April 30, 2020

R.I.P. Stezo + "The Untold Story of Stezo" + HHC, 1989

Stezo, pronounced 'Steezo', coined the nickname through a language he invented with his childhood friends in their Brooklyn schooldays. Hence Steve became 'Stezo' and his friends became 'Dezo' or 'Wezo'.... Stezo became part of the 'hardcore posse' ... but after getting robbed himself, Stezo thought it wise to 'cut the crap' and go for gold the 'real way'. Moving to Connecticut with his family, Stezo realized "if I wanted to get to the top I'd have to earn it and not just take it!" Stezo had always been part of the hip-hop scene, from breaking to popping, deejaying to rapping. It was when he was imitating EPMD's dancers at a show, only doing it better, that Stezo hooked up with them and wrote "The Steve Martin" song for EPMD's "Strictly Business" album. "When everybody was into the wild style of yelling into the mic, I would be doing the slow rap. I could have been the first one to be smooth rapping but everybody told me not to do it.... After hanging out with EPMD for a year, Stezo realized it was time to make a break and go for his own success. "I figured that I had enough talent to go on the stage myself," he says, "but EPMD are still my boys!" Going solo also meant a slight change of style.... "I decided to put a little more liveliness into my rap to distinguish myself... it's a bit like New Edition and Bobby Brown." Getting signed to Sleeping Bag with a little help from EPMD, Stezo has proven his talent with his first 12-inch, 'To The Max' ("I'm really going for mine, that's what it means!"), and a debut LP called 'Crazy Noise'.... Now in New Haven, Connecticut, Stezo is even more ambitious to make it against the New York competition. "There's still that New York spirit in me," he says. "It's just something I have to do and I'm gonna do it right!" - HHC, 1989.

The documentary below, "The Untold Story of Stezo," chronicles his full career and impact on hip-hop culture. It is written, directed and produced by James "Kraze" Billings for King of Content Productions. Update 1/29: Tragically, I've received news that Stezo passed away tonight! The news was shared via Chuck Chillout's Instagram, along with his personal message: "Damn this one hurts big time. RIP to my dude the rapper STEZO. I’ve know this brother since 1986, this 2020 year sucks big time rest well my friend u will be miss." I'm reposting this to the front of my blog for those of you who may not have read this full post prior to today's news. Rest In Peace, Stezo. 2020 sucks!

The full article in Hip Hop Connection is available below...