Hailing from the DC, Maryland, Virginia area (currently referred to as the DMV) rapper PHZ-Sicks recently released The Laws Of PHZ-Sicks Mixtape. We caught up with him this week to get a more in-depth look at his musical background and his ability to gain sponsors for his projects.
Give us a brief introduction of yourself.
What up, World! I’m a 23 year old emcee by the name of PHZ-Sicks (pronounced physics) from the Woodbridge, VA/Northern VA area. I’ve been rhyming for over a decade and always aiming to take my music and music in general to another level.
What is it like in Woodbridge, VA where you're from?
It’s an acquired taste [laugh]. The area is just mixed of new income from corporations coming in to the area, middle class which stems from government workers working there, the increasing amount of homeless people, and illegal immigrants. We’re a mish mash population of those reaching for the concept of the American Dream and sometimes it’s literally right in front of us. It’s that weird complexity that has kind of formed me as an artist and would always give my affinity towards my city.
Is there a sound associated with your area?
The current sound my city most lean towards is the boom bap/Native Tongue sound mixed with a Curren$y-esque type of rhyme style. Those in the area do it quite well, especially on the production end. My sound doesn’t reflect that due to my constant traveling from college in Philadelphia, DC, and back home.
How do you go about getting shows and performances?
My shows and performances usually come from word of mouth or working with promoters. A first impression is always great. You have to show the promoters or whoever you’re working with that, you mean, business. I think where a lot of artist fail is that through Yes men in their crew and others, they believe that they are the star. This inflated ego leads to them being late or rude to promoters who wonder where their whereabouts are and so on. We haven’t made it yet and most of the time, we’re not getting paid. If you’re serious about your craft, go all out for it.
The first thing you should do is always be there on time. Matter fact, be a little early. It shows those running the show that you’re committed to putting on a good show. Secondly, put on a good show. Every show has a theme and as an unknown artist you should format your set to what the show is. I rarely do the same set list twice and with my energy and knowing how to format my set, I’ve gained shows. If you can put on a great show, you’ll always be asked to perform. If you can do great shows and bring in a crowd, you’re now on your way to get paid for all your hard work.
Please tell us about your latest project.
My latest project is entitled, “The Laws of PHZ-Sicks” and is sponsored by blog, Hip Hop Update, the LA-based hat company, Quintin Co., and the Philadelphia based clothing and event company ANMLHSE and was released January 5th.
With a live instrumentation backdrop mixed with an ambient sound brought by producers such as Hudson Mohawke, Best Kept Secret, Flying Lotus, Xtraordinary Gentlemen, Theolonious Dre, Epik Da Dawn, and others, provides a huge and intricate sound that perfectly fits my lyrics. It features Detroit artist Young Scolla and fellow DMV artists Ihsan Bilal and Seanny Greggs. The mixtape focuses on bringing an idea and sound alive. "The Laws of PHZ-Sicks" was a five year journey to get to and in the end became a dream turned reality.
The name and idea came when I first came in to college and I did a few songs for it in 2005, and then put it on the back burner. In '08, I devised my plan to drop three projects: The Feature Presentation, Less Than Zero, and The Laws of PHZ-Sicks. Each one would lead in to the other. In The Feature Presentation was the trailer and at the end of the last song, a snippet of “Take It Back” (the first song on Less Than Zero) ended it. Less Than Zero came and put my foot in the door of being a part of the DMV scene.
The original sound for The Laws of PHZ-Sicks started after around December '09. I started to get beats around that time and started to format it on a sound. This was going to be a more radio geared mixtape. Probably around July, I had about 15 beats but nothing was coming from them. Each song felt forced. Around August, I came across the BKS produced "SumHer Everlasting" and that got the ball rolling for the new sound of the mixtape. Through iLLVibes, I discovered Hudson Mohawke and its history after that. The only beat that survived from the original The Laws Of PHZ-Sicks is “Your Way”. The recording process started in August and ended in the beginning of December.
How do you go about selecting your album features?
As soon as I hear the beat, I know who is going to be on the song. I have an intricate ear for beats so I know out of the entire group of artists I know, who will fit on what. When I heard “A Nu Day” and “Inception”, I immediately contacted Ihsan Bilal cause I knew her voice was going to fit well on those tracks. For “Your Way”, I had a different vocalist in mind but she was busy and couldn’t do the track. When, Ihsan came to lay her vocals for “Inception”, I pleaded, well begged, her to do the chorus and it came out great. Seanny Greggs is my cousin and I’m a huge fan of him. I heard his voice immediately on "Your Way" and he also wrote the chorus for it. Young Scolla, I’m also a fan, especially his versatility to sing, rap, and produce. He was originally slated to do the chorus on “SuperHero Theme” but communication got crossed, so he settled for doing the chorus I wrote for “Success/Failure” and “The Love Scene II.” I didn’t just want to have him sing my lyrics but to also showcase his art. As soon as I got “Point Em Out”, I knew the second verse with the breakdown was where he could kill it so along with Seanny, it came out great.
Is there a process for getting sponsors for your projects?
The process for me was reaching out. Through publicist Candice Nicole, I was able to get Hip Hop Update on my first project. Since I love their site and knew they would believe in me, I reached out. JD, who runs the site, reached out to Quintin after I asked if he knew any clothing companies that could help. Kareem (co-founder of ANMLHSE) reached out to me after hearing “Make Em Envy” (ft. Marky & KingPin Slim off Less Than Zero) and asked to use it on a upcoming mixtape for ANMLHSE. ANMLHSE had previously released mixtapes with Theo Martins. From there and a show in Philly, where he enjoyed what I did, I reached out and he agreed. Refined Hype (sister website of DJBooth.net) reached out after Success/Failure was featured on DJBooth and hosted the mixtape. Each sponsor allowed me to reach groups of people I couldn’t do on my own. For anybody aiming to get a sponsor, you should always have that as the bottom line in picking one.
What projects are you currently working on?
For the next year, I’ll just be working on promoting the mixtape with shows and videos. Throughout the rest of the year, I will be dropping videos to promote the mixtape. I think a lot of artists believe in the notion of quantity over quality. I feel that The Laws Of PHZ-Sicks is quality work and I’m not going to stop promoting the mixtape until it’s in every one’s ears and spoken out of everyone’s mouth.
How can people contact you for collaborations?
Any last words to our TrackHustle.com viewers?
Thank you to TrackHustle for the opportunity to be a part of the site. Thank you to everybody in the DMV and the world (I see you UK, France, and Australia) for pushing the tape, video and everything else that has to do with my music. You have no idea how it feels to know that you enjoy what I put out. I feel a thank you isn’t big enough but for now know that you’re appreciated. Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook, I'm always willing to talk. If you haven’t heard the mixtape, go to RefinedHype right now and download it here. And if you support the cause get the $5 personally signed mixtape at http://phzsicks.bigcartel.com. Other than that, Welcome to The Laws of PHZ-Sicks.