Soulzay Talks Doomshop, Collaborating with MC Holocaust, And More
Dropping some of his first works in 2018, Soulzay has continued to champion the sound of the underground. The Texas-based artist signed to DoomshopRecords has worked with some of the biggest names in the scene. Garnering features and production from the likes of Baker and McHolocaust, Soulzay has undoubtedly established himself as a force to be reckoned with. 2020 is sure to be a big year for him, so be on the lookout!
-Where are you from? What was your upbringing like? Talk about life before Soulzay. What were you into as a child? What's the music scene like in your area? And what were you listening to growing up?
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and I'm from a neighborhood called oak cliff, which is the Southwest side of Dallas. My upbringing was pretty fun. I played baseball and basketball for the majority of my life and played four years of college baseball. Growing up, I was a big Dirk, Steve Nash, Rafael Palmeiro, Pudge Rodriguez, and Juan Gonzalez fan. I was either watching sports growing up or listening to music playing video games and shit like that. I grew up around a lot of my older cousins, aunts, uncles, and my brother and sisters friends as a kid, so I was always into what they would play around me and then some. I could remember whoever it was picking me up from school in the late 90s was either bumping UGK, 8 Ball & MJG, Triple 6, Hot Boy$, Mystikal, Devin The Dude, Mr. 3-2, Scarface, shit like that. So far as the music scene in Dallas, I couldn't tell you a damn thing about it. I have zero relationships with any artists from the city. I pretty much do my own thing and stay out the way. That's not really my thing to fuck with other people cause muhhfuckers to be weird out here. Not saying there isn't anybody dope who makes music, I just don't know nobody like that.
-What made you want to start recording? What was going through your head when you put out your first song? How long have you been making music? And any significant influences musically?
I want to say I been writing for about eight years. I didn't start to record myself until 2014. In the first two years of writing, I would keep a rhyme book full of raps I wrote over beats I probably just played off YouTube on my phone and never recorded them. It just started as a hobby from being a student of the game and just being intrigued by storytelling and painting pictures through words and shit. What made me actually wanna start recording and putting shit out was just by hearing what was out and popular at that time and realizing how much other artists fuckin sucked. Tellin myself if people could gravitate to this wack shit imagine when they find something that's real. I really fuck with how Spitta played the game. Curren$y probably one of the few rappers I still listen to today and one of my biggest musical influences.
-Your prominence in the scene doesn't go unnoticed, being that you're affiliated with DoomshopRecords, taking you to that next level. Talk about what that whole experience has been like for you. A sense of accomplishment for sure, is it just another validation that you're meant to do this? What're your thoughts?
It's been cool. Being that really none of us live in the same city, I feel like we do what we can as far as moving as collective but still everyone being able to branch off and do their own thing as far as a solo artist. It feels right at home, and when Holocaust and Akoza put me in, it felt like this was destined to happen. Especially since it happened in person when we did a show together with Tommy Wright in 2017. Everything has been playing out the right way.
-Your sound makes you a clear favorite. It's certainly put you on the map, as artists like Memphis legend Lil Wyte follow you on the gram. What goes through your head when a pioneer to the game gives you that co-sign?
I've had a handful of artists who been in the game reach out just to show some love. It's humbling cause you could tell it's coming from a real place. Le$ reached out the other day on Instagram wanting to collab, and that was pretty tight being that I use to bump his shit before I started rapping. It shows me that I'm doing something right.
-Let's talk about your music. In 2018, you released your first EP titled "Destruction From Corruption" featuring "Fire N My Gin" with 182k plays & "Don't Figure" with 123k plays on SoundCloud with features from none other than the infamous Baker and MC Holocaust. Both tracks racking up over 305k combined streams at the time of writing, what went through your head when that started taking off? How did you meet Baker and Holocaust?
"Fire N My Gin" came out as a single in June of 2017. That song came together a few months prior to me joining Doomshop, so I didn't know Baker personally. At the time of writing, I was getting more confident in what I was putting out, so that track taking off the way it did came at the perfect time cause I felt that my pen was cold enough to keep dropping tracks consistently. I didn't meet Baker until February of 2018. I met Holocaust in December of 2017 when he did the show in Dallas with Tommy. I was on that bill too, and Fiend was the one who linked us up. These two records were made by sending emails, but Holocaust and I have worked in person on every track we've dropped together after that.
