Some artists and musicians are born businessmen. One of them is local rapper and business manager Greezy516, who’s built his brand from the ground up into a small but growing empire.
Originally from Long Island, Greezy began making music with his brothers as a child. By age 8, he was writing his own songs. When he moved to Dallas at 11 years old, though, he was faced with new trials in his music-making. Not only was the style of rap completely different in the South, but there was a level of competitiveness that pushed him to learn the technical sides of music and the industry.
“There’s really no such thing as a Dallas sound. It’s a tapestry of music down here,” he says. “Everyone was super lyrical in NYC. And in Texas, it was all swagger. You had to have a level of believability, which taught me a lot about the industry. Taught me how to market and build my brand. You can choose to just be a good rapper, but you might as well do poetry at that point.”
This understanding pushed Greezy to see the importance of maintaining an entrepreneurial mindset if he wanted to be a successful artist. He started pursuing his artistry as a business before graduating from high school. While still a teenager, he began working as a consultant for other artists.
Growing up with three brothers, Greezy was encouraged to do more than make music and build himself up as a professional artist.
“We’d take turns going into the closet to record,” says Greezy. “My first time rapping in public, I was 7 in New York and they put me on a crate and I started rapping. I was mad short, so I had to stand on a crate by the DJ booth.”
Together with his two older brothers and one younger, the four of them form the group ProlifikVibez. While they are dynamic as a group, Greezy emphasizes that he's a solo artist first and foremost.
“First thing my brothers told me, ‘We are not a group. We’re a team, but not a group,’” he says. “They’d say, ‘You’re a solo artist. You are a solo artist.’ It taught me independence like a motherfucker.”
This week, Greezy released his solo album, Six Degrees of Separation.
His family’s encouragement wasn’t the only thing that pushed Greezy to keep his head in the game. He says even his teachers and school leaders continuously cheered him on and gave him advice to help him succeed.
“When I was in high school, I had Vanilla Ice’s mom as my guidance counselor at W.T. White in North Dallas,” says Greezy, “and she said to me, ‘Build it brick by brick. One day at a time.”
This ongoing support gave Greezy a perspective on making music that was larger than rapping and building a brand to be famous. Seeing the influence his mentors had on his career pushed him to seek a greater challenge: to be a role model.
The artist wants to create a breakfast club program like the one his school offered when he was growing up, which gave students free breakfast and a place for children of working parents to go before school.
“I really want to reimplement the Breakfast Club,” he says, “so that kids at school get free breakfast. And there they get to learn, they get to play. And learn about their history. Because, as far as the cool stuff, the schools don’t teach about our own history.
“I want to inspire the future. At the end of the day when I’m not here, who’s going to be around? There’s a lot of people running around doing bullshit because they don’t have any guidance. That shit is not OK. Like, I had guidance. There’s a certain way to handle your business. I want to bridge gaps and make the world a better place.”
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