have to live with it.” I like everything that’s out there. I love south shit, I like ignorant music (laughs), and then I love the songs that are speaking about topics and breaking down stories or that are using crazy metaphors so I’ll listen to real underground stuff all the way to the mainstream. I listen to a lot of stuff so. It’s selling mixtapes too. I had to have that option so I covered every ground so that’s where I let my music kind of be a universal thing.
DX: The latest single you dropped before dropping the LP was the “Coast To Coast” track. What was the mindset behind that one?
DJ Haze: Basically it’s like an east meets west kind of thing. I’m from the east coast and I got my start on the west coast. It was almost similar to 50 Cent. It’s a common thing that goes on. People in New York don’t really like to help out other New Yorkers so it’s almost like we have to go outside of New York to get some love, you know, like French Montana is going down south, 50 Cent going to Dr. Dre in California so that is kind of where I was going with this song “Coast To Coast” ’cause basically I wanted to combine L.A. artists and some New York artists and Philly too cause Philly is a big neighbor to New York as far as Hip hop goes and I also wanted to let people know with the hook that even though I’m from New York, I’m known all over the world. People may know me more outside of my own street and that is where I was kind of hinting to it in the song. I want to let people know that I represent the world and I’m from the east but it was L.A. that gave me that start.
DX: You just mentioned “New Yorkers not wanting to help New Yorkers.” What do you mean by that?
DJ Haze: I don’t know maybe it was the fact that I reached out first to G-Unit and you know, Havoc and I just like talking to Havoc and Havoc wanted me to bring the samples and stuff production-wise and I kind of reached out to New York first cause this is where I’m from and I wanted to rep it and always continue to put it on the map and I just didn’t get that full reaction that I needed to get something going and it just seemed like Game, he was a lot more cooler and as much as people talk about him being a dick and all that kind of shit, I didn’t see that, like he was the coolest rapper I had ever met, besides Sheek Louch, he was one of the coolest rappers, he was open arms and he was like, “Go ahead and go kill ‘em.”
DX: You mention Game. You and him go way back but what has your relationship been like with him over the last few years?
DJ Haze: Our relationship was great when we first linked for the first time. We hit it off. We were like two big Hip hop fans and we just tried to get Black Wall Street off the ground, got it it’s own satellite radio show. We did the Black Wall Street radio series so we were really creating a buzz with the BWS name itself and you know as time went by, there was a lot of shit going on with lawsuits, problems with Jimmy Henchman and a lot of other things started to stem up so with that. I was always one that wanted to see moves being made like, “Oh we need to do this, oh we need to do that.” And he stopped doing these moves so we started to bump heads cause I was like, “Yo I put my all into this, I wanna see this label succeed,” and I think all the stuff that was going on with him kinda just made him feel like he didn’t want to bother with anything and you can kind of tell that in the music as well. My goal was to make sure everything was going straight but we kind of bumped heads a little bit and he actually wanted a beat that was on The Color Purple and we kind of bumped heads on it because I was like this and that and I would’ve had to give it to him right away and then he got upset and that was the last time we talked, it was over a beat. I still keep cool with the family and all the artists and everybody but with the delay of the R.E.D. Album and the label pushing for a single and all this pressure that’s been on him, all the Hip hop police, it’s just kind of one of those things that we got mad at each other, bumped heads and that was it and there’s no more Black Wall Street. They still call themselves Black Wall Street but they’re a new name and that’s kind of where we left it at.
DX: Yeah I was kind of confused about Black Wall Street because I don’t hear much about them as a collective anymore…
DJ Haze: Right, right.
DX: So is it just because Game’s not involved or is it all over?
DJ Haze: I don’t really know to tell you the truth. I wish them the best but I really don’t know what’s going on with them. I have no clue. I know as much as you do right now and I don’t see anything.
DX: Not to beat the Game connection to death but since you were involved with him early in his career, how much do you think he contributed to your career and how much do you think you contributed to his?
DJ Haze: I definitely kept him in tune with New York and always let him know what was going on out here and any changes in music and stuff like that. I think I brought him a street side. He was already street but he always wanted to go in with the streets again. ‘Cause he was like, “Fuck the commercial shit, let’s bring it to the streets, let’s get that shit going.” So when we were doing the mixtapes, we wanted to get the love from the streets so my plan was to get out there and flood those streets with mixtapes. And with that alone, him letting me do the mixtapes and him providing me with exclusives and him inviting me to studio sessions, that really gave me the access to meet rappers and get more involved with the music industry.
DX: One thing I always notice is that you always provide a beat that complements the artist on it. I really saw that with the Sheek Louch feature on the record “Life Style.” Is that something you’re always going for when you’re putting a track together?
DJ Haze: I kind of put myself in the position of the listener. When I put on a CD in the car, the music kind of has to give me a certain feel so when I make a beat, I can hear and I can tell who kind of fits on it, like their voice. It’s like I hear the tone of their voice in my head and it kind of matches the beat so that’s kind of what I decide on. This beat belongs to this person and I know this from hearing them for so many years and you can automatically hear them on certain tracks. It’s so easy cause I’m fans of all these rappers. I was a fan of Sheek Louch. I knew automatically that this fits this person from just being a fan and just from dropping all these mixtapes and hearing all these songs a million times and you just start to understand that this person sounds better on this track. You also know that from history. What songs do you like to hear with this person? And that’s a decision I make too. Like this was my favorite song from this person so I’m going to make a track like that and add this kind of flavor to it so that’s what I’ll do too. I might be remixing a track you’ve already heard of but by the time that I add all these interments to it, you’ll have no clue so that’s a way I sample too.
DX: In terms of producing, what are some of the trends you’ve seen change from when you entered Hip hop to now?
DJ Haze: You know this project I was supposed to put out was supposed to be six months ago to a year ago cause I already had all these songs done and there was a lot of paperwork and stuff holding me back so I was kind of upset cause if you hear the tracks that I have now and compete with the music that’s out there now, that’s kind of how I make music. I was kind of upset because I felt like this project should have been dropped a year ago and that gap from my project not dropping and listening to the music now, it’s definitely a big difference like that sound that came from the west coast, it totally changed the whole west coast where there’s a whole new west coast sound going on, that whole Rack City Bitch, DJ Mustard on the beat and that alone kind of changed a lot of things. The south will always be the south though. You can always bet that that will be the same but the fact that the west coast, its sound became commercial, is pretty big and that’s why I’m kind of upset cause I was like, “Damn I could have done something like that on this project.” But that’s why I’m so anxious to work on my second one because I’m definitely going to make it shake on the second one. This one I feel that it’s its own style. You can’t really compare it to anything, it’s just good music. It sounds like a mixtape, but a really good mixtape, you know?
DJ Haze: Yeah French Montana too…
DX: Exactly, has that also maybe had an affect on you in terms of sampling and changing up how you make songs?
DJ Haze: Well not really. Everybody that I roll with and my artists Dro Pesci, Hell Fire, they kind of keep me on my toes cause they have that real Hip hop sound that reminds me of the 90s so as much as I try to go out there and make futuristic music and keep up with the charts, they kinda keep me grounded so we don’t try to fall for all the gimmicks and stuff like that. We’ll just take a little of what’s going on there and add our own flavor to it so that’s kind of my job is where I’ll go in with the futuristic sound and just from them being around me, they keep me on my toes, looking to do old records with samples and stuff like that so that’s a great combination.