BARZ NICE – The Definition of an Artist
- Boyd Lillard
“Growing up, my grandfather always had musical instruments. I think he liked playing sax and guitar more than anything; that’s what he always had. And my mom…I would always remember finding little poems she used to write…and it could be about anything,” says Seaford, DE native Sean Sharpe, aka Barz Nice, regarding his earliest creative influences.
After almost two decades away from music, the talented emcee is gearing up for the release of his latest project – the mixtape “Sample Situations.” The first single, “No Mistakes Allowed,” just dropped mid-November. When we met for the interview, Barz had just performed in the Hip Hop Showcase at the Maple Bourbon in his current city Richmond, VA.
The artist talks more about music, particularly the music that inspired his decision to pursue hip hop.
“I had an aunt who lived in east New York (NYC). I used to spend some weekends; maybe a week or two in the summer. I remember thinking ‘wow – I’m in New York now’. And there was all this hip hop – dudes walking down the street with boomboxes playing Funky Four Plus One, Fantastic Five, Magnificent Seven, Cold Crush Brothers, Fat Boys, Disco Three, Ultramagnetic MCs.”
Barz delved in, becoming a part of dance crews and rap groups, while in high school. Confident in their abilities, Barz and his crews would travel to NYC , hoping to get demos in the hands of the right people.
The emcee recalls walking through the doors of Sleeping Bag Records, where he would see big boxes that other aspiring emcees dropped their tapes in, hoping to catch the ears of influential record execs. “Someone” just happened to be standing in the room at the time.
“I had the tape and handed it to him to hear it. I was trying to appeal to him. I was like ‘look, I drove all the way from Delaware to come here. Can you at least listen to it?’ He was like ‘alright, I’ll listen to it.’ He went back, listened to it, came back and was like ‘I really like it; I like what you were trying to do…but it sounds like shit- the quality of it.’ We had an exchange of words, and then he stopped me and asked ‘ do you know who I am?’ I said ‘ I don’t know who you are ‘cause you never formally introduced yourself.’ He said ‘I’m Virgil Sims; I signed EPMD.’ I was like ‘oh shit.’ “
Barz and his crew received similar advice when they got the opportunity to have their music listened to by none other then hip hop mogul Russell Simmons.
“We got back in his office, and he said the same thing. ‘Let me give you some advice. If you’re gonna’ bring something to people in the industry, make sure it’s industry quality before you do that.’
The emcee and his crew received the words with gratitude.
“We just appreciated that he even sat down and took the time to listen to it.”
Things began to pick up for the artist, after high school, when he got hooked up with Lonnie Jolley. Like Barz, Jolley was a Delaware native who was able to secure a record deal with a company out of Queens, NY.
“Lonnie got signed to a record company out of Queens. He was going back and forth to record in the studio. At the time, I was just into beat – boxing, breakdancing…that sort of thing. At some point in time, I realized ‘you know what, I think I could do that.’ Once I decided I wanted to be an emcee, that’s when I started hangin’ with Lonnie; going to New York, going to the studio, experiencing different things…meeting different people.”
Barz’s time with Jolley opened the door of opportunity to meet Eric B and Kool G Rap’s DJ – DJ Polo. In addition, the emcee got the chance to perform opening slots for legendary artists like Big Daddy Kane and EPMD.
“That was kind of dope. Those were some crazy nights.”
Lonnie and Barz parted ways to work on other projects. He thinks back on the time for a moment.
“Those were some wild experiences.”
Barz discusses some of the factors that led to his extended absence from the hip hop scene.
“There were so many close calls. It seemed like I was going to make it…and then something would happen. Also, at the time, I was seeking religion. I was just trying to find myself. I became a Muslim.”
The emcee talks about his return to hip hop.
“I always wrote poems; I never did stop writing.”
“I purchased a micro machine and started making beats; started banging out song after song. I had so much music in my head and music bottled up in me all these years. I listened to a lot of ‘Dilla. My re-introduction, coming back to it, I listened to a lot of J Dilla, and ‘Dilla helped learn the art of making beats. Listening to J Dilla…it kind of set a precedent for me.”
The artist shares his perspective on EMCEE style and origin.
“I feel like everybody is an interwoven pattern of everything that was even named and heard….everybody’s style if kind of interwoven. Somebody birthed your style, as an emcee. Between GURU, EPMD, and KRS-ONE, they birthed my style.”
Of the three mentioned, KRS-ONE is particularly influential for the artist.
“As far as what my content was gonna’ be about; I wanna’ talk about things going on in society.”
Barz elaborates on the subject of the legendary emcee.
“You don’t see the same spirit in R&B and hip hop of people coming together like you once did. It’s narrative has changed – it’s about having fun, “doin’ you; it’s just sexist now. That’s all it about – sex, drugs, and violence. KRS-ONE was talking about this stuff back in the 80s; he talked about how they were gonna’ do all this shit.”
Barz abilities extend beyond the mic. He also started and operates three clothing lines; Heavy Artillery, Boom Bap Chemist, and Legendary Poets. He credits the inspiration to coming from a family with an impeccable sense of style.
With the mixtape dropping in the very near future, he talks more about “Sample Situations”, particularly about meeting engineer / producer Bully.
“I wasn’t getting anywhere, but I wanted to do it (mixtape) so bad. I knew I had to find somebody.”
After an extensive meeting with A&R man Robert Davis, aka Robert Caus de Raven ( Walking Dead Crew), he was referred to the producer.
“I gave him a call, explaining who I was, and that Robert had told me about him. He was like ‘ok.’ We scheduled a session, talked, played me some beats…and they were dope as hell.”
The relationship is proving successful as Barz Nice is now the representative artist for Bully Boy Productions’ Bully Camp North.
As we wrapped, the artist shared an observation.
“I didn’t really realize it back then, but looking back, I’ve always been around hip hop; I’ve always been around people doing hip hop.”
Look for the Barz Nice mixtape “Sample Situations” soon on all streaming platforms. The current single “No Mistakes Allowed” is currently out now.