Interview: Lazy J Serves Up His Life Motto On ‘Make Money Not Friends’
The Sydney rapper returns.
Music 7m

It’s been a busy few years for West Sydney hip-hop artist, Lazy J.

After gaining heavy traction as one half of a duo on the X Factor competition, Lazy J was involved in a serious stabbing in 2012 that made headlines across the country. He’s since bounced back as a solo act, releasing his mixtape Gone A Minute Too Long last year and recent collaborations with fellow homegrown talents like Elijah Yo, Pistol Pete, Enzo and Hooligan Hefs. Now comes his latest offering, where Lazy J serves up his life motto on ‘Make Money Not Friends.’

With the single still fresh in our ears, we spoke to Lazy J about his latest efforts, growing up in West Sydney, and bouncing back from a near death experience.

You just released your single ‘Make Money Not Friends’. What has been the reaction so far?

‘Make Money Not Friends’ has received a great response from every side of the world. Initially, my established fan base ate it up, then Spotify added it to a few popular playlists and after a couple weeks it received over 80,000 streams with the US, Germany, New Zealand, UK being among the top listeners. The merch I released for the project (in collaboration with Pushas) has popped off also, selling out of the first release of 100 t’s.

The title of the track sounds a bit like a life motto. What inspired this outlook for you?

Life experiences. Wasting time on friendships that either turned into being backstabbed or that didn’t hold the same value on my friendship as I did theirs. By ‘Make Money,’ I mean make progression. “Don’t apologise if you ain’t ever meant it, could give a fuck about a friendship”. I’m just saying I’m done placing value or investing energy into something that doesn’t reciprocate, so ima get to this money instead.

How would you say your sound has changed since going solo?

Since going solo I’ve had more freedom to experiment with my own sound, not having to worry about making music suitable for another artist. I’ve played around with my vocals a lot over the past two years, and listened to a lot of alternative music for writing inspo. My lane has always been on a more commercial tip, so I’ve focussed more on writing catchy, melodic hooks and flows whilst still being soulful within instrumentation, yet hard in delivery.

How would you say that growing up in West Sydney/Merrylands has shaped you as an artist?

Growing up in West Sydney influenced me in ways, but never influenced my artistry. My circles are so diverse, with mannerisms all very different from each other. Growing up as a Lebanese, Samoan, Maori kid in West Sydney exposed me to different crowds, but the one issue I had was fitting in. I was always the one that dressed different, or shared different opinions or interests. I got into a bit of trouble when I was younger hanging out with the wrong crowds, but as I got older and realised I wanted more out of life, I started thinking for myself which made it harder to relate to.

Although it shaped me as a person, it had less of an effect on my artistry. My music speaks on my personal experiences rather than my environment, until I find a way to speak on it in a different way than others.

Who are some of the West Sydney artists that you’re vibing at the moment? Who would you say are the OGs who paved the way?

Elijah Yo, Pistol Pete & Enzo, Hooligan Hefs, Manu Crooks. The only one I can say has paved the way for Australian music is Manu Crooks because he’s doing it right and he’s very consistent. I wouldn’t say someone else has paved the way if the pavement is only half constructed, meaning any other Australian hip-hop artist hasn’t done it in a way that has made me say “Wow, they’re in the same spot I wanna be.”

Looking back on X-Factor, what do you think benefited you the most from the competition? Would you recommend other young musicians to enter these televised competitions?

X Factor was definitely a stepping stone. I benefited most from the instant attention to my brand that I received, however I wasn’t consistent enough in capitalising. At the time I was still experimenting with music so it was only natural. For other musicians, I’d say go for it, as long as you have a follow up plan if you don’t win. If you don’t capitalise on it, it’s a wasted opportunity. A smart man learns from their mistakes, a smarter man learns from others.

In 2012 you were involved in a stabbing. What do you remember from the night and the following days after?

It was the release party for our new single ‘Ecstasy.’ We had a booth where I was confronted by someone who shouldn’t have been in there. Things got heated and he and his group got kicked out. When the night ended, my boy waited for me outside while I collected the performance fee. I walked out to him holding the back of his head and that same group of guys standing on the other side of the road. When I asked my boy what happened, he said a couple of the boys dog shot him. I ran over to the group and knocked out the first guy that hit my boy, which turned into a brawl and led to me being stabbed.

I remember laying on my back on the footpath and two cops telling me not to close my eyes, but I couldn’t help it because it was so peaceful. Then I passed out and woke up in hospital. Turns out the knife went through to my heart, putting a hole in it. I was announced clinically dead for a minute and a half. They cut my chest open, broke my ribs, and pulled my heart out of my chest to stitch it up. I woke up out of a coma after two days and had 400 people waiting in St. Vincent’s hospital lobby.

How difficult was it for you to return to the music after the incident? What was the biggest obstacle you faced, was it physical or mental?

When I returned home from hospital, I spent the next six weeks eating through a straw, sleeping on a 90 degree angle, barely walking and 15 kilos lighter. After the incident I had a lot of personal family issues which was definitely the biggest obstacle I faced, which made it harder to return to music. Mentally I was blocked for years, and instead of letting go of music, I kept trying to hang on when really all I needed to do was fix my personal life first.

What’s on the cards for Lazy J for the rest of 2018?

Right now I’m more focussed than ever. I have the next 8 months of releases planned out. I just signed my first publishing deal as a writer and my next record is ready for release. ‘Masseuse’ ft. Kennyon Brown drops early October. I’m just ecstatic to be back doing what I do best, going harder than ever.


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September 13, 2018
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