MUSIC

Q&A With Hanzo of Awful Records

Rapper, producer and songwriter Hanzo is just beginning to touch the surface of his music career.

The Atlanta-based artist got his foot into the music industry as a producer (he’s certified Gold!), but now, his career is evolving with him getting in the booth, spitting a few bars and hitting a couple of notes.

And under Awful Records, the “left-of-center” label that’s spawned the likes of Playboi Carti and Tommy Genesis, Hanzo is poised to make some noise of his own.

Hanzo took some time to answer a few questions from Bluntiq that dives into his creative process, how he signed with Awful Records and what projects he’s got coming up.

Bluntiq: I noticed you’ve worked with Lil Pump, 6 Dogs, Gunna, Hoodrich Pablo Juan and Lil Uzi Vert on producing some beats. How did that all fall into place?

Hanzo: 6 Dogs and I met through my homie Shrimp. We all lived close to each other, and would work on music and hang out at my friend Clancy’s house. We put out some songs and then other people started to take notice. Since then it’s just really just been about trying to build on top of the last thing!

Bluntiq: What was the music/Hip Hop scene like growing up in Atlanta and who are some of your biggest influences in terms of your musical style?

Hanzo: To be honest, I got into the actual artist side of making music pretty late. Around 2015 I was making beats with my THTCRM homies and was getting put onto the underground music from people in Atlanta I would end up befriending (Danger Inc, 6 dogs, Corporate Lingo, Shrimp, Grandma, etc). But up until then, I was really just like listening to old pop records, old East Coast rap and a lot of Kanye, Frank Ocean and Drake.

Bluntiq: Complex dropped an article about the ‘changing sound of ATL rap.’ What is the difference between now and then in your opinion?

Hanzo: I think QC and YSL have really gone crazy with taking this Atlanta trap sound global, and that’s what Atlanta has become known for in recent years. I think younger generations have maybe gotten away from (or weren’t really around for) the Organized Noise/Dungeon Family/Outkast side of things that I think is going to see a resurgence in the coming months. I think rappers are gonna start rapping again, and real musicianship and like higher concept ideas that make people really feel shit is going to work it’s way back into the mainstream.

Bluntiq: There seems to be a lot of intricacies in your music. Tell us about the creative process when it comes to writing/producing songs.

Hanzo: Most of the time when I sit down to make a song, it’s just me and my laptop wherever it may be. I have a UAD Arrow and a mic that I have with me pretty much all of the time, and inspiration for me tends to strike a lot and normally when I least expect it. I mix and record and produce everything myself for the most part which is nice. I really feel totally unchained in my creative process, like I can really just make anything happen whenever wherever.

Bluntiq: You just signed with Awful Records. Can you tell us how that fell into place? As a rising creative/artist, how do you go about choosing a label?

Hanzo: Shout out Awful Records! I actually met the majority of my initial set of music making friends at a Zack Fox art show a few years ago. Even before that though, some of my earliest college memories were of my friends and I turning up to “Look At Wrist” at parties. By the time the Awful guys reached out, I was already pretty cool with Louie and Boothlord from danger and had pretty much met and was cool with everyone. Partnering up with Awful really just made the most sense! I think that’s the key, just finding a partner that fits you and what you’re about. You want that transition from indie to signed to be as seamless as possible, and it wouldn’t have been possible if the Awful guys weren’t as cool and down to earth as they are!

Bluntiq: The music video for “Civic” was your first release under Awful. Can you take us behind the meaning of this song and why the music video was filmed the way it was?

Hanzo: I knew “Civic” was going to be my first drop with Awful, it felt like a new chapter in my life and career and (maybe a little selfishly) I just wanted it to really be about me and the life I really have lived. I know how easy it can be to get sucked into playing into a character, but I know that I want to do this for a long time, and I don’t want to get tired of acting 15 to 20 years from now. My homie Deadpicasso shot the video, in and around my neighborhood I grew up in just hanging out and doing shit I used to do for fun when I was a little younger.

Bluntiq: What’s next for Hanzo? Any new projects/collabs coming?

Hanzo: I’ve been listening to a lot of Marvin and Steely Dan, making a lot of R&B music lately that I’m super proud of. EP first quarter next year and then a summer album. I’m also producing the next 6 dogs album right now with my homie Dan Hartzog who’s an absolute genius. Lots of beat placements on the way as well!

View Hanzo’s latest music video for “Complicated” below. Follow Hanzo on Instagram and Twitter.

Contact the writer at brianaustinalvarado@gmail.com or @visualsnipe on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured photo courtesy of Dannah Gotlieb