“I’m trying to create a lane”, explains 26-year- old rapper, Azizi Gibson, “I want the world to see what I’m doing and be like, ‘damn!’, you know?”.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, but raised in Thailand and Singapore — as well as spendingtime in Cambodia and even Zaire (now the Democratic Repulbic of Congo) — before moving to Maryland with his family aged 11, Gibson’s early life enamoured him to the cultural complexities — and challenges — of the world he was growing up in. “I felt like an outcast”, he states, reflectingon first moving to the US, although, as evidenced by his bold, extroverted and abstract approach to making music, it was these experiences that would equip Gibson with the tools to push boundaries within the world of US rap. “I come at things from a completely different angle”, Gibson ascertains.
A decade after moving to Maryland, Gibson moved to Los Angeles in 2012 to pursue his dream of becoming a rapper. It was a chance meeting with Flying Lotus that proved the catalyst for his current trajectory, bumping into him at a small gym in his then apartment complex. After a series of emails were exchanged, Gibson sent across some demos and Flying Lotus was impressed enough to offer him a deal with his Brainfeeder label — itself a hub for experimental, genre-blurring and boundary pushing music.
His latest album, 2016’s ‘A New Life’, pushed his sound even further, also welcoming in imagery and an overriding aesthetic consistent with the grim reaper, a character to whom he feels he relates. “I’m always doing something with the grim reaper”, Gibson explains. “He’s someone who has a bad name, someone people automatically perceive to be evil —and I like that.”
With a new album in the pipeline for 2017, Azizi Gibson continues to push rap music into new and uncharted territory — and delivers as one of the most creative, intriguing and conscientious rap artists in the game today.