FLINT, Michigan — Inside Jack’s Record Stache in downtown Flint, the feeling is light and musical. It is there I find hip-hop artist, DJ, host of Gozza Strip Radio, and CEO of EarthMovers Records Brady Gozza perusing through a selection of vinyl records from Jake the Flake, Wu-Tang Clan, and others. His friendly nature and easy-going personality are matched by his in-depth knowledge of the music industry locally, underground and mainstream.
Born and raised in Saginaw, MI, and attending Montrose schools, he moved to Flint in 1996, and it was where his music career began. Gozza’s career started in a group called Down Low Prophets that merged with Triple Chaos to become Chaotic Prophets, later known as The Juggernaut – a reference to the X-Men character. The group released a cassette tape single in ’95 and toured around the Midwest. Having disbanded in ’97, Gozza and another member became the Artful Dodgers until 2010.
Now, Gozza is a solo artist, having just released his third album, Black Vinyl
. Flintside caught up with the multi-talented artist in this new era of his life to talk hip-hop, lyrical storytelling, and his decades-long career.
"Through meeting people the right way and making connections by showing our skills and proving ourselves, that’s been beautiful to me." - Brady GozzaFlintside: You have a varied and vast history from the Artful Dodgers, Down Low Prophets, Chaotic Prophets, The Juggernaut, and now as the soloist Gozza. What is it about hip-hop that spoke to your soul?
“My brother was the first to play me this local radio show, and I fell in love with the music. I love the passion, and Dougie Fresh, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee, Fat Boys, and Beastie Boys were superheroes, larger-than-life characters back then. I wrote my first rhyme in ’87 when I was eleven years old. It was about my mom as a school assignment. I liked [b-boy] dancing, I liked the style, and it was my way of expressing myself, frustrations, and good things in life.”
Flintside: You’ve brought your first two albums, Here Comes Trouble and Scorpion Dragon 76. And recently, you released your newest album, Black Vinyl. Talk to me about these albums.
“[Here Comes Trouble
], that’s me in ’79 as three-year-old Gozza. [Scorpion Dragon 76
] comes from my love and taste [of] comic books, superheroes, and martial arts. So here’s me as the hero, and if you get me pumped, I’ll turn into this scorpion dragon. Black Vinyl
is all about the records. I did the beats on all thirteen tracks, but I got a sample base production style. I’m going through the most obscure, weird, dusty vinyl and taking little sounds from there, rearranging and breathing new life into them. Black Vinyl
is a special dedication to everybody that’s into collecting and listening to records.”
Flintside: There’s a noticeable change from those early hip-hop days. Beats have changed, and a lot of the story-telling elements have diminished. What are your thoughts?
“Things have changed. A lot of artists do have a more modern sound. You won’t hear me ever doing an autotune track or singing to the girls. I’m still on the b-boy type of style. The lyrics nowadays drive me crazy. They want to play it safe, and they don’t want to go over anybody’s head or use too big of words. They were trying to elevate with more lyrics and better concepts in the older days. I stay true to that and put a lot into my lyrics."
A shot of Gozza's two previous albums, 'Here Comes Trouble' and 'Scorpion Dragon 76.'
Flintside: Although in alignment, how did you go from music to DJ'ing and then to radio?
“Right as I graduated [from the University of Michigan–Flint], I got offered a DJ gig. I did that for years, still [making] music, and I was trying desperately to get our music played on radio stations in the area. I was DJ'ing, and this guy who was doing a commercial at the Kettering station 94.3 says, 'come to this meeting with me, you’re DJ'ing, and I’m going to introduce you to the station.' I went and got along great with everybody. I had the idea to start a show on the station and play only local music. Luckily, they loved my ideas. When MC Breed died, I started doing a yearly MC Breed day. I took it as my mission to search out radio edits of all the local artists. I try to make it all about community.”
Flintside: Having been in groups, releasing music, and touring, were there any pitfalls or hard life lessons learned?
“There was for sure like betting on the wrong horses type of thing. I’ve learned lessons where cats I thought would do a lot in music and I could help them, and it didn’t matter how much I did, they didn’t want it for themselves. It’ll also teach you who your real friends are. I feel like some people have trouble being happy for other people. Real family and friends are going to support you when they know it’s important, I feel.”
Flintside: Having interviewed you and other music artists, the music industry and living that life can be brutal. Having experienced some pitfalls and setbacks, what is success for you, and what keeps you going?
“Success to me would be doing my music for a living. To be out there and have enough exposure to tour constantly and have the world hear the music. That’s a big part of the success of having avenues to be heard. [Overall] it’s my love and passion. It’s who I am. I can’t see a life without doing music in one form or another. I’ll probably do it till the day I die. I’m never happier than when I’m writing or producing a song and recording.”
Flintside: Finally, when you look at the totality of your life and career, what do you take away from it?
“I take it away as it was a great life, there’s love. I’ve made some connections and great friends through music. That gave me a sense of where I belong in the world. Through meeting people the right way and making connections by showing our skills and proving ourselves, that’s been beautiful to me. I do feel part of this culture. I’m 100% hip-hop.”
Find Brady Gozza on FaceBook, Instagram, and on 94.3 FM. To learn more about Gozza, his music, and request his DJ or music production services, visit his website.