As a Puerto Rican descent, ARTZ was born and raised in East Brooklyn, NY where it was predominately Black and Puerto Rican. He found it to be a tough but humbling experience. He grew up in a neighborhood surrounded by poverty, which caused him to learn certain principles in life at an early age that he may not have learned until he was older. It wasn’t all bad, he found a place of peace in basketball. At the age of 10, he would listen to his neighbor rap over and over to different beats. Not being able to find a place to play basketball indoors, he took to the pen and pad.
The only thing stopping ARTZ was befriending people on his block which didn’t allow him to meet other people or grow his people’s skills. So ARTZ decided to take another approach and go to school in Queens.
“I was also blessed because I got to go to school in Queens. Growing up in queens allowed me to see a lot more diversity than what I’m used to, so it kind of allowed me to build my people skills. It kind of helped me to be able to associate myself with different types of groups. That automatically led me to be able to do what I do now. Have a variety of different fans and people I do business with. I’m blessed to be from both places. They both taught me something really great.” said ARTZ.
Things suddenly changed for ARTZ at the age of 15 when his mom decided to leave Brooklyn due to prices rising and move to Allentown, PA. His mom dreamed of buying property to build a better future for her children. Who knew two years later and two weeks before graduation, that ARTZ would experience a traumatic turnaround that would change his life forever.
“I was shot on the right side of my face with a straight bullet at the age of 17. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Another humbling experience. It was one of those moments, a highlight moment in my life because it teaches you a lot,” said ARTZ.
The bullet was never removed. He lives with a bullet every day in his nasal cavity. His wound healed while in the hospital. The doctors called it a miracle. If the shooter was just one step closer, ARTZ’s fate would have been sealed.
“In a moment like that, I kind of saw my life flash in front of me. From beginning to end. No matter how weird that might sound and I definitely felt my angels in my presence,” said ARTZ.
Lying in bed, ARTZ felt alone due to the rules and regulations of PA hospitals, which don’t allow family members to stay overnight. He had to deal with that trauma by himself. At the time, he was already pursuing music for fun, but not as a career. This ultimately led ARTZ to make a decision to move back to NY after high school.
“PA wasn’t really for me. It was a very small town and I had really big thinking you can say or big city thinking. So I moved back at 17 and lived by myself. I left my mom, my brothers, and my sisters. I left the comfortable choice for something that wasn’t as comfortable,” said ARTZ.
He went to community college to further his career in music which gave him an opportunity to network.
“I chose the path to be uncomfortable to evolve myself,” said ARTZ.
With the help of a chatty high school friend going around school telling different rap crews of ARTZ’s rapping skills, the crews approached ARTZ and he dropped a few bars for them. Later on, a member of ARTZ’s group introduced them to a recording studio.
“I never actually recorded before. On my computer, I used to download the beats and used a voice recorder to rap over them. I did my demos like that. The first day I jumped in the booth it was pretty much a wrap. I never looked back,” said ARTZ.
Being in the booth he found it to be therapeutic and very expressive. It was a way for him to release his thoughts so that people can understand him better through music vs. talking to him.
“Music is a trans in communication. Language is just communication. The emotions and how you come across sometimes are kind of different,” said ARTZ.
Not being understood at times cause ARTZ to fill rejected. This led him to create his own company called Reject Dreams.
“All the time I feel rejected. I created that when I was 15, that name. I have it tattooed on me. It’s my life’s purpose in a lot of ways. I’ve always been unconventional. I’m telling the B.O.B of the struggle and the grind but I tell it from the blue-collar sense. So my fans can be from jail or Yale or Harvard, and different colleges. I’ve always had a different approach to things. That’s what led me to start mixing my music with actual visual arts because I wanted to give people the experience,” said ARTZ
The industry may put many people through obstacles to get them to think how badly do they really want it, but this doesn’t stop ARTZ. Whatever the industry throws at him to put the thought of giving up in his head, he can’t and won’t quit because he loves music too much.
“The business, there’s been times I wanted to quit but the thought crosses the mind of, wow all this s*** for this? For the politics, the weight on my shoulders. A lot of people in this industry those who are few and far in between have a lot of vision that it takes,” said ARTZ.
ARTZ grew up in an era where talent had to be noticed and scouted out in order to be the next big hit. However, ARTZ looks to be authentic. There are many voices and talent out there that sound the same and it’s sad that new rappers are measured by the same standard as a well-established artist.
“Everybody has a different path and way they rise to the top so that’s probably the one thing that annoys me about the industry.”
With the pressure of the industry, ARTZ found other ways to escape the pressure and noise. Other than music, partaking in relaxing activities, going to museums, chilling with his dog, and traveling are what keeps him from breaking down or dealing with everyday life. On a rough day, he watches Dave Chapelle or Funny Marco to keep him light on his feet.
Life and his experiences keep him motivated to keep going and keep writing. Experience is his best motivator. Traveling and visiting different cultures helps him find the inspiration for his music.
“It’s not how far you’ve gone, but it’s the love you find along the way. It’s the love you find and always the journey.”
As he travels, there are so many people he meets. From an Executive to the homeless, there’s something there to learn.
ARTZ is more than just his name, he transformed the meaning to be a variety of different styles of art. His performances lean more towards gallery art. While he performs, people can view paintings, illustrations, and photography along his apartment walls. He would even go as far as connecting with other artists in his community and hosting paint parties in his home. He would put murals along the wall and invite artists out.
“I started saying, with every song Imma drop a painting or comic book. So I would collaborate with different artists because I can’t draw. I direct and edit videos. I’m a visual artist in that sense,” said ARTZ.
Back in November, he dropped a record with Ari Lennox, the R&B singer signed to J. Cole. At one point he was throwing events for the community and putting out music, but he soon realized he wasn’t working towards a project.
After an awkward encounter with a guest interrupting a conversation he was having with a good friend, it sparked ARTZ to create his next project, Alone In The Metaverse, which was inspired by his last years in music, art, and tech. He was the first to be a blue-chip rapper to ever sell in an auction house for selling audio-visual NFT and selling out shows.
“I needed to start working towards something and the idea came to me, as we move towards the future, a lot of people are introverted and socially awkward due to the technology, pandemic, and all these different reasons. We find the comfortability in talking to each other over the internet but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person on the opposite side of the computer or phone doesn’t feel alone or misunderstood. Which goes back to being a reject, reject dreams,” said ARTZ
With the mission of being a global artist, Alone in the Metaverse represents never being alone as we head towards the future and to find that love ARTZ found along the journey and to find himself never alone. It also talks about, it’s ok to be alone to find and grow into yourself.
“No matter how far we get technically advanced people are still going to be dealing with things emotionally and battling the war within. That’s what the album really speaks on,” said ARTZ.
After understanding that being alone is okay, ARTZ soon realized that self is his best friend and when one learns to keep self as good company, they will never have to deal with the feeling of being alone. Through his new album he wants listeners to understand in order to grow into yourself, you need to be alone.
“That feeling of being alone is not a good one, but it’s sometimes the one that’s needed to be able to love yourself,” said ARTZ.
Still trying to figure out a work-life balance; he tries to pray, he created a to-do list, created a google calendar for all his events and appointments, has daily activities lined up, and gives himself time to breathe and don’t put too much on his plate. This also applies to people he works with.
ARTZ stands his ground when he prioritizes himself by whom he deals with by who respects his time and value.
Click here to listen to Alone in the Metaverse. Follow ARTZ on IG @RejectDreams, Twitter @ARTZisartsy, and for updates and projects about ARTZ at rejectdreams.com
Watch the full interview here.