Interview: Dizzy SenZe


Photo Credit: Rae Maxwell

On June 28th I sat down with one of my best friends and underground MC, Dizzy SenZe. She is nineteen years old and has been rapping since the very young age of five. Her origins are child hood are split between The Bronx and Queens. In the last few years she has been heavily involved in New York’s underground Slam Poetry and Hip-Hop. Dizzy SenZe has been involved in countless programs ranging from: The Hip-Hop Re:Education Project, Urban Word, and Urban Art Beat. During this spring she headed overseas with several others —who were participants with The Hip-Hop Re:Education Project— to Germany and performed. This summer she has been involved in many shows across New York City and may go on a tour across a few states. She also plans to drop her first project, Where’s Your Senze, at the end of this summer.

As an artist Dizzy SenZe is far from one-dimensional. She raps about a range of topics from: relationships, oppression, life in the projects, violence, and etc. When listening to her music it is clear that she has been working hard on her craft. Her flow incorporates a lot of visual imagery, wordplay, and complex punch lines. Following her own solo work she is also involved in several groups: S.W.A.G.G. A.C.A.D.E.M.Y., Martians, and Capital Z.

She is working on a project with Capital Z, which includes her and a friend of hers July Quin. July is another Bronx underground rapper. In the works as well is a S.W.A.G.G. A. project, which includes Dizzy SenZe, Yung Keith, and King K.C. Both Yung Keith and King K.C. are Bronx born and raised emcees. As both a friend and admirer I thought it was only proper I sit down with her and find out some of the reasons she rhymes and what she hopes to accomplish in the future.

Why’d you want to become a rapper?

In between some laughter and sips of water Dizzy said, “I wanted to become a rapper because when I was about five my dad was a DJ and an MC. Actually he was more of a DJ than a rapper. He’d play a little old school records or whatever, you know like Grand Master Flash and stuff, all their instrumentals. He’d tell me to spit over them in the basement and you know he’d be like rap; it’d be a joke. I always had a certain type of way of flowing that was different from other kids.”

As kids, even as teenagers we have a lot of phases. So what I want to know is your name phases and how you got to them?

“I mean, my first name ever, I would have to say my name was D. Nice. [Chuckles] It was honestly because I heard this rappers song and he was like ‘My name’s D. Nice’.  I thought it was cool to pick up, then it was Lil’ Skillz because I knew I would never reach past a certain height. [We burst out in laughter] It was this artist named Mad Skillz at the time who does rap-ups every year. I took it after him and then I changed it to Young Flamez. Everybody thought something with a Z was pretty cool, so usually it had a Z after it. Then after that it got back to Dizzy, it was Dizzy Dollarz and then um, I changed it to Dizzy SenZe since I was little. My mom had been calling me Dizzy since I was little, since I used to spin my cousin around in a circle and I would never get dizzy. The SenZe part came from the fact that my little brother, was um, he’s been blind since he was about six months. So it was actually the missing sense in his eyesight; and then it was also the play on that most people are missing their senses anyway. I spit a lot of conscious stuff, customized conscious… the truth in my life.”

What was one of your first big moments as a kid, since we are now adults here in this world, where you were like wow; people really think I have talent?

“Um, it would have to be me getting picked to go to Berlin; for the Bronx-Berlin Connection through um, the Hip-Hop Reeducation Project. Or it’d have to be when I made Urban Word Teen Poetry Slam Finals in Apollo. I think more so Berlin because [of] the whole language barrier, which you would expect. You go to a country that they don’t know your language and you’re rapping to them. Despite me rapping, I spit fast so it kind of overwhelming and amazing to see that people to my songs. …As I’m coming off the stage they’re repeating to me in the little broken English they have like ‘Yo you’re dope.’ They don’t even know what that means in English. They know it got to mean something good because we say it so much. But they were just trying to communicate their happiness and appreciation for my art as much as I appreciate their art over in Germany also.”

Do you ever sit around, because I know I do this sometimes, and look at old notebooks and think ‘wow what was I thinking’?

The rapper I am right now is definitely completely contrast with the rapper I was as a kid. I think it was ‘cause I’ve lived in the projects for a long time. I was in joint custody between parents. I didn’t really want to talk about that much. I think when people first pick up their pen; they go into the whole fantasy of the art. And I was just addicted to all the flashing cars that people had. My dad was pretty well off and then my dad sort of like disappeared, so I would always remember my dad’s cars and talk like ‘you know I want the cars my dad had.’ And it always looked like the cars the rappers had, and my dad had jewels. He looked like the stereotypical rapper. And I wanted to be like my dad. My mom is the one that’s like you know ‘that’s not everything.’ So when I look at my old notebooks, I see the person that wanted to rap about having money and cars. And I was rapping about a lot of stuff—I didn’t have anymore. You know, like my dad would tell me it would be passed down to me. And I was rapping about a lot of the violent stuff that was going on around me also. It wasn’t until I was older that I was able to put into better stories and paint better pictures of things that actual happened to me. Or actually happened to people around me.”

