Ascending rap artist, Sleazus Bhrist, has long-time understood the weight of his choices. Growing up in East Harlem’s James Weldon Johnson Houses, the decisions of youth often became the difference between life or death — and in Bhrist’s case, incarceration versus freedom. Today the MC is encapsulating his truth with a new music video fittingly titled, “Lessons.”
Alongside the director, Lost Footage, Bhrist brings fans to his NYC stomping grounds with the Passion Of The Bhrist visual, depicting life after prison in “Lessons.” Trust issues ensue over the single’s hypnotic melody, punctuating the tenacity Bhrist’s loyalists are virally accustomed to. And withal, perseverance remains an overarching theme across bops for the newcomer sonically.
Rapping, “They can’t stop me/ No, they can’t stop me, because I am chosen,” the El Barrio-spitter echoes prior sorrows and successes on “Lessons.” As a whole, the content of Passion Of The Bhrist plays through autobiographical. The inheritance of Bhrist’s New York conditions resulted in his adolescent confinement upstate — providing him with the experiences that fueled his 2019 breakthrough, On the Run. The artist’s preceding 9-track project strengthened his reemergence onto the blogosphere scene and laid to rest his former musical alias, Billz.
And in a genre where copy and paste rags-to-riches narratives persist, there are no falsehoods attached to “Lessons,” or Bhrist’s 2020 LP, Passion Of The Bhrist. “My influences such as JAY-Z, Young Thug, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and DMX are respected because they offer us their truth. If I rapped it on wax, it happened. I might make a movie out of this shit one day,” he affirmed to The Knockturnal.
To him, authenticity is king. Peculiarities like the intricate screen split in the “Lessons” audiovisual highlight the creativity which enabled the 24-year-old rapper’s Before Life Ends The Label imprint to flourish. And despite the present-day artistic uncertainty swarming the music business, Bhrist remains steadfast in his pursuit to navigate toward the upper echelons of the industry. “Oh, I am not playing! Tell them I am still dropping asap,” Bhrist barks with the mention of COVID-19. “[My growing fanbase] should know “Lessons” is out, yes! But there will be more videos and more music, then more videos and more music! The pandemic stopped nothin’.”
The Knockturnal caught up with Sleazus Bhrist earlier today to get an exclusive look at his, “Lessons,” music video, and learn why he believes hardship and felonies served as the prophecy of him evolving into God’s son lyrically. Become acquainted with Sleazus Bhrist in his words.
The Knocktunal: What is the underlying message within your new single, “Lessons”?
Sleazus Bhrist: In this song, I was talking to my lost ones — my loved ones who died. I literally put that shit together. There is always something new [to take away from a single]. For me, “Lessons” is learning that the streets is real. I gotta walk around [alert] because shit can happen.
The Knocktunal: The “Lessons” music video released today. It features two of you in the same frame. What is the significance of this symbolism?
Sleazus Bhrist: That is because I am a Gemini. The zodiac sign is known to have multiple personalities. So, I was leaning into that. I really am a true Gemini.
The Knocktunal: You have more people becoming acquainted with your art. Can you explain what went into making this new visual?
Sleazus Bhrist: It is starting to get to a point where I and Lost Footage have a tight-knit relationship. Sometimes I might send him a video treatment — however, half of the time, I tell him a few things that I want to be featured. For example, the multiple versions of me in the “Lessons” video was the biggest thing I wanted to be included.
Other than that, it was like me and Lost Footage were exchanging ideas back and forth. That was how we created the music video to my single, “Keanu (Visualizer).” This is the process for all of our visuals together. If it is not me doing the treatment, it comes together randomly.
The Knocktunal: Okay. So, you and Lost Footage create in the moment.
Sleazus Bhrist: Yeah!
The Knocktunal: Sleazus Bhrist, you separate yourself from a lot of hip-hop artists, in the sense, you curate the treatments for your videos.
Sleazus Bhrist: Yes. The “Lessons” video was curated, too. Yet, it was not as in-depth as the rest of my videos.
The Knocktunal: What lessons did you learn as a young man who has emerged from the prison system?
Sleazus Bhrist: One, I ain’t tryna go back there. [Laughs] I learned nobody is really, really going to be there for you, at the end of all this shit. Feel me? At the end of the day, people do have their own life to live. Once you put yourself in a situation, you have to know that you are there. Ain’t nobody else there.
A lot of people expect somebody to hold them down. And, hell nah. It’s like, “Bro, you’re really in jail-jail. You did that shit.” So, I had to pay attention to that. Even when I came home, I had to notice [my environment], and not put myself in the wrong situations. Can’t be with just anybody.
The Knocktunal: You are mindful of the energy that you keep around you. I’d imagine you had to learn to navigate.
Sleazus Bhrist: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah!
The Knocktunal: You turned your situation around entirely. What advice do you have for those growing up within the same construct, or facing similar circumstances?
Sleazus Bhrist: Focus on yourself. Don’t play catch up. A lot of times, kids my age or people in my situation would come home from jail and say, “Oh, shit! This n***a got a car. Now I need a car.” Someone can say, “This person has this, so I need this. And, no, [you don’t have to have what someone else has]. Everything will come to you. You have to genuinely want it.
The Knocktunal: Can you tell new listeners what you have discovered as an on-the-rise artist?
Sleazus Bhrist: Mmm, people are weird. [Laughs] There are people who knew you your whole, entire life — they paid you no mind! Then they will hear that you are headed somewhere, and those people will try to physically attach themselves to you. Like, literally!
[These people will do this] in any way, shape, or form they can. It can be a friend that you would simply say “hi” to. Now you’re questioned like, “Yo! Bro, what you doing today? Let’s chill.” I feel like I have never done this with you before. So, I’m good.
The Knocktunal: You feel there are energy vultures. Is that a fair assessment?
Sleazus Bhrist: Yes. That’s a great assessment.
The Knocktunal: Your new LP, Passion Of The Bhrist features a few breakout tracks, such as “Ohh Ahh,” “Keanu,” and “Angel Cry (Exodus).” Do you have a favorite song on the project?
Sleazus Bhrist: It gotta be “Losses.” That song is crazy. It is my favorite because I feel like it is the only time that I really talked-talked. The rest of my songs were cool [to vibe to, but that track is lyrical]. It was the only time that I opened up about my situation.
I spoke on how many people around me and close to me lost their life. Everyone knows me as Sleazus Bhrist. This is the street side of shit. Before I changed my artist name, I felt [like what I delivered on wax was] a more street version of me. On the song, “Losses,” I gave them that.
The Knocktunal: With the mention of that, can you explain to the origin of your name?
Sleazus Bhrist: Aight. When I came home from jail I was in a gang. Well, while I was in jail, I was in a gang, too — yes, throughout my incarceration. One of the names in the gang that everybody called one another was “Sleaze.”
I felt like I was God’s son. Feel me? “All of y’all in the gang are ‘Sleaze,’ but I am ‘Bhrist.'” I was feeling like God’s only blood son. Everything that I have been through in life has shown me this.
It is impossible for me not to have a close relationship with God. I have been through it all, all types of crazy shit. I am talking a car crash or being left on the side of the highway after a fight, [there was unexplainable] shit that happened. I believe it is impossible, that I am not dead, yet, and do not have some type of relationship with a higher power.
The Knocktunal: How do you wish to be remembered?
Sleazus Bhrist: I just hoped to be remembered. Period! That’s it. I do not care how people remember me. I just hope that they do. In regards to my music, I feel the same thing. Even if someone says, “Oh, he is not that good.” I don’t care. In thirty years, if they are [doubting my talent] it is beautiful because they are still talking about me!