Stay tuned for the latest updates leading up to the release of the new mixtape KING FOR A DAY. Follow me too! http://www.twitter.com/the_izm
I can’t believe it’s been a year already.
I remember when I actually came up with the title. I was researching “money with a crown” in Google images and then bam! There was my cover and then came my title. I was called monkey in middle school. I don’t know, I guess the girls thought it was cute. But it wasn’t. It became a really negative thing that spread like wildfire. This was my middle finger to them.
King For A Day represents a lot of things to me. But the one thing that I hold fast to is knowing that I can produce a solid body of work. NTROduction To IZMatickz 101: Expanded Edition was, more or less, an attempt to see how many dope songs I can come up with. There was no concept, no intent. Just a pure mixtape recorded in the rawest form.
This project was such a big deal to me that I named my dog after it (who passed away on January 18, a week before I begin recording my album). In honor of the memory of King and this mixtape, I figured I’d take you behind the scenes on every song.
1.) “The King’s Speech”
(contains samples of “Body and Soul” as performed by Tori Amos and “Don’t Dream It’s Over” as performed by Crowded House)
After losing a job that I loved, being arrested for public intoxication another failed relationship, I realized that my life was heading down the same path it was before I left New Jersey: a dead one. I really took the time to think about what I was doing to myself and how disarming my depression had become. And I wanted to fix myself and possibly give an encouraging word to this attempting to do the same: “Be the fire when those, who dare, seek to extinguish.”
2.) “Give Up The Ghost”
This is supposed to be the first single, equipped with a really scary video….that never happened. So I decided to use this as the buzz single for the project. I felt like I needed a song that was going to show my growth, my personality and the insanity that goes on in my head sometimes. After I made the beat for “Give Up The Ghost”, I just let it play and play until I felt something. And I did. And, boy, was I not expecting “Beware of every pussy/check it out before you lick her my nigga!” It was something I’ve never said before, a confidence I’ve never had before. For the first time, I felt comfortable not modeling my music after mainstream artists, which is what I felt like I HAD to do. So yeah, I don’t have to.
3.) “Hollywood Jesus”
I was the most apprehensive about releasing this song as I was nervous people wouldn’t get it. And I still don’t think they do. Lady Gaga’s Born This Way has just been released and I was really enamored with the marketing for it. Then, I became hip to the whole illuminati/conspiracy theory life. And yeah I ain’t bout that life. I felt afraid to listen to music and watch videos and look at album artwork. I felt like religion and the image of Jesus Christ were being milked and exploited for mere controversy. I started to really analyze the videos I had been watching, the music I was listening to. And I felt bamboozled and I had to say something. “Don’t ever forget they’re human/ it is we that have made them idols.”
4.) “Half Time Revisited”
(contains samples from “Half Time” as performed by Amy Winehouse.)
Amy’s death really hit me hard. I saw myself producing for her. Her and I becoming really great friends. All of this in my head. All of this will never happen. I made this beat as a tribute to her. Accidentally, I wrote to it. Knowing how much Amy loved hip hop, I went as hard as I could do; as lyrical as I could get. It became one of my favorite songs to perform.
5.) “Amazing Grace (feat. Lesley G. and Giovonni Pratt)”
This song ALMOST didn’t make the album. I realized that there was nothing else that I could say on the beat. It was almost like the song was telling me “This isn’t just for you.” It wasn’t until I reached out to Lesley G. and Giovonni Pratt did I even think that this song had a chance. It wasn’t until we recorded it that I felt that the song was even close to making the project. Until this day, I still say AND believe, Lesley and Giovonni ARE the song. G ate that verse UP, didn’t he!?!? *looks for an amen from YOU*
6.) “I Don’t Feel God”
This was another song that almost didn’t make the project. I wasn’t sold on it until I re-recorded it again with Travis Daniels at Trace Studios. It started out as a prayer. I was in really low place, contemplating suicide, drinking heavily. I felt like no matter how much I cried or prayed, God just wasn’t trying to hear it. I kept looking for God to bring about a breakthrough without putting any work in on my part. I realized that is not the way to go. It wasn’t until I realized that I can’t keep inducing this self-inflicted pain expecting a savior. Lesley G. was on the re-recorded verses but I decided to keep the original version. It was a really personal moment and I wanted this kind of minimal vocal-type thing. The first time I performed this, I got a great response.
7.) “Stand At A Normal Height”
(contains a sample of “Just Words For Us and Rhythm” as performed by Toy Riddick, Dorian Walker and myself)
This song was actually written to a different beat. I showed the beat to my brother and…let’s just say I decided to can the beat and start all over. I started thinking about all of the hoops people jump through to get signed and be famous, the hunt for accolades, etc. There’s a loss of respect for the art. A gimmick is branded and millions are made. YET those who live and breathe to create timeless and empowering music are left the struggle through the chitlin circuit hoping they’re stumbled upon. Those creating their own opportunities because there’s nothing that caters to their style. But when it pops off and is forced to leave the underground, everyone’s gonna want a piece of the action. Contracts, million dollar contracts thrown at you when a year ago, they wouldn’t even spit on your demo.