-Another producer you frequently work with is DJ Akoza. What's it like working with undoubtedly one of the most legendary producers in the scene? It sounds like the chemistry is 100% there. There must be tons of tracks that you guys have stashed in the vault. Have you guys ever linked for a studio session?
Akoza is my fuckin brother. We talk on the phone a lot just to talk shit. We've worked together in person plenty of times. Most recently, on that three-track EP "Three the Hard Way," that's also co-produced by Dragg. We have a couple of unreleased tracks, but pretty much everything we do, we drop. Studio sessions with me and other producers I work with pretty much go the same. We smoke a whole lot of weed while going through samples, and I'll lay some vocals. Expect a lot of new shit from us soon.
-When you connect with Dj Akoza for a record, it's sure to be fire. Most recently, for a track titled "Dog U Out" ft. Dj Killa C & Playa Misery. An eerily wavy track with slapping production, your vocals fit the track perfectly. How did that collaboration come together?
Killa C was in Houston for the day, so he and Akoza linked up. I told them that whatever they work on to send it to me and I'll send my verse back that same day. And that's what pretty much happened. I FaceTimed them while they were making the beat and waited for Killa's verse before I wrote mine. That track bumps, Killa had a clean ass verse on that hoe.
-March 20th of this year, you drop the "Thangs Gettin Major" EP. With tracks "Off The Wall", "Top Notch", and "Overnight" courtesy of production from another producer, you work with a ton, Dragg. Talk about that relationship and if we should expect future collaborations with the two of you?
Dragg, my brother too. We initially met in 2017 through Fiend as well. A lot of people probably don't know this, but Dragg is originally from Wichita Falls, Texas. It's like two hours from Dallas, and like a year and a half ago, I helped him get an apartment at the same complex I was staying at. Everything we made together for the past two years has been together in person. You can expect something new from Dragg and I every month until I retire from rapping.
-Arguably your most well-known track is "All I Wanna Do" with production from Dj Akoza. The track is fire and speaks for itself, but the visuals from Mesmerize Visuals adds that extra layer in which we get to see you in your element. Talk creating that track and what it was like to shoot that video.
I can't believe I held onto that song for as long as I did. Akoza had sent me the beat in like November of 2018, and it didn't come out until March of 2019. I had performed it live as an unreleased track a few times before it dropped. I literally wrote that song in like 25 min. It was so easy to write to cause of how hard the beat went, Akoza did his thing on that shit. Shooting the video was cool. Freddie Dredd and Holocaust were in town for a show the next day, so I was able to get a cameo from those two. It's shot at this abandoned crib in west Dallas. I recorded a few songs in. I recorded "Smokeaounce2dis" in that house and also the "All I Wanna Do" video was filmed there.
-What do you say to the people just discovering the scene and are maybe reluctant to submerge into the music that is Doomshop entirely?
If they sleep, they sleep. We'll be here forever, so it's never too late to jump on to what we got going. Better late than never.
-What's your message to artists hesitant to put music out in fear that they won't get plays or likes? Should they even be dropping at all?
Just be yourself, and don't lie what you rap about. It's easy to write about what you actually do every day rather than try to make up a character and portray it as somebody you're not. If the likes and plays aren't there, then do it for the few people who fuck with you.
-You recently dropped a dreamlike track titled "Lawless" prod. Dj Killa C. What's the key to staying fresh as an artist, for your sanity? Some get discouraged and don't drop or over drop. Is there such a thing as over releasing music? Thoughts?
Killa randomly sent me that beat a couple of days before it dropped, and I recorded it the same night. For me, I feel like I need to write every day to stay sharp. I didn't think there was such thing as over releasing before nowadays everyone's attention span is short. I could drop something today, and they'd want something new tomorrow. So I try to stay consistent and drop something every week.
-What can we expect from Soulzay in 2020?
A whole lot of new music might bring back some physical copies of tapes and CDs. A whole lot of Texas shit coming in 2020 from me Much love to y'all for reaching out on the interview too.