Interviewed by Kimberley Yuen, Meds '22
I decided to interview some of my Black peers that I know are doing very cool and amazing things. They are creators, doers, and inspiring people. I think it's always important to remember the world outside of medicine, and I hope these interviews showcase their talent, provide you with some perspective, and that you will become as inspired by them as I am. We must begin/continue supporting Black/BIPOC creators and doers. Here is the second interview!
Graphic by Kiera Liblik, Meds '23
How's it going? My name is Kwazzi. I'm a rapper, producer and songwriter from Toronto. Kwazzi (pronounced: kwa-zay) is my real name and stage name. My name means "Prince born on Sunday". I however, was born on a Tuesday, even though I was supposed to be here on Sunday. I've been doing music for 10 years now and have never looked back.
What challenges or barriers do you face in your space and how do you overcome them?
Aside from Covid-19 completely destroying the event/entertainment industry for artists like myself? Truthfully, a lot of the barriers come from within. Sometimes people tend to think that music is fairly easy, when really, it's quite stressful. The pressure you can put on yourself to be perfect creates imperfections. Writer's block is like an unruly child you're trying to keep under control, while inspiration sometimes is seldom found. For me, I like to distract myself. Let out my inner child. Go out for walks or drives, read a book, play video games, catch up on shows. The bigger issue comes when the distractions take over too much. You need to have a balance and that's hard to do, since we've all been confined to our houses for so long.
Other than that, the only other big challenge is breaking out of the Canadian music scene. Unfortunately, Canada doesn't really support its local artists until they get noticed by the American population. Sad, but true.
Where do you see the direction of your work in the future?
In the direction of stability. I want to be at a point where providing for myself and those around me isn't an issue, but even more so, I'm able to put them in positions where they can provide for themselves. It might be the typical thing to say, but it's the truth. That way, God forbid this type of pandemic ever happens again, I know that no matter what, we're good and in that same vein, I could even help those who aren't in the same position.
Who inspires you?
Oh, shoot. A few people! My parents... actually, my whole family is inspirational. Malcolm X, my favourite artists, musical and otherwise. My girlfriend is pretty dang inspiring and my friends, too. Those around me or whom I've grown up with that have really made a way for themselves, you know? For all of these people, I see the work they put in to get where they got or to where they're trying to go and it makes me check myself. It makes me want to work harder and I love that.
This issue is centered around Black Lives Matter with the aim of amplifying Black voices. Are there any thoughts you would like to share regarding BLM?
It's beautiful and it's sad at the same time. I wrote a long letter to no one in particular, just a letter where I vent about everything that is and was going on. It's called Thinking Out Loud From A Place Of Hurt. I eluded to it on my Instagram, but never posted it anywhere. Here is the gist of it:
I'll start by saying I know this isn't everyone, trust me, I know. Just remember that these are my thoughts.
See, I believe in the movement, but as a brown skinned man in this world, I've noticed a pattern. A trend, really. It's hard for me to believe in these things, well - moreso the people surrounding the movement because of this pattern. I hate being this cynical, however, from where I am sitting, it seems like there are more people who support us because it's trending, rather than support us because we, too, are human beings with rights. All the anger and disgust you would see early on in social media posts - where did your passion go? It's as if people have hit this feeling of "meh, I'm over it" and then went back to their lives. Why? We can't be done with it all. We can't be over it. This is our life. So this trendy support that happens literally every year, for me, it's not a rerun I like watching.
I feel like if we all truly began trying to learn about one another learning about each other’s history and struggles… If we all "stayed woke" together, as one people, at all times, even when it gets hard, then that could begin the changing of integrated mindsets some people have. I'm talking about the overall ignorance passed down through generations and the blatant subliminal messaging in the media that continues to portray brown-skinned men and women in a negative light. A lot of people believe what they see and hear, especially from the news or family members, to be true. If you're only ever exposed to the portrait that has been painted of us, you're more than likely to adopt the same thoughts and principles about us.
Anyways, only when mindsets begin to change, then that can begin breaking the system, our system, which was created to push some people ahead and keep others behind.
Just look at how young kids interact with each other. When kids play with other kids, they only see another kid; someone just like them. No more, no less. That is what we need to go back to.
Anything else you would like to share?
You can follow me on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, everything. On all streaming platforms if you search "Kwazzi", you'll find me. You can follow me on Instagram @therealkwazzi, I'm like an active Casper on there haha. I recently put out an EP which was written, produced, mixed; everything was done by me. It's called Kwarantine, which is a play off my name and inspired by the quarantine. I'm also working on an album! It's dedicated to the wonderful working class people of this world, but really it's relatable for everyone. There’s no date on it yet, but I'll definitely post about it when the time comes. So, yeah, take a listen to my music, see if I fit your vibe and if I do, go ahead and follow me. I thank you for your support!