Elliot Montanez
Elliot Montanez
17 Jan 2020

I first found out about Henry AZ about a year or so ago because he was uploading multiple freestyles that were going viral on the internet, and then seemingly not too long after, he signed a record deal with the LEGEND Juicy J! Whenever a GOAT like Juicy shows that he believes a young upcoming artist has some talent + potential, as a hip-hop head, it’s only right that you pay closer attention. Now is the perfect time for you to get familiar with Henry AZ because he just released a brand new project titled Roommates that has some solid music + some big times features from the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, Freddie Gibbs, Famous Dex and more. Take some time out of your Friday to read this brand new Q&A with Henry AZ below + while you’re at it make sure to stream this new tape via Spotify, and if you like what you hear then make sure to follow him on Instagram here!

 

EM: Before we dive into the questions, give our readers who may not be familiar with you a brief introduction of yourself. 

Henry AZ: My real name is Henry Anzola and that’s really why I go by Henry AZ, a lot of people assume I’m from Arizona or I am paying homage to the old school rapper AZ (who I am a fan of) when they see that. I’m from Massachusetts, I grew up in a place called Cape Cod, some people think I am from Boston because I spent so much time there but I’m originally from Cape Cod.

EM: When did you first start creating music?

Henry AZ: I’ve been freestyling for like 7+ years for fun since I was about 13, but I didn’t start creating real music in a studio setting with an engineer + producer until about two years ago.

EM: What/who inspired you to become an emcee?

Henry AZ: When I first started rapping my inspirations were I enjoyed Eminem, Andre 3000 & Linkin Park is a big real why I make emotional + real music. I feel like Linkin Park had elements of both rock & rap, Chester + a lot of the producers for Linkin Park have a lot of the same tastes that I have. Mac Miller was another huge one for me, I love Drake’s older music too he’s a fucking legend. Juicy J is a huge influence on me too, I have front row seats to watch him make the number one song in the world time and time again.

EM: How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened before?

Henry AZ: I would say my music is very poetry driven, my music is based on what I feel rather than trying to appeal to what people what to hear from me. I would say my music is very unpredictable, it’s about whatever I am feeling at that time, no wave is going to dictate the type of music that I drop. I can drop some party shit whenever I am in that mood or I can get real and speak about the times when I am depressed.

EM: Who are your biggest musical influences?

Henry AZ: Mac Miller is up there, Macklemore is too and that’s one that people kind of think is weird. Macklemore helped me through an extremely tough time while I was in rehab and his music really spoke to me and that carried over, a large part of his discography has sentimental value. I would also say NF, he’s one of those dudes that I have gravitated toward, the way that he does things + interacts with his fans has always impressed me. Project Pat too, he was the real rapper rapper of the group, Juicy J was like the hitmaker who could turn any song into gold but the point is Project Pat was always the one &  he should have been way bigger. All of the Memphis rappers today found their sound because of Project Pat, in terms of rapping + hard shit + speaking the truth, he’s definitely one of my influences.

EM: While we are on your influences, do you remember the first album you ever bought or owned?

Henry AZ: Yeah I do, the first CD my mother got for me was Linkin Park’s album Hybrid Theory. I remember the song “Crawling” which was like a very edgy type of sound that always inspired me.

EM: You recently released a new project titled Roommates, can you explain the concept for this project?

Henry AZ: There’s a couple of different ways that I can explain it so I am going to do both.

First thing is that roommates are a group of people that you live with and share the same space with and that you are with them regardless if you see them once a week or every single day.

On a deeper level, the Roommates idea + album cover idea came from the thought that his project & time was the first time that I ever got to experience even a small dose of fame + a small dose of money as well as not being in the same place anymore. I am definitely in a way different position than I was when I was living in my hometown, couch surfing, you know? I think that Roommates was the idea of me really living with the devil + coexisting with the devil, and not even on some satanic shit because I am a believer in God, but I mean it in the way of how money is the root of all evil. Adding to the money point I could go into how half of the girls I’ve met since being in LA can be considered evil too because of their scheming tactics, it’s like my first time being face to face with the devil, we are in the same game and are in the same area but we don’t fuck with each other.

On a lighter note, the other double meaning can be considered like this, all of the artists who are featured on this tape are very close friends of mine, so these are all people who are all like my roommates or the homies so it felt like a family type of project.

EM: When did you first meet Juicy J? How did you end up signing a record deal with him?

