Seattle rapper Draze is using his hip-hop platform to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of women representing the Northwest with the popular song “Seattle Sweeties.” Recently, the hit single has been the most added song on college radio throughout the country and was listed on Top 40 radio charts as the No. 27 song on the “Rap Network Top 40 Chart” and No. 36 on the “Rap Attack Top 40 Chart.”
To keep the song’s momentum going, Draze has partnered with the cupcake chain Cupcake Royale to develop a series of Seattle Sweeties Cupcakes inspired by the record. Each flavor symbolizes the distinguished styles and cultures of women. A portion of the proceeds from each cupcake sold will be donated to Runway to Freedom, a nonprofit organization committed to helping survivors who were victims of domestic violence.
Rolling out spoke with Draze to discuss the concept behind his latest anthem, his creative process, his EPK and the importance of an artist having a good management team.
Name some of the television shows where your music has been played and describe how it feels.
My music has been featured on “Love & Hip Hop,” “Empire,” “Sports Center” (ESPN), “Total Access” (NFL Network), “Bring It,” “The Rap Game” and a bunch of other stuff. It’s a crazy feeling to sit back and watch a program, knowing that millions of people are listening to something you created. To be honest, it never gets old.
Tell us about your new ladies anthem “Seattle Sweeties” and the cupcake line.
“Seattle Sweeties” is just something that we call the women back in the town. It would be similar to calling a woman from Atlanta a “Georgia Peach.” I created this anthem because I meet women from all over the country but there is nothing like a Seattle Sweetie. I wanted to salute the ladies from my region. I partnered with Cupcake Royale to create 6 flavors of cupcakes, each representing a different style of lady. The flavors are Choco-Latte, Caramel Delight, Chai-Cinnamon, Vanilla Dream, Lemon Cherry Blossom, and Banana Cream. We made the flavors available at all the Cupcake Royale and my town went nuts!
Why the title Seattle’s Own for this upcoming mixtape?
People don’t really have the full story on what our town is all about. I wanted to shine a light on our flavor and our sound. You go to anybody from our hood and they know me. I am Seattle’s Own.
When did you know that being a musician was your calling?
I was born into a Zimbabwean family of musicians. For us, music was a way of life. To be honest, when I started rapping I was pretty bad. It wasn’t until I was like 16 that I hit my stride and started feeling like this might be a part of why I’m here.
Describe three other occupations you’ve held.
I was a teacher at a high school. I was a production assistant in Hollywood and let’s just say it wasn’t for me. I started my own branding and consulting business called the TheBrandKings.
What inspires you to perform?
Many rappers are comfortable in studios but not on stages, I have been performing since I was 5 so I am at home doing both. When I am on stage it is about giving each song the proper energy. Being an emcee is not only knowing how to turn up or tone down but having the ability to take the crowd with you on that ride wherever you go. There is an art to storytelling.
What instruments, if any, do you play?
I play the marimba and the mbira, which are both traditional Zimbabwean instruments. I also play a wide assortment of drums, including the congas, junjun drums, and djembe drums.
How would you describe your brand of music?
I would simply call it hip-hop. Though I would admit that my sound is probably a blend of hip-hop and soul. By soul I mean real. I love real horns, reals drums, real strings. That is what you hear in my music.
When you are on stage, what do you want to convey about your style?
Most importantly I like to establish that I am an emcee who is serious about my craft. Unfortunately, there is so much trash in rap these days so I try to separate myself through authenticity, dope lyrics and crazy energy. From a village in Zimbabwe to a ghetto in America my story is very diverse. I want the crowd to feel the essence of that balance because they are both a part of my paradigm.
Name three musicians who have influenced your approach to being a musician.
Bob Marley because his music is so rich and lyrically loaded, Andre 3000 his wordplay and depth, and probably Nas because he is an amazing storyteller.
Describe your creative process from concept to complete song.
At all times, I walk around with like 20 songs or concepts in my head. Over time, the ideas mature and develop. I liken it to a pregnant woman. At some point the water breaks and it’s time. For me, that is called ‘the aha’ moment. Anything can trigger ‘the aha’ moment. Sometimes I just hear a beat that feels like it connects perfectly with the concept. Other times it’s simply a baseline or an experience that sparks me to write. Sometimes I might build a track from the ground up. Other times I might just hear a dope track that moves me so I let the track guide me with what to say. There really is no one way.
How do you select your creative music partners to fashion your musical voice?
I think I am dope and I like to work with dope people. It starts with talent but then there has to be a synergy that happens for us to create magic. Lastly, you have to have an intangible it factor. I can’t even describe what it is but I know it when I see it or hear it. Oh and you just have to be a nice person. I hate working with jerks if nothing else music should be fun.
What advice would you give anyone preparing to enter the music business about publishing and management?
In regards to publishing, just take your time and read up all you can. The more educated you are the better decisions you will make. As it pertains to management get someone who loves the hell out of your music, has a strong hustle or work ethic, and has more contacts than you. You got to be able to fight with this person and still keep grinding. Management can often be the only family-like relationship you have in this business.
If you were going to sing for any famous person as a celebration of what they have done for humanity, who would it be?
I hate my answers to this question because they feel so cliché but it would probably be Jesus or Martin Luther King. Standing in either of their presence would be kind of nuts.