Elliott Niezel
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Elliott Niezel

Planet Earth, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011

Planet Earth, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2011
Solo Hip Hop Indie

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""Life Is Heavy" Full Interview Feature"

Elliott Niezel is as humble as he is talented. Standing over six feet, he is a formidable presence – but one that exudes positivity and authenticity – a great gift in today’s game. His humble demeanor and focus on relationships is a large part of his recent success – breaking out in 2011 and he already has a string of releases under his belt. He is Santa Barbara, California’s undisputed Hip Hop Ambassador, taking the golden state with him wherever he goes, and he is not going to stop.

We got the chance to have an extended conversation with Elliott about being a relatively new MC in the game, and his latest release, appropriately titled “Life Is Heavy.” What follows is an insightful look into the life of a passionate artist who refuses to let up in his push to capture his dreams – as EN says, hard days happy attitudes

Great to build with you on the premiere of ‘Night Moves’ off the ‘Golden State of Mind’ project. You’ve been quite busy since we filmed this. Can you speak on the song and video?
First off a huge shout out to Streets Connect and all the artists they’ve been helping, that’s really dope. —- It has been my pleasure, nothing but good vibes since we first met in Austin for SXSW13. This song is titled “Night Moves” and is one of the more fun songs featured on our tape, “Golden State of Mind”. It is basically a song about never letting anyone stop you, change who you are or curb your personality. It is also about having fun and keeping the OG chiefing – ya dig. The song is a cool little tune and hopefully ya’ll have been enjoying it. The video for the song was shot with StreetsConnect while I was up in Oakland for a couple days. Shot on location in the heart of Oakland. We did two videos while up there so you will be seeing the next one sometime in January 2014. We just had fun with it, no budget, just in the city shooting footage. I think it came out really cool. Catch the retro / MTV premiere style displayed on the screen soon enough. Oh yeah and shout outs to Young Buck and the whole Cashville Records Team.

You are a relatively new MC – how did you begin your career?
In 2011 I became serious about my career, but the love for music has always been in me. I got into freestyling around the age of 14. I always had the interest but being lost in drugs, alcohol, and the street lifestyles made it so I never got serious. I grew up listening to hip-hop but didn’t know I could actually rhyme and rap until my first freestyle – fresh out of Jr. High. I was in the homie Matt’s Corolla rapping over some Kotton Mouth Kings. The first sets of songs I recorded was with my one of my best buddies, Zionics – as the Resorvation. In High School, Zionics and I started rapping together over beats for fun. It eventually turned into us getting some ghetto set ups and making a couple songs with no engineering, what so ever. Flash forward to the now and we have done 3 projects together. The first was “Camp Resorvation” followed by “Under the Bodhi Tree” and “Resorvation For Two”. You can check those out at www.resorvation.com. Since Zionics and I started doing this seriously in 2011 it’s been nothing but full steam ahead. He and I are working on new material and doing shows every couple months in our relative areas. Catch us if you can!

You never stop working. Can you speak on some of the projects you’ve been involved with recently?
Recent projects… Since #GSOM, which dropped in August, I decided to unload some projects that I had been working on over the past year or two – “Highly Luxurious Sophistication”, “GTAV” and #hoperanch. HLS is the second album I’ve done that taps into the darker side of my past life, following “Against the Grain” (which dropped in March 2013 and was fully produced by San the Instrumonumentalist out of Lesotho, Africa). HLS was fully produced by an incredible producer, Mr.1derful. Honestly, he killed it with the production and, in addition, mixed and mastered the entire tape. You could say HLS was something like a warning to the industry, thus the burning cross on the cover. GTAV was a 4 track EP I did in Montecito, California in two 4-hour studio sessions. Producer Lil’ Keis posted on twitter that he’d give $1,500 to the whoever made the best EP out of his GTAV instrumental tape. To this day I am the only person who completed the tape. Maybe I’ll receive that $1,500 in the near future! Anyway… #hoperanch is an EP prelude to the full length album I am putting together titled #hoperanchbeach. Wavy, beach vibes. Check it out; it’s one of my personal favorites in the Elliott Niezel collection.

PS… I also have an incredible album I did with my good friend P-Able, titled “Joint Effort”, fully produced by Dj Evi Denz out of the UK. This album is amazing! P-Able and I on every song, back and forths, double times, ill rhymes and mental designs. Keep an eye out for more about this album in 2014.The album is done and will most likely not be released on April 1st.

I have yet to see an up and coming duo perform better than us on stage. We are performers, not just rappers. It kills me seeing people just stand on stage and rap. It’s especially hard to see cats rapping over their lyrics, like for real, you’re doing an album sing-along in here!

Speak a bit more on your group
Right, like I said my group consists of my good friend, Zionics, and I. Together we make up the “Resorvation”. Zionics is truly one of the most talented writers I know. His style and punchlines are continuously impressing both fans and myself. Truthfully, the Resorvation was kind of how we both got into rapping. It started with just the two of us freestyling and then eventually to recording with a pantyhose pop filter and computer mic that looked like a freaking twig off a bush – ghetto. Fast forward to today and we’ve got our own home recording studio! We have also done dozens of shows around the 805 area at a multitude of venues. Our shows include opening for GZA, Action Bronson, Curren$y, Souls of Mischief and Big Krit – just to name a few. In my opinion, our live shows are some of the dopest around. I have yet to see an up and coming duo perform better than us on stage. We are performers, not just rappers. It kills me seeing people just stand on stage and rap. It’s especially hard to see cats rapping over their lyrics, like for real, you’re doing an album sing-along in here! So, basically what I am trying to say is – if you have the chance, catch one of our shows and see how it goes down for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. You can find all of our music at www.resorvation.com – we are currently putting together three new projects (Res Fingers, Z.E.N. & Coney Reserve) with three different producers, so stay tuned!.

My process for choosing producers was the same way I always do it – as I discover them. I try to hit up anyone who has a dope beat, but I also like to stay true to a few people I have built relationships with over the years.

Back to the solo ish – this new ‘Life Is Heavy’ release is a little more special to you than others. Can you speak on that?
My newest album “Life Is Heavy” is special to me in a couple ways. First being because I had the opportunity to reach out and be involved with some really great artists, producers, and all around good people. I look up to a lot of these cats and it was a blessing to have them on the album. Secondly, this album has been a vision of mine for sometime. I believe the vision came to me a little bit after my first album (“Goosebumps”). I wanted to have this album be big – more features, dope hard-hitting beats and lyrics, and deep production. I wanted it to be more above ground, you could say, not classified as “underground hip hop” – more like poetry rap. I feel that the album holds it weight; it stands up to the title “Life Is Heavy” in my eyes. It is a deep album – crazy beats, good topics, and many quotable lines. The album took more time to put together than past projects. Working so hard to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, in a way, brought me closer to the project. Having to harbor my ideas for so long before seeing them come to fruition only made things more meaningful!.

This album was only released through email to a special list of people who actually signed up for the album and wanted to receive it on 12/14/13 at 1am. It will have an online release in a couple weeks (December 26th) so be on the lookout for that if you haven’t had a chance to peep it.

