Open Space: Ezri

Ezri’s Mass Appeal Records debut, be right back, is a layered narrative inspired by the age-old “life is about choices” proverb, and it released Friday morning. Right on time, the Nas-approved Cleveland MC sits down with MASS APPEAL to talk about his neighborhood, being a part of the soundtrack for The Land (which Nas-co-produced), a hilarious incident involving Taraji P. Henson on the set of Empire, and the advice he received from Kung Fu Kenny.

“I remember being in the studio with Kendrick,” says Ezri. “And he was like, ‘A lot of the times when I book with other artists… They’ll tell me, do I want to headline and whatnot. And, I’ll be like, I want to open. I don’t want to headline.’ He told me that it was something that kept him hungry and working: you come out with your best work, because you’re still trying to prove to everyone why you deserve to be here.”

Elsewhere, Ezri discusses his rough-and-tumble upbringing in Cleveland, where he tried his hardest to adhere to his mother’s advice as a dangerously fast-paced life tugged at him. Now, he feels like he carries his family on his shoulders: “I know my family is kind of relying on me to make it. After doing Empire and signing this deal, I was the one that was able to move my family from 87th and Detroit to Brooklyn, Ohio, where my brothers can play outside without shell cases being on the ground, you feel me?”

Listen to Ezri’s boastful “1/1” here, and watch his first-person “be right back” video here. “Open Space,” of course, is above.

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