At 1:50 pm on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon I get a text from Rouzy Rouz. “Hey just got here. I’m a little early.” I find him waiting outside the Gypsy Den Cafe in Costa Mesa; all the tables and chairs are draped in canvas and the slate clouds are drizzling rain. Rouzy Rouz stands in the midst of it all, decked out in gray jeans and a simple black windbreaker. He smiles and gives me a hug, like old friends, and we venture into the cafe. The place is packed with trendy kids seeking refuge from the weather and hovering over warm cups of coffee. We take a seat at a small table by the window.
What you first realize about Rouzy is that he’s not only really nice but also grateful about his recent success. As an up and coming rapper picked up by Shawn Issac (CEO & Founder of Shawn Isaac Productions), who has 10,000 twitter followers strong and who is about to release a music video with Kurupt, you’d think the sudden fame would give him a slight air of haughtiness. But Rouzy Rouz isn’t like most rappers. For starters, he’s Persian-American. Second, he’d rather spit rhymes about following your dreams than rapping about racks on racks. Also, did we mention that he’s really nice?
Rouzy politely asks the waitress for a glass of water and the conversation easily slips into the major changes happening in his life.
So you’re currently in grad school while pursuing a career in the rap biz. Did you always want to be in music?
Honestly, growing up I never pictured myself becoming a hip hop artist. I always enjoyed music, and grew up playing instruments like the piano, guitar, and bass. Listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, and other rock bands were typically the style of music I grew up to. I began my love for rap and hip hop throughout college, and started out my career during my last undergraduate years at UC Irvine.
How do you switch from studying public health one second then heading to the studio the next?
I do spend most of my time focusing on school, because I truly believe that no matter what it may be that you are trying to pursue it is always in your benefit to become as knowledgeable as possible. But when it comes down to it, it’s all about time management. Being organized has definitely helped me out a lot when it comes to balancing between school and music.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I find inspiration all around. Whether it’s from other artists like myself, people around me in the community, my family and friends. I find inspiration everywhere I go, and I’m always looking for new ways to better myself as an artist and individual.
When people listen to your music, what do you want them to walk away with?
I definitely want to promote two main things with my music. One is to always be positive in what you are doing and have good times. Second, is to truly follow your dreams. I want to inspire and even help people pursue the true things that they want to do in life. Not just sit around and say “one day I’m doing to do this.” I definitely know that I stand out as an artist being that I am a Persian-American, but also because of my background. I’m basically just another average kid with a dream that he actually chased.
Has contemporary vs. old school styles in the music industry influenced your work?
I definitely see a lot of change in the industry. I’ve gained so much influence from both time eras of music. Throughout my time as a recording artist I’ve not only studied, but also gained so much more respect for each and every artist I come across. I definitely feel that I incorporate many different styles of music to create the sound that I have now.
Any story behind the name “Rouzy Rouz”?
Well growing up I had two big nicknames, “Rouzy” and “Rouz.” So I figured that it would only make sense to go by the two things that everyone called me the most and combined I became “Rouzy Rouz.”
Could you tell us a few deets about your upcoming track and video with Kurupt?
I definitely have to thank my manager and good friend Shawn Isaac for this one. Shawn has not only helped me get to the point where I am now, but he has definitely been able to guide me and connect me with so many parts of the industry. We did some work with platinum producer C-Ballin [creator of “Go Girl” by Baby Bash and “Money on the Floor” by Too Short and E-40] and came up with what started out as my new hit single. Shawn connected me with Flossy [CEO of Streetlight music] where I got connected with Kurupt. Knowing the huge potential in the song I’ve been working on, we were able to get him on the track and bring it to an even higher level. The verses on the song are great, and Shawn Isaac is also featured on the track which is awesome.
Best thing about working with other artists?
Honestly the best thing about this entire collaboration has been the opportunity to work alongside so many successful individuals within the industry. It’s one thing to release your music as a solo independent artist, but once you start working with legendary rappers such as Kurupt, you just get to reach the level that you always dreamed of. Not only has it been an amazing time, but also a great learning experience that I’ll be taking with me throughout the rest of my career.
Name your dream artist to collaborate with.
I would be honored to collaborate with any successful artists at the moment. Just to name a few: YG, Drake, Bobby Brackins, Hopsin, T. Mills, Lil Wayne, and so many more. I just enjoy working with music so much that any opportunity that comes to me I would see as a blessing.
Dream place to perform?
Everywhere! Of course my true dream is to be super successful and go on a worldwide tour, but as of now if I was to pick a specific location it would have to be the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. I went to the Wango Tango concert there in 2010 and was truly inspired by all the performances I saw, and every since dreamed about performing on that stage in the future.
You haven’t been in the industry very long, but you’re already collaborating with big names. How do you feel about your sudden popularity in the rap and hip hop community?
It has definitely been a blessing to see where I was eight months ago when I first released my first ever mixtape “Duty Calls” and where I am now. I get so much support from my fans via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far without their support, and I want to thank them for that. But it hasn’t exactly hit me yet either. I’m still super fresh in the industry, and know I still have a lot of work I want to do, which is why I haven’t really had the chance to soak it all in.
Keys to finding and keeping success?
Patience. Everyone has heard the saying “things don’t happen over night,” which is why it is so important to have patience in whatever it is you are pursuing. Don’t get frustrated if things aren’t happening at the rate you would like them to, but only keep working hard towards the one and only dream you have. Most importantly, don’t ever quit what you are trying to do. I’ve heard and seen so many situations where an individual decides to drop what they are doing because they are tired of waiting for that one big moment. But you got to keep your head up and keep moving forward and all your hard work will pay off in the end, I firmly believe that.
Photography by Aaron Huntsberger