If you’re not familiar with Gainesville-based hip-hop artist Azazus, formerly known as Dennis Lee, here’s the rundown: strong-willed son of a musical family from small town Alabama, rapper moving up on the national scene but committed to making a difference at home, and artist who writes material to make his listeners feel something.
A young Azazus started rapping in 2006, back when he was auditioning for a record label in Foley, Alabama. He said, “I knew I wanted to rap professionally when I realized many people were socially connected through music.” From then on, Azazus knew his life and rapping would be two in the same, even if it meant pushing past the challenges of being a rapper from a small town in the South. Originally from Alabama’s Gulf Coast, but now based out of Gainesville, Florida, Azazus had to break barriers in order to become an established artist, as his hometown had a small music scene. However, with every hardship comes a positive outcome. In this case, Azazus revealed that his past has contributed to his ability to create a unique vibe for his music, “Growing up in the South has molded my content into a very distinct sound because there are no other artists musically speaking on the experiences I’m speaking on as an entertainer from the Gulf Coast.”
Azazus was raised Baptist in a musical family, and that is represented in who he is today. Two of his most important influences include his father, Dennis Walton, Sr., who was an indie gospel pianist, and his uncle Prim, who was the lead singer in the 80’s band Black Lash. He also mentioned admiration for other artists like Michael Jackson, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, T.I., and Drake.
As a new rapper on the scene, Azazus released mixtapes, eventually leading up to his debut album, Fine Wine, in 2015. 2016 saw the release of his second full-length album, Obnoxious Behavior (which is available on several online retailers like Spotify and Apple Music). Azazus admitted that while he does write all of his material, sometimes he finds it useful to hear his team’s opinion before going all-in on a track. To gain more exposure, Azazus started producing music videos because he felt they were what he had been lacking content-wise. His videos have been well-received, like the promo for the track “Deal Wit It,” which currently has over 7,000 views online (you can view it here).
One of Azazus’s most recent releases is “Yes I Can,” a song about building confidence. Azazus wants his music to have a positive impact on his listeners, “I want my audience, and the masses, to know ‘Yes I Can’ is a feel-good track that can help fight anxiety and depression. The sing-along section of the hook, ‘Stop doubting and say, ‘Yes I can,’’ is actually a psychological response technique that can possibly encourage the brain to release more dopamine and serotonin, which in return will put listeners in a happier mood.” The song was recorded with the help of Canadian producer Marcus Hunke, who composed the track a few years ago, and music artist Jeshua, who “blessed the track with prayer samples.” Find the link for “Yes I Can” here.
Azazus, the native of small town Foley, Alabama, is paving the way for a modern rap scene throughout the Southeastern United States. He asserted, “I do feel a big responsibility representing the hip-hop culture,” and because of that, Azazus is climbing towards the top. “I’m working on a new project, and [my team] is also reaching out to venues across the Gulf Coast to headline some shows for the summer… I’m also accepting collaboration and concert offers.”
Azazus has no intention on stopping any time soon, especially now that he has momentum on his side, “Small town artists rarely get the attention they deserve,” Azazus said, “So I don’t plan on giving people a reason to look away now that all eyes are on me.”
Find Azazus online through his official website www.fotownsfinest.com and @iamazazus everywhere.