8.) “Suicide Lane”
I remember recording the first draft of this. Well, my attempt to record it. At this particular point, I hadn’t started mixing beats before taking them into the studio. I was just making beats and recording on top of them, hoping for the best. Well, the explosion sample in the beat was peaking so bad that the beat was un-useable. So I let it go. That was 2010. Another computer crash and 2 years later, I revisited the concept and got to record it. I had insanely bad alcohol poisoning and woke up in East Orange General Hospital (in New Jersey) having lost the money I was going to take for my relocation to Atlanta, my beats, songs upon songs, my social security card, etc. It was rather bad and I chose not to really discuss it. I was embarrassed. My mother would be ashamed, my aunt and grandmother would’ve forced me to stay in Jersey. So I kept it to myself until I wrote this.
9.) “Chasing You”
This song came toward the end of what would become the King For A Day project. I was dealing with another failed relationship and I started to really analyze what my part was in the whole thing. And yeah, I wasn’t wrong. But being overly analytical doesn’t always fair in my advantage. Although I didn’t want to play the victim or come off as such, I really felt sort of played. I felt like my dog King who had a fascination with chasing his own tail. No matter how much I tried to be the perfect specimen of the model husband/boyfriend, I kept getting it wrong. So I had to do some major thinking. I was determined to release a video to support this project and I’m glad I chose “Chasing You”. I think it’s a relatively relatable song.
10.) “In Winter”
Originally titled “Letter To Junebug”, this was the song that led me to write ”Chasing You”. I guess I over-reacted one too many times and there went the love of my life. I couldn’t believe how everything was just…over. Before it could even begin, I was already singing a sad love song. I could’ve believe that I, once again, screwed up. I felt there were certain things that should’ve been addressed at length that weren’t. I felt blindsided…even though I was forewarned that the other party between us was being dismissed. I wish I had kept my mouth shut.
11.) “Love’s For The Birds (feat. Lesley G.)”
I made this beat in 2009 I believe. I was interning with Blockstars Studios and I became obsessed with it. I was asked to sell it, I refused. I knew I wanted to tell my life story on it. I didn’t actually complete writing the song until 2011/2012. I had experienced enough romantic blunders to be able to actually say love’s for the birds with a conviction that couldn’t be confused with being bitter. As I’m not bitter and didn’t want that to be the energy of the song. It was supposed to be self-reflective. My testimony, if you will minus the expletives. This is another song that wouldn’t have been the same had Lesley G. not put her stank on it. This was the first song I recorded with Travis Daniels at Trace Studios and to embarrass myself even more, it took me an hour and a half to lay down the verses alone. Very unlike me. It’s a pretty wordy song and I was losing the emotion and getting caught up in the words. That was the first time that I actually decided to put myself back in the place I was in when I wrote the song. I guess that worked out well in my favor this time.
Huge thanks to Travis Daniels, Dave Jackson and everyone that helped with the creation of this project. This is just the pre-cursor of the apocalypse that’s going to be RTV1.
Details to come. Stay tuned.
"Chasing You" EP cover artwork by Vespertine.
To be perfectly honest, I had no intentions on making “Chasing You” the first official single.
"Give Up The Ghost" was, actually. And I had this really dope video treatment for it complete with black lights, strobe lights and me emerging from a tub of fake blood. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I still wanna do the whole tub of fake blood.
For some odd reason, with King For A Day, whether I want to admit it or not, I felt like I had something to prove. To…who exactly? The millions of people who have no Earthly idea who I am, the people who talked shit before I could even get off the ground. I’ve come to realize I had something to prove to myself.
I spent 2008 through 2010 trying to figure out what I wanted to be. What I wanted to say. I had been doing all of this shotgun recording and making all the beats without really putting together a body of work. King For A Day was my first official effort and “Chasing You” was born out of that. 2012 was a really rough year and I had this grand idea to start writing about what I was going through as a means of therapy (hence the Rhyme Therapy concept). “Chasing You” came sort of effortlessly…up until the hook and I lost my momentum. A few weeks had gone by before I finished it and put it in the running to make King. Shortly after, we began recording what would end up being one of the most polished projects I’ve released to date. To properly introduce the new “IZM”, I figured coming off on some alternative space warfare shit would really show my diversity and display my maturity rhyming. But for some off reason, “Give Up The Ghost” didn’t take off the way I thought it was going to.
January 3, 2013, after an extensive conversation with my manager Dave, I decided to release “Chasing You” as the official first single from King. Besides, it’s one of the most accessible songs on the project and, I think, one of the most universally-relatable songs. I recycled the treatment I had for “Give Up The Ghost” and reworked it for “Chasing You”. The idea was to have the video out to support the release of King but, naturally in indie/broke world, that doesn’t always happen that way. We started shooting the video in February and didn’t finish until October. Since the footage we shot in February was no longer available (ahem, Giovonni), we had to start from scratch. It felt good to be…doing something. I didn’t want the project to go down without at least one video to remember it by.
Since the video’s release, it’s gotten more burn than anything I’ve released. I’m really glad I took Dave’s advice.