Doujah Raze. It’s an interesting name and the person who chose the moniker is, likewise, an interesting person. The MC, who was born in Washington, DC, raised in Virginia and now lives in Brooklyn, explains its meaning as “to use my energy to break down what’s negative and raise what’s positive.” “I fit Doujah, which is a slang term for weed, to mean my energy, and Raze is to fit my spiritual side. The way it’s spelled means to be destroyed but I’m using all its meanings.”
Raising the positive is something only a select group of rappers can claim to be successful at. Doujah thinks he belongs in such a category, saying that when it comes to his self titled release “I think that in every song there is a message. I’m not preaching at anybody, I never want to tell people what to do, but I think I observe a lot and through my songs you can understand my observations and come away with some kind of positive meaning. Something that will make people feel good about themselves or make them think about what’s going on in the world. I’m definitely a storyteller and that’s going to continue throughout my career.”
Being a storyteller, however, has its drawbacks. “The problem is that Hip-Hop has now become pop music,” he explains “and the commercial audience, the pop audience, oftentimes isn’t able to decipher these intricate stories, they can’t grasp the whole thing, so a lot of these artists now dumb down their lyrics to make it catchy so people can sing the hooks and understand what they’re saying. Right now there’s great Hip-Hop acts young and old that are still telling stories and they’re still doing it just as well as it was done in the golden era.” Doujah says that having this knowledge “is going to cause me to walk a fine line to make music that’s commercially accepted and make music that’s true to what I do.”
After pressing his first single on vinyl and developing his buzz through both the use of vinyl and college radio, Doujah feels that these avenues that are open to every artist are oftentimes forgotten or ignored in lieu of the lust of fast cash. He notes “vinyl sales have totally dropped off but it’s the best way to promote yourself and if an artist wants longevity and to build a career the best way is to start out with vinyl and servicing college radio. If you build a slow and steady fan base it will pay off in the future. If I ever do blow up commercially I’ll have a rack of fans saying ‘I’ve been listening to this guy for five, six years.'” Doujah knows it’s those hardcore fans that will stick with an artist through thick and thin.
With the release of his full length debut in late 2005 Doujah Raze finally had the opportunity to tell the world who he is and what makes him unique as an artist. When it comes to that list he says it’s a long one. “I think it’s everything,” he says candidly, “there’s not one specific thing that I can say ‘this makes me different.’ It’s my voice, the beats I’m rhyming over, my flow, my lyrics.” He continued, adding “I’m not some thug idiot trying to be hard, I can present different sides of my personality, show different faces in different places. Overall I think I’m a positive person, a smart person, I think about what’s going on in the big picture, I sometimes take a step back and analyze why I do what I’m doing and why other people are doing what they’re doing.”
Right now Doujah’s plans are long term. He explains “I’m turning 27 now, so I’m giving myself three good years. If we keep seeing that progress there’s no reason not to keep going for it.” “All my life I’ve kind of been building towards this even though I may not have known it. I grew up playing piano and guitar, writing poetry and writing lyrics. I’ve always been performing, I’ve always wanted to be in front of crowds. The main reason I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing is when I go on tour, especially in Europe, I see people from different cultures who speak different languages and they relate to me through the music. That makes me know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Essentially, Doujah’s been seeing his name come to life as he continues to witness the fruits of his energy raise something positive.