Interview by Shaun Evans
Azariah Jones Aka Z is a Christian hip hop artist, songwriter, producer, engineer and musician based out of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He is the founder and owner of ForHisGloryMovement Apparel Company and Co-Founder of the non-profit organization D.I.A.M.O.N.D.S. which stands for “Determining Innovative Actions Measured On New Designs” and whose mission is to help youth and young adults grow to be better stewards through improved performance of sports, academics, arts, and professional development.
Azariah The EP Glory is out on ITunes. How long was the production on this project?
I started working on the EP at the end 2013 after the release of my first mixtape Just Jamin’ which was 4-12-13. In going through growth and changes so quickly I was never satisfied with the songs that were written. So, the EP took about 1 ½ to complete.
How did you meet your producer?
I met my producer K-Ron Productions in a piano class I was taking at a community college. We were all introducing ourselves and I had said that one fact about me is that I am a Christian Hip Hop Artist. He told the class that he produces music. I told him that I am looking for a producer for my project because I am looking to work with one producer and after that I listened to his stuff, he listened to mine and now we are not only partnered with music but partnered as friends.
The second song "Called To Be" you speak on what black men are often labeled in media. is "Called To Be" about what you wont allow the world to label you as?
Yes, I have heard a lot of the statistics. So, when I went into write the song I wanted to not be stereotypical and go the route that everyone expects. I wanted to make sure that the listener hears not just what I will be but who I’m going to be from what I am not.
As a Christian rapper are you isolated from other rap artist in Pittsburgh or even members of your church?
I wouldn’t say isolated; I would say that I am different from a lot of artists. The Pittsburgh music community from my understanding accepts me and my music. They show the utmost respect. I would think that is because I keep the same message when I am performing in a club, bar or any other venues as if I were in a church. I would say that I am not isolated from member of my church to an extent. Yes, I am into urban style of ministry but I am still a little different when it comes to worship. I love contemporary worship and being in and brought up in a predominately African American Baptist Church isn’t completely welcoming. But, at this point in my life I am set to please God and that is it.
How does you family feel about your being an MC?
My family at first I can say didn’t think that I would be doing it long but since they have seen that I am serious and have grown a lot in my music, they have learned to accept it and support me and my ministry.
what Mc's would you compare your flow to? Who are your musical inspirations?
Honestly, I can’t say I would compare my flow to anyone. I will say that people like Nas, Flame, Canon, and T.I. (“Paper Trail” days) to just name a few are and will be some of my musical inspirations along with any kind of classical, jazz and R&B.
What would you say to some who feel like Hip hop music is too secular a style for church?
I would say that if “Hip Hop” is to secular than all music is too secular. I would also ask the question what sets the standard of something being to secular? The definition of secular is something that is not concerned with religion or religious matters. So, how can Hip Hop be secular, because of the words and music don’t concern religion or religious matters. If you take away the words of any GOSPEL song, it then just becomes music and because it doesn’t have any words to portray or preach the Gospel or concern any religious matter the song then becomes SECULAR.
Have you had Glory on the radio yet?
Glory has been on Carnegie Mellon University’s radio station here in Pittsburgh.
Have any Gospel artist made it easer for your music to break through?
Yes, to just name a few would be Lecrae, Mali Music, Andy Mineo and Bizzle.
Is the Outro really freestyle?
The only part of the outro that I did not freestyle was me rapping. That is one thing that I can say I do not do and is not my lane freestyle.
Who else is on For His Glory Music group?
Right now For His Glory Music Group has 1 other artist. His name is 2R.T. He was the first artist that I signed to the label there are a few others that are on the verge of signing and we sent out contracts to just ironing out the details.
How did you get started in music?
I have always loved music. One thing I can say is that from piano to vocals I loved music. In 2010, a few of my friends were over my house and they started to talk about their experiences in the studio. Long story short I started recording them, they needed a verse on a song so I tried to write a verse and I haven’t stopped since.
When will the album be out?
There is no date for the Album. We are going to see what the creative process looks like but I can say that we are anticipating a summer 2017 release but there is no guarantee.
Thank you for your time, Mr. Azariah Jones after the EP, I'm waiting on the album.
"Glory" is out now on exclusively on ITunes, all other music media sites January 22nd.