Columbus Ohio is becoming home to a few artists who are respectively shaking up - or elevating the game. Elev8tor Music is a company formed by Mario "Supa" Pizzini (who has held executive titles at Bad Boy Ent., D-Block Records & Universal Motown) and his partner Rashad (producer whose credits list such artists as Styles P, Stalley, Curren$y, K'Nann, and etc.) I had the pleasure of reaching out via phone interview with 2 of the 4 artists on their small but heavy roster - Hodgie formerly Hodgie Beats and Lil Bizzy. If you haven't read it yet, check out the Lil Bizzy interview HERE.
From the O-H: We've been watching you for awhile now (since 2012) so it's good to see you still out here putting in work. Since you've released your mixtape, The Go-In Part Deux how have you grown as an artist?
Hodgie: Well, you know the "The Go-In Part Deux" was the second part to a mixtape series and at that point in time we were really just trying to put out a lot of different music. We were also doing a lot of shows at that time. I felt like with American Dreaming, I had a certain story I was trying to tell and I was able to get that off. Street Lights is kind of a new introduction of myself to the world, so right now we're just having fun. American Dreaming was more like "let me tell you who I am" and Street Lights is "let me tell you what I'm capable of." We're just trying to build off of the success of all of those other projects.
From the OH: Tell us a little about your latest release, Street Lights?
Hodgie: Street Lights is something that me and Rashad had been working on for quite sometime. I guess we never stopped working, so it's not really a start and finish. We've worked on so many songs together, so it was a long time coming that we would put out our first project together. People had been looking for us to do something since The Go-In Part Deax and we were working so hard. We had been working on other projects, albums and in the meantime we were putting joints together. So one day in the studio we came up with the concept "Street Lights", kinda like another introduction to Hodgie (outside of me as a person) but Hodgie as this figure that you see backstage, that you see in the clubs, that you see everywhere you know that element of it. We wanted to do something that definitely had some joints for the club, had some joints for the streets so we just kinda been building, putting samples together, putting music together and this is what came out of it. It's a short project, but I feel front to back it's gotta certain vibe to it. It's definitely got a good vibe to it, got that car vibe to it and got that house party vibe to it. It's our first joint together, our first of many.
From the OH: What makes you so relatable as an artist?
Hodgie: Well, first of all I feel I tell the truth. I've been doing this for a long time and when I first started doing it, it was about the bars and the lyrics. Over the course of the years, you see the music game change so much and you gotta find a way to be yourself as far as what type of music you like to do as well as trying to stay relevant with everything else that is going on. So eventually through the years of really finding myself or really knowing who I am as a person but then being able to put that into music. Finding myself was me realizing, "Hey, a lot of people fuck with me, a lot of people like me just on some G shit, on some homie shit" so I just turn that over into music. I really just gotta be myself and if you know me then you know what type of character I am. I'm definitely a real dude; I stand for real morals and values but I like to have fun, party, kick it and everything else so I just try to let that come across in my music and when people know it's authentic they can respect it. You know the way I look at the game is; the music ain't even half the battle [to me] the music is easy. You know - go to the studio, make some songs, get them mixed, sounding right and hope people enjoy the music. As far as building a fanbase and having people really fuck with you; that comes from people actually knowing you, knowing your story and being able to relate to you based on who you are. Not any lies or some made up facade but just who you really are and if people fuck with you.. they're gonna rock wit you. My thing is to try and just be Hodgie and if you like me, I love you and if you don't well you know how that goes. *laughs*
From the OH: You've opened for some dope artists in your career thus far, which one has been the most influential to you?
Hodgie: The most influential artist I've opened up for? Wow, that stretches back. You know, I guess it's a time thing right? Because I recall opening for Lil Wayne at a point in time when it was around Tha Carter III era when he was pretty much the hottest artist in the game and you know that was really, really crazy. At that time, that's something that I'll never forget. It's hard because I've opened up for so many artists and I wish I coulda opened up for some of my favorite artists that are no longer with us. I had a good time opening up for Pusha T, he's an artist I respect and I definitely dig his music and what he's doing as President of G.O.O.D. Music. To switch it up on you, as far as my influences go and being from the midwest I've always been influenced by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and all of the midwest artists. Growing up, I also had a heavy east coast influence as I got a lot of family in upstate New York so when I was coming up we used to trade music. I'd hit them with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Twista or UGK an they'd hit me with Biggie, The Lox, or something of that nature. I didn't get a chance to open up for none of those cats but I'm influenced by the music period. I love to see people grinding; to see what they stand for, what they really represent and just being able to share the stage with somebody who's doing it or who has done what you're trying to do.
From the OH: You and Rashad are like the dynamic duo, what's next for you 2?
Hodgie: Oo wee, I don't know if I can tell you that. We got some pretty dope things coming up, I'll say that much. We definitely got music in the stash and we stay creating constantly so you can expect more music from us. Even before I get to that, you know Rashad's definitely got some real good things coming out so be on the look out for that.
From the OH: What would you say to the independent artist that feel like they have to change into something/someone else just to stand out?
Hodgie: Be yourself because you're not going to be able to do somebody else like they do themselves. If you're trying to copycat somebody else, that's not going to work because the people that like them, they like them for a reason. They don't want that from you. The way I see the game, the only way you're really going to get up in this game is if you're bringing something different to the table; something that people can't necessarily get from somewhere else. Wherever you come from; you put your own lingo, your own twist, your own style on it to make it pop. With the whole mumble rap thing, I don't have anything against what anybody is doing because I just do my own thing. I'm minding my business, but if I'm in the club I like a little mumble rap here and there you feel me? If I'm on the highway driving, I might listen to some lyrical miracle but overall - music is music. What they call mumble rap, that's not new. It's been around for 10, 15, 20 years and at those same times you also had artists that were really lyrical and other artists who weren't. Whatever somebody is doing let them do it, as long as it's real and genuine to them and as long as they are hustling you gotta respect it. For the new artists, never change who you are to try and get in the game.
NOTE: Hodgie, Lil Bizzy, Rashad and the rest of Elev8tor Music will be performing at the Breakaway Music Festival in Columbus Ohio on September 1-2, 2017.