Who were the rappers that inspired you the most growing up?

“Growing up…. uh, Tupac definitely. I was a huge Tupac fanatic. I was actually into a lot of old raps. I was into Tupac, Biggie, I was into Big Daddy Kane; I was into Big L —I digged his lingo, especially on Ebonics—, Big Pun —because I was always a mixed kid, it was awesome seeing Spanish people do it. Female rapper wise, Lil’ Kim actually just her flow; her flow was dope so was MC Lyte.”

As a female, you know and clearly since you are a Lesbian, did you ever feel like, especially growing up, that you had to spit [rhyme] a certain way?

“Um, no. Actually I never felt like I wanted to go in the direction of over sexualizing myself. That’s usually what most female artists take the route of. That wasn’t ever me, even before I came out. That wasn’t me; I was into more lyrical aspects of me. Like I heard songs and I liked lyrical rhyme schemes about it. I didn’t exactly dig the whole over-sexualized content. That’s what kind of steered away from commercial music, more so growing up and pushed me more to the underground scene. Because underground artist have more to prove to the underground as opposed to the industry.

What has been one of your favorite recording studio moments?

“My favorite recording studio moment was…. I was in a studio in Green Point, and it’s me, my friend BlaZe, his girl friend Christina, and my friend Heat. We’re all in there or whatever, we’re working on these songs or whatever.  And I came out and I’m like ‘Yo I got to record a love song.’ And everybody in the room starts laughing [and] they’re like ‘Man these girls got you all twisted up in the head. Girls right? Like plural, like there’s more than one?’ I’m like ‘Y’all know I only have one girlfriend right?’ [They’re like] ‘Yeah right, we’ve seen the girls calling your phone.’ So, I break out into this song that I wrote for my ex-girlfriend. And I had just tweaked it up a bit. And the song was called Special Part of Me. It was always one of my favorite things to rap despite if it was for my ex or not. I wrote it for her and there was this part in there that you’re was supposed to sing. So I’m in the booth and I’m like ‘I can’t sing’ and they’re like ‘No, just do it, just do it.’ [We both burst out laughing] So I’m like ‘Aight I’m a practice it, I’m a practice it. So, I’m in the booth trying to practice it, I’m in there hitting high notes and stuff. And the engineer Surge presses record and they record it. So, I hear it back and they’re like ‘Yo Diz, we didn’t know you could actually sing.’ I’m like ‘I definitely can’t sing but I could hold a tune.’ And from then on it’s always been singing parts in my songs that I could hold tune to. But, I can’t really sing. But, that’s been the ongoing joke that Diz could sing, Diz could sing. Tell your mom Diz could sing! So, I’m like ‘Christina I’m going need you to come in the booth with me.’ And it was jokes because they were like ‘ Oh, is this song for Kristina?’ And I’m like ‘Nah’ because one of my ex-girlfriends was named Kristina so it was the ongoing joke. Christina is like ‘ Okay, I’ll go in the booth with you’ and I’m laughing but then she starts breaking out in high notes. And I’m like ‘Oh’ ‘cause she’s like ‘I’ll only sing if Dizzy is in the booth with me’. And I’m like ‘You know, you’re my friend’s girlfriend’ and she’s like hitting high notes and stuff. It was a hit. It was dope. It was one of the best songs I’ve recorded.

Projects! Projects, projects, what do you have coming out, what do you have planned in the future?

“Right now there are a couple of projects I’ve been on. There’s the Hip-Hop Re:Education Project’s All-City Vol. 1, which just dropped in March. That’s usually hand-by-hand though, you would have to consult Fabian Saucedo. Besides that I’m on the Urban Word Get Into The Story mix-tape (G.I.T.S.). My own project Where’s Your SenZe will be dropping by the end of the summer, at www.wheresyoursenze.tumblr.com and also www.dizzysenze.bandcamp.com. Also besides that, there’s me and my partner, July Quin, we’re working on a Capital Z mix-tape. And me and of course my brothers of Swagg Academy will be recording a mix-tape pretty soon. The summer is definitely all working out, there’s so much going on. We’re working on a lot of clothing, a lot of other things. We’re just doing more so for ourselves because the independent route is the way to go.”

Do you have anything else that you want to say?

“I’d like to say it’s dope being where I’m at right now. I say dope ‘cause that’s the best way to put it. The lingo changes all the time it’s still going to be dope; dope, crack, whatever, whatever you want to call it. It’s the most weirdest experience to be where I am. And to have people even ask me about half the stuff I done did this year. And a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to work for Apollo stage. So, as I say to reiterate earlier go for your dream. That’s pretty much it go for your dream; download some of my stuff; at wheresyoursenze.tumblr.com, dizzysenze.bandcamp.com. And uh, Capital Z, Martians, S.W.A.G. G. A.C.A.D.E.M.Y, that’s mostly all I could say.”

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