Brownsville is home to some of Hip-Hop’s pioneer emcees. Standing on the shoulders of these giants is the millennium mix tape Messiah, St. Laz. And just like his namesake, Laz is an advocate for those trapped behind the poverty line. Giovonni Pratt recently caught p to St. Laz and got him to drop science on the state of Hip-Hop, future endeavors and his crew, Pottersfield.
AS: You are a Brooklyn native, share your hardships that surrounded you as you grew up in the area.
SL: Well, I grew up in Brownsville, that’s one of the hardest, roughest, poorest ghettos in NY, probably in America. I grew up seeing dudes rise to kingpin status in the drug world, shootouts, killings and just a lot of violence in general. In the earliest part of my childhood my moms was on welfare. We lived in shelters, abusive households where my mother was getting beat in front of me and basically life was a serious struggle but we made it.
AS: The man Saint Lazarus is known as the “Patron Saint of the Poor and Sick” as defined in biblical terms by the Catholic Church. Was this the reason why you chose the name?
SL: Lazarus represents the people of the ghetto. We beg to be fed from the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table. We are all “sick” mentally [because] we actually accept this treatment and these conditions. I chose that name for myself because that’s who I wanted to rep for with my music, the people who don’t have shit and are ignored by the capitalistic devils who run this country. I used to study the bible a lot and I was deeply moved by the parable of Lazarus.
AS: New Industry is another term you use a lot. Please tell us the meaning behind “New Industry”?
SL: New industry is my label and my movement. The old industry is full of so much garbage [that] a “New Industry” is needed. It’s as simple as that.
AS: In the mainstream Hip Hop, marketing dollars are used to push wack artists though the airwaves. This has lead many to believe that The United States can be brought with marketing dollars. Do you agree with this statement, and do you think these methods could spread into the underground Hip Hop market?
SL: Yes, money or should I say money hungry corporate assholes ruined Hip-Hop culture in America. Talent is not nearly as important [to corporate America] as making money, the real talent is in the street. That’s the way it is and has always been, and the underground will remain pure.
AS: Some feel Hip Hop has lost its identity since the bigger corporations started banking off the culture. The same idea was said about Rock & Roll, which shared the same characteristics as rap music. Do you feel Rap music is going to meet the same demise as Rock and Roll?
SL: Yup. If things don’t drastically change very soon, we will see the most cheesy, corny, meaningless music ever made in Hip-Hop. It’s already almost to that point.
AS: Symbolism is used to express emotions. On your forearms you have tattoos of cuffs on your arms. Whets the meaning behind those tattoos?
SL: The tattoos I have are replicas of the exact same chains used in the African slave trade. I got those tats to remind myself as well as my ancestors of the cruelty and injustice my people have experienced in America and all across the world. They also represent the fact that we are all slaves and considered sheep in the whole scheme of this New World Order.
AS: As artists people, places and things influence us. Speaking for your self, what influences you to make the music you make?
SL: The world man, the poverty, the death, the famine, the drugs, the pain, the violence, it all makes me wanna make meaningful music.
AS: Finish this sentence for me, and explain why you finished it using that statement. The Industry would be better off when………
SL: Djs and Fans stop being groupies to anybody they see on TV or hear on the radio and learn to appreciate quality music. People look up to and worship a bunch of rappers that don’t even create their own music. Half of these artist don’t write their own music, majority don’t. It’s a shame. It’s rules in this culture, or at least is should be.
AS: Every artists goes though trails that change their whole thought process. What trail did you go through that made you say “ Damn, I can’t continue to move like this.”?
SL: When I found myself back in jail for third time, I knew then that I had to really start taking my life and career seriously. I didn’t want to be one of those dudes that just go in and out of jail for their whole lives. That’s a trash future and I don’t want that for myself.
AS: Lets get into your music. The song, “Starve the Ghetto”, you say “From Africa to Queens they trapping us it seems. These niggers try to starve the ghetto.” Like Public Enemy, you are painting pictures of truth, and just like PE you do it in a no nonsense fashion. For those who haven’t heard the song share with the reader the message, and the vision behind it.
SL: Starve the Ghetto is a outcry. Like I said before, we are laying at the rich man’s gate begging to be fed by the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table. The ghetto is starving while rich people are in mansions, driving Bentleys and not giving a fuck about us. It’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, but its wrong when the wealthy and don’t care about those who are less fortunate. These rich devils don’t care about us.
AS: The song “Can’t Bring us Down” produced by Joey Bags is string and bass heavy. Share with us the song direction behind that track.
SL: Me and my team Pottersfield (Opium and the Boy Bucka) just wanted to remind people that that hardcore, gutta, Mobb Deep Wu-tang sounding shit still exists in the game. Raw lyrics, raw beat, no gimmicks, no commercial shit just Rap music.
AS: Your name rings large bells in the mix tape scene. Has that opened talks for any deals on the mainstream level?
SL: I don’t care about deals. I care about making good music and being able to feed and support my family from doing it. Labels are over. They are dying a slow death [and] I’m enjoying watching them suffer and die. If its anybody amongst these labels that has a plan for making good music and good money other than the primitive CD selling that doesn’t work anymore, they can holla.
AS: For those interested in hearing and purchasing any of your music, where can they go?
SL: I have music on iTunes and all over but they can holla directly at my MySpace page, that’s where I do all my business.
AS: For those interested in colabos with you, how can they get in contact with you?
SL: myspace.com/stlazpottersfield, twitter/stlaz or my direct email firstname.lastname@example.org
AS: What’s next for St. Laz and Pottersfield?
SL: An onslaught. We are about to drop the official “Best of Pottersfield Vol 1” with Dj madgik from France. After that its gonna be non-stop promo and grind, people will see soon. We are taking over the Internet. I’ve been dropping the hottest mixtapes ever week after week. Google St. Laz and see. Go to thatcrack.com or mixtapetorrent.com and check them out.
AS: Is there anything you want to talk about that hasn’t been discussed in this interview?
SL: We covered a lot of ground. I just wanna shout out my whole team Opium, The Boy Bucka, Wooden Souljah, ice, rahsun, rave roulet, ny sidd, dj fade, the whole new industry and all my supporters. Thanks for the interview. The questions were great [and] I look forward to another interview soon. Holla at my boy Opium for a interview. He’s about to light the mixtape game on fire.