Orlando, Florida producer TzariZM began his career as an emcee. He took a hiatus from rhyming on his own full-length albums to focus on producing. Over the last decade TzariZM has crafted beats for artists like Wordsworth, Apathy & Celph Titled, Planet Asia, and Homeboy Sandman, to name a few. Tzar kept his pen sharp by rapping occasionally, but after over a decade since releasing his last solo project he has decided to go all-in. The result is quite possibly the best album of 2023 titled “O.T.H.E.R.”
O.T.H.E.R. is produced by Little Vic, Nottz, IMAKEMADBEATS, and TzariZM himself. The 18-track album features appearances by MidaZ The BEAST, Vis Major, Aahmean, cRITICAL, MoZaic, Okito, DJ Dolo76, and Little Vic.
TzariZM spoke with The Real Hip-Hop about his return to rapping, collaborating with his brother, IMAKEMADBEATS, and his new album, O.T.H.E.R.
TRHH: Why did you title the new album O.T.H.E.R.?
TzariZM: O.T.H.E.R. is an acronym for “over time he earns respect” which for me particularly has a deep meaning. To anybody listening it’s probably just another title, but for me it goes deeper because it’s kind of a title that represents some things that should have happened, some things that I slept on myself as far as establishing and getting done musically, and it kind of comes full circle. So, over time he earns respect. Over time, just that alone was supposed to be the name of an album I was supposed to drop years ago and it never happened for whatever reasons, life and all types of things. Some years later a lot of life experiences, a lot of curve balls, you know how it is [laughs]. Just life in general, a lot of things happen and I’ve gotten to a point where I felt comfortable, and I felt good about releasing some music. So. that’s what it came down to.
TRHH: What ultimately brought you back to the mic after so much time away?
TzariZM: I played the producer role for a long time. My first role I would say in my love of Hip-Hop has always been an emcee — being a rapper since I was 11-years old. And then when I became a teenager around 15 I was like, “yeah, this is what I want to do.” I was into everything though — I was into blending records, I was on turntables, I was into everything. It’s just the rapping was where it was at for me. I started making beats because I needed beats to rap on [laughs]. There was a necessity, but it ended up turning out to be something of a passion of mine, as well as being on the mic. It kind of just took over, honestly. Going into my 20s it just became kind of a demand thing from my crew, from the people I rock with, and artists that I met through connections and just from events and stuff like that.
The beats just became something that just became kind of my staple and a lot of people didn’t even know I rapped. As I mentioned before, a lot of life has passed but I’ve always wrote rhymes throughout the whole time. I always still record, in fact I’ve recorded many verses for my family, for my people whenever they need a verse, or for whoever. But I never really did anything for myself as much as I should have. The last project I dropped rapping was in 2011, I believe. It was an EP I dropped called [DAY] Dream and a lot has happened since then. It feels good to be back. I feel the momentum shift where I’m going to try to stay balanced and not go full one side or the other. I’m going to try to find the balance on both sides moving forward.
TRHH: You and MidaZ The BEAST collabed on the song “RaeNGhost.” What inspired you to pay homage to that duo for this song?
TzariZM: I’m a big Wu-Tang fan, so let’s first put that out there. As with many people around my age group, Wu-Tang was where it was at. Everybody I knew was a super Wu-Tang fan. They were a better fan than everybody else [laughs]. That’s how I felt coming up. Now MidaZ is also super Wu-Tang fan. We have many things in common with this music stuff, but Wu-Tang was always definitely a mutual ground. MidaZ is like my little brother. I’ve known him for over 22 years now. He was a teenager coming to events that my crew used to throw at University of Central Florida. He used to get on open mics and battle and stuff like that, next thing you know he collaborated with my brother and started making music with him. My brother’s name is IMAKEMADBEATS. The friendship just grew from there after that.
We’ve done tons of music together. He’s probably someone I’ve done more music with than anybody at this point if I look back. Just tons of stuff nobody’s ever heard. We always had kind of this chemistry in making music and to me Rae and Ghost is like the ultimate representation of chemistry when it comes to going back and forth flipping rhymes, and lingo, and innuendos, braggadocio, and all that cool stuff that we like a lot. So, it was just like, “Yo, this is our Rae and Ghost type joint,” so I was like, “Let’s just call it RaeNGhost,” because that’s just something we do on a normal basis.
