Blaze The Emperor, who’s birthday falls on new year’s eve, is a 23-year-old African rapper from Hamilton. A part of the AmmoNation collective up and coming from the 07, Blaze explains that after meeting Raiza Biza post leaving his Auckland crew, Beneath The Hype, he was recruited to AmmoNation and has been recording music under their umbrella since. Still on its way to the masses, AmmoNation are releasing a mixtape this summer. With Raiza Biza putting down foundations for his team, it’s an effort not lost on Blaze who says he is still emerging in terms of his artist voice. One of the few tracks he does have out, titled Green Land Livin, is reminiscent of a Lupe Fiasco or Kendrick flow. Having been in New Zealand since 1998, the hook goes, “I just wanna smoke with my peeps man, and live my life on this green land, I think we could all just agree man”. Recently performing with David Dallas on the Hamilton leg of his Falling Into Place tour, Blaze explains on Green Land Livin, though choosing music for a career is a slow grind, alongside his team — that have voices consisting of talents Jane Deezy, Munashe and Raiza with producers Haan-808 & Crime Heat Beats, the future’s looking good for Blaze and his music.
Blaze will be dropping an EP this summer, there’s also a track called ‘Vibrant’ with a video out next week, performing at the Hype Da Mic event at Studio in Auckland Friday Nov 1st with Derty Sesh, The Doqument, Raiza Biza, Cruize Klokstad aka Ice Man, MASO Gang Music, 805 Music, EMG and more. Also look out for the AmmonNation mixtape coming out this summer.
HH: Where are you from?
B: I was born in Rwanda, Central Africa, spent about five years there travelling around Africa and stuff with my mums…Not sure if you heard about the Rwandan genocide that happened there, so yeah that’s the reason why we left then we journeyed to New Zealand, came to Wellington, did my thing in Auckland for awhile, then moved to Hamilton; I’ve been here ever since.
HH: And you’re with AmmoNation right?
B: Yeah, definitely, AmmoNation is the team and the collective that I fall under along with Raiza Biza, Munashe — a pretty talented young dude man, Jane Deezy, Haan-808, and of course Crime Heat Beats. [When Blaze joined AmmoNation] I was with my rap group called Beneath The Hype and Raiza Biza was just around. He really liked the music, our group went different ways, I started rapping solo then he was like, ‘Yo, word, I’m making a collective with a bunch of guys and so, yeah, I basically jumped in there and I’ve been writing ever since’.
HH: Is the commonality of AmmoNation that you’re all from other countries?
B: As in foreign? [Laughs] Yeah actually our producer, Crime Heat Beats is a Kiwi…But yeah, we are quite diverse in culture and stuff. But we still consider ourselves Kiwis. I definitely reflect on the motherland and what not. Definitely on that track Green Land Livin I’m specifically talking about coming from the motherland to New Zealand and just doing my thing over here, wanting to chill with my people on this green land and stuff so I do touch on being a Kiwi coming from Africa.
“I’m my biggest critic so I’m always criticizing my own music.”
HH: Do you consider yourself a rapper or an artist?
B: First and foremost I consider myself an artist, I don’t really like to call myself a rapper per say — cause I just like to create vibes and feelings — moments, instead of focussing on making a rap record or anything like that.
HH: So being an artist from Rwanda living in New Zealand, does that give you a different standpoint to other artists here?
B: I mean I haven’t quite embraced it in the full extent but I am definitely going to start approaching that later on when I start doing an EP where I have to construct stories and make a body of work. For now I’m just making feel good moments and stuff like that, you know, but I’ll definitely touch on that later.
HH: Where would you say you’re at in your artist career right now?
B: I can’t even say that I’m popping off or anything like that. I’m just starting off really. I have only got a couple tracks that are available for download and I’ve kept it that way. I have got about 20 songs that I’ve got written and recorded just sitting on Crime Heat’s computer but it’s about just finding the right songs to release. I’m really picky with stuff like that. I definitely have a direction that I want to take my music and career path but it basically comes down to that fact that I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to… like I really think about how other people will embrace the music and that kind of has held me back for a bit, but I’m starting to get over that — I’m my biggest critic so I’m always criticizing my own music.
HH: What track do you have out that you are most proud of at the moment?
B: I would have to say Ambience, the most recent track that I’ve dropped featuring Raiza Biza is actually my favourite song. I was going to do a second verse but then the bro came in and he heard it and was like, ‘Yo man, let me hop on the second verse, that shit’s gonna be epic’, so yeah, I mean that’ll be my favourite track thus far. The track that a lot of people really like is my first song I ever made independently which is Beats, Rhymes x Papers and I always perform that at big shows, start off with that and a lot of people like that — it’s kind of like mixed signals because they’re two type of different tracks.
“I love listening to ignorant music, the most ignorant shit — but I also love to make like boom-bappy tracks so I’m just trying to fuse that.”
HH: Is that just you representing the moment you’re in, the mixed signals, or is that you finding your way as an artist?
B: It’s a bit of both ae. I’m still finding what I like to listen to and then like to make, record and listen back to — it’s two different things. So I’m still trying to find out what direction to go, I don’t want to be the guy that makes the music that everyone’s off, you know what I mean. I’m trying to stay ahead of the game and stay true to myself at the same time. I haven’t really found that balance yet so I’m trying to find a real mellow balance between ignorant music — I love listening to ignorant music, the most ignorant shit — but I also love to make like boom-bappy tracks so I’m just trying to fuse that at the moment and take that somewhere.
HH: When did you fall in love with hip hop?
B: When I first heard Biggie is when I fell in love with hip hop — Juicy.
B: Wiz, I’d get Curren$y over there — definitely have a smoker’s section, I’d get French Montana, Nelson Mandela because he’s a revolutionary guy you know and I’d get the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame [laughs] — interesting dinner party.
HH: What’s your death row meal?
B: Oh man, steak. Just steak by itself, I love meat. Medium rare.
HH: If you had to take one song to a deserted island what would it be?
B: Max B — Goon Music. You gotta know Max B he’s a pioneer of the wave.
HH: What would you explore first the ocean or space?
B: Space. ASAP.
HH: What’s the best advice your mum’s ever given you?
B: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, I always remember that one.
HH: What’s your most common reoccurring dream?
B: Running and going nowhere. Yeah I’m like running from something but I never seem to be going anywhere, it’s weird…it’s weird.
HH: Evolution or religion?
HH: Halle Berry or Hallelujah?
B: Halle Berry all day, I’m sorry.
HH: Favourite gangsta movie?
B: Training Day.
HH: Okay. Bong, pipe, bucky, spots or vaporiser?
B: You missed out papers, I definitely go for raw papers.
HH: And what’s your hood like?
B: My hood. It’s pretty chill. We gotta lot of pretty cool people out here, it can get real rough if you take the wrong left but otherwise it’s pretty chill.