Adrian Dajour Price, better known by his stage name Astylez, is an American hip hop recording artist, singer, songwriter, and producer. Born in Washington DC, and raised in the DMV area, he began his musical career immediately after graduating college. With influences like Lil Wayne, J Cole, and Kendrick Lamar, it’s no coincidence that his music is based around lyricism and the art of storytelling. With a unique storytelling flow, he prides himself as an unorthodox conscious rapper that strives to excel in every aspect of the game. As a producer he goes by the alias Ayze or Ayze Beatz. He often has a unique approach to beats and shows his diversity through his selection of beats in itself.
- Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
Astylez: I was born and raised in Washington DC. I always had a love for music, but I didn’t pursue it seriously until my dreams of making it to the NFL came short. I wanted to just be a producer at first, but fell in love with the art of creating songs. During my junior year in college, I began freestyling every day with a group of friends, which helped develop me to the artist I am today.
- Why and when did you choose your moniker Astylez?
Astylez: Astylez was given to me back when I used to chill with a group of friends, I met at a summer music program. Since I wasn’t taking music seriously yet, I was the only one in the group without an artist name. One day one of the guys was freestyling, while going around the room and incorporating every ones artist name. When he got to me he decided to call me Astylez, and I stuck with it ever since. Over time, the name began to have more and more meaning to me. A stands for the first letter of my name, which is Adrian. The stylez part represents my diversity as an artist. I have many different flows and even sing on a lot of my tracks. You never know what to expect really.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Astylez: My first musical influence was Tupac. I loved the emotion he had and his overall message to change the world for the better. I always seen myself as a person who also wants things in the world to be better. I try to spread love and peace however I can. My strongest influences would be Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Eminem, and Kanye West. Each one of these artist have songs and lyrics that can connect to you emotionally, and they speak on the problems in life. I also strive to make music that people can feel and connect to in a positive way. When it comes to producing, Kanye West has had the biggest impact on me in that area.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
Astylez: The emotion that I put into each song, as well as the message. Each song has either a straightforward, or underlying message. Listeners should also notice my love for wordplay and making a lot of things rhyme.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
Astylez: The first step for me was to study all the greats, as well as the artist that inspired me. Each artist had things that I admired about them. So, I learned a little bit from many artist. Whatever area I was learning, the goal for me was to always find a way to do it better, or to add my little twist to it. After that, it was just hours and hours of practice. On the producing side, I first taught myself how to play the piano by ear. After that, it was learning the program and studying how beats are constructed. This also took a lot of practice.
- What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Astylez: Music to me is the essence of life. It influences culture and is a very powerful tool that can be used for both good and evil. You can use it to teach, inspire, and make songs that help people heal from the things they are going through. Or, you can glorify things that don’t have substance, speak negatively, and influence people to do things that bring no value to their lives.
- Do you ever write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and hope people will empathize with your sound?
Astylez: I just have an ear for music. I make what I like and never specifically try to copy someone else’s formula. I honestly hate that most hip hop music sounds the same now days.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a beat, or a narrative in your head?
Astylez: I always start with the beat. I never know what I want to talk about or pick a topic beforehand. I just let the beat take me away. Whatever it makes me feel is what I write about. Ironically, it always ends up having a message. Sometimes I write and sometimes I just get in the booth and freestyle. Depends on how I’m feeling.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?
Astylez: The most difficult thing has been seeing firsthand the lack of support I got from family and friends in the beginning, as well as the time I had to sacrifice. This automatically created a lot of distance for me. Not only was I too busy to hit people up as much, but when we did speak, there wouldn’t be much to talk about because the only thing I’ve been doing was chasing a dream that they don’t believe in. I still got love for everyone, but I must admit many of those connections don’t feel as strong now days. Although it bothers me, I overcome by getting strength from God and trusting his process.
- What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?
Astylez: Starting my own independent label, as well as recording, mixing, and mastering my first R&B single completely on my own.
- If someone has never heard your music, which 5 keywords would you personally use to describe what you and your music is all about?
Astylez: Chill, Conscious, Storytelling, Diverse
- With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?
Astylez: I just ignore them. The fact that I have them lets me know that I’m on the right path.
- Which aspects of being an independent artist excites you most and which aspects discourages you most?
Astylez: It excites me to know that I have more control over my art and I receive more of my royalties instead of giving it to a major label. The amount of stuff that you have to do as an independent artist is a lot more and can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, it’s worth it.
- If you had a choice to go on tour with any acclaimed international artist in the near future, who would you choose, and why?
Astylez: I would love to go on tour with Ella Mai because she is my favorite UK artist. One of my goals is to someday do a collaboration, or even a joint project with her.
- Could you tell us something about your latest project what fans can expect to hear?
Astylez: My newest single is called “Down”. It’s actually the first R&B track I ever released. Since I am known as a Hip Hop artist, this comes as a surprise to many.
- Do you have a personal favorite track amongst your compositions that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you?
Astylez: The song I just released has a backstory to it. “Down” was created one night when I was in the studio thinking about a girl that I was feeling. I had a random beat that I liked and started recording myself singing. I did at least three different freestyles and combined the parts I like the best. None of the lyrics were written down at all. By the end of the night, I had a love song.
- Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most?
Astylez: Creative work in studio environment because I like to be in my own world sometimes.
- What’s your favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
Astylez: What we think or believe determines the outcomes we face in life. For this reason, it’s extremely important to understand this, and constantly challenge ourselves to keep a positive mindset. The only one that can hold you back is you.
- How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a video you would suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your craft?
Astylez: Videos are very important with helping to bring the artist words to life. I don’t have a video for this yet.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
Astylez: The most rewarding thing is for someone to tell me that I inspire them, or that I helped influence their life in a positive way. My goal in the near future is to drop a classic album that people can feel.