An interview with Cazwell
Cazwell is one of those hyphenated wonders of the world. He is a rapper, producer, dj, model, and underwear designer among other things. Cazwell will be in Nashville for Pride and I was able to get Cazwell’s take on several questions.
O&AN: When did you know you wanted to be in the music industry?
Cazwell: I knew I wanted to be in the music industry seriously when I was 21.
O&AN: Who influenced your style and in your opinion who is the most influential and successful artist in your genre today and why?
Cazwell: Many artists influenced my style, thought the first to come to mind are Biggie Smalls and The Beastie Boys. In my opinion the most influential and successful artist of my genre is probably Eminem. I still think that Eminem is probably the greatest rapper alive.
O&AN: In the 90’s you were part of the hip hop duo, Morplay. How did that experience prepare you for the solo career you launched?
Cazwell: I was still living in Boston for most of the time that I was with Morplay. That experience helped in shaping my business mind. I learned how to book my own shows, get my own press, get things recorded, mastered and mixed without anyone's help. It was very hands-on, and I learned how to do these things on my own.
O&AN: You’ve done several collaborations. Which artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Cazwell: Missy Elliott is at the top of my list. I love her. And of course I wouldn't say no to Nicki or Beyoncé!
O&AN: You said in one of your interviews that the only thing that sells for a long period of time in the business is talent. You have to be good at writing catchy hit songs. What is your writing process? What songs do you have on constant rotation? Do you think your music is mostly enjoyed more for the beats or for the lyrical flow and content?
Cazwell: Nothing really inspires me more than a deadline. When my manager tells me he needs a song written in 24 hours, it inspires me to get that shit done! Otherwise, I tend to take my time and wait for inspiration. I like deadlines, if they work for me. But I think it’s important to keep the headphones out of your ears and listen to what people say around you when searching for lyrics. New York City is always inspiring me, the people on the streets, kids on the subway, and the drag queens on the mic. Wherever you go, there is always something that you can take away from that experience.
Not to sound conceited, but I listen to a lot of my own songs most of the time as I am daydreaming about music videos. I listen to a lot of beats that I find on sound cloud. I think for the most part, my music is enjoyed for relatability and content.
O&AN: You released a new album over the weekend. All of the songs are awesome. What gave you the idea to release a summer mix? How do you separate yourself from other artist’s out there?
Cazwell: It's been a minute since I dropped a DJ mix tape, and summertime is the perfect time for a mixed tape. I've also been getting a lot of DJ gigs, and want to keep them coming, so I want to keep dropping DJ mixes. I prefer to perform rather than DJ any day, but I also perform while I DJ to give the crowd something new. I prefer to drop a lot of trap, twerk, old-school and new school hip hop, but keep it super gay at the same time.
O&AN: Are there any venues that you haven’t played yet but are on your “wish list?”
Cazwell: Yeah, Madison Square Garden.
O&AN: Who would you like to open up for and who would you like to open up for you?
Cazwell: I don't exactly have dreams of opening up with anyone in particular, but I would love to do a show with Azealia Banks. I really admire her, and think she is a bright rapper.
O&AN: Do you think the advent of internet and all the new technology has helped your music and independent musicians in general?
Cazwell: Hell Yes! Before YouTube I couldn't get anybody to see my videos, unless they came over my house (laughs). A Visual component to music is extremely important, especially to building a fan base and getting gigs.
O&AN: How important do you think video is to your music and how do you produce your videos?
Cazwell: I've always been very lucky when it comes to making music videos. I work with very talented people that enjoy working with me and actually like my songs. I treat making a video the same way I treat throwing a party. You come up with a theme, a cast of characters and a sense of direction for the night.
O&AN: What in your opinion is the biggest barrier an artist like yourself, has to face and overcome, to gain any commercial success?
Cazwell: The biggest barrier is just to stay consistent. You have to keep dropping quality songs and quality videos, or else the people who have been supporting you will stop paying attention and will drop you for another artist. Keeping on my own artistic a journey while trying to make music and videos that remain relatable to my audience, can be a balancing act.
Not only is Cazwell brilliant with his music, he launched an underwear line based on his hit single, “Ice Cream Truck” which has pulled in millions of views on YouTube. The press release has Cazwell stating “I knew from my go-go boy friends that there was a need for underwear that showed off their junk and gave their bubble butts a cute little fit.” Cazwell was involved from start to finish with the design process. The colors, the fit, and final result all scream Cazwell. You can purchase underwear from his line at www.icecreamtruck.bigcartel.com.
To check out more on Cazwell visit his website at www.cazwell.com or check him out on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CAZWELLnyc or on Facebook at Don’t forget to check out his new single, “Downtown” on iTunes and online retailers. Be sure to catch Cazwell when he performs in Nashville at the Public Square Park on June 27th at 10:00 pm.