Written By Kelly Holm
Growing up in an environment where spirituality and mystical exploration were valued and encouraged, it’s no wonder that New York-based hip-hop/R&B artist RIZ LA VIE became a poetic prophet with his music. From an early age, LA VIE’s mother, a Lebanese immigrant, instilled in him an affinity for the ethereal, teaching him and his sisters about concepts like chakras and the law of attraction.
“[My mother is] incredibly intuitive,” LA VIE says, crediting his greatest influence. “Her environment is always just exquisite… you feel catered to in ways that you wouldn’t even realize that you needed to be catered to. She raised my uncles with my grandmother, she was such a huge help.”
A second generation Lebanese American, LA VIE grew up in New Jersey, and proudly states that he’s been devoted to music since “before the dinosaurs,” participating in school band and choir. Earlier on in life, he had ambitions of becoming a lawyer or a judge, but ultimately realized that performing was his primary passion.
“Justice is so crazy. There are so many ways to have an impact, you know?” he said. “[The first time I performed], I was 15. We played Mexicali Live in Teaneck, New Jersey. I don’t remember how, I think I emailed them or something like that… At that time, I was probably emailing so many people, just venues, and [saying] ‘Hey, what’s up?’”
Luckily, LA VIE had plenty in the way of familial support when it came to pursuing his newfound dream, and all sorts of influences to turn to.
“[My mom] was down. She respected it more than anyone, she was really supportive,” he said. “[Back then], I was really inspired by mixtapes, just that time period was [sort]kind of like that. And that kind of just means to be honest, like the underground. I always just kind of listen to underground music, and that’s what always inspires everything… music finds you, we’re listening to this music that fell upon us right now.”
Inspired by Lil Wayne, LA VIE quickly began penning tracks of his own. He kicked off his original discography in 2017 with the EPs Found. and Keep. before following them up with 2019’s Breathe. In terms of singles, you may have heard some of his highest-streaming tunes like 2018’s “Napkins,” and “Tesla” and “She Said” from 2020’s EP Feed.
LA VIE’s most recent EP, Feed, was inspired by a “personal revolution” in LA VIE’s life and centered around the ideas of literal and metaphorical nourishment— not surprising for a guy whose stage name translates to “feed your life.” It was ushered into the world during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice movements like Black Lives Matter were sparking cultural shifts on a global scale.
Now, 2021 is seeing even more new releases from RIZ LA VIE. On Sept. 23, LA VIE dropped his latest single, “Hot Rod,” which was recorded at Pink Cloud Studios in Los Angeles.
“Life’s been bananas, no Gwen Stefani/Been tryna keep up by being honest/In a world where I can do anything I want/You made me not want to do anything at all,” LA VIE sings in the song’s refrain. “After all those nights I spent at your side/After all those days with you in my life/I thought there’d be no doubt but I’m wondering now/Are you leaving with me, or are you leaving me out?”
Filled to the brim with nineties and aughts pop culture references like Japanese fashion designer Jun Takahashi, Nickelodeon sitcom iCarly and, of course, Gwen Stefani of LA VIE’s beloved No Doubt, “Hot Rod” encapsulates all the frustration and back-and-forth of an on-again, off-again relationship, taking place in real time.
“We were just in Malibu hooking up and I just felt that way. You know, we just were in the studio, and we had a Sony C-800 going, and just kind of went in. It was California,” LA VIE said. “We made the beat while watching the movie ‘Hot Rod’… we stacked ad-libs in crazy ways, and made it textural in a lot of different ways. It felt really fun to explore that song. I think what you’ve come to expect is [that] I’ve always just made a lot of fluid sounds.”
And those sounds have yet to be silenced, even after a year of cancelled concerts and vacant arenas. LA VIE took the stage at Lollapalooza earlier this summer, and more recently, played the Governors Ball on Sept. 26. With “so much music” still in the works, his hot rod won’t be running out of fuel anytime soon.
“Creativity is like a wave, and it just floats through the air,” he says. “Music is like the universal truth— like things you wanted to say, but didn’t know the words or didn’t know how to say it… [but] it resonates.”
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