What does this release mean to you personally, taking into account all of your projects?
Every single one of my projects is extremely (and almost equally) important to me. But a lot of my albums are very different. Some are more underground hip-hop based and some are more California conscious beach trap, some groove hop and some boom bap roots hip-hop. The difference with this one was how I released it. I thought, what could I do differently to connect with my fans and get across the personal importance this album had to me. That’s what brought about the email list only, friends and family exclusive drop. This album was only released through email to a special list of people who actually signed up for the album and wanted to receive it on 12/14/13 at 1am. It will have an online release in a couple weeks (December 26th) so be on the lookout for that if you haven’t had a chance to peep it.

What was your process in choosing producers for this project?
My process for choosing producers was the same way I always do it – as I discover them. I try to hit up anyone who has a dope beat, but I also like to stay true to a few people I have built relationships with over the years. I’m always looking for beats; I find myself roaming Soundcloud almost every single day. There are tons of great producers on there that are unfound treasures. I have had the pleasure of working with many of these incredible producers and artists. Basically that’s all I did here for Life Is Heavy. I let my ears guide me. If I liked what I heard, I reached out.

Speak on the guest MCs and their contributions to the project?
The guests on the album are great. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to have these artists on my album. To be honest, I don’t get features or reach out to people with the intention of, “this will make me hot” or “I can come up off this person’s fame”. To me, it’s always about being able to talk and build a relationship with one of my favorite artists. I only get features from artists I respect and genuinely have a love for their music – period. In my opinion, all the features are fitting. From Cashis on “Homesick” to Pepperboy on “Housecat” and Curtis Williams’s incredible chorus on “Pathways”. I mean, how could I not love them all.

I want this badly and I am willing to work hard, harder than the next guy, to get it. I decided to dedicate my life to my art, my craft, and I now hold myself to standards that are necessary for me to achieve my goals. Concepts flow from life, my past, my future, my now, and what I see though my lenses on a daily basis. You can write a song about anything, and you should. I look up to artists who drop tapes every month so I gotta be doing the same – or better.

Who did the artwork? there is an obvious theme threaded through the singles artwork and full LP. What is the meaning there?
I love it. My friend’s brother did the centerpiece of the cover – all freehand. The art is incredible. He totally captured the essence of life being heavy, life being like a weight on the barbell that he is struggling to lift but inside knows he must. Then my boy Jeff Capra and I sat down and came up with the bandana print, which brought it all together. We chose the sailor bandana because we live here in Santa Barbara, right on the beach with the harbor, boats and sea life. It captures the feel of the album perfectly. The theme for this album was life, the heaviness of life, lifting the weights in life. How extreme the lows and highs can be during a lifetime. Not to let the lows crush you, but instead to pick yourself back up and crush them. I included the native pictures in the single artworks because I felt that those two pictures captured exactly what those songs were about. With “Homesick” depicting the warriors, away from home, on the battlefield just like when you’re in the streets with your boys, away from home. And “30,000ft.” with the peace pipe rising above to that next level – up, up and away. It all made sense to me.

We are continually impressed by your productivity. You seem to churn out projects monthly – how do you stay so driven? Where do you get all of your concepts from?
I appreciate it. I just try to keep it moving and treat it as my job. I have to write everyday, at least a verse or hook, if not an entire song or a couple songs. I write to beats on the net a lot, knowing I won’t use them, just to sharpen my skills. But, if the record is incredible, I more often than not end up reaching out to the producer to purchase the beat or to build a relationship for future collaborations. I love music – hip hop, jazz, blues, country, classical – I actually enjoy listening to everything. I am obsessed, you could say, with pure artistry. I love poetry, writing, and creating. I am an artist at heart, a creator. It just flows out of me. I believe it is like anything you put your mind to – it’s so important to stay up to date, and push yourself to learn more and to do more. You need to do it every day. Literally, EVERY DAY. You need to be involved in the game – doing something each day that builds upon the skills that directly pertain to the job. I want this badly and I am willing to work hard, harder than the next guy, to get it. I decided to dedicate my life to my art, my craft, and I now hold myself to standards that are necessary for me to achieve my goals. Concepts flow from life, my past, my future, my now, and what I see though my lenses on a daily basis. You can write a song about anything, and you should. I look up to artists who drop tapes every month so I gotta be doing the same – or better.

What’s an average day? How do you manage the 9-5 grind and working to break through?
In sports they call it two a days. Everyday is like having two jobs if you work an 8-5 and do music. I literally treat it as my second job. I manage this hectic lifestyle by not using excuses and just getting things done. Basically a day is – wake up, hit the computer, do what needs to be done, head to work, come home, workout, then hit the studio or hang with my lady. Many nights I have something scheduled after work – practice, vocal coaching, or a radio show. Life is never boring, and I’m always making forward progress. I try to not take any part of this business lightly. For example, I always set dates for my projects. I do this because it holds me accountable, it holds whoever is involved accountable too, as in, we have to get it done by this date. I look at it as I already have a career in rap, I am just working extra hard to get where I want to be in the business. I look at it like any other profession or career. Say you want to be a doctor, okay you can’t just be a doctor, you have to study and dedicate years to formal education, gain knowledge and experience. It takes many years to become great or have a successful career in any business. Why would it be different in the music “business” – this is a business isn’t it, not just “music”.

I have set goals for 2014 and plans to achieve my visions. Honestly that’s why, if you look at my catalog, I have tried to reach out and work with as many different artist in my area as I can. I invite them to be on my album, or get them to be a guest on my radio show on KCSB 91.9 fm (every Saturday night from 10pm-12am). I started the radio show for this exact purpose – to put our local, independent artists on the map and get them some free airtime.

Speak on the Santa Barbara scene – you are after all the city’s Hip Hop ambassador
No doubt, the title Ambassador, by the way, is undisputed. The hip hop scene in the 805 area is quite large. There are a ton of hip hop heads and great talented emcees in this beautiful city. Tons of artists come from this area, new and old. For example, Madlib and Oh No are 805 locals and are two of the dopest producers/emcees in the game. We’ve got the Loot Pack, Finesse, P-Able, Nebz Supreme, 90Heads, Jon Jinx, Mr. Clean, MATO, Dosia, DaMizza, Sinuous, and Chaye Tione – just to name a few you might have heard of. All these cats are out here grinding to make their dreams come true. I, for one, want more connectivity, more collaboration between our 805 artists. Trust me, there is some and with certain cats but I am talking about connectivity, communication between all of our hip hop community. I have set goals for 2014 and plans to achieve my visions. Honestly that’s why, if you look at my catalog, I have tried to reach out and work with as many different artist in my area as I can. I invite them to be on my album, or get them to be a guest on my radio show on KCSB 91.9 fm (every Saturday night from 10pm-12am). I started the radio show for this exact purpose – to put our local, independent artists on the map and get them some free airtime. The one thing I do want to say, though, is that the venue scene in SB is a problem. There aren’t enough venues willing to put on great hip hop shows. I also believe the venues we have need to support local hip hop a lot more than they currently do – give discounted rates for locals if they want to throw events, showcase new artists more often, etc. We also need to bring back another venue like the Living Room (a venue in Old Town Goleta about ten years back did all ages shows, no alcohol, no drugs, etc) that is all ages, all the time. No alcohol served, mellow, relaxed environment type a places. But that’s a whole other can of worms that I don’t want to get into right now. I have always loved and believed in Santa Barbara as a city and I want to put it on the map as a hot bed of hip hop culture. Hip Hop shows sell out in SB so why not have more, ya dig. Santa Barbarians for Life!

