LUCIUS: As always with my interviews, I want to thank you guys for sitting down and doing and interview with me.
BARZ: No problem, brother. I have been looking forward to chopping it up with you ever since we first got connected, man. I respect what you do
LUCIUS: So how has 2014 been treating you thus far?
BARZ: It’s been cool. This year, the exposure is coming in tenfold but more importantly, I am growing exponentially thanks to the many challenges I have faced and am facing.
LUCIUS: Tell us what to expect from you for the rest of the year and on into 2015.
BARZ: Ummm…at the deepest level , just me growing more into myself. But at a relative level, more great music. #NewGa got the #SummerTape dropping and I have a couple of songs on there. Also, we will be releasing a #NationLeaks tape which will feature some songs we released while promoting #FlyMinds. It will be nothing major, just some great music to be posted on the Internet for the extended fam to enjoy. Abundance of features, random songs, and shows. And also, I am currently writing some new, deep, soulful, raw, melodic, jamming, Jedi Mind shit that will bless the ears of my listeners on my solo tape. The world has barely heard the deeper level of art from us. The #FlyMinds Ep BARELY scratched the surface for both of us and people are still feeling it. So just imagine. (laughs)
LUCIUS: So explain your stage name to me a bit.
BARZ: Well my first name is Jabar and my mother used to call me Barzy as a child. My homie who also is a super talented producer, Kopano aka Dynamic Arrangement, suggested that I use the name Barz since I rap. Damu is my middle name which means "blood" in Swahili. I embrace that name wholeheartedly because of its roots and the sound vibration of the name. I don’t regard my last name. Too European for me.
LUCIUS: Who truly inspired the first spark for this Fly Minds EP?
BARZ: I actually cannot remember but I know it first came about when we were talking about after recording "September". Then Z3 started sending us some other beats and we were just moving through them and we figured, "Why not make a project out of this?" Most of those songs that we wrote to, though, never made the actual EP.
LUCIUS: What got you guys working on the Fly Minds EP? Or rather, what's behind the concept?
BARZ: Well, #FlyMinds is just a part of our entire being. It’s basically an expression of embracing intelligence with style and authenticity. Also, the willingness to step out of the box with the audacity to experiment with some different shit and say “Hell yeah. This who the fuck we are.” You don’t have to like it but you will respect what we are about. But it’s so many ways to look at it to me. It was just where we were at that point in time artistically. It is a very loose concept.
LUCIUS: How did you link up with iBeast and the #NewGA movement?
BARZ: We met iBeast through my girlfriend Trina, who invited me to check out his show in College Park. I enjoyed his performance featuring #NewGa member India Catrice. I respected the general idea of what his music represents. Trina played some of our stuff to him and he liked what he heard. We started chopping it up with him with his idea of #NewGA and I figured why not try this out. We made the right decision. It is a blessing. Without the #NewGa support system, #FlyMinds wouldn’t be what it is today.
LUCIUS: Any favorite track(s) off the EP? Any that weren't particularly your favorite?
BARZ: It changes from time to time but right now I think my favorites would be "September", "No Concept", "Neptune" and "True 2 the Code". "Night of Honor" used to be my least favorite but it’s growing on me!
LUCIUS: I have been hearing through social media that the #NewGA has been doing a number of shows. How has that been?
BARZ: It’s been great! But we barely started. People respect the movement and the variety that is within the movement. Live shows is our forte. Our approach brings more life the environment of the show.
LUCIUS: I see that the #NewGA is growing. That's an amazing thing. What kind of people are you hoping to add to the roster.
BARZ: I want talented, dignified, committed, honest people, no matter what skill they bring to the table. I feel like we need people that are willing to grow on their own even within the movement. In order for a supportive unit to work, the individual units have to be strong individually. This system is not for beggars.
LUCIUS: Whose music are you listening to in your free time?
BARZ: I don’t really just sit and just listen to music much but it varies. But at the moment, I have to say Ab-Soul, some 60s-70s soul, and the classic Lil Boosie. But generally, Badu, Pac, Earth Wind & Fire, K.Dot, Nas, Sade, Solange, Nipsey Hussle, Starlito, OutKast, Mick Jenkins. The list goes on.
LUCIUS: Is there a goal you're hoping to reach with your music?
BARZ: With my music, I hope to have people understand the urgency of humanity’s need for transformation, and the give them the inspiration to act on humanity’s dire need for transformation with whatever gift they can give.
LUCIUS: Any thoughts on the current direction of hip-hop?
BARZ: Hip-hop is going off into all kinds of directions because there are many different artists on different levels with different aims. But mainstream wise, it’s shitty. I only like Kendrick, Lupe, J.Cole, and some Wale in the mainstream. You got other dope artists like Drake but he don’t speak to my struggle like the others do. But the underground's about to crack open the concrete.
LUCIUS: Who is someone you are really looking forward to working with someday?
BARZ: BJ the Chicago Kid, Jhene Aiko, Tinashe, Sza, Ab Soul, Rhapsody, Saba, NoName Gypsy, Joey Badass, Cooley Savant to name a few
LUCIUS: What's the greatest bit of game that you can share with our readers and your fans?
BARZ: Whatever your greatest fear is, seek to UNDERstand it so you can OVERcome it.
LUCIUS: Are there any thanks or last shout outs you want to give?
BARZ: I would like to shout out Joycelyn Renette (Abovetheruckus.com), Kudee Garley supported us since the very beginning, Kinfolk, Shakur El Bey, Akilah Stewart, War Beyah, MarccGrand, DJ Sienna Robinson, Literati Clique, LR, Tai James, Debose Muzik, Sosa, Grip, Pee-Wee, CJ, Fame, Brilliant Minds, Michelle, Nyres The Poet (IndieThi3ves.com), William Cherry, Lil Hod Muzik, Dub and DonSean. And many others I can’t think of right now. Of course the fam, moms and pops.
LUCIUS: Thanks for that. I appreciate your time.
BARZ: No problem brother. Peace, blessings, and revolutionary art….from Barz Damu.