The Mexican-American rapper is writing music that ‘homies’ can relate to and through music’s streaming power, his tracks–ranging from falling in love to EBT and immigration–are getting noticed in places the 26-year-old Californian never imagined.
Dezzy Hollow wastes no time. It’s about connection and humanity, but the data is key.
The rapper from Oceanside, Calif. was recently drinking coffee on a weekday morning as part of his morning ritual. He spoke at length about making music, but then he switched it up, sounding more like a data specialist with specific insights into algorithms as related to music. He quickly outlined a roadmap to his next career moves.
“Based on analytics,” Hollow, 26, said from his kitchen, “The majority of my fans are young male teenagers and that’s mostly because of my type of music and the experiences that I’m writing about [in my most recent album]. I’m slowly trying to connect with everybody.”
Then, the rapper spoke about global aspirations inspired by data, which will certainly influence 2020, he said. He clearly has fans in the U.S., but also in Mexico, Europe and Germany. “I really want to go to Germany. It’s crazy, they really love the culture behind my look and sound.”
Hollow, who began writing music at 15 by selling mixtapes in middle school, is debuting his new music video “Air Bus” with Venezuelan rapper Akapellah. They “take a trip through the clouds” as part of the album Fireside via EMPIRE/MadStrange. The video was recorded mostly in Guadalajara, Mexico, and a few shots were also filmed in his hometown of Oceanside.
“It’s a song about being free to cross borderlines,” Hollow said. “We wanted people to hear both our stories coming from California and Venezuela, and connecting the two countries, without a borderline between.”
When asked about his direction in music and fame, Hollow quickly turns his attention to craft, strategy and mission and the importance of collaboration as a way to grow, learn and reach more audiences. “Most of my topics come from where I’m at in the moment and what I’m feeling,” he said. “It’s about my emotions. I can write about a girl and being in love, but then one of my homies is talking about the police and my thoughts go in that direction.”
It was Hollow’s 2017 track “EBT Boi” that surprised the rapper because it was the first video that reached one million YouTube views (currently at 3.4 million). The composition may speak to the theme of poverty and what comes along with with that, but it also attemps to inspires a message of hope, he said.
“The views for ‘EBT Boi’ opened my eyes because I never thought I would be able to get that far,” Hollow said. “My goals right now are to expand. I get a lot of love outside the U.S. as well.”
That’s where data matters. Hollow uses that information as he plans tours, promotional campaigns and the future in general. But high on his list of priorities, he adds, is collaborating with others, growing as an artist and making music that highlights life in Oceanside with themes he knows are universal.
“Real rap is not dead,” one YouTuber wrote in support of the “EBT Boi” video. “It just lives underground,” while another commentator calls Hollow’s work “phenomenally fresh.”
Hollow’s dad, who he calls “pop,” was a key influence growing up because his father played soulful music and old school funk. The rapper now is a big fan of West Coast gangsta rap and includes Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur as two of his favorite artists.
“My message has always been about hard work and staying ambitious,” Hollow said, currently on tour and getting ready to release new music with a summer vibe. “It’s about taking all the opportunities you can and becoming something out of nothing. Oceanside is such a small city, but my hope is to inspire others here and beyond so that people are not afraid to chase their goals no matter where they come from.”