Elzhi’s story has already been told numerous times. Having earned his stripes in Detroit’s underground scene, the lyricist first made national waves via J Dilla’s Welcome To Detroit before becoming the producer’s unofficial replacement on the group’s Trinity (Past Present & Future).
Six years later, the wordsmith is finally releasing his first solo LP, The Preface featuring guest appearances by Royce Da 5′ 9″, Phat Kat, T3 and Black Milk, among others. Bored with the usual music talk, XXLMag.com went off on a tangent and asked Elzhi about everything from his last fight to the last time he was out shined on a record.
When is the last time you bought an album?
Probably like a couple of weeks ago, I bought the Dwele album up at FYE. There were definitely some great pieces of work on that joint right there. [I bought it] cause a lot of people don’t support nowadays. I’m an artist. I mean, I feel it. In a land where the economy is so low and gas is so high, people rather download a record cause that money can go towards their gas.
When is the last time you were starstruck if ever?
First of all, I done been around so many people, man. I never got starstruck. And I wouldn’t even call this starstruck. SV was doing this parade at Howard [University]. And at the parade, my man Ice Cube was there. When I saw Cube, it kind of caught me off guard, ’cause I used to listen to Cube when I was younger, Amerikkka’s Most Wanted. Cube was one of my favorite rappers back then.
When was the last time you were in a fight?
Probably in middle school. Somebody tried to bully me or whatever. You know, I was a short young dude. You had cats that was in middle school that was real tall. It was all good, though. They ain’t take my lunch money or anything, so it’s all good.
When is the lat time you missed a flight?
Oh! Going to Japan sometime last year. I’m getting picked up by my manager and I’m looking at the clock and I’m like, “Yo, are we gon’ make it?” He’s like, “Yeah, we gon’ make it.” Basically, he picked me up from my place, took me to this studio where we used to record so we can get this other car, went to the airport, parked the joint, get to the joint and we missed the flight. So I had to wait basically like seven hours before I can get on the flight. That shit sucked. I don’t think I ever missed a flight, ’cause I missed the flight. It’s always [because of ] somebody else.
When was the last time you forgot your lyrics on stage?
Wow! Recently I had a release party for The Preface and it was my first time performing it or whatever. So, I have a song called “Guessing Game” and just before I started the guessing game joint, the first couple of words, I forgot and I just kinda got into it and remembered the whole shit. It was just because basically, I ain’t never performed it. I wasn’t even planning on performing any songs that night anyway. It was kinda spur of the moment for me.
When is the last time you out shined or was out shined by somebody on a record?
I’m not gon’ say that I out shined anybody. With that situation ["Hiding Place"] with Phonte and Big Pooh. I knew they was gon’ come with it. I’m not trying to be the weakest link, so let me go ahead and do what I’ma do. You got some people that say Phonte did his thing. You got some people that say I did my thing. And you know, out shined? You know what, Dilla got me on “The Reunion.” It’s a record on the Detroit Deli album. It’s a record about coming together, coming back together like four horsemen. That verse that I wrote, that was like a second verse. I had a whole ‘nother verse that was written before that. But when I was hearing all the stuff that Baatin was saying and he was going through what he was going through. I was like, “Scratch that. Let me do a whole ‘nother verse.”