TRHH: The single “Knowwhattimeitis” sounds like it has a live drummer on it. Take me into the production of that song.
TzariZM: I got an old Spanish record that maybe it was produced in like 72 or 73, I can’t remember the title of it. The drums were a drum break. I’m a collector of drums. I have tons of drums and there’s never an end to that. I collect drums, drum breaks, records, whatever. I have plenty but I just keep collecting them. I’m a huge fan of live drums, break beats, and all that stuff. Anybody that really digs into my production style will see that that’s pretty evident, and a lot of them usually comment on the production having heavy drum presence. That was just a break — I remember hearing the sample and I was just like, “this is crazy, there’s a lot of different elements here.” And then I found some really good spots that I was gonna chop and loop up. I’m not about basic drums at all. I’m never about basic drums. What I mean about basics drums is like hi-hats every measure, nah, that’s not really my style.
I like some drums that sound like some dudes right there with the kit and there’s some crazy ambience or reverberation in the building, or there’s some sort of filters on the drums. It’s more about textures to me than it sounding like just basic drums, if that makes sense. I just remember hearing that break and I chopped it a few times. I tried a couple of different sequences and it just landed right. It just sounded good, it sounded wild enough and cool enough for me to just spit some cool stuff over it. I have like three different versions of that song, actually. I have three different hooks that I had on it, at some point I was getting some scratches done and I was like, “ehh.” So, that’s the final version — to me that’s actually version 3.5 or something like [laughs]. I always knew that would be a song I would want to put out. When that beat was made I was like, “Alright, yeah, this is a good representation of me,” in my opinion.
TRHH: What’s in your production workstation?
TzariZM: MPC Live is the nucleus as of now. I’ve had it for I don’t know, about five or six years, whenever it came out I had it. I’m a big MPC guy. I’ve been using MPC’s since 2003. I got the MPC Live, of course I got a Pro Tools on deck for recording, I have the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol keyboard — 60 something keys on it. I love plugins through Native Instruments. I also got a SP-404MKII that took me forever to get. I’m a big fan of the 303 and the 404, and decided to go for the MKII. It took me like seven months to get that thing in. It was back ordered. That’s a more recent tool that I use for textures and I actually use that for performances and playing beats in beat sets and stuff like that. That’s really it. I don’t really have anything else. I mean, I have other things, I have some other keyboards, I have a Moog Subsequent 37. It’s like a Sub Phatty — crazy synths and stuff like that. I pull that out every once in a while if I wanna throw some crazy synths on a track or something like that, but yeah, that’s pretty much it for the most part.
TRHH: You mentioned your brother who is a well-known producer, IMAKEMADBEATS, do you guys ever get together and help each other with your creative processes?
TzariZM: Yeah, that’s my brother so it’s almost kind of like it’s a given. I think back and my brother’s been a part of every single project I’ve ever done in some shape or fashion. Whether it’s just he did this little piece, or he produced a whole joint, or a few joints. It’s kind of just a normal thing. He’s got a record on my album as well. We recorded that in Memphis in his studio. It’s funny about us, I think it was some holiday, I think it was Mother’s Day last year or something like that, and he’ll be like, “Hey, man I got this melody throw some drums on it.” And then we’ll send it to my mom for like a present [laughs]. We do stuff like that. We’ll get our sons to say something on it like, “Happy Mother’s Day!” It’s part of our lives likes. We’ve been doing this stuff for a long time. We came up together in this music stuff, we learned to make beats together, all that stuff. So, it’s a given that he will always be a part of my career in the past, in the future, and in the present — all the time.
TRHH: “A Child’s Story” is a very important record. Did you have trouble sharing those personal aspects of your life on wax?
