Interview by Deja Du
InspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer and trans community—everyone from artists to activists whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. This month ELIXHER caught up with Brooklyn-based musician Aziza Cree.
ELIXHER: So tell me a little bit about yourself. What made you want to become an artist?
AZIZA: Well first of all, art is life. We are all creative, right? But what made me want to make it my career is because I have a message that I want to push and I want to change lives with my voice.
ELIXHER: As a musician what inspires your work?
AZIZA: That’s a good question. Of course, other artists but the times that we’re in always inspires my work. So what we go through as women, what we go through as people of color inspires me, economics, politics inspire me. I definitely like to write and to talk about things that are covered up. So things that maybe people don’t want to talk about inspire me like, “yeah this is a touchy topic, let me talk about this, let me put this in a song.”
ELIXHER: Your song and video for “Boyfriend” is really dope. How did you come up with the concept for the song and video?
AZIZA: There was this straight girl that I was really digging in Oakland. She made me feel dominant and real sexy and really brought out this masculinity in me. After spending a couple of nights with her, I went home and wrote this song and I was thinking to myself that society makes women bow down to men sexually. I wanted to depict a woman in power and sex.
ELIXHER: Your song says, “You know I could eat it better than your boyfriend ever did…do you like my boyfriend jeans? I am the king of kings.” How do you identify with those lyrics?
AZIZA: It’s just me on some cocky shit, you feel me? Like girl come on, stop playing. You know I’m going to hit it better than your man did because I’m a woman, so I know how [you] want to be pleased. “Do you like my boyfriend jeans” is definitely like a play on words. I love boyfriend jeans but it’s playing around with words. “I am the king of kings.” That is like making sexuality fluid. It’s making gender fluid. It’s making it like women are becoming kings — out here running shit that men are supposed to be running. We’re playing both roles, I guess. Kings and Queens.
ELIXHER: Who are some artists that you’re listening to right now?
AZIZA: Right now, I’ve been listening to fucking Miguel. I mainly listen to jazz honestly. I like oldies like the Isley Brothers [and] Luther Vandross. This morning I spent the entire morning listening to Stevie Wonder actually.
ELIXHER: Outside of music what are you passionate about?
AZIZA: You know, I love art. I fuck with a lot of artists like painters. When I was in school I was studying philosophy so I actually like to study different ideas of God. Any idea that people have had or what they think God is. I love religious philosophy. So me and my brother back home chop it up a lot about film, studying spiritual practices, that’s really important to me. I’m pretty family-oriented. I talk a lot. That’s really what it is, I like to talk about new shit. So whenever a group of friends wants to sit around and discuss a film or just discuss shit that’s happening in the black community I always have hella shit to say.
ELIXHER: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming artist like yourself?
AZIZA: Keep your spirit. I will always say keep your spirit. God is truth so stay honest with yourself. Be true to you. I know that sounds hella cliché but always stay true to yourself for real. It’s so hard to be you because everyone wants to tell you what they want you to be. So really be true to you.
ELIXHER: What can your fans expect from you next? More music? Collaborations? Live performances?
AZIZA: I don’t think I’m gonna do too many collabs. I don’t see that for my near future. Hopefully shows [and] gigs anywhere. I’m in Brooklyn so I want to be performing a lot out here wherever I can; small places like cafés. But definitely more projects. I’m literally working on writing something right now. Me and my business partner are always creating and we have two more projects that we’re working on right now that we want to put out really soon.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarification. All images courtesy of Aziza Cree.
Deja Du is a Southern California raised dreamer. She holds a BS in Psychology from Florida’s Bethune Cookman University and MS in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University and is an inspiring artist and poet. Currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Deja is a well-rounded individual who enjoys music, poetry, art, traveling, good company, family, and an overall great time. Interested in knowing a little bit more about Deja? You can follow her via Instagram and Twitter @thugsweetluv and check out her art on Instagram @dejaduart.