Henry AZ: Honestly, I was on the right shit at the right time when it came to Worldstar. I was getting freestyles posted on there, they truly showed me a ton of love, they never made me once pay to get on their platform. They posted me maybe five or six times throughout my career, just for freestyles. In late 2018, they posted a ‘Free Meek Mill’ freestyle that I had done and I got like 7,000 followers off of that & Juicy J happened to be one of them. My old manager had hit me up like “Yo Taylor Gang is interested in doing business with you” and honestly I didn’t believe it, because unless you are Wiz Khalifa or Juicy J personally reaching out it’s just hard to believe. To make a long story short, Juicy found me on Worldstar, he flew me out to Los Angeles and we made a song that first day that’s called “Think That Way” and he gave me an offer that I couldn’t refuse.

EM: You have multiple features on this project from artists such as Freddie Gibbs, Famous Dex, Wiz Khalifa & Juicy J. How did these come about + can we expect any repeat collabs?

Henry AZ: Yeah you can definitely expect repeat collabs from most if not all these artists. Freddie Gibbs is someone who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and just to be on the same project as him, let alone my project & my song is an honor & a blessing. I can’t explain to you how much I respect & appreciate him for being on my song. That song came about because a good friend of mine named Rich, who is a platinum-selling producer, took interest in my music about a year ago and after building up a friendship he made that happen.

Originally it was Freddie Gibbs song that was gifted to me, nobody wanted to jump on that song for a number of years because of how well Freddie killed it. It’s a Three 6 Mafia sample so there really could not have been a better set up for me to get it, Rich told me if I was up for the challenge that I can hop on it, I did really well then two months later the song is on my EP.

As far as the record with Juicy & Wiz Khalifa, you can simply thank Juicy J for that one, he’s the plug & he has proven to me that he will do anything for me. When you talk about getting Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa on the same record, that’s a half of a million dollars right there, but at the same time they don’t care about the money they won’t do a song with you if they don’t like you.

With Sirah and a couple of other of the guys on there they were just my friends, this was a family project, the whole Roommates idea.

EM: What is your personal favorite song featured on the tape?

Henry AZ: My personal favorite song on the EP is either “Pistol Packin” with Freddie Gibbs or “Not Alone” with the homie Moxas, but I would say that “Not Alone” is probably my favorite. Moxas has turned out to be one of my best friends in or outside of this music shit, we have a lot more music coming together. That collab was very fun to make, he’s a great guy and don’t be surprised if you see a collab project + tour between us two in the future.

EM: Will you be shooting any music videos for songs off of this EP?

Henry AZ: Absolutely, you can expect visuals for almost every song off of the project.

EM: You have been songwriting for other artists recently, how has that experience been?

Henry AZ: It’s been very eye-opening for somebody like me who writes all of my own music, I might have someone to help me with ideas with hooks but every song I have wrote is all me. To go through the process of writing for other artists has allowed me to see multiple different perspectives & see why some of the music that I may not personally listen to is on the charts & why it’s selling + why some of these artists are who they are. It’s been a very informative process for me, I think that from a business side of things it will probably make me a lot of money over the next few years. I have a lot of fun with it too though, for me it’s important to build these relationships with these artists who I am writing for. Juicy J who has been doing this shit for twenty-five years has really put me on game when it comes to writing + teaching me what it’s all about, to make music without a goal, just doing it because you want to do it.

EM: Are there any Chicago artists that you want to work with?

Henry AZ: G Herbo, not only because he is an amazing rapper but he really is one of the best businessmen in the music industry, he knows how to market a record better than almost anyone.

EM: Who are some of your favorite freestylers of all time?

Henry AZ: Big L is probably my favorite of all time, Eminem as well. Jay-Z has some amazing freestyles, so do Big Pun + Fat Joe. Joe Budden back in the day had some good ones too.

EM: What can our readers expect from you moving forward into 2020?

Henry AZ: I’ve built a large percentage of my fanbase off of my freestyles, many people find that first & then transition to my music. Going into 2020 you can expect a lot of radio freestyles from me, you can expect to see me on Sway In The Morning this year. We, and when I say we I mean my fanbase, went from the little car freestyles smoking joints to we about to be up there with the big dogs. Just expect shit to get more official this year, before the end of the year I will be way bigger than I am right now.

EM: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Henry AZ: Take a look where NF is at right now, I like his character + his music, in five years I plan to be a little further ahead than where he is at. That’s where I plan to be at plus some.