Your networking ability is impressive. You’ve recently linked up with Cashis and Planet Asia, right? Can you speak on building relationships in this game?
Man, it’s actually funny to hear you say that cause when I started out, in 2011, seriously doing music, I had no clue what to do. On the internet or in person, I was pretty green. Throughout the past two years of applying myself and driving down all these different avenues, it seems that I have become good at networking and talking with people on the net or in person. As for relationships, I linked up with Planet Asia on my album “The Leap Year” which dropped just last “leap” year in July 2012. The song we did was called “Hunger” and to this day it is one of my favorite records I’ve done. I reached out on twitter and through email to see what we could figure out and it materialized into something really dope. Asia has, and always will be, one my favorite artist. Asia is a solid character and has a quick, professional turnaround. We recently linked again on a record for my album “Japalifornia”, coming out summer 2014. You’ll hear and see more about that as time rolls on. As for Cashis – dude is really solid and also one my favorite artists. I hit him up the same way, through twitter and emails. We got something figured out, sent him the beat, he killed it, and the dude sent it back the same day. “Homesick” was the first single on my album “Life Is Heavy” and is a huge hit record in my opinion. Grab that over at dirty-glove.com. Thanks to the family over at DirtyGloveBastard too!! Hopefully you will be seeing some visuals from that as well real soon. — Hip hop and music in general is a relationship based industry. You need to build relationships, talk to people, and not be scared to reach out. I say, ask hella questions, it’s really important to continue learning in this game. I will say this, the internet is fabulous, you can connect with anyone, anywhere but the in person, face to face, real hand shakes and conversations are just as important, if not more. That is why I now attend festivals and networking events like A3C and SXSW. You can meet everyone at these type of events. So once you have established the connection online, keep it alive in the real world. What I mean by that is get a phone number and keep in contact with these people. Being a real person can really help even in this crazy social media world we now live in.

Never make any excuses, EVER. Cut that word out of your vocabulary, it doesn’t even exist. You can’t make an excuse if there is no such thing; you just have to get it done. You have to find different ways to get what you want.

As an underground grinder, how have you managed to build relationships and grow your profile?
I have built these relationships and gotten to this point in my career by learning each day to be honest with myself and who I am. I believe you should apply yourself each day to learning more than you did the day before, to gaining more knowledge to help propel you forward in whatever direction you want. I’ve managed to build the relationships I have by being open to different ideas and trying new things. I always push myself to go outside my comfort zone. I don’t like talking to new people, let alone talking a lot at all, but I still force myself to go and meet new people. Shaking hands, handing out flyers and CD’s on the street – it’s not comfortable at first. But if you stick with it, it gets easier. It becomes almost second nature. Relationships are not easy in any sense, with anybody, but they are a big part of what life, especially business, is all about. Because like they say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – but it is also about how hard you work to know that person. You need to work hard everyday. You need to treat it as a job, which leads me into the next question. Perfect…

We met at SXSW – do you recommend new MCs invest in these types of events?
I do suggest these events for up and coming emcees. If you can afford it, they can be beneficial. But its really about what you put into it when you’re there. You need to be somewhat out going and willing to go with the flow. You might not want to just get wasted and waste the whole time being out of your mind. ☺ Some are expensive so it’s only worth it if you take it serious, especially if your going to invest that kind of money. If it works for you, great! If not, try something else. But from my experience, the past two years at the SXSW and A3C festivals were both great networking opportunities where I was able to meet people I have looked up to and get contacts that have taken me further in my career.

What advice you have for new MCs?
Grind hard, everyday. I am just as new so my advice would be to hit me up for a collaboration or feature before I have to start taxing. We can build this new age empire together – ya dig.

As a new MC – what’s been your biggest headache?
Money. To start a career in anything you are going to have to invest a grip of money upfront, possibly without seeing any return for quite some time. I have no problem investing the money, although at times it’s hard to find enough money to achieve and complete certain things in the industry. For example, studio time – if you don’t have a home studio or a hook up for a professional studio, you will need to pay for everything you record. It adds up really fast. As an independent rapper you will often find you have to do everything yourself. You will have to be your own manager, promoter, publisher, etc. in this game until you make enough money to pay for people to do these things for you. I am constantly trying to figure out what the best investment will be at the time. Often times you just have to figure it out and make it happen – like there’s no other option. Never make any excuses, EVER. Cut that word out of your vocabulary, it doesn’t even exist. You can’t make an excuse if there is no such thing; you just have to get it done. You have to find different ways to get what you want. Never give up because of money issues – you can always find a way. “Where there is a will, there is a way”. This is not bullshit; it’s 100 percent fact. Money is a huge issue but you can barter, find other ways to get what you want if you don’t have the money. If it comes down to it and money is the only way, then its time to save up and make it happen when you do have the money. Try to keep your priorities straight. Stay focused on your goal. Ya dig.

For me the Internet was the jump off point in my career because I didn’t know any producers in my own city that wanted to do music seriously at the time.

You also have a large international focus and audience. Name some of the producers/artists/countries you’ve worked with.
When I first started in 2011, going outside of the US was one of my main goals. I love the openness and the willingness to try different stuff and when most dudes are doing the same old stuff in the US, they’ve got different tastes and styles in other countries. I have had the pleasure of working with cats from South America, Africa, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, Australia, Russia, and Europe. The internet has allowed this to happen. Its amazing to me how vast your connections can get just through social media. I have done songs in different languages and even sung a chorus in Spanish. When I first started, I had the pleasure of working with emcees out of Mexico and South America like Physh and Famous T. We did a song titled “Walking Downtown” which is featured on my “Precipitation” tape. It was produced by a cat out of South America who goes by the name of ‘Best Quality’. The first big thing I did with an overseas producer was an album titled “In the House of Raw Emotion”, which was fully produced and engineered by Germany’s own RawHouse Beats. The guy has a great ear and is one of the most professional people I have had the pleasure of connecting with. He recently mixed and mastered my new album “Life Is Heavy”, as well as a tape I did with a producer out of Berlin by the name of VinceBeatsBerlin – titled “Wonderland”. You can get both these tapes on my site www.therealelliottniezel.com. I think I have worked with more overseas producers than in my own local area to be honest. Santa Barbara, being so nice, can tend to breed a certain laziness that leaves cats with no sense of urgency. Me saying that is coming from first hand experience, for I was one of these cats at a certain point in time. I did an album with a producer out of Lesotho, Africa by the name of SAN the Instrumonumentalist, titled “Against the Grain”. He pushed me to be better, to write better, and for that, I am forever grateful to him. He is an incredible producer and he stays working with his team Audible Braile. Check them out at audiblebraile.bandcamp.com. Most recently, in August, I released an album titled “Golden State of Mind”, which was fully produced by the UK’s own Dr. Lekta. This album is pure boom bap, classic hip hop. Totally different from any of my other works and I have only Dr. Lekta to thank for that. He did an amazing job on the production. He is also an emcee with which I have had the pleasure of doing a handful of songs. There are many more producers and emcees I’ve had the chance to work with. Feel free to check them out on my site. Some of those include, ManuBeats, Jammineye, Inverse Tangent, HMF Beats, Trillian Cuts, Hashfinger, Confidence Beats, AD Beats, MastaBeatz, Trebles & Blues, Flowrite, Dj Hellblazer, JL Beats, Xrin Arms and many, many more. Bless to all you guys. Couldn’t do it without ya’ll!!

