Exclusive MC Lazarus interview

I discovered emcee Lazarus back in 2004 while investigating about the Detroit underground hip hop scene. Lazarus is far from being your average emcee. If you like the battle scene, Lazarus will ignite your passion with his astute wordplays. He allies a very good flow, a fantastic rapping technique, a good dose of verbal tornado towards his opponents. Mc Lazarus knows how to rap. Did you know? Kamran Rashid Khan is also a doctor.
Let me introduce you to the extraordinary rapper-doctor.

-What motivated you to become a rapper?
The biggest motivation for me was that I loved hip hop as form of expression. Hip hop is a vessel between an artist and the rest of the world. It’s also a vessel between the artist and himself. Through the use of this art, one can express their deepest feelings in thought and translate them onto a canvas that can be interpreted by others. When I was in high school, I found myself connecting with certain rappers that were asking to be heard and understood. Their music was built off of their personal story and struggle. With everything I had been going through in my own life, I wanted to tap into that medium. I wanted to spit my story out the world as well. I became fascinated with the way words played with each other to create a rhythmic pattern. Hip hop is a medium where the words you write on your pad become another instrument in the music. I used to put on instrumentals with my boys in high school and just start freestyling to the beat. Over time, this became my personal addiction. And then it just grew bigger and bigger.
-Why did you choose Lazarus, the Biblical character as your nickname?
I was without a stage name for the first year or two that I was rapping. My boys just called me Kamran. In the process of searching for a name that fit what I represented, one of the names that was brought to my attention was Lazarus. Lazarus, being a character that rose up from the dead, instantly connected with the idea that I stood for which was to rise from silence. Freedom of speech is very important to me. Living in a society where so much of what is experienced by a Muslim minoritiy is underrepresented and misconstrued, I felt that my presence would be one to enlighten and broadcast the tale of somebody who otherwise had no voice in the media. Even members of my own race and community discouraged me to pursue a career in music; there just wasn’t any place in that field for someone of Pakistani descent. At one point, all hope in my mind had died. Particularly after 9/11, I truly felt that my chances of making it as a rapper were finished. But then I started rising. I used the “Terrorist” stereotype against itself and started taking other rappers’ racial slurs in battle raps and deflected them back with triple the intensity. I wasn’t going to be silent anyomore. Lazarus rose from the dead.
-What is your outlook on the current state of hip hop?
It is devoid of stubstance. Hip hop used to be about passion, poetry and art. Look at KRS-One. Look at Rakim. Look at 2pac. These people put their soul into the music they put out. Their music represented something and was a way for them to express themselves. Today, music doesn’t represent anything except money, sex, drugs and clothes. I look at mainstream hip hop as the endpoint of a corporate machine. If you fit the stereotype that is projected to keep the masses dumbed down, then you get promoted and endorsed. You are essentially the outcome of picking randomly out of a box of millions to determine who the next generic street rapper is going to be. These artists get popular by way of forced promotion and as time passes, they get forgotten and so the cycle repeats itself. If an artist through this machine happens to come out and start rapping about something meaningful or relevant, they slowly start seeping back through the cracks and are trapped back underground. This is not to say that there aren’t any creative artists who are making names for themeselves, they are just managing themselves independently and building themselves without that commercial engine.
-What inspires you to write your songs?
Lazarus is an alter-ego for me. He is the Superman to my Clark Kent. When Clark Kent sees something troubling occur in his environment, he runs to the phone booth to transform into Superman who then comes to save the day. That’s Lazarus. Whenever I see something going on in my surroundings, whether that be in music, something personal, political, or if I feel that a certain issue fails to be addressed, then Lazarus will arrive at the scene and do that which others are either incapable of or too afraid to do. He’s the side of me that says, “Never say never,” or “Do or die.” He raises my confidence sky-high and allows me to be my own savior. A real life superhero. So when I feel there’s a need for that person, I call him out.
-What is the common point between being a doctor and a rapper?
There isn’t a common point between being a doctor and a rapper, but I make one. Both fields, in their own respective ways, require an unbelievable amount of perseverance and persistence. They just so happen to be polar opposites in terms of career choice. When I am practicing medicine, my focus is entirely on the patient in front of me. Likewise, when I’m in the studio, my focus is solely on making the best music I can make. The initial
presumption was that I was going to have to be pick one over the other. That was something I could never do. I was passionate to pursue both fields. So many people said, even using very humble and respectable approaches, that I would never make it past medical school with a career in music riding along with it. I did that. Then they said I wouldn’t be able to do it during residency, whilst working 80 hours a week in the hospital. I’m doing that. Now I am able to provide therapy to people with both my medicine and my music.
-What is the biggest challenge you ever faced as an emcee?
Initially, the biggest challenge for me as an emcee was to gain respect. In my early days, I felt that I had to do whatever I could do to separate myself from every other kid claiming to be able to spit. Everybody called themselves a skilled rapper the same way everybody thinks they’re Jordan playing ball. I realized early that there was a life force in me that made me feel invincible when I was on the mic. I trained it.
I mastered it. I would practice freestyling whenever I wasn’t studying. So that would mean being in the anatomy lab for four hours, then going outside on campus at Wayne State University and finding rappers to battle. This led me to competitions around Detroit and on various radio stations where I continued to battle and win. The big challenge after that, however, was to show that I wasn’t just a battle emcee. Most battle rappers can’t write songs. And to transcend from battling to song writing was necessary if I wanted to truly make an impact as an artist. I began to develop the art of putting narratives into songs. I wanted to tell stories about my life and my experiences. This is what started giving meaning to my presence as a rapper. My story being one that was distinct from the rest, I started to fill a void that was never tapped before in hip hop.
-Which artists have you collaborated with on the Detroit scene and nationwide?
I’ve collaborated with Stretch Money, Quest M.C.O.D.Y., Proof of D12 and Royce Da 5’9.” They were all great experiences. It was great to work with Royce on the song “Born To Die” and the late Proof on Helluva’s “I Dare You.” Recording with hip hop veterans definitely keeps my game sharp. I’ve also had the opportunity to open up for P. Diddy, D12 and G-Unit.
-Besides hip hop, what kind of music do you listen to?
I love anything that has a heart and a soul and feels good. I’m a fan of various different genres of music. I can listen to anything from Wu-Tang, N.W.A. and Biggie to Queen, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson and Al Green. Outside of that, I’m a big fan of good bhangra and reggae. If it’s good music, it’s good music. I love quality music.
-How have you promoted your music to get to where you are?
The internet has been a great vessel for me to expand my audience. I’ve gotten fans from various countries around the world who check up on me and support the music that I put out. Both “Let The Game Know” which was directed by MTV VMA director Anthony Garth and “Drug of Choice” which was filmed in Pakistan, both received over 1 million views on YouTube. Prior to that, you would’ve caught me putting flyers on people’s cars, going from club to club, battle to battle and selling mixtapes out of my pocket. I sell my music on iTunes and am in the process of starting my own independent company. Radio stations have been helpful in getting my music out. FM 98 WJLB in Detroit, the various college radio stations in Detroit, stations in Canada, India, Pakistan, and the UK have been putting a lot of my records on blast. BBC ranked “Drug of Choice” amongst their most popular songs. The Discovery Channel and Voice of America both shot documentaries about me and FOX Sports featured my theme song for the Detroit Red Wings hockey team which I composed a couple of years back. Those have been great avenues to get my music and story more exposed. Lastly, doing shows has been a great way to gain new fans. As hard as it is during residency, I still try to get on venues whenever I get the chance.
-What are your music plans for 2013?
I’m in the process of putting together a new mixtape to follow the last one I dropped which was called “Lazarus Story.” I also plan on dropping at least a couple new videos this year. In addition to that, I have plans to do some soundtrack work in Hollywood and possibly getting an overseas tour going. I look forward to getting a lot done this year.
Copyright by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved

Detroit writer Contel Bradford reviews "Eminem and the Detroit Rap Scene"

In an article entitled ” Hats Off to the Detroit Scene”, author Contel Bradford, of Detroit, gave ” Eminem and the Detroit Rap Scene” a review.
Who is Contel Bradford?
Contel Bradford is a professional writer of many trades — aspiring
screenwriter, affiliate marketer in training, published author. He
excels at writing articles on internet technology, specializing in
areas that range from email marketing and web hosting to social media
and SEO. Mr. Bradford is also the author of the iPod and iTunes
Handbook and the riveting urban fiction novel Thug Nation.
Learn more about this multi-talented man of mystery at Contelbradford.com

I sometimes call Detroit the land of the forsaken. It sucks more than it doesn’t, and to be honest, I can’t wait to leave. Having said that, I’ve lived here for like ever, so I can’t help but love it. This is why I used to get a little frustrated at the lack of Detroit’s presence in the rap game.
It’s nothing I get too bent out of shape about, it just seems like the presence is stronger in other cities, and Detroit kinda gets shit (shitted or shat) on. Then I’m reminded how we’re home to some of the greats in the game. Esham, Big Proof, and Eminem are among the greats that comprise the Detroit rap scene.
Speaking of Eminem and the Detroit rap scene, I’d like to introduce you to a new book, which happens to be called, Eminem and the Detroit Rap Scene: White Kid in a Black Music World. Sweet how I tied that in, eh?
All kidding aside, this book is written by Isabelle Esling, music journalist and a good friend from a distant land known to me as Isa. I can’t quite remember how we met, but it was online perhaps 8 or 9 years ago. Our connection was a shared love for D12. She told me how she was planning to write a book about Em and D12; I told her how I was just getting started as an author and had a book I was selling in Detroit.
At least this is how I remember it going down. Keep in mind I’ve lost countless brain cells since then.
Anyway, Isa was very instrumental in me establishing a presence of my own online. I let her read my first book, Dark Decision, and she loved it. She shared this in her circles and generated buzz that helped me sell future books such asThug Nation. Her support of my work also helped me connect with a long lost family member, who saw some of the reviews she wrote about my book, and build the credibility I would go on to use to start a career in freelance writing.
Aside from being a good friend, Isa is a great journalist who is passionate about her work, and that passion shines through in her extensive coverage of Eminem and other artists on the Detroit rap scene over the years.
If you want a candid look at Eminem, the underground rap scene in Detroit, or just want to read something fresh and interesting, I highly recommend this book. You won’t be disappointed.
You can learn more about Isabelle and her book, Eminem and Detroit Rap Scene, here (or there, the link, ya know?).