TzariZM: Yeah, I definitely struggled a little bit on the details. I’ve made plenty of music in the past, but I’ve never really took it to a personal level where I shared those type of things. So, for the close people around me I remember playing that record when I first recorded it and got it done they were just like, “Wow, yo. You went in.” I mean, it’s my truth, it’s what I went through. I do feel a sense of relief finally saying something and putting it out there, because it could be something that inspires somebody else. Someone could see something similar, they can relate to that story, or just simply they want to hear the background of an artist that they like, or whatever the case is. I definitely did struggle a little bit, but to be honest that was probably one of the easiest songs to write because I just had to remember.
I just had to say, alright, this is what happened, this is the sequence, and just put it in rhyme form, in my opinion. I wanted to make sure that it was conveyed with a certain level of urgency, so that’s why that beat was the one I picked. One of my good friends – my home girl MoZaic, she’s a really dope vocalist and instrumentalist — she plays the guitar, she’s a great musician. She lended her voice and added some elements to it that really made it feel kind of emotional and strong. I really love that record and the first person I did play it for actually was my brother and he told me that it hit him pretty hard hearing it. So, that told me I did do my job and really kind of conveyed a message. The people that have heard it have really loved it. That one was tough, but I’m really glad I did it.
TRHH: How do you feel like your upbringing affected you as an adult?
TzariZM: First let me just say that I wouldn’t change a thing about the way I came up. I really love the way I came up. Just thinking about it right now I just got a quick chill. I think about the way I came up and it doesn’t happen that way anymore. I feel like I came up in a time and whether it was the environment, whether it was just the air, whether it was just the vibe, the way that people were, it was just different. That’s not something that exists today. I feel like what I went through as a child, good, bad, everything, really built me. I feel like I have good character.
I’m not trying to toot my horn or anything, but I feel like I have really good character and good values because of everything that I went through. That’s a big thanks to my parents. Even though they separated at a young age, they both had their own ways of implementing those things into me and my brother and really showing us how to live life. Sometimes it was just through their mistakes. They have to be appreciated too, because sometimes it takes to see people get through, resiliency, and seeing people be persistent, and still making things happen, even when they go through adversity.
I don’t regret a thing, man. I think that it definitely molded me to be a better person. Someone that is patient, understanding, empathetic with other people’s stories, and just relate. We’re all human and I struggled in my adulthood after my childhood. I struggled a lot on my own. I messed up a lot financially. There was time when I was damn near homeless right at the end of my 20s because of some curveballs and some transitions moving from Florida to New York, New York back to Florida. I had to get my footing back and everything.
I got tons of stories, but ultimately, I’m in a super really good place right now. In the last decade I’ve gotten married, I’ve changed careers with my job — I’m a teacher, I have children now, I bought property. I’m an adult and I’m doing adult things now and I feel really good. I feel like there’s a lot of responsibility that I have to take, and harness, and be there, because my family depends on me. So, I’m in a happy place now and all of it is because of the way I came up — it made me who I am.
TRHH: Who is the O.T.H.E.R. album made for?
TzariZM: [Laughs] I don’t want to spoil it. You have to listen to it, so the folks that listen to it they’ll see who the album is made for ultimately. If I were to break it down just musically, these are for the people that really appreciate hard hitting dope beats with no chaser, no fluff, and rhymes that sound good on top of them. A good match. I learned a lot from cats, like my brother MidaZ, for instance. That dude will go to anybody’s face and say, “I’m the greatest ever.” I’m the opposite [laughs]. I do what I do. But he’ll always encourage, and others encourage me to recognize what I can do, what my talent is.
I recognized that when doing this record and I listen to it over and over again I’m like, “This is a dope record.” I’ve impressed myself if anything, getting it done. So, this is for the folks that just want some dope music, man. Just some dope Hip-Hop. Obviously, it’ll probably cater to those that are fans of the 90s Hip-Hop era and anyone that just loves hardcore Hip-Hop/rap. I don’t got no love songs on there. I got a song about some girls and stuff, but it ain’t soft [laughs]. It kind of tells a story a little bit representing a time when I was in high school and how it felt. This is for the real heads, those that know what’s up when it comes to this Hip-Hop stuff. No fluff, just straight shots — bangers.
Purchase: TzariZM – O.T.H.E.R.