How has the internet played a role in your success, particularly in regard to international collaborations?
The Internet is huge. It has played a big role in my success thus far. In this day and age, it’s half the puzzle, if not more, for a lot of up and coming artists. For the most part, it is where music is displayed. For me the Internet was the jump off point in my career because I didn’t know any producers in my own city that wanted to do music seriously at the time. Being in a city you got to go with word of mouth to find someone, but on the net you can find multiple producers within minutes. Producers with different styles and different sounds, all right at your fingertips. It allows you to connect with people all over the globe. It’s practically limitless. I think its awesome how I can do an album with a guy in South Africa and in Germany and then have hard copies distributed in another country. It has connected me with so many great artists – the list goes on and on and I am so thankful for that. Shout out to all the people I have connected with online! Y’all know who you are! Anyone can be on the net all day doing this and that, but in face-to-face is the bread and butter. You can start online, and always be online, but I believe you will always need to have the real life, real time conversations.

I am always trying to stay busy since like they say “idle hands are the devils workshop” and I’m certainly not trying to get a steady job in that sucka! Stay positive and always remember – Hard Days and Happy Attitudes.

What’s next – we’ve still got the video for King Midas coming, and a new solo project, right?
On the horizon is a big sun and many moons. First off, StreetsConnect and I have another video off the album “Golden State of Mind” for the record “King Midas”. Like “Night Moves”, this video was also shot on location in Oakland at a few really cool spots, one including the Masonic Scottish Rites Temple. Stay tuned for that. Really dope visuals. I also have my street album “Life Is Heavy” dropping today, Saturday, December 14th, With this being the first project I did over an extended period of time, I was curious to see how it would turn out – but it came correct. Having the album be so special to me, I decided to take the opportunity to market this album differently. I wanted it to be more personal so I chose to only release it through an email list, instead of having it on the internet and hosted by a website. You can only get the album directly from me. Literally, you have to be on my email list or hit me up personally to get a copy. This means every person that gets the album really wants it and is a certain type a fan that supports and wants to be involved with the artist. Another really cool thing that is on the horizon is an EP I am doing with none other than StreetsConnect and Cool Plan B. All records produced by Cool Plan B of StreetsConnect and all rhymes by yours truly. Be on the look out for that in 2014. “The Daily Grind” – I am always trying to stay busy since like they say “idle hands are the devils workshop” and I’m certainly not trying to get a steady job in that sucka! Stay positive and always remember – Hard Days and Happy Attitudes. Yee.

You are also a visual artist – where can people check out that?
Yes, I do collage art. You can check out all of my pieces over at www.etsy.com/shop/thesunsetstrip. I take canvas and spray paint it the desired color. Then I use cut outs from vintage magazines (1930′s – 1970′s) to cover the canvas – transforming it into a visual masterpiece. They are really cool and worth checking out. I also do custom pieces for artists, businesses, and anyone who has an idea and likes collage art. Along with canvases I have done wood coffins, action figures, candle sticks, Christmas ornaments, speakers – pretty much anything with a surface in need of sprucing up! The site again is etsy.com/shop/thesunsetstrip – I appreciate ya’ll taking the time to check it out. Bless. E. - StreetsConnect.com & The Urban Times


"Urban Times Article"

Elliott Niezel is as humble as he is talented. Standing over six feet, he is a formidable presence – but one that exudes positivity and authenticity – a great gift in today’s game. His humble demeanor and focus on relationships is a large part of his recent success – breaking out in 2011 and he already has a string of releases under his belt. He is Santa Barbara, California’s undisputed Hip Hop Ambassador, taking the golden state with him wherever he goes, and he is not going to stop.

We got the chance to have an extended conversation with Elliott about being a relatively new MC in the game, and his latest release, appropriately titled “Life Is Heavy.” What follows is an insightful look into the life of a passionate artist who refuses to let up in his push to capture his dreams – as EN says, hard days happy attitudes

Great to build with you on the premiere of ‘Night Moves’ off the ‘Golden State of Mind’ project. You’ve been quite busy since we filmed this. Can you speak on the song and video? First off a huge shout out to Streets Connect and all the artists they’ve been helping, that’s really dope. —- It has been my pleasure, nothing but good vibes since we first met in Austin for SXSW13. This song is titled “Night Moves” and is one of the more fun songs featured on our tape, “Golden State of Mind”. It is basically a song about never letting anyone stop you, change who you are or curb your personality. It is also about having fun and keeping the OG chiefing – ya dig. The song is a cool little tune and hopefully ya’ll have been enjoying it. The video for the song was shot with StreetsConnect while I was up in Oakland for a couple days.
Shot on location in the heart of Oakland. We did two videos while up there so you will be seeing the next one sometime in January 2014. We just had fun with it, no budget, just in the city shooting footage. I think it came out really cool. Catch the retro / MTV premiere style displayed on the screen soon enough. Oh yeah and shout outs to Young Buck and the whole Cashville Records Team.

You are a relatively new MC – how did you begin your career?
In 2011 I became serious about my career, but the love for music has always been in me. I got into freestyling around the age of 14. I always had the interest but being lost in drugs, alcohol, and the street
lifestyles made it so I never got serious. I grew up listening to hip-hop but didn’t know I could actually rhyme and rap until my first freestyle – fresh out of Jr. High. I was in the homie Matt’s Corolla rapping over some Kotton Mouth Kings. The first sets of songs I recorded was with my one of my best buddies, Zionics – as the Resorvation. In High School, Zionics and I started rapping together over beats for fun. It eventually turned into us getting some ghetto set ups and making a couple songs with no engineering, what so ever. Flash forward to the now and we have done 3 projects together. The first was “Camp Resorvation”
followed by “Under the Bodhi Tree” and “Resorvation For Two”. You can check those out at www.resorvation.com. Since Zionics and I started
doing this seriously in 2011 it’s been nothing but full steam ahead. He
and I are working on new material and doing shows every couple months in
our relative areas. Catch us if you can!

You never stop working. Can you speak on some of the projects you’ve been involved with recently?
Recent projects… Since #GSOM, which dropped in August, I decided to unload some projects that I had been working on over the past year or two – “Highly Luxurious Sophistication”, “GTAV” and #hoperanch. HLS is
the second album I’ve done that taps into the darker side of my past life, following “Against the Grain” (which dropped in March 2013 and was fully produced by San the Instrumonumentalist out of Lesotho, Africa). HLS was fully produced by an incredible producer, Mr.1derful. Honestly, he killed it with the production and, in addition, mixed and mastered the entire tape. You could say HLS was something like a warning to the industry, thus the burning cross on the cover. GTAV was a 4 track EP I did in Montecito, California in two 4-hour studio sessions. Producer Lil’ Keis posted on twitter that he’d give $1,500 to the whoever made the best EP out of his GTAV instrumental tape. To this day I am the only person who completed the tape. Maybe I’ll receive that $1,500 in the near future! Anyway… #hoperanch is an EP prelude to the full length album I am putting together titled #hoperanchbeach. Wavy, beach vibes. Check it out; it’s one of my personal favorites in the Elliott Niezel collection.

