Blaze Ya Dead Homie: Live in Hartford
Rapper represents Psychopathic Records on his first-ever headlining tour,
Recalls past outings with Bone Thugs, Outlawz
By David Friedman
NEWS-TIMES MUSIC WRITER
Though he's currently on his first-ever headlining tour, rapper Blaze Ya Dead Homie already has countless stories to share from his six years of life on the road as a supporting act and oftentimes surprise guest on tours with fellow Psychopathic Records artists Insane Clown Posse and Twiztid.
Most recently, while on Twiztid's "Guillotine Tour," Blaze stepped in to perform Twiztid's set with Jamie Madrox when the other member of the rap duo, Monoxide Child, was sidelined toward the tour's end with an abscessed or infected tooth. Monoxide's jaw was swollen and every morning Madrox would wake up afraid to come out of his tour bus bunk, thinking he might catch whatever "disease" Monoxide had, Blaze said in a July 26 interview from Psychopathic's Detroit-area offices."He was like, Damn, you know, do I got it? Do I got it?'"‰" Blaze recalled. "I'm like, No, dude. You look straight.' That was kind of funny."
Back in 2003, Blaze -- who will headline Aug. 8 at the Webster Theater in Hartford as part of his "Tombstone Terror Tour" -- hit the road with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. That outing, known as the "Take Me Home Tour," included shows in small clubs where people went dancing and drinking. Since a good portion of the crowd had never heard of Blaze, he performed at least two nights without wearing his customary face paint. And he still got a good reaction from the crowd.
And then there was 2003's "Better Dayz Tour" with 2Pac affiliates The Outlawz, a well-known group that you'd think could draw a decent-sized crowd of its own."The only people that were showing up were juggalos," said Blaze, referring to Psychopathic artists' diehard fans.
"So it was all juggalos there and I would open for (The Outlawz). And by the time I would leave, a lot of people would leave. I would kind of feel bad. It kind of stunk for them. At one point, they asked me to headline. A couple of the guys didn't want that to happen and two of the guys did in the group. By the time they said, Yeah, let's do it,' I don't know if it was something between the booking agents or whatever, (but) they said, No, just go ahead and open.' And we opened the show anyway in Vegas. We left and there was a janitor watching. Everybody was outside and we talked to the juggalos out there."
Originally from the outskirts of Detroit, Blaze was born April 27. He declined to reveal the year he was born, jokingly insisting that he was still 19 years old. As for any details on his family, he wasn't up for talking about them either."My parents?" Blaze said. "I don't like talking about that. I takes me back into a crazy time, Dave Friedman. And I don't know if I want to be involved with (that) right now. But I'm a Taurus. I'm a straight up Taurus -- April 27. Any ladies out there looking for a stubborn bull, that's me."
In any case, Blaze started listening to rap in the mid- to late 1980s and cited Stetasonic, Public Enemy and especially West Coast groups among his influences.
"I tend to do more West Coast style (stuff)," he said. "I listened to all types of people. I still do. I still buy Spice 1's records when he comes out. He and MC Eiht had an album that came out together. I bought that too. It was sweet. I like all that -- E-40, his whole clique. Dre, I went out and picked up The Game's (stuff). I still like all that West Coast (stuff). I love just bumpin. I like that -- I don't know -- (how) they ride the beat, that clap, that bounce, that clap. That's the (bomb) to me."
Blaze started rapping while he was in high school. Around 1993, he formed a rap group called 2 Krazee Devils, which was affiliated with Detroit underground legends the House Of Krazees. When Blaze was about 18, he changed his group's name to Sleepwalkers.
All the while, he continued to work at a number of odd jobs to pay the bills. When Madrox and Monoxide left House Of Krazees in 1997, they formed a group with Blaze called ISI, which stood for Infamous Superstars Incorporated.
After Twiztid signed with Psychopathic and eventually re-released their "Mostasteless" LP on Island Records in 1999, Blaze was featured on the album on the song "Hound Dogs." He was later featured as a member of Psychopathic Rydas under the name Cell Block on the group's first album, "Dumpin," in 2000. By this point, many fans hadn't seen Blaze in person or otherwise and, though he's white, some thought he was black.
"Hey, it's whatever," Blaze said. "People are gonna think what they want to think, I guess. I don't have a problem with it. It's like whatever. I'm not. I tell people that to this day. They could look at my arms and tell that. Even if my face is painted, my neck ain't painted. Check that out, you know what I mean?"
After working behind the scenes at Psychopathic in-store autograph signings and concert tours, at the label's offices and promoting on the road, Blaze finally got to release his self-titled debut EP at the Gathering of the Juggalos fan festival in 2000.
He still enjoys performing the song "Real G…" from the EP in concert because he considers it his first "banger.""It's about being dead, coming back, being real," said Blaze, whose on stage persona is that of a gangsta rapper who came back from the dead after spending 11 years in a casket.
On his full-length debut, 2001's "1 Less G N Da Hood," Blaze further develops the character on songs that include "Casket" and "Grave Ain't No Place." The track "U Can't Hurt Me Now" is about being invincible, while "Hatchet Luv" is about having pride for being on Psychopathic Records."I actually did a full track of that," Blaze said. "Nobody's ever heard the remaining two verses and I don't know if I have them anymore, but I did have two other verses to that song and it got (to be) too much I think. But it was the (bomb). So I kind of put that down."
After taking a break and serving as Twiztid's tour manager on the duo's "Green Book Tour," Blaze returned with his second full-length album, 2004's "Colton Grundy." He continued writing songs with Madrox for the project."It's like the only way I really know," he said of the collaborative process. "Well, I can't say it's the only way because I do some (writing) on my own as well. I've done a lot of the Dark Lotus (side project) and stuff like that, a lot of the Rydas material. But when it comes to Blaze, he knows a lot of what I'm going for and I know what I'm going for and together we know a lot. That's why it comes out so sweet."
For the "Colton Grundy" LP, Blaze went in more of a straight-up hip-hop direction. Truth be told, though, the references to death didn't go away. The song "The Touch Of Death," for instance, is about being the grim reaper himself. On the other hand, "Bump This..." has a more universal appeal.
For his next album, "Clockwork Grey," due out Oct. 31, Blaze promises to continue to advance as an artist. The album will include guest appearances by Big B and possibly Kutt Calhoun, among others.
"Now I'm on like clockwork," Blaze said. "I'm still grey and dirty and dingy and grundy. So that's what's happening."
In the meantime, he's looking forward to hitting the road with his hype man, original House Of Krazees member The R.O.C. They'll perform an hour-long set each night.
"It's off the hook, man," Blaze said of headlining. "I've been waiting a long time for it. But it's here. It's definitely happening. This is my third tour in, like, three months. It's just the (bomb). Seeing folks, doing things, seeing different things. When I'm at home, I don't do (anything). I'm probably the most boring person you'll ever meet. When I go on the road, that's where I get to go do some things and see people and have some fun or something."
Blaze is confident that the juggalos will enjoy opening acts and fellow Psychopathic rappers Boondox and AMB at the Hartford show -- in addition to his own set. "I hope they're rocked, thoroughly rocked -- that they enjoy and are entertained because that's what I do," Blaze said.