A understated intellect with fierce microphone presence, Thoughtsarizen rips lyrics and shows with savage vigor. Hailing from Orange County, CA, Thoughts is not necessarily a battle rapper, but more of an open minded, intelligent, artist and writer who tries to test his limits in the genre know as Hip-Hop. We spoke to the mastermind behind Thoughtsarizen and got to know the start of his career, what drives him, and what big plans 2014 has in store.
Entertwine: How did Thoughtsarizen come to fruition, and what exactly is the meaning behind the name, Thoughtsarizen?
Thoughtsarizen: They were the first two words I wrote down when I started writing hip-hop 13 years ago. It basically means to have thoughts that rise above the everyday mundane thoughts. A great quote I read once was normal people talk about people, and good people talk about experience, great people talk about theories and ideas, and since then I have used that as my mantra.
ET: Before creating tracks, did you have any prior musical experience or talents?
TA: Prior to doing hip-hop I had been in a punk band for you years from 1996-1998, before that I play percussion in the school band and wrote poetry and short stories. Doing the punk thing prior to hip-hop felt as a natural progression, as both styles of music are very similar in origin and meaning. So going from strength to strength if you will with my song writing was almost an expected turn of events.
ET: Out of all genres, what attracted you to this type of genre of hip hop/electronic?
TA: As stated above, to me hip-hop is a natural progression from punk rock. You have urban, political, and emotional roots, that also like to have fun. Listening to Pete Rock right after I finished up listening to the disrupt, oi polloi, or dead kennedys albums almost felt, aside from sonically, like they could be related. I may get some flack for this but another reason was I could rhyme on the bus, I could freestyle walking home from school, I didn’t need to carry around a guitar or drums or bass, it was also an ease of use thing.
ET: If you could describe your music in three words, what would they be?
TA: Alternative Intellegent Entertaining
ET: Who or what influenced you to start making music? Does that same influence still stand today, or has it changed?
TA: I just always wanted to make music, I don’t think there was a particular record, or artist that I heard and was like oh my, I need to do this. The closest to solidifying my choice of genres was maybe rage against the machine or rakim, both allowing me to see that you could write smart lyrics, and also showing me that you could mix politics, different sounds and other nongenre specific items into your sound. Another great influence to me was Trent Reznor, since I saw him use an MPC to make industrial, I knew that anything is possible, from DJ premier to j.dilla, to madlib all of them helped me see that sound is so versatile. I would say nothing changed as far as influence, except I constantly look at new and old musicians to draw from, like BB king, or miles davis, to slaughterhouse or atmosphere.
ET: How was the area of Orange County helped support your career as an emcee?
TA: Honestly, I am not hating on Orange County, but it a fragmented scene. We have some really talented people, and some great artists, and I have meet some great people like LDonthecut, Castor Pollux, Pawz1, Ariano, C4mula, etc, but I think the scene is to busy trying to be cool, instead of propping up our local musicians. I say this as someone who would identify themselves as an OC rapper since 2000, and dropped albums on orange county labels as early as 2001. I think there are different types of music like punk, ska, reggae, where the scene is really strong and they support. As far as hip-hop goes, I feel if we tried to be more like the rock scene, and less like the rap scene it would go a long way to getting the talent out there.
ET: Your most recent EP, “Root to Seed,” features a lot of other artists. Tell us about these different collaborations and how it shaped the EP’s style.
TA: Ld and I sat down and kinda looked at the people we knew and that would fit, most of the features are on one song, and its a very unifying track, the track “Going Up” has a very united vibe. I mean Akil is Muslim, I am Jewish, LD is Christian, Ariano is Catholic/spiritual, and Braille is Christian, its like we took all the religion and just formed a united truth, you can always go up. As far as the style, we took a lot of samples from music we grew up on, Root to Seed is a crass sample, Elevate is PRIDEFC anthem sample, etc. We just wanted an album that sonically sounded golden era, but progressive, and at the same time had elements from our childhood.
ET: Out of all the tracks on “Root to Seed,” which was your favorite to produce and record? Which is your favorite to perform live?
TA: My favorite to write to was vintage because it was that fast paced delivery I don’t get to use to often. However my favorite that we produced and the one that in the right moment gets people dancing is Root To Seed, the skapunk sample and the swing and cuts make it really grooving and great fun.
ET: What are some of your favorite local hotspots to perform or DJ at and why? Any in particular that you can’t get enough of?
TA: Hmmm, House of Blues is always a great time, so is the grove and the observatory. I love the Observatory because they brought us pizza every time we played, it means a lot of be taken care of that much. Free drinks are cool, but I think when you get a little catering, it really makes you feel appreciated. The sound at the House of Blues is something else, and I really like it, I have played over 100 venues and those 3 still stick out to being great places to play, for artists and for the crowd.
ET: What are your future plans for your music career, what goals do you seek to achieve in the new year?
TA: I was sick most of 2013, but this year I have 3 more records on the way, and plenty of shows to rock. Goals are to get to a few of the tour spots I had to turn down last year, and to volunteer my time with workshops and mentoring for young artists.