PS… I also have an incredible album I did with my good friend P-Able, titled “Joint Effort”, fully produced by Dj Evi Denz out of the UK. This album is amazing! P-Able and I on every song, back and forths, double times, ill rhymes and mental designs. Keep an eye out for more about this album in 2014.The album is done and will most likely not be released on April 1st.

I have yet to see
an up and coming duo perform better than us on stage. We are
performers, not just rappers. It kills me seeing people just stand on
stage and rap. It’s especially hard to see cats rapping over their
lyrics, like for real, you’re doing an album sing-along in here!

Speak a bit more on your group
Right, like I said my group consists of my good friend, Zionics, and I. Together we make up the “Resorvation”. Zionics is truly one of the most talented writers I know. His style and punchlines are continuously
impressing both fans and myself. Truthfully, the Resorvation was kind of how we both got into rapping. It started with just the two of us freestyling and then eventually to recording with a pantyhose pop filter
and computer mic that looked like a freaking twig off a bush – ghetto. Fast forward to today and we’ve got our own home recording studio! We have also done dozens of shows around the 805 area at a multitude of
venues. Our shows include opening for GZA, Action Bronson, Curren$y, Souls of Mischief and Big Krit – just to name a few. In my opinion, our live shows are some of the dopest around. I have yet to see an up and
coming duo perform better than us on stage. We are performers, not just rappers. It kills me seeing people just stand on stage and rap. It’s especially hard to see cats rapping over their lyrics, like for real, you’re doing an album sing-along in here! So, basically what I am trying to say is – if you have the chance, catch one of our shows and see how it goes down for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. You can find all of our music at www.resorvation.com – we are currently putting together three new projects (Res Fingers, Z.E.N. & Coney Reserve) with three different producers, so stay tuned!.

My process for
choosing producers was the same way I always do it – as I discover them.
I try to hit up anyone who has a dope beat, but I also like to stay
true to a few people I have built relationships with over the years.

Back to the solo ish – this new ‘Life Is Heavy’ release is a little more special to you than others. Can you speak on that?
My newest album “Life Is Heavy” is special to me in a couple ways. First being because I had the opportunity to reach out and be involved with some really great artists, producers, and all around good people. I
look up to a lot of these cats and it was a blessing to have them on the album. Secondly, this album has been a vision of mine for sometime. I believe the vision came to me a little bit after my first album (“Goosebumps”). I wanted to have this album be big – more features, dope hard-hitting beats and lyrics, and deep production. I wanted it to be more above ground, you could say, not classified as “underground hip
hop” – more like poetry rap. I feel that the album holds it weight; it stands up to the title “Life Is Heavy” in my eyes. It is a deep album – crazy beats, good topics, and many quotable lines. The album took more time to put together than past projects. Working so hard to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, in a way, brought me closer to the project. Having to harbor my ideas for so long before seeing them come to fruition only made things more meaningful!.

This
album was only released through email to a special list of people who
actually signed up for the album and wanted to receive it on 12/14/13 at
1am. It will have an online release in a couple weeks (December 26th)
so be on the lookout for that if you haven’t had a chance to peep it.

What does this release mean to you personally, taking into account all of your projects?
Every single one of my projects is extremely (and almost equally) important to me. But a lot of my albums are very different. Some are more underground hip-hop based and some are more California conscious
beach trap, some groove hop and some boom bap roots hip-hop. The difference with this one was how I released it. I thought, what could I do differently to connect with my fans and get across the personal
importance this album had to me. That’s what brought about the email list only, friends and family exclusive drop. This album was only released through email to a special list of people who actually signed up for the album and wanted to receive it on 12/14/13 at 1am. It will have an online release in a couple weeks (December 26th) so be on the lookout for that if you haven’t had a chance to peep it.

What was your process in choosing producers for this project?
My process for choosing producers was the same way I always do it – as I discover them. I try to hit up anyone who has a dope beat, but I also like to stay true to a few people I have built relationships with over
the years. I’m always looking for beats; I find myself roaming Soundcloud almost every single day. There are tons of great producers on there that are unfound treasures. I have had the pleasure of working with many of these incredible producers and artists. Basically that’s all I did here for Life Is Heavy. I let my ears guide me. If I liked what I heard, I reached out.

Speak on the guest MCs and their contributions to the project?
The guests on the album are great. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to have these artists on my album. To be honest, I don’t get features or reach out to people with the intention of, “this will make me hot” or “I can come up off this person’s fame”. To me, it’s always about being able to talk and build a relationship with one of my favorite artists. I only get features from artists I respect and genuinely have a love for their music – period. In my opinion, all the features are fitting. From Cashis on “Homesick” to Pepperboy on
“Housecat” and Curtis Williams’s incredible chorus on “Pathways”. I mean, how could I not love them all.

I want this badly
and I am willing to work hard, harder than the next guy, to get it. I
decided to dedicate my life to my art, my craft, and I now hold myself
to standards that are necessary for me to achieve my goals. Concepts
flow from life, my past, my future, my now, and what I see though my
lenses on a daily basis. You can write a song about anything, and you
should. I look up to artists who drop tapes every month so I gotta be
doing the same – or better.

Who did the artwork? there is an obvious theme threaded through the singles artwork and full LP. What is the meaning there?
I love it. My friend’s brother did the centerpiece of the cover – all freehand. The art is incredible. He totally captured the essence of life being heavy, life being like a weight on the barbell that he is struggling to lift but inside knows he must. Then my boy Jeff Capra and I sat down and came up with the bandana print, which brought it all together. We chose the sailor bandana because we live here in Santa Barbara, right on the beach with the harbor, boats and sea life. It captures the feel of the album perfectly. The theme for this album was life, the heaviness of life, lifting the weights in life. How extreme the lows and highs can be during a lifetime. Not to let the lows crush you, but instead to pick yourself back up and crush them. I included the
native pictures in the single artworks because I felt that those two pictures captured exactly what those songs were about. With “Homesick” depicting the warriors, away from home, on the battlefield just like
when you’re in the streets with your boys, away from home. And “30,000ft.” with the peace pipe rising above to that next level – up, up and away. It all made sense to me.

We are continually impressed by your productivity. You seem to churn out projects monthly – how do you stay so driven? Where do you get all of your concepts from?
I appreciate it. I just try to keep it moving and treat it as my job. I have to write everyday, at least a verse or hook, if not an entire song or a couple songs. I write to beats on the net a lot, knowing I won’t use them, just to sharpen my skills. But, if the record is incredible, I more often than not end up reaching out to the producer to purchase the beat or to build a relationship for future collaborations. I love music – hip hop, jazz, blues, country, classical – I actually enjoy listening to everything. I am obsessed, you could say, with pure artistry. I love poetry, writing, and creating. I am an artist at heart, a creator. It just flows out of me. I believe it is like anything you put your mind to – it’s so important to stay up to date, and push yourself to learn more
and to do more. You need to do it every day. Literally, EVERY DAY. You need to be involved in the game – doing something each day that builds upon the skills that directly pertain to the job. I want this badly and I
am willing to work hard, harder than the next guy, to get it. I decided to dedicate my life to my art, my craft, and I now hold myself to standards that are necessary for me to achieve my goals. Concepts flow from life, my past, my future, my now, and what I see though my lenses on a daily basis. You can write a song about anything, and you should. I look up to artists who drop tapes every month so I gotta be doing the same – or better.

