Being an independent hip-hop artist with no real place to call home, Azizi Gibson decided early on he would conform to no one but himself. With that comes the confidence in speaking his mind and standing up for what’s right, always telling the hard-hitting truth no matter what.
This year has proven to be no different. Even with the motto “quality over quantity,” Gibson managed to release two projects last year, Memoirs Of The Reaper and I’m Good On People. While the latter came as a surprise to fans, it also represented perfect timing. The German native’s outlook on humanity was one that audiences could relate to.
Concertgoers who get a chance to see Gibson perform in person already know the intimacy in his sets. Beyond giving fans his all, Gibson never disappoints in delivering positive, forward-thinking messages to apply in everyday life.
We caught up with Gibson as he opened for Lil Xan and Hippie Sabotage at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles, a venue he sold out the last time he was here.
Q: For those who don’t know, who is Azizi Gibson?
A: Azizi Gibson is the future. No funny shit, but I feel like I’m a part of the next generation, or the generation that’s going to last forever. I like to get fucked up and I like to enjoy my time, but I’m not trying to be an idiot. I just want to make sure that everybody else is also not being stupid. Have fun, do your drugs, all that shit, but let’s just be smart and not put anybody’s life in danger. Don’t go overboard when you don’t need to.
Q: How would you describe your sound?
A: If there’s one person I’d like to be compared to, it would be Andre 3000. But it’s very different — it’s not Andre 3000. Because 3 Stacks is 3 Stacks. He’s his own shit. You can’t mimic that no matter what you do, and I’m never trying to. But when people compare me to that, I feel like I know what they mean. It’s just unique. It’s not that out there, it’s that sound he created. No matter what, no matter how old he is, he could drop a song today and it’ll sound like 3 Stacks. Not repetitive, but you just know it’s 3 Stacks. So I just feel like that vibe is very unique.
Q: You’re actually born in Germany. How long have you been in California?
A: I just moved to Orange County. I was in LA for the past six or seven years. I was born in Germany — didn’t really live there. I was a military brat, raised in Thailand and Singapore and moved to the States when I was eleven. I’m from Maryland and all over the place.
Q: How important is it to come to LA as an up-and-coming artist?
A: Man, LA is a good move if you don’t have your city’s support. Because that’s the thing about a lot of these artists, they have a hometown. I don’t have a hometown. I 100 percent don’t have a hometown. People don’t remember me growing up. People don’t know my parents. People don’t know shit about the Gibsons because my dad and mom decided to go raise four children overseas. And then we come back out of nowhere, like who the fuck are these guys? It’s different.
Q: So you don’t have a home city to perform in on tour…
A: I don’t have a home city for people to be like, “Oh, I remember him. And I just want to support him because he’s representing for us.” So LA is a really good place to go. I didn’t really have Maryland’s support. I’m from the DMV, but I didn’t have their support. So I was like shit, I’m not about to stay here.
Q: Talk about your EP, “I’m Good On People.”
A: “I’m Good On People” is just some shrug shit I did. I just feel like I needed to say some things about people. I’m not trying to talk shit behind no one’s back. I mean, honestly, people forget that this hip-hop game is supposed to be competitive. At the same time, it’s cool to know people. But if you’re an up and coming artist and you’re trying to do music because you want to be friends with your favorite artist, then fuck you. Whatever. This shit’s not about friends. This is about standing for what you stand for, getting people to know your message, and because you love it, not because you’re trying to be cool and friends with everybody. So… I’ve said too much. [laughs]
Q: What do you want fans to take away from hearing your story?
A: I just want people to know that I’m the same person as them and I think a lot of the same things are bullshit. And I enjoy it. I want to be the “awareness rapper” – I’m not trying to be a conscious rapper. I’m just aware. I just want you be aware that this is music. It’s not fake. It doesn’t need to be a fake thing. It’s not like we’re not doing these things, but remember this is music. And then this is also your life. You need to be able to separate the two and not treat every song like a bible. You need to be able to choose which ones you should really follow or just enjoy.
Even my music, that’s why I’m trying to talk more without the beat behind me. I’m not just trying to be the musician guy. I’ll say this without the beat, and I wish more artists did. Because we could save more people’s lives because music is such a fucking way to make people understand and think about things, when you hear the right thing. No matter what it is you do.
Because it’s okay for Young Thug to talk about his life. He’s able to talk about the crazy shit that goes on in his life. He’s not out here polluting everybody’s mind. People just need to be able to differentiate — know that this is his life. Let his life be that man’s life. Don’t try to have his life. He has that life and he’s rapping about it. He’s not telling you to go out and do dumb shit. Let that man rap about his life and you not worry about it. Just be entertained, don’t try to be that person. Be your fucking self.
Q: If you had to pick one song for people to understand your story, what would it be?
