Grab a slice of cake because we’re celebrating a half-decade of beats from the most prolific trap producers of all time, UZ. Looking past the speculations and the mask, his influential trap offerings have no doubt raised the bar by injecting realness into the commercial world of EDM inspired trap. Whether you first discovered his now legendary Trap Shit series or have experienced his riot inducing sets on festival mainstages, UZ is clearly one of those artists who never fails to impress and push boundaries.
After having his works grace labels like Mad Decent, OWSLA and Mau5trap, UZ went on to develop his own imprint by the name of Quality Goods Records. With the Quality Goods Records and Bassrush takeover of the Belasco coming up on May 6 (tickets available here) featuring the likes of UZ, Oski, ATLiens, Tascione, BLVK SHEEP, sumthin sumthin, and Valentine on deck, Bassrush made the anonymous call to break down the evolution of UZ and find out where he and the rest of the crew are headed next.
Congratulations on your five-year anniversary of UZ. You’ve mentioned in the past that the project started out as sort of a joke, what was your initial vision?
I’ve been making beats for years and years and one day I was just bored. I had already started a few side projects; one was going pretty good, I was having releases here and there and mixes on BBC, etc. Then I decided to make one hip-hop, trap-oriented beat a week, post them on SoundCloud, and see what was going to happen.
I was recovering from a motorcycle accident from which I had broken my elbow. I couldn’t really make music the way I wanted so it was going to be pretty simple beats. When I was creating the SoundCloud I asked myself, “Okay I need a picture, what’s gangsta?” A gun. Yeah, let’s upload a gun, an UZI in that case.” After that I needed a name, so I was like, “What word can I come up with that has trap in it… balltrapmusic it is!” All this was done within a few hours–I was just having fun and trying things out, the vision came after.
All jokes aside, are you happy with the journey thus far?
I’m really happy. I’ve been playing clubs all over the world, met some incredible people–this has been a crazy journey and I’m not even close to being done yet. I definitely think the best is still to come with the album I’ve been working on for the last few months. It sounds like an upgraded version of UZ, like UZ 2.0. The difference between Trap Shit and the music coming out now is huge as I’m being more musical now. I was a little bit stuck with the Trap Shit series; it was super dark, super minimal. I love it, but I needed to stop and try something different.
Your sound has definitely evolved so much, how do you feel “Million Dollar Bills” and “Stockholm White” compare to some of the earlier beats on the Trap Shit series?
I feel like the music I’m releasing right now is not only the result of the five years I’ve been producing as UZ, but also the result of the 15 years I’ve been producing music in general. It’s musical, it’s powerful, it’s original and most of all its unique. I never wanted to sound like somebody—just me.
Now my music is mature and I’m able to express myself to the fullest. Also I like collaborating with singers and rappers. I had fun producing Ball Trap Muzak Vol.1 a few years ago. I recorded the track with GIA last year, I was happy with the vocals but not the beat so I decided not to release it for some time. After a while I started having ideas for the tracks at the end of 2016 so I decided to have another try at the track and came up with that version that I personally love. Almost the whole album has singers and rappers on the tracks, but “Million Dollar Bills” is definitely one of my favorites.
Does the alias have an expiration date?
I won’t say that it has an expiration date, but I’ve been through a lot of different phases in my life. I love doing things to the fullest, but after a period of 5 to 10 years max I get super bored and I want to try something else, so you do the math.
What’s the weirdest rumor you have ever read about yourself?
The weirdest? That would probably be that there was a group of different people making the music and sending DJs to play the shows. I mean you don’t need three people to make beats that simple, [laughs]. I’ve heard everything but the craziest was that I was Taylor Swift.
Tell us about your label tour, who’s coming with you?
I’m bringing sumthin sumthin, who is our latest signing off the label. His EP is great, he really has his own sound and it doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard so far; that one’s coming out April 28. Tascione and Blvk Sheep are going to do an insane b2b for us, and Valentine is coming too–different vibes, more melodic. He had a really good track with Kyral and Banko on our first compilation release last year. We have ATLiens that are close friends of the Quality Goods family and last but not least, our homie Oski. We just love the guy and love his music; he’s one of the most innovative artists I’ve met in a very long time. I’m really looking forward to playing this show with all those incredible talents!
Guide us through the top 20 you’ve curated for us?
In this playlist I’ve included some of the now classic Trap Shit series beats, both V6 and V7–which helped me to release my first EP on Mad Decent and pretty much got me started playing shows.
“The Flosstradamus” was really an original piece at the time, where I first introduced jersey breaks in trap beats. V13 was, and still is, the track that I get the most reactions to when I play live. “Break Point” was something different that I made for Boys Noize–faster BPMs but still with the UZ vibes. The Zeds Dead tune was one of my favorites at the time and I remember 12th Planet premiering it at HardFest in Los Angeles. I’ve also included all these different remixes that I did, but my favorites are definitely still the Lumberjack one and the Alvin Risk one that I just can’t stop playing. You then have all recent music that I produced and a classic remix of “Organ Donor” by DJ Shadow that went under the radar, to be honest. Enjoy!