What’s an average day? How do you manage the 9-5 grind and working to break through?
In sports they call it two a days. Everyday is like having two jobs if you work an 8-5 and do music. I literally treat it as my second job. I manage this hectic lifestyle by not using excuses and just getting things done. Basically a day is – wake up, hit the computer, do what needs to be done, head to work, come home, workout, then hit the studio or hang with my lady. Many nights I have something scheduled after work –
practice, vocal coaching, or a radio show. Life is never boring, and I’m always making forward progress. I try to not take any part of this business lightly. For example, I always set dates for my projects. I do this because it holds me accountable, it holds whoever is involved accountable too, as in, we have to get it done by this date. I look at it as I already have a career in rap, I am just working extra hard to get where I want to be in the business. I look at it like any other profession or career. Say you want to be a doctor, okay you can’t just
be a doctor, you have to study and dedicate years to formal education, gain knowledge and experience. It takes many years to become great or have a successful career in any business. Why would it be different in
the music “business” – this is a business isn’t it, not just “music”.

I have set goals for 2014 and plans to achieve my visions. Honestly
that’s why, if you look at my catalog, I have tried to reach out and
work with as many different artist in my area as I can. I invite them to
be on my album, or get them to be a guest on my radio show on KCSB 91.9
fm (every Saturday night from 10pm-12am). I started the radio show for
this exact purpose – to put our local, independent artists on the map
and get them some free airtime.

Speak on the Santa Barbara scene – you are after all the city’s Hip Hop ambassador
No doubt, the title Ambassador, by the way, is undisputed. The hip hop scene in the 805 area is quite large. There are a ton of hip hop heads and great talented emcees in this beautiful city. Tons of artists come
from this area, new and old. For example, Madlib and Oh No are 805 locals and are two of the dopest producers/emcees in the game. We’ve got the Loot Pack, Finesse, P-Able, Nebz Supreme, 90Heads, Jon Jinx, Mr. Clean, MATO, Dosia, DaMizza, Sinuous, and Chaye Tione – just to name a few you might have heard of. All these cats are out here grinding to make their dreams come true. I, for one, want more connectivity, more
collaboration between our 805 artists. Trust me, there is some and with certain cats but I am talking about connectivity, communication between all of our hip hop community. I have set goals for 2014 and plans to
achieve my visions. Honestly that’s why, if you look at my catalog, I have tried to reach out and work with as many different artist in my area as I can. I invite them to be on my album, or get them to be a guest on my radio show on KCSB 91.9 fm (every Saturday night from 10pm-12am). I started the radio show for this exact purpose – to put our local, independent artists on the map and get them some free airtime. The one thing I do want to say, though, is that the venue scene in SB is a problem. There aren’t enough venues willing to put on great hip hop shows. I also believe the venues we have need to support local hip hop a lot more than they currently do – give discounted rates for locals if they want to throw events, showcase new artists more often, etc. We also need to bring back another venue like the Living Room (a venue in Old Town Goleta about ten years back did all ages shows, no alcohol, no drugs, etc) that is all ages, all the time. No alcohol served, mellow, relaxed environment type a places. But that’s a whole other can of worms that I don’t want to get into right now. I have always loved and believed in Santa Barbara as a city and I want to put it on the map as a hot bed of hip hop culture. Hip Hop shows sell out in SB so why not have more, ya dig. Santa Barbarians for Life!

Your networking ability is impressive. You’ve recently linked up with Cashis and Planet Asia, right? Can you speak on building relationships in this game? Man, it’s actually funny to hear you say that cause when I started out, in 2011, seriously doing music, I had no clue what to do. On the internet or in person, I was pretty green. Throughout the past two years of applying myself and driving down all these different avenues, it seems that I have become good at networking and talking with people on the net or in person. As for relationships, I linked up with Planet Asia on my album “The Leap Year” which dropped just last “leap” year in July 2012. The song we did was called “Hunger” and to this day it is one of my favorite records I’ve done. I reached out on twitter and through email to see what we could figure out and it materialized into something really dope. Asia has, and always will be, one my favorite artist. Asia is a solid character and has a quick, professional turnaround. We recently linked again on a record for my album “Japalifornia”, coming out summer 2014. You’ll hear and see more about
that as time rolls on. As for Cashis – dude is really solid and also one my favorite artists. I hit him up the same way, through twitter and emails. We got something figured out, sent him the beat, he killed it, and the dude sent it back the same day. “Homesick” was the first single on my album “Life Is Heavy” and is a huge hit record in my opinion. Grab that over at dirty-glove.com. Thanks to the family over at DirtyGloveBastard too!! Hopefully you will be seeing some visuals from that as well real soon. — Hip hop and music in general is a
relationship based industry. You need to build relationships, talk to people, and not be scared to reach out. I say, ask hella questions, it’s really important to continue learning in this game. I will say this, the internet is fabulous, you can connect with anyone, anywhere but the in person, face to face, real hand shakes and conversations are just as important, if not more. That is why I now attend festivals and networking events like A3C and SXSW. You can meet everyone at these type of events. So once you have established the connection online, keep it alive in the real world. What I mean by that is get a phone number and keep in
contact with these people. Being a real person can really help even in this crazy social media world we now live in.

Never make any excuses, EVER. Cut that word out of your vocabulary, it doesn’t
even exist. You can’t make an excuse if there is no such thing; you
just have to get it done. You have to find different ways to get what
you want.

As an underground grinder, how have you managed to build relationships and grow your profile?I have built these relationships and gotten to this point in my career by learning each day to be honest with myself and who I am. I believe you should apply yourself each day to learning more than you did the day before, to gaining more knowledge to help propel you forward in whatever direction you want. I’ve managed to build the relationships I have by being open to different ideas and trying new things. I always push myself to go outside my comfort zone. I don’t like talking to new people, let alone talking a lot at all, but I still force myself to go and meet new people. Shaking hands, handing out flyers and CD’s on the street – it’s not comfortable at first. But if you stick with it, it gets easier. It becomes almost second nature. Relationships are not easy in any sense, with anybody, but they are a big part of what life, especially business, is all about. Because like they say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – but it is also about how hard you work to know that person. You need to work hard everyday. You need to treat it as a job, which leads me into the next question. Perfect…

We met at SXSW – do you recommend new MCs invest in these types of events?
I do suggest these events for up and coming emcees. If you can afford it, they can be beneficial. But its really about what you put into it when you’re there. You need to be somewhat out going and willing to go with the flow. You might not want to just get wasted and waste the whole time being out of your mind. ☺ Some are expensive so it’s only worth it if you take it serious, especially if your going to invest that kind of money. If it works for you, great! If not, try something else. But from my experience, the past two years at the SXSW and A3C festivals were both great networking opportunities where I was able to meet people I have looked up to and get contacts that have taken me further in my career.

What advice you have for new MCs?
Grind hard, everyday. I am just as new so my advice would be to hit me up for a collaboration or feature before I have to start taxing. We can build this new age empire together – ya dig.

