Armani Caesar is the first lady of Griselda Records, which means you know she’s coming with nothing short of hard-hitting bars, clever punchlines, and vivid storytelling. And what better cosign than to have some of hip-hop’s most well-respected lyricists backing you?
The Buffalo, New York native has been steadily building her fanbase, currently boasting half a million followers on Instagram alone. Her debut project, The Liz, released in 2020 featured Griselda’s core: Westside Gunn, Benny The Butcher, and Conway The Machine, inserting Armani as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.
Fast forward to today, Armani returns with the highly-anticipated follow-up to The Liz, titled The Liz 2. The 17-track project features once again Griselda’s core, but also boasts a standout guest feature from Kodak Black on “Diana.” The song’s official music video brings both artists together
Sheen caught up with Armani Caesar in downtown Los Angeles to discuss the new project, collaborating with Kodak Black, beauty go-to’s, Armani’s Closet, and more!
How have you been since the last time we chatted?
I’ve been good, just working. Really on my grind, trying to make sure I’m staying busy. I did Coachella, I did all the Rolling Louds. I did Day N Vegas, Made in America. Listen, festivals find me. Dropped The Liz 1, then dropped The Liz 2 right after that.
Is there one performance that stands out of all those? Because those are all iconic, especially Coachella.
I mean, I’d say Coachella just because it’s Coachella. [laughs]
Most people just want to go.
No for real, and I’d never been to any of the festivals that I performed at. That was my first time going to all of those.
Even Made in America on the East Coast?
Mmhmm, I had never been. I heard of it maybe the year before, I’m like oh that’s dope. Then I was rocking the stage the next year after.
Do you get nervous performing for so many people?
I’m more nervous about smaller crowds than I am about larger crowds. Larger crowds, it’s just so many people. You don’t really get to pay attention to one or two people. But when it’s a small crowd, it’s like everybody’s there. It’s a little more intimate.
The Liz 2 is out now. How are you feeling?
I’m feeling great. I’m feeling accomplished. This is two years since my last drop. It’s been a while, but it was definitely worth the wait. It’s getting so much love. We got the Kodak feature on there.
I love “Diana!”
It’s a vibe. The whole thing is real vibey, it got something for everybody on here. You got “Sike” on there if you want to do a little twerking, you can ride to it and smoke. If you want to hear bars, get fired up.
Because you know you be spitting bars!
Listen, got to.
Can you explain the cover art?
The cover art is Liz Taylor, but the album and the whole thing that we go on is The Liz which represents all of the Liz’s that were doing their thing. So Miss Elizabeth from wrestling, Liz Taylor, Liz Claiborne. Just paying homage to all of them, and all females period. Because even the pics inside of the album are all female.
What do you think of the female rap game right now?
I love it. It’s definitely necessary. More of them need to be cliqued up. More or less than anything, I’m happy for everybody to finally be paying attention and knowing these girls are barred up. They outrapping the n*ggas.
Definitely want to talk about how the Kodak feature happened.
You are the first person to ask me that. It was really super simple. We were listening to the album, going over possible features. I’m like man, I want to get somebody fresh and new, that’s not really a typical Griselda collab artist. We were talking about it, and threw a couple of names out there. I’m like, I’m just gonna hit up Kodak and see what he says. And he responded right back.
You just DMed him?
Yeah, I just DMed him.
Were you guys following each other?
No. I think Kodak follows like one person. I ended up hitting him, he hit me right back.
Like how quick?
Like 5 minutes, he hit me back real quick. I’m sitting there in real time like oh shit, this is happening. I sent him the song. He said, “alright bet, I’m gonna stretch the beat and send it back to you.” This was really late, probably it’s 1 in the morning. I woke up at maybe 8am, it was in my folder. It was in my email, he had done it. I’m like oh my gosh!
And he smoked it. It wasn’t giving a generic verse. Some people hop on shit just to hop on it. He tailored it, he said my name. It was very relevant to what was going on in the song already. He pulled up because he had to do Made in America maybe 2 weeks later. Shot the video, he showed love.
Y’all shot the video in Philly?
Mmhmm. Because I’m like, I gotta catch him!
I saw him doing your hair for a second.
Yes! [laughs] Somebody had literally caught that, but he’s a fun guy. He was very much a gentleman. He was very much easy to work with, cool. Kodak is definitely a guy that — at least in my experience, it was no drama. He wasn’t giving super Hollywood. You know how some guys can be, he just was cool. He pulled up, did his thing, and then dipped.
And then still supported it, because he didn’t have to. He could’ve been like “alright, well I do the feature.” He got his own project coming out, so for him to even be promoting mine, was love.
Aside from his antics, he’s a legend.
Yeah, and he really got bars. Even though his genre is not really a hip-hop, boom-bap style like how we are, he got bars. He’s spittin’.
Best memory from the video shoot?
The elevator scene, us walking through the Four Seasons. We were at the Four Seasons. He had his Black & Mild lit. [laughs] It was just lit, we were in there having fun. It wasn’t any pressure. I had written the treatment of what I wanted to be loosely based on, which is the “Excuse Me Miss” video. I wanted it to be that elevator scene where I got on a fly fur and a revealing dress, and him being suited up. I loved all of that. He came suited up, he just killed it.
Was it uncomfortable at all? Because I know you had to like, you know.
No, it wasn’t. He didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. He was a gentleman. He did what he needed to do. You know how rappers are, or at least the perception of what rappers are. But no, he was completely the opposite. He was very professional. He was very accommodating, asking me if I needed anything. Holding on to my fur, making sure my hair wasn’t falling. He was just cool.
What are your beauty go-to’s?
For products, I definitely need a good lash. I love a good lash, a good gloss, and a liner. As far as my favorite products, with my concealer, I’m still old school. I do L.A. Pro concealer, the little $3.99. [laughs] I’ll mix it with NARS every now and then, but I keep it basic. I don’t really do foundation that much, but if I do, I do the NARS. But a concealer and a bronzer, a lash and lip gloss, that’s it.
Lashes or nails?
Lashes. For sure.
What inspires your fashion?
I think hip-hop is based on fashion. They go hand to hand. It’s always about the look and being unique. Expressing yourself through not only your words but how you look. It came hand to hand. When I started my boutique, Armani’s Closet, I fell into it. It was something I was already doing. I was already getting dressed, and taking pictures. We need to turn this into a business.
How do you get time to do both?
Girl, I’m still trying to figure that out myself. [laughs] I’m not gonna say it’s a struggle, but it takes balance. I’m learning stuff every single day. I got a little bit more help now, but either way, it’s something that I love to do.
What’s one thing fans may not know about you?
I don’t know, I’ve been spilling it lately. That I take my craft very seriously. That I’m very eclectic in my music choice. I listen to everything from rock, oldies, and jazz. I listen to everything, and I love to read.
I just interviewed Jessie Reyez, she said The Power of Now changed her life. Do you have a book that changed your perspective?
A couple. The Game of Life and How to Play it by Florence Scovel Shinn. Outwitting the Devil, can’t remember the author. The Alchemist. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. All those kinds of books. Anything that’s gonna motivate me to get this bag and change my mindset from being negative to positive.
What’re you excited about next?
Just elevating my brand. Expanding a brand with music, fashion, and movies. More collaborations, expanding my boutique brand and hopefully getting into some stores soon. Or collabing with other brands, maybe doing something like that. I’m down with whatever. Definitely leveling up, as long as it’s leveling up.
Photo Credits:Photo Credits: Chad Lawson Photography