A: I don’t know, just start anywhere. I have no idea.
Q: You don’t have a favorite?
A: I don’t have a favorite song of mine. I don’t have any favorite songs.
Q: I really like your song “Levels.”
A: “Levels” is a great song, but that’s too much. Because that’s more of the conscious. I drop that to save people. I drop that because I’m like, “Yo, someone needs to hear this.” Like if one person hears this song, and it gives them a smile or makes them not do some dumb shit, mission accomplished. I know we’re in this era where you want to hear some beats with the 808 Mafia drop, and you want this and you want the fire bounce. So start wherever. And wherever you start, don’t stop listening, because it’s never gonna be the same if you listen to me.
Q: You had a lot to say following Lil Peep’s death. What’s your own experience with recreational drugs?
A: That shit’s addicting. When you do a drug one time, that shit feels good. Let’s be real, that shit feels good. If it hits you how it should, it feels great. But if you’re gonna give into that feeling over and over again and not re-evaluate, then you probably shouldn’t be doing this because really you do start thinking stupid thoughts, calling the wrong people in your phone, acting the wrong way. You’re a totally different person, even though it feels good and you’re enjoying it. Just know that it’s not because you have anxiety that you did it again. It’s because you made up a fucking excuse to tell yourself.
Because even if you do have anxiety, tough luck. Everybody has anxiety. I don’t even know what the fuck that means. If anxiety means are you worried that you’re gonna survive another day, are you worried that you’re gonna be rich, are you worried that you’re gonna get a job? Then I have anxiety all the fucking time. Like, oh am I worried? People in the other realm, sometimes when I wear a wrinkled shirt, I think people are talking about me. And they’re probably not even looking or talking about me. If that’s anxiety, then cool. You need to learn to restrain yourself from these things because I don’t want anybody to go down a path that they do not need to go down.
Just because something is there for you, just because something is made to make you feel better, it doesn’t mean that it’s the first thing that you should do. Okay cool, if things are made for you to feel better — word. They were made. That’s not natural. People overcome things and you gotta have restraint. I don’t wanna be the guy people get upset at, but I wanna be the real person. I’m not telling you to stop doing drugs, I’m just saying maybe you shouldn’t do lean every single night. Because you’re human and you’re fucking doing chemicals and that shit’s addicting.
Q: You pride yourself is spitting real shit. Have you gotten backlash for what you’ve said?
A: I don’t think I’ve ever gotten backlash about anything I’ve said, which is pretty awesome. People say, “Oh, I miss your old music.” But I’m like, “Whatever. You were 17,18-years-old. You lost your virginity to some shit.” I respect it. I don’t know what to say to you. I can’t beat how dope your life was when you were younger and how amazing it was for you to find out about me. But I don’t wanna… trust me when I say you don’t want me to continue to make the same music, because I’ll be in the same place no matter what. I know I’m making music for myself and I want people to hear, but I want people to know that I have to progress too. I have to switch it up too.
Q: What’s a normal day in the life?
A: I wake up, I play video games, smoke, and I just chill. Maybe make music or whatever. All I do is smoke, play video games, and just chill.
Q: Speaking of, what would you be doing if you weren’t rapping?
A: I would 100 percent be making video games. I would 100 percent stop everything I’m doing, go to school, and figure out how to make video games. And do shit like that.
Q: What’s the best encounter you’ve had with a fan?
A: The coolest one man, this dude was just crying. It was the sweetest… he didn’t even say anything. All his friends had to talk for him. And then I just gave him a hug. It was beautiful. I was like, “Wow, the fuck.” He didn’t say a word — he couldn’t. He was just sobbing the whole time. They were like, “Yo, he’s your biggest fan. He doesn’t even know what to do right now. He just wants to meet you, just give this man a hug.” It was so crazy. I was like fucking wow. That’s what I signed up for.
Q: Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
A: Other than myself… [long pause]. I don’t even know. I don’t listen to a lot of music anymore. I just don’t. When I take hour drives, I ride in silence. I just talk. Or I just chill. I like silence. My life is crazy. I like to hear my thoughts and shit like that. Or The Strokes. I always hit The Strokes up. That’s my feel-good music. I don’t like airplanes, even though I’ve been traveling all my life. Now, if there’s turbulence on a plane, I will put my headphones on and listen to “Is This It.” Or “Room on Fire.”
Q: What else are you working on? What can we expect?
A: A lot of music. I’ve learned that just saying shit, it might not happen in the order that I say… I’m just gonna be dropping music. More music, more people get to hear about me, more money, and more time I get to spend creating things that I want to do. Because things are expensive, but I’m putting everything that we do back into the work. Just to give it back to the people, because that’s who I do it for. I enjoy just making people happy, but in a non-corny way. It’s not about some conscious positive shit all the time with me. Let’s party dog, lets have a good time and party.