Steve Furay, of Michigan Citizen, reviews my book

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Read the original article here
DETROIT — A new book about the life and career of Eminem has now been released, satisfying fans throughout the world with more material about the rap superstar. But here in Detroit, the city he claims, the book raises questions about whether he has returned the favor for the gifts that Motown has given him.
“Eminem and the Detroit Rap Scene: White Kid In A Black Music World” draws readers’ thoughts to the tensions between Black and white communities in one of the nation’s most segregated cities. The movie “8 Mile” played on the same idea, a white rap underdog trying to become recognized in the Black community.
Author Isabelle Esling, a French native living in England, wrote the book from numerous magazine and television interviews with Eminem, plus her own interviews with members of Detroit’s hip hop community.
Esling describes the hard life Eminem experienced growing up, through poverty and stress of troubled family members. Eminem’s success as an artist is in his ability to compose lyrics honest and imaginative about his rough upbringing, always with a punchline ready.
When his music first became popular in 1999, Eminem’s global fame was a perfect storm of talent and imagination reflecting the spirit of the age. Hyperactive youth faced the future of a troubled world economy, with media feeding the public violence on a 24-hour cycle.
“Eminem and the Detroit Rap Scene” focuses on the genius of his writing, but his dedication to helping Detroit is also questioned. DJ Butter, for instance, was an early collaborator with Eminem and his group D12, and tells his experience of Eminem’s Shady Records having bad business with local artists.
“When Eminem and D12 went against me,” says DJ Butter in the book, “I just never understood how I could break bread with those guys before the big label deals and they couldn’t break bread back. They made me out to be the bad guy.”
Eminem has become a world symbol for Detroit, but here he is an artist who gained fame and wealth and then left. His upbringing in the city’s hip hop scene of the 1990s was heavily based on helping to make the community a better place, building businesses and opportunities for youth to escape life in the streets.
The famed Hip Hop Shop, open during the mid-1990s as a hub of the Detroit hip hop scene, was a turning point in Eminem’s career, where the Saturday afternoon open mics were flooded with a community of highly talented artists.
The success of artists like Elzhi and Royce Da 5’9” validate the Shop’s creation of top skilled emcees through artistic interaction, and Eminem was a key participant of this collective. The common chant was “3-1-3,” the area code that everyone wanted to help make better for the future.
Proof, known to the world as a member of Eminem’s group D12 before his death in 2006, is referenced in the book as a close friend, mentor and artistic inspiration. Proof was also in the group 5 ELA, or 5 Elementz, where he and members Thyme and Mudd worked at Hip Hop Shop and set up the open mics each Saturday.
“He was the leader (of D12),” says Mudd. “They listened to whatever ideas he came with. He could sit down, calm them down, bring them together enough to whereas they respected him as a leader.”
Though Proof left 5 ELA, Mudd and Thyme give testimony that he always wanted his own success to be used for the betterment of the community. This aspect of Eminem’s upbringing in hip hop through Proof is not discussed in “Eminem and the Detroit Rap Scene.”
“We ain’t trying to be out there on the mountaintop,” says Mudd. “We’re with the people, we’ve always been with the people. We’ve always brought the community together. To me it’s just the right thing to do. It’s like a church or a synagogue — once you get the congregation you can lead the flock, just as long as you’re leading them in the right direction.”
Today, 5 ELA’s community spirit lives through 5e Gallery, located on Michigan Avenue in Corktown. The gallery is owned and operated by DJ Sicari, the group’s newest member, who was also employed at the Hip Hop Shop. The space struggles for financial resources like others in city, but Thyme views this hip hop community center as an opportunity to help realize the dream of the “3-1-3” movement. This is the unrealized potential of a “White Kid In A Black Music World.”
“The hip hop in this town is an economic force that is never used,” says Thyme. “It’s always used for someone’s particular personal gain. We can’t even think about none of them. All of us that’s here doing it, we have to say the responsibility is ours. How you gonna handle that?”
“Eminem and the Detroit Rap Scene: White Kid In A Black Music World” by Isabelle Esling is available for purchase online at www.Amazon.com