As a new MC – what’s been your biggest headache?
Money. To start a career in anything you are going to have to invest a grip of money upfront, possibly without seeing any return for quite some time. I have no problem investing the money, although at times it’s
hard to find enough money to achieve and complete certain things in the industry. For example, studio time – if you don’t have a home studio or a hook up for a professional studio, you will need to pay for everything
you record. It adds up really fast. As an independent rapper you will often find you have to do everything yourself. You will have to be your own manager, promoter, publisher, etc. in this game until you make enough money to pay for people to do these things for you. I am constantly trying to figure out what the best investment will be at the time. Often times you just have to figure it out and make it happen – like there’s no other option. Never make any excuses, EVER. Cut that word out of your vocabulary, it doesn’t even exist. You can’t make an excuse if there is no such thing; you just have to get it done. You have to find different ways to get what you want. Never give up because of money issues – you can always find a way. “Where there is a will, there is a way”. This is not bullshit; it’s 100 percent fact. Money is a huge issue but you can barter, find other ways to get what you want if you don’t have the money. If it comes down to it and money is the only way, then its time to save up and make it happen when you do have the money. Try to keep your priorities straight. Stay focused on your goal. Ya dig.

For me the Internet was the jump off point in my career because I didn’t
know any producers in my own city that wanted to do music seriously at
the time.

You also have a large international focus and audience. Name some of the producers/artists/countries you’ve worked with.
When I first started in 2011, going outside of the US was one of my main goals. I love the openness and the willingness to try different stuff and when most dudes are doing the same old stuff in the US, they’ve got different tastes and styles in other countries. I have had the pleasure of working with cats from South America, Africa, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, Australia, Russia, and Europe. The internet has allowed
this to happen. Its amazing to me how vast your connections can get just through social media. I have done songs in different languages and even sung a chorus in Spanish. When I first started, I had the pleasure of working with emcees out of Mexico and South America like Physh and Famous T. We did a song titled “Walking Downtown” which is featured on my “Precipitation” tape. It was produced by a cat out of South America who goes by the name of ‘Best Quality’. The first big thing I did with an overseas producer was an album titled “In the House of Raw Emotion”, which was fully produced and engineered by Germany’s own RawHouse Beats. The guy has a great ear and is one of the most professional people I have had the pleasure of connecting with. He recently mixed and mastered
my new album “Life Is Heavy”, as well as a tape I did with a producer out of Berlin by the name of VinceBeatsBerlin – titled “Wonderland”. You can get both these tapes on my site www.therealelliottniezel.com. I think I have worked with more overseas producers than in my own local
area to be honest. Santa Barbara, being so nice, can tend to breed a certain laziness that leaves cats with no sense of urgency. Me saying that is coming from first hand experience, for I was one of these cats at a certain point in time. I did an album with a producer out of
Lesotho, Africa by the name of SAN the Instrumonumentalist, titled “Against the Grain”. He pushed me to be better, to write better, and for that, I am forever grateful to him. He is an incredible producer and he stays working with his team Audible Braile. Check them out at audiblebraile.bandcamp.com. Most recently, in August, I released an album titled “Golden State of Mind”, which was fully produced by the UK’s own Dr. Lekta. This album is pure boom bap, classic hip hop. Totally different from any of my other works and I have only Dr. Lekta to thank for that. He did an amazing job on the production. He is also an emcee with which I have had the pleasure of doing a handful of songs. There are many more producers and emcees I’ve had the chance to work with. Feel free to check them out on my site. Some of those include, ManuBeats, Jammineye, Inverse Tangent, HMF Beats, Trillian Cuts, Hashfinger, Confidence Beats, AD Beats, MastaBeatz, Trebles & Blues, Flowrite, Dj Hellblazer, JL Beats, Xrin Arms and many, many more. Bless to all you guys. Couldn’t do it without ya’ll!!

How has the internet played a role in your success, particularly in regard to international collaborations?
The Internet is huge. It has played a big role in my success thus far. In this day and age, it’s half the puzzle, if not more, for a lot of up and coming artists. For the most part, it is where music is displayed. For me the Internet was the jump off point in my career because I didn’t know any producers in my own city that wanted to do music seriously at the time. Being in a city you got to go with word of mouth to find someone, but on the net you can find multiple producers within minutes. Producers with different styles and different sounds, all right at your fingertips. It allows you to connect with people all over the globe. It’s practically limitless. I think its awesome how I can do an album with a guy in South Africa and in Germany and then have hard copies distributed in another country. It has connected me with so many great artists – the list goes on and on and I am so thankful for that. Shout out to all the people I have connected with online! Y’all know who you are! Anyone can be on the net all day doing this and that, but in face-to-face is the bread and butter. You can start online, and always be online, but I believe you will always need to have the real life,
real time conversations.

I am always trying to stay busy since like they say “idle hands are the devils workshop” and I’m
certainly not trying to get a steady job in that sucka! Stay positive
and always remember – Hard Days and Happy Attitudes.

What’s next – we’ve still got the video for King Midas coming, and a new solo project, right?
On the horizon is a big sun and many moons. First off, Streets Connect and I have another video off the album “Golden State of Mind” for the record “King Midas”. Like “Night Moves”, this video was also shot on
location in Oakland at a few really cool spots, one including the Masonic Scottish Rites Temple. Stay tuned for that. Really dope visuals. I also have my street album “Life Is Heavy” dropping today, Saturday, December 14th, With this being the first project I did over an extended period of time, I was curious to see how it would turn out – but it came correct. Having the album be so special to me, I decided to take the opportunity to market this album differently. I wanted it to be more personal so I chose to only release it through an email list, instead of having it on the internet and hosted by a website. You can only get the album directly from me. Literally, you have to be on my email list or hit me up personally to get a copy. This means every person that gets the album really wants it and is a certain type a fan that supports and wants to be involved with the artist. Another really cool thing that is on the horizon is an EP I am doing with none other than Streets Connect and Cool Plan B. All records produced by Cool Plan B of Streets Connect and all rhymes by yours truly. Be on the look out for that in 2014. “The Daily Grind” – I am always trying to stay busy since like they say “idle hands are the devils workshop” and I’m certainly not trying to get a steady job in that sucka! Stay positive and always remember – Hard Days and Happy Attitudes. Yee.

You are also a visual artist – where can people check out that?
Yes, I do collage art. You can check out all of my pieces over at www.etsy.com/shop/thesunsetstrip. I take canvas and spray paint it the desired color. Then I use cut outs from vintage magazines (1930′s –
1970′s) to cover the canvas – transforming it into a visual masterpiece. They are really cool and worth checking out. I also do custom pieces for artists, businesses, and anyone who has an idea and likes collage
art. Along with canvases I have done wood coffins, action figures, candle sticks, Christmas ornaments, speakers – pretty much anything with a surface in need of sprucing up! The site again is etsy.com/shop/thesunsetstrip – I appreciate ya’ll taking the time to check it out. Bless, E> - Urban Times


"Rude Boy Niezel"

“I was addicted to negativity and thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Now I’m hooked on positivity and I see my old outlook on life as real messed up and backwards.”

