A couple of weeks ago I featured up and coming rapper Don Haze in my weekly music feature on SpiceUK!
Since then I have been lucky enough to speak with the man himself, alongside label mate Ree Santana, about their independent record label and lifestyle brand HILVL CO!
Jay Makenji (JM):
Hey guys, first up thank you very much for speaking to me today! Let’s get started by introducing our readers to you; how long have you been making music for? What inspired you to get started?
Don Haze (DH):
I have a variety of music experiences that started when as soon as I came out the womb. When I first moved to Philadelphia, I moved with my mother who was battling addiction. When we moved here we were homeless and living in shelters just trying to make it day to day. God rest my mothers soul as she passed in August 2016 with 20 years clean and sober. After her first year of sober living, she bought me a Walkman and the first Usher album and from that point on I wanted to make music. I started out playing for drumlines and singing for choirs until I O. North my mentor who told me to make music because it’s in it. Ever since that conversation I have my music my life. What inspired me to do this was that Walkman. A lot of things were against me in life and that Walkman and CD were the most consistent things I had at the time. Having that made me want to make music to make people feel the same way.
Ree Santana (RS):
I started writing music at age 8. Watching music videos on MTV jams made me want to to be one of those artists on tv. To be specific, 50 cent is the reason I started writing music.
Wow, so it seems like music has always been a big thing for you both then! Can you tell me more about HILVL? On all your socials it’s not only a record label but a lifestyle brand, can you tell us a bit about what that means for you and why you went down this route?
HILVL Co. Is a Lifestyle Movement And Artistic Collective Consisted Of Likeminded Individuals who “OWN LIFE” and “LIVE UP TO IT.” HILVL CO. Is The Supplier Of Timeless Art. HILVL Is The Home Of Artist Don Haze, Ree Santana, The Smoker’s Club, and Drizz, Curator Of Clxxd9; An Exclusive Artist Showcase.
THE GOAL To Create A Thought In Peoples Minds To Live Up To The Expectation Of Themselves And “OWN LIFE.” Through Our Apparel, Music, And Clxxd9 We Sculpt The Movement Of HILVL. “LIVE UP TO IT” “OWN LIFE”. I made HILVL because on my Mom’s death. On her death bed, she said to me all she did in life was work, save, and pay bills! She told me do more. That conversation made me see life differently. I didn’t have a lot of friends and I didn’t live up to what I thought I could do for myself. I would only talk about. I wanted to actually be about it. Later I met Drizz and Ree Santana who shared the same sentiments and HILVL CO. was made. We made this a lifestyle movement because we believe it’s bigger than us. We believe it is our duty to have people OWN LIFE!
It’s all in the name! HILVL (High Level). We inspire a lifestyle of reaching your fullest potential. I chose this route due to the simple fact that it is more than just a record label. HILVL is a lifestyle collective who actually works to make things happen, rather than waiting for miracles to happen.
So it definitely sounds like you’ve got a lot going on then! What sound are you looking to create with your music, in my review I described “Immortal Vibe” it as “futuristic trap”, is that the sound you were going for?
The sound I am going for in my music is just transparency. I have to be honest, I am in love with trap beats. I love deep bass sounds and how everything that come with them. However, I feel that is just the piece of what o can do musically. Being considered by you as a futuristic trap rapper is dope! I feel like Ree and I’s project HILVL RADIO will one that will cater to all lovers of music. But you will catch me on some trap beats hahahahaha it’s just my vice!
Not exactly. I’m not only going after one sound. I consider myself a diverse artist. I make music for turning up, hard times, music for the ladies & also music for chill, laidback vibes.
Hmm, so which artists did you listen to growing up? Who do you listen to now? Is there anyone in particular who has made a big influence on he music you make?
My influences at the core are; Drake, Travis Scott, Mir Fontane, little Simz (UK artist) and just music in general because I really research about music to become a better writer and artist. I know I have a long way to go but like my influences I look up to, I feel I am a student of music and I look up to them because they are consistent in adapting and learning so I take that to make myself better every day.
I grew up listening to old school artists such as Wu-Tang, Biggie, Pac & Mobb Deep. As I got older it transitioned to artists such as Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Kanye West & Lil Wayne. As I said earlier, 50 is who made me start making music. Although, Lil Wayne eventually became my idol.
As this is a UK blog, do you listen to any UK artists? Are you looking to spread the HILVL name over to the UK and Europe?
Yes I am a fan of U.K. artist. Little Simz is a beast! She has great music for like every occasion. I really appreciate you personally because you took a chance on us and made us visible in the U.K.! For that thank you! I because HILVL is supposed to be everywhere! It’s not just for us is for anybody that is OWNING LIFE and living up to it! U.K. Bring us out for a show! I know it will be full of vibes!
I never really been a huge fan of UK music but I do enjoy listening to Ed Sheeran & Adele. Yes, we actually are looking to spread the name all over the world!
Yes! Little Simz is amazing, you guys should definitely hit her up for a collaboration! Thank you very much, that means a lot to me, it’s a pleasure to have you guys on here!
To round things off what can fans expect from you next in both music and clothing terms?
My first project HILVL RADIO is dropping in August! We are excited about this because this is the first project from HILVL and it is featuring both myself and Ree Santana! This project is all about feels and excitement. Following HILVL radio expect HILVL PULL UP 2 which is a tour that we fund to grow our fan base and vibe with fans. New Apparel coming soon this fall!
Me & HILVL Co. Artist Don Haze, has a playlist called “HILVL Radio” dropping this August. That will consist of a compilation of songs from the both of us. We’re always thinking of new ideas & new designs for the apparel so follow us on Instagram
@Hilvlco to stay updated!
Thank you very much for reading, don’t forget to check out Don Haze, Ree Santana and HILVL!
Website – hilvlco.com
Soundcloud – HILVL CO.
Facebook – Don Haze &