When Conrizzle dropped “Drugzz” in mid 2013, I was immediately intrigued. Everything fit together perfectly. The song’s self-produced instrumental is hauntingly dark and gloomy. His delivery is impassioned, gritty, aggressive, and rough. The track, which tells Conrizzle’s personal story of how his life has changed since he first smoked marijuana at the age of seventeen, leaves listeners feeling like they’ve personally experienced his story, whether they have or not. Rizzle is no stranger to the music scene in North Carolina and Virginia, having already made waves as both an emcee and a producer.
I was already a big fan of the veteran emcee and producer’s previous work, but “Drugzz” represented the beginning of a huge shift in his style. As he told me, “I’m currently in a phase of personal growth. I want to be better than before. I’m not trying to compete with the next man. I’m pushing the culture forward and establishing a cult-like following of people who believe in my outlook. I’m always evolving.”
After I shared “Drugzz” via Artistic Manifesto, something clicked and the two of us quickly linked up. We started bouncing ideas and exchanging experiences, and over the weeks that followed, I gained further insight into the man behind the music. I traveled with him as he spoke to his former middle school’s music class in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and even heard parts of his album, Eastern Wayne Alumni (stylized as Eas†ern W∆YNE ∆LuMNI) in full before its release. Today, I lay pen to paper (or, more accurately, fingers to keyboard) to discuss my experiences in relation to the album, simply because I feel the music has to be felt; the story must be heard.
I wasn’t sure if anything else on Eas†ern W∆YNE ∆LuMNI would be able to top “Drugzz.” Then I had the opportunity to hear a number of unreleased tracks from the project, and realized how wrong I was. The project, which was named after his schools in his home town of Goldsboro, North Carolina, pays tribute to more than just the memories he holds onto from Eastern Wayne Middle School. Eas†ern W∆YNE ∆LuMNI represents his upbringing in Goldsboro as a whole. Conrizzle explains:
“Coming up as a kid, I used to always seclude myself and be looked at as weird. I would never understand why, because I felt what I was doing was normal. I look back and I realize that a lot of the emotion and soul that I put in my music stems from where I’m from- me being where I’m from, and it being so bad. And me having the blessing to be different. Back then I didn’t know how to appreciate how different I am. Now that I realize who I am, the imperfections of who I am, because it makes the art better.” Conrizzle isn’t afraid to address the imperfections and insecurities that often plague his life with records such as “Conrad’s Theory.”
Conrizzle’s music is filled with memorable stories, palpable aggression, and over-the-top assertions that paint a vivid picture in his listeners’ minds. While his music consists of his inner thoughts, his outer demeanor is much more laid back and contemplative. As he puts it, “I have to assert myself and put out my message in a certain way through my music, because it makes you listen. It makes you remember. But that’s not all of me.” When he’s not working, he spends much of his time crafting beats, discussing music, and laying down verses. As he describes it, “music is everything. Style. Emotion. It’s everything. In every aspect of life, there is some sort of music involved, from the moment you come into this world. People don’t realize how many things are in the form of rhythm. Music is rhythm.”
When Conrizzle got invited to speak to his former middle school music teacher’s music class, he was very clear on his goals. He told me he wanted to tell the students of the role that his middle school music classes played in his path towards being a professional musician. We discussed his approach, but even I was unsure of his plan for the class until I watched it unfold. He first spoke to the children about his upbringing and his accomplishments. He told them about how he used to sit in the same seats that they were currently sitting in, and he told them about his time working with Jim Jones, Drake, and Juelz Santana, among others.
He asked them about their hopes and dreams, and even heard some of the more advanced students sing for the class. Then, he went to work and performed for them in return. He fiddled around on his laptop for about five minutes, literally making a beat from scratch in front of the class. Soon, the speakers came to life, and the students’ eyes lit up like Christmas lights. In five or ten minutes, he made an instrumental that, like much of his music, quickly turned heads. That beat later went on to be used for “Juice,” a record his labelmate Fair‘s Child of God project.
When asked about the entire experience, Rizzle described is as “Very humbling. To be clearly accepted, and to have the opportunity to speak to people and feel the love felt good. I don’t think it was like that. It didn’t always use to be that way. Now that I’ve been away and I’m coming back, people are really starting to connect the dots and say “he’s one of us, and look at what he’s doing.” Even though the place is small, everything I do is big- I think big. I gotta inspire the person like me, or better than me, the person that’s gonna push the culture forward. People have known me for a long time. It’s called Eas†ern W∆YNE ∆LuMNI because that’s where I came from.”
Those who have heard Conrizzle’s past projects are still not prepared for his forthcoming release. Those who have no knowledge of his previous work are in for an even greater surprise. He has truly found his niche on this record. Each track is unmistakably him. His latest release, “Carolina Waterz,” is perhaps the strongest dose of his unique brand of artistry. From the booming production, to his distinct delivery, to the memorable nods to his hometown, it’s hard to compare records like “Carolina Waterz” to anything else.
No one outside of G5 Music Group, myself included, has heard Eas†ern W∆YNE ∆LuMNI in its entirety. Conrizzle has been hard at work for months, perfecting his product like only he can. Artistic Manifesto will be premiering Conrizzle’s Eas†ern W∆YNE ∆LuMNI on June 15th. I feel that it’s best to conclude this story with a quote from Conrizzle himself:
Eas†ern W∆YNE ∆LuMNI can be the soundtrack for anyone with the will to achieve. I represent true creativity, evolution, and individuality. I want to challenge the minds of my listeners to a new way of experiencing music through the unfiltered eyes of Loochey Lovely. I intend to reach your hearts with disrespectful sounding beats, rememberable flows, and a clear view of what it’s like to have larger than life dreams living in a small country town called Goldsboro, NC. This body of work represents my journey, my flaws, and my faults as a man and a musician…I dedicate this album to Goldsboro, the place that made me who I am today, and I’m proud of it. I can’t wait for the world to hear my latest jam sessions.”