MC Dazza has a generous smile, an easy laugh, and a grateful disposition. You’re unlikely to hear him slam anyone, especially other hip-hop artists in the area, and his primary passion is collaboration. Spend any time in his presence and chances are you’ll pick up on his easy-going, life-affirming Kootenay energy.
But the 30-year-old rapper hasn’t always been this way.
“When I first started writing poetry I was 18, deeply depressed. My girlfriend broke up with me, my parents got divorced. I was the captain of my hockey team and I broke my pelvis. When I started with hip-hop I was kicked out of house, out on my own, and I just picked up a pen and started writing,” he said.
Dazza struggled with depression, pouring his emotional turmoil into over 50 songs.
“Those first songs were strictly for me. It was ‘love, be honest’, it was a reminder to myself.”
But Dazza has now been performing in the Kootenays for 12 years, and according to him it’s only in the last six months that he’s given up alcohol and thrown himself whole-heartedly into his creative pursuits. He said the move was necessary to take his rap game to the next level.
“It’s not easy to believe in yourself when you’re hung over. I know for certain it relies on me. I’ve got the skills and I’ve got the story. I can write songs, I have that capability, but the question is: are you going to do it? Or are you going to sit on the beach and hit on girls?”
He chose the former option, receiving mentorship from former members of the Wassabi Collective as well as DJ Bryx and Ses, and he said now that his concerts are starting to attract crowds he’s developed the confidence necessary to perform at a higher level. One of his proudest moments was opening for Erica Dee in Rossland. She encouraged him after the show.
“I was lucky enough to open up for her, and I thought I did okay. Then she came up to me and told me I was her favourite Kootenay MC. She didn’t have to do that.”
He was floored by the compliment.
Dazza said he poured a year of his life into Facts, which is his first all-original recording and features a number of artists such as Stephanie Schrempp, Tad Cambell, Dhorea Duggan, Soulemnity, Robin Birkett and Candace Marie doing guest verses and back-up.
He said there’s no point in artist-versus-artist competition, and he’d rather collaborate than criticize. And though he’s been on the receiving end of hostilities from other hip-hop artists, he doesn’t hold any grudges.
“When I was first starting out I was so hyped about these artists and I’d be the hype, but I got the cold shoulder over and over again. One guy spat on me, another one wanted to battle me. I’d go up and say ‘man, you’re so good’ and he’d go ‘pfft’ and ignore me.”
Dazza has no such affectation.
“I tell anyone if you want to work with me, feel free to contact me. It’s all about the art.”
He said now that his life’s circumstances are looking up, he wants to contribute to the community.
“I want to give back now.”
Dazza will host a CD release party at the Royal on Baker at 9 p.m. on Saturday evening. Tickets for the show are $10. It will feature a number of other artists, including Intersect, Ben Fox and Erik Preedy.
A verse from Life’s Facts by Dazza
“First thing first,
love is a given at birth,
so often now it’s just words on a T-shirt,
so I bring warmth and a smirk,
and spit rhymes til I’m blue in the face like a Smurf.
You can obtain the perch,
use your brain and emerge,
like the living dead from the dirt.
A sudden surge of light,
you can obtain the perks
when you quit being such a meat-heated jerk with the mic.
Pretentious and offensive,
my message is acceptance,
we’re blessed with connections
aiming your art in different directions.
Claiming its ours is the ego,
its an interception,
a mind’s mental perfection is the only thing we own.
And possession is addiction,
trying to control.
so believe in it and it will grow.
Innovate, create, venture the unknown and vent your soul,
so you don’t explode,
let your true colours show,
live every moment to the full so when the moment unfolds,
you’ll be ready to go,
heading in the direction you chose.”