You’ve no doubt heard about the drug dealing or gang member pasts of the biggest names in Hip-Hop music, whether their tales of violent street life and crime are 100% authentic or mostly made up for the street cred hype, it’s rarely been portrayed as something to overcome or turn away from. Yet that is exactly what California-based Hip-Hop artist Elliott Niezel has done. His rocky past and violent, destructive ways, aren’t a point of pride or a source of bragging for Niezel. No, his past was sad and messed up. His life was going nowhere until he did something about it and he wants others to do what he has done; to rise above it and live a better life.

Niezel’s current healthy addiction to all things music began when he was just a kid in Santa Barbara, his hometown. As a product of poverty and a broken home, Niezel was a quick study and natural fit for the selfish and destructive lifestyle of the streets. Even though all his time and attention went to drugs, alcohol, and gang living, Niezel says music never left his side – just his dreams. Niezel’s only moving forward in life now and is creating his funky reality-based Hip-Hop with a groovy twist, or what he calls Groove Hop. His first recording project was with a lifelong friend and fellow Hip-Hop artist known as Zionics. Their duo is called Resorvation and their first record was recorded on an old laptop computer with a homemade panty hose and coat hanger vocal pop filter.

Now, Niezel’s a recording veteran with five studio projects to his credit, including records with Resorvation. “Wild Dogs, ”his latest release, continues the Groove Hop/Beach Trapped positivity that comes from a creative soul who knows he’s very lucky and blessed to be making this inventive, honest Hip-Hop, from his soul instead of being dead or in prison. Check out Niezel’s and whatever you do, listen to the message while grooving to the beat. There’s a magic in there. Music changed his life for the better and it could do the same for you if you need a better direction. - Rude Boy Magazine


""Wonderland" Album Review"

Review:

I have been listening to Elloitt Niezel for some time now and I can honestly say Vince Beats Berlin Presents Elliott Niezel in “WOnderlAnd” is his best work yet. Elliott Niezel sticks to his roots and what has gotten him this far and has put together a great project but there are also some unfamiliarity here. His sound may not be for all listeners through a market to all audiences but his desire and passion is something that does deserve your listening ears. The production and flow of the album is by far Elliott’s best work. His approach to this album seems to take a smooth vibe to his struggles, current and future plans towards life and his everyday life. Doors and In the life are great starting tracks to the album and shows strong presence of who Elliott is. Sore from the Heights and Natural Highs show another element that Elliott Niezel displays a chill vibes that seems bring a new element to Elliott arsenal. Desolate by far is the standout track on the album shows an aggression but yet nice touch that just hits the soul of mistrust, emptiness and positivity. Float is a side of Elliott Niezel that shows his sensual and emotional side of comfort of writings on the wall to a woman, and Moka Only shows a great lyrical and flow to track also. “Please” is another standout track that shows just another side of Elliott story thankfulness of a woman and love and description of his perfect match. Weight is simply a very creative way of describing who he is and sticking to his roots of living life and another step into positivity. Deal and Exit is a smooth transition to an end of the album and also a brilliant remedy and clarity and also a great soulful sound. After listening to this album, this is Elliott Niezel best work, but listening to the album it comes off as very short and sometimes during the listening I had a hard time understanding what Elliott was saying through some of his songs. But this album does deserve your listen, if you get past some of Elliott’s sounds and listen to his message and presence this is by far his best work to date and as hearing this artist evolve he has found his comfort zone and truly presented us with a telling tale story to his WOnderlAnd.



Very Dope Tracks: Doors, In the Life, Sore from Heights, Desolate, Float and Please.

Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
- Philip Coats - Inverse Tangent


"Soundcheck: Resorvation"

Wrote a full page review on my group Resorvation and myself. My solo work and group work. - Tiffology at CrayonBeats.com


Discography

The Leap Year - Jul 2012

Wonderland - Dec 2012

Against The Grain - Mar 2013

Golden State of Mind - Aug 2013

Highly Luxurious Sophistication - Sep 2013

#GTAV - Sep 2013

#hoperanch - Oct 2013

Life is Heavy - Dec 2013

Japalifornia - Feb 2014

HLS2 The Golden Sundae - Apr 2014

Joint Effort - September 2014

Coast Starlight - October 2014 

Beach Trap - October 2014 

Nightmares Before Christmas - December 2014

Wild Dogs - Jan 2015

Hope Ranch Rejects - March 2015

Code Talkers - May 2015


Photos

Bio

You’ve no doubt heard about the drug dealing or gang member pasts of the biggest names in Hip Hop music – whether their tales of violent street life and crime are 100% authentic or mostly made up for the street cred hype, it’s rarely been portrayed as something to overcome or shy away from, yet that is exactly what California-based Hip Hop artist Elliott Niezel has done.
His rocky past and violent, destructive ways aren’t a point of pride or a source of bragging for Niezel. No, his past was sad and messed up. His life was going nowhere until he did something about it, and he wants others to do what he has done – to rise above the negativity and live a better life.
“Gangs, violence, and destruction made all my musical ambitions sink to the wayside,” Niezel says. “I didn't have any aspirations to start writing music and making records until I escaped that lifestyle, my personal addictions, and demons. I was addicted to every substance under the sun, and now I am addicted to music.”
Niezel’s current healthy addiction to all things music began when he was just a boy in Santa Barbara, CA - his hometown. As a product of poverty and a broken home, Niezel was a quick study and natural fit for the selfish and destructive lifestyle of the streets. Even though all his time and attention went to drugs, alcohol and destructive living, Niezel says music never left his side, just his dreams.
He always had the dream to become involved in music, but he got too caught up in the non-stop fast-paced party lifestyle. Nothing else mattered, he says, until his freshman year of high school when he discovered he could freestyle. For the next several years, Niezel’s hidden newfound talent was neglected and pushed aside while he wrecked his life over partying, drug dealing and crime.
“I was addicted to negativity and thought it was the coolest thing in the world…Now I’m hooked on positivity, and I see my old outlook on life as real messed up and backwards,” he says.
Niezel’s only moving forward in life now and is creating his funky reality-based Hip Hop with a groovy street influenced twist, or what he calls Street Poetry. His first recording project was with a lifelong friend and fellow Hip Hop artist known as Zionics – their duo is called Resorvation, and their first record was recorded on an old laptop computer with a homemade ‘panty hose and coat hanger’ vocal pop filter… Yeah, it doesn’t get any more real or ‘street’ than that.
Now, Niezel’s a recording veteran with over 10 studio projects to his credit, including records with his groups Resorvation, Wild Dogs, and P & E. With “Wild Dogs” – his latest release – Niezel continues to push the boundaries of hip hop and spread a special type of positivity that comes from a creative soul who knows he’s very lucky and blessed to be making this inventive, honest Hip Hop from his soul instead of being dead or in prison.
Check out Niezel’s work on Facebook, elliottniezel.com or over at his official website – www.therealelliottniezel.com, and whatever you do, listen to the message while rocking to the beat. There’s a special type of magic in there. Music changed his life for the better, and it could do the same for you if you need a better direction.
Niezel’s truthful and inspired positive poetry based hip hop proves, as he says, that “change is possible and happiness – along with a positive attitude – is possible even if you grew up with a negative mindset your whole life. Change is a real thing. It’s up to you – you can do anything you want, be anyone you want to become.”

Band Members