The up-and-coming rapper wants to make authentic hip hop music for his fans.
At first glance, Axel Brizzy looks more like a K-pop heartthrob than a Singaporean rapper.
As he sat in front of me with his wavy hair, hued with reddish brown streaks, Axel often laughed as we exchanged jokes.
Then again, Axel isn’t your average rapper.
The 21-year-old has already worked with prominent local musicians, such as producer Evan Low of Evanturetime and guitarist Jon Chua from The Sam Willows. He also performed at big events like the SHINE Festival and *SCAPE Invasion Festival last year.
Most recently, Axel’s debut EP, The Prologue, topped the iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap Chart in Singapore within two hours of its release on May 11.
Not too shabby for someone started out without any formal musical background.
When Youth.SG met the local rapper a month ago, I was surprised by his down-to-earth personality.
Axel often lit up when he spoke about his music: “I usually don’t have that much time with school and all, so I write my verses on public transport when I’m either traveling home or to the studio.”
He also enjoys poring over countless analyses of a single rap song.
“I don’t just listen to the beat, I go on Rap Genius and read every explanation, every line,” said Axel, who is studying music and audio technology in Singapore Polytechnic.
Axel had his first brush with rap music when he was 16. He felt a connection with the genre and started penning down some verses and performing them in school.
“Rap helped me to overcome my social anxiety. Even though I was a really shy person, hip hop made me social. I had to be, in order to get my voice heard,” said Axel.
In some ways, he is still that shy person.
Last month, a girl approached him for an autograph after he performed at Compassvale Secondary School for the *SCAPE Invasion Tour.
“I was shocked. Who am I to give autographs?” added Axel sheepishly.
Not everyone was supportive of Axel at the start. His parents were wary of it as a career path and wanted him to pursue it only as a hobby. His friends mocked him.
But he holds no grudges. Axel shared, with a shrug: “I can’t blame them. People couldn’t name five Singaporean rappers off the top of their heads. Hell, I couldn’t [either].”
Still, he hustled on and later snagged a spot in SHINE Festival’s talent development programme in 2017. He was mentored by Jon Chua for seven weeks, where he exchanged ideas and wrote new music.
Where does Axel hope to go with his music?
“I want my listeners to never expect what I’m going to put out next but still be able to tell that it’s an Axel Brizzy track. I want a signature sound,” he shared, brimming with confidence.
Most of all, he wants to keep his audiences captivated while making them ponder on the deeper meaning behind his trap-flavoured beats – just like his idol, American rapper Childish Gambino.
“Childish Gambino is just the complete artist. He’s a director, actor, producer and rapper. I hope I can follow in his footsteps, but for now, I want to put a hundred per cent into my music,” said Axel.
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