Danny Blaze is a hip-hop artist born and raised in Durham, NC. His style has grit like the city that helped shape who he is, Durham.
Interview by Andrew Cheek
In his songs Danny Blaze flows about anything from relaxation in an afternoon and a dream of meeting J Dilla, to the difficult entanglements of lifestyles fueled by drugs amidst gang violence where it can be easy to get caught up.
In his song (tremendous music video) titled “Pus(her)” Danny tells the story of having a drug-dealer girlfriend together living a sort of montage life yet wishing for something more, with her aspirations to go to school, and how he loves her, and how their life someday could be beautiful with comforts in the suburbs beyond crime and Beretta pistols and fears for safety. In this song and throughout his music, Danny’s quick lyrical delivery, and punctuated vocal rhythms, blend effortlessly with instrumentals. His style has flare and is casual with an educational bent that never preaches from a position of hierarchy.
I caught up with Danny for an interview about his music, his inspirations, the city of Durham, and what he’s working on right now. Check it out below.
Andrew Cheek: How did you get started making music? And how has that transformed into today?
Danny Blaze: I flirted with the idea of rapping since freshman year of high school in 2004. I would listen to instrumentals by artists like J Dilla and would kick freestyles just because my friends were into it. I didn’t start making music seriously until 2010 when I was in a group called The Koolest with my friend Daniel Pressley. I feel like making music changed my life because I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do with myself before then. It was one of the few things I found I was good at and enjoyed it.
Andrew: How would you say living in Durham had influenced your music and who you are as a whole?
Danny: I was born and raised in Durham and still live here. It has definitely influenced my sound and the things I talk about in my songs. I believe there’s a certain type of grit that you develop from being here and that’s definitely reflected in the music. It makes you competitive and gives you a sense of pride that you don’t get from some places.
Andrew: What’s your favorite spot to hang out in Durham?
Danny: I love hanging out downtown. Motorco and Fullsteam Brewery are great places for food and drinks. I love performing and catching shows at The Pinhook. The rooftop at the Durham Hotel is amazing. Cosmic Cantina is probably my favorite restaurant ever. Even sitting outside and people watching by [Major] the bull is relaxing. Downtown Durham has so much to offer.
Andrew: You performed at Beats N Bars Festival a few weeks ago – tell us about it!
Danny: Beats N Bars was incredible. It was my first time performing at a rooftop party. Everyone showed love and the other performers were amazing as well. Huge thanks to Crystal [Taylor] for having me. The festival was a great look for the city and I’ve wanted to be a part of it for a couple years now.
Andrew: What is the coolest and most exciting thing you’ve seen in music this year?
Danny: 2018 has been a great year for music. Tons of great albums have come out. Especially from North Carolina artists. We’ve gotten new music from J. Cole, King Mez, G Yamazawa and more! Our local scene has seen plenty of budding releases and performances as well.
Andrew: Finally, is there anything you’d like to add?
Danny: I have a new video dropping October 23rd!