With a voice that shifts seamlessly between melodic, blunt and humorous, Billboard Next Up artist Skizzy Mars is making rap to a whole new beat. The Harlem native may have picked up cues from the first album he ever bought—Kanye West’s Late Registration—eventually manifesting his dreams by going on tour with G-Eazy at the tender age of 19.
Still young but now making waves on his own, Skizzy Mars recently released his full length album Alone Together, taking a unique stance on rap inspired by all spectrums, from Tribe Called Quest to Animal Collective. In preparation for his upcoming performance at W Minneapolis – The Foshay September 8th (RSVP here!), we caught up with the rap genius about his diverse taste, love of steak and ten new artists you should know before they hit it big.
How would you describe your musical style?
SM: My style emanates from the youth. I like to mix up tempos and merge genres. When I go into a session, I never really know what I’m going to make. The vibes change. I have to live life to make music, so I assess what’s going on in my life before I make anything. Do I want to make peaceful, serene music? Do I want to make something more lively and chaotic? I think I have the ability to make any kind of track I want, so I like to use that to my advantage.
What is the first album you ever owned? How did you acquire it?
SM: “Late Registration” by Kanye West was the first album I ever owned. My dad had bought it and I remember playing it and never returning it.
What are three things you look for when you see an artist play live?
SM: When I go to shows, I focus mainly on the construction of the set list, the way they start and end, and crowd engagement. I went on tour with G-Eazy at 19, and I really learned a lot about how important the order of your songs is. So that’s stuck with me. I’m always looking at how someone comes out and leaves the stage too, because that’s mainly what people remember. And then, of course, how you can keep the crowd entertained consistently. Not every artist can hold a crowd’s attention. The ones that can are normally great performers.
Who is your superhero alter-ego and why?
SM: I think the answer to that has to be Tony Stark. He’s just an overall badass before and after becoming Iron Man.
If we’re going to buy you a drink, what should it be?
SM: I’d probably tell you to just order me a water. A Fiji water.
What’s a song you have stuck in your head these days?
SM: Since Jesse Boykins III album “Bartholomew” came out, it’s been stuck in my head. The whole thing really. My favorite track is probably “Earth Girls.” I’ve also been listening to this tune “Strip” by my homie Indica. Both are infectious.
What’s your favorite thing to order from room service?
SM: I order a steak whenever possible. I genuinely love steak. I fuck with Caesar salads a lot too.
Where do you find your artistic inspiration?
SM: I mostly find inspiration from conversations I have with people. I don’t talk much, but I listen a lot. Music’s given me the chance to travel a bunch and see places I normally wouldn’t have. I’ve met a lot of diverse people. The things they say can be fascinating. I try to use those discoveries combined with my personal inwardness and wisdom, combined with the happenings of the world and circumstance as inspiration.
Who’s your fashion icon and why?
SM: That’s a tough question, because I don’t model my own style after anyone. But objectively, I’ve always admired people who approach style the same way. Brandon Flowers and Lou Reed are two I can think of.
Give us an insider tip on what bands or artists are about to break.
SM: Nessly is a rapper out of Atlanta that’s going to be huge, inevitably. We have some really promising artists on my Penthouse label like Lais, Indica and Bankx. Dutchboy out of New Jersey is awesome. Imad Royal is really dope. Trapo out of Wisconsin. Marlene is a singer from Stockholm I really fuck with. Wintertime is dope. Kevin Clarke has a hit with “Tsunami.”