Gainesville rapper Azazus embraces anime in new single
“Naruto” references over trap beats are an unusual occurrence in the hip-hop landscape, but local rapper Azazus spotlights them on his latest single.
The Gainesville artist released his newest song, “Blood Moon,” on Oct. 1. The track references the epic hero stories often depicted in anime, as well as the rapper’s experiences with nightlife and adult entertainment.
“I’m picturing myself in some type of epic scene,” he said. “And even though it’s make-believe, I kind of lived that in real life.”
Anime, as well as other forms of animated media, are often perceived as genres reserved for children — Azazus disagrees with that notion.
He wants to encourage people to openly enjoy their interests and hobbies, including those that might get brushed aside as immature, such as anime.
The Japanese animation style fosters a wide variety of genres within itself, including many complex and layered stories rooted in real-life experiences meant for older audiences to enjoy. Some of the genre’s most popular franchises, such as “Naruto,” “Dragon Ball” and “My Hero Academia” follow the protagonists in their epic adventures as they work their way up to grand goals.
Azazus takes inspiration from these epic narratives to find motivation in his life. He also highlights anime’s influence in his upbringing.
“I didn’t have a great come-up as a kid and I would often enjoy getting lost in other people’s stories and see how they became the heroes of their own stories so I could use that as motivation in my own real life,” he said.
With “Blood Moon,”, he aims to bridge topics often found in rap, such as nightlife, and his own interest in anime, which he refers to as an important part of his life. He hopes to open a door for more people to be accepting of the things they enjoy and to openly express their interests through art and music.
Azazus refers to his adolescence in coastal Alabama as a main reason why he appreciates nightlife as an outlet.. Coming from a region that, according to him, not many people know about
“Things didn’t happen until nighttime and the whole area just lit up at night,” he said.
He then moved to Gainesville, where he entered the music industry as an EDM club promoter. This allowed him to make connections with the local music and entertainment scene. More than just leisure, nightlife brought him opportunities.
Starting off networking within the music community, Azazus witnessed culture transpiring in Gainesville. He said the city’s cultural diversity is one of its strongest aspects, but he also notices how people might experience it differently.
“I didn’t know how disconnected the colleges were with the music scene until I transitioned from a club promoter to a college student,” he said.
Following his desire to encourage people to express themselves through arts and music, he made sure to create spaces where he could see his goals accomplished. During his time as a student at Santa Fe College, he played a significant role in facilitating arts and entertainment into the school, bringing the Apollo Night Talent Show to life in 2017.
Azazus’s attempts at influencing the local culture did not go unnoticed — a fellow Santa Fe student followed them closely.
Twenty-four--year-old music producer Jaivelle Speed-Strong, known as Suave Tempo, first met Azazus in 2016 while pursuing his associate’s degree at Santa Fe. Since then, they’ve kept in contact.
“Azazus is somebody that I consider to be a mentor and an inspiration,” Speed-Strong said. “He’s had a major influence on my music career and on my personal life. He’s somebody I think is changing the culture here in Gainesville.”
Speed-Strong produced “Blood Moon” as a personal project he kept with the rest of his material. When Azazus approached him to collaborate on a track and asked for a beat at 130 beats per minute, Speed-Strong immediately thought of “Blood Moon.” Within three seconds of hearing it, Azazus knew it was the one.
“It was like love at first sight,” Speed-Strong said. “This was not a chance encounter, this was years in the making.”
“Blood Moon” is out now on all streaming platforms.
Contact Kristine at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktnedelvalle.
Kristine Villarroel is a second-year journalism student at the University of Florida and a staff writer with the Avenue. In her free time, you can usually find her making playlists or talking about the full moon.