The last time Denver rapper A Meazy played a show was in late 2018 at the Fillmore Auditorium, opening for Ice Cube.
“Ever since that thing, I’ve been saying, ‘Nah, I don’t want to perform,’” he says.
During the production of his first three albums — 2015’s The Real Ned Flanders, 2016’s The Real Ned Flanders 2, and 2017's Meazy Shuttlesworth — Meazy had already dealt with plenty of personal drama. Two misdemeanor cases had piled up against him, and he was on probation.
“The judge told me if I come back to court, he was going to throw me in jail,” Meazy recalls. So he quit going out and focused on the basics: making money, finding a place to live, getting a car.
Over the years, he'd hit a level of success that few performers reach in this city. He had sold out the Bluebird Theater and opened for legends, but like many local artists, Meazy hadn’t won national recognition. He was performing the same songs again and again, was getting tired of the grind, and wasn’t building his fan base beyond the 500 or so people he had already won over.
“I was tired of performing the same old shit,” he says. “I thought I was cheating my fans.”
He still beats himself up for rushing production on Meazy Shuttlesworth. Although it's an excellent album, he's a perfectionist and wasn’t satisfied with either his recorded performances or his live ones. So after that Fillmore show, he took a few months off from making music and has been turning down gigs over the past year.
He started working at Get Busy Living Studios, a business that offers Denver artists both creative space and gear for recording music and shooting photos and videos. His job was to recruit artists to come in and produce music; in exchange, he had unlimited access to the studio. Eventually, he was promoted to studio director — and that's when he was ready to make music again.
"In 2019, I got back in my groove," he says. “I’m in the studio whenever I want to be. As long as we don’t have any clientele, I’m in here.”
Much of his new music includes collaborations with talented up-and-coming Denver musicians. On March 30, he released his latest studio project, Deada$$, a collection of eight songs, most about love, romance and sex — but also about personal struggles, artistic anxieties and legacy. It includes appearances by Old Man Saxon, Nayy Renee, 2une Godi, Rachel Bailey and Danae Simone.
Some of the songs are filled with hard truths and self-punishing flagellation; others are romantic. "Pocket Watchin'" is a hilarious rant about people worrying too much about how Meazy's spending his money.
He made Deada$$ to satisfy his longtime fans, he says — particularly women.
“The majority of reactions I get from fans are from women. Because of that, I’m like, ‘Maybe I should make more songs for them,’” he explains. ”For whatever reason, at all my shows and the people who always download my shit, it’s always women. I’m gonna give them eight tracks. I would rather please those people who kept asking me, ‘When are you gonna drop another album?’”
Meazy has plans to drop another album later in the year, one that will include around sixteen songs. And when venues finally open up again, he hopes to start performing the new music live.
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Along the way, he wants to take Denver hip-hop beyond city boundaries. “The whole goal is to build a culture,” he notes, even when the venues are closed and there’s nowhere to gather.
“I think that everything being shut down is honestly a blessing in disguise,” he says. “I believe that a lot of people — artists, especially — rely too much on going out. I’m not going to say myself included, because I don’t go out a lot. I used to. Now I believe that everybody is forced to find other things to produce. And as an artist, what is the first thing I want to do? Be creative. I’m the type of person who can’t just sit around. I have to be productive in some type of way. This is forcing me to find other ways to do that.
“Now I’m forced to create,” he concludes. “Not only me, but everybody else, as well.”
Listen to A Meazy and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.