• Frederick Hicks

LONG LIVE US: CZAR Josh Advocates for All with Sophomore Release

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia with a partial upbringing in Lynchburg, Virginia, Culture Villain CZAR Josh is ready to cement his status as an Emcee with is second project titled, “Long Live Us.” Now when it comes to everything the CZAR does creatively, he makes sure to weave authenticity and unashamed blackness into all his art. For example, his clothing brand Nappy Avenue, allows for customers to buy stylish tees, hoodies, and other clothing items with pro black mantras that are fit for any occasion. I personally own a couple of clothes from his line, and the number of compliments I have received are innumerable.

One look at CZAR Josh’s Instagram and a lot of the claims I made about him confirm themselves. With his original Retro Raps, to his heartfelt documentations of his personal life, you can get an up close and personal look into what keeps the Czar motivated. Speaking on his Instagram though, as Josh began to rollout his new album, he made sure to immerse his followers and fans into every aspect of his creation process. Almost a week ago, he posted an IGTV titled ‘Behind the Music’ where he explained the meaning of “LONG LIVE US.” I got to sit down on zoom with CZAR Josh about his second project in almost four years. Check out the conversation below.

Why did you name the project “LONG LIVE US?”

“You know how we always say black lives matter right? We say it in the context of a protest in regards to a black person being killed. What I wanted to do, was like still highlight and pinpoint that part of the black experience, but at the same time, home in on what an actual black life is. We always say black lives matter but that is in reference to death. Let’s home in to what the black experience is. “

“That can help to empower and lift up our people more than saying stuff from a place of struggle. Which is completely valid at the same time. That is the mindset that I came from. We don’t put a lot of umph on what a black life is, we focus on the black struggle, death, trauma! Can we talk about black joy, strength, trauma, black perseverance? What does that look like?”

In the first track ‘Heights’ you repeat the mantra, “I’ve been doubted all my life.” What did you mean by that?

“Freddy, I’ve literally been doubted my whole life and counted out. Just speaking first and foremost, I’m not even supposed to be rapping. Growing up, I had a really bad speech impediment and there was times where I honestly couldn’t say words. So now that I’m able to rhyme words and use cadences and flows and rap on a really good level, that’s a miracle in of itself. “

“Like people have been counting me out in terms of that, and how we came up because, we didn’t have a silver spoon in our mouth. There were certain parts of our childhood that were not kosher, not copacetic. I had to overcome that being from that type of environment, a majority black environment, and being enrolled in advanced classes in school with white classmates. You know there has always been a struggle, some sort of roadblock that has been put in front of me to stop me from getting where I am now. And I always overcome it by God’s grace of course and I’ve literally been doubted all my life. I’m still here and I’m doing a good job Freddy.”

You in your art intricately weave the state of ATL and her constituents. What does Atlanta mean to you?

*As Josh sat in an Atlanta Braves hat getting ready to answer the question, I laughed a bit just because the Atlanta Braves had just bested our Houston Astros to win their first World Series since 1995.

“Big shoutout to my team the world series champions! Anyways when you look at the rise of ATL, its history, it’s one of the last examples of a city-leader, a government-leader, and a politician trying to help poor people. The reason why Atlanta has remained so prosperous in its history is because one, the history of black mayors creating programs and opportunities for poor black and brown people. Programs implemented within the city to get good jobs and move up the social ladder.”

“So, I feel like that whole concept of helping people have a better quality of life. That is super dope to me, and I plan on doing that with my homies. I want to get to a point where I can give back to them. That’s what the concept and meaning of Atlanta means to me. The reason why I go so hard for it is because its changing rapidly due to gentrification. People are coming here who don’t know the history and culture but they’re draining the fabric of the city. I feel like as one of the people who are from here, its my job to preserve the history of Atlanta.”

One thing that has been different with you is your rollout. Why do you think a rollout is important?

“I want folks to hear my music that’s why! I feel like now especially since rapping and streaming is so congested and saturated, its easy to get lost in translation and the mix. I feel like you have to find ways to put yourself out there and be different. So, with my rollouts specifically, I wanted to tap into my brand and kind of bring out my core fans. That is my goal, to have a strong core fanbase and cult following.”

Along with interviewing the Czar this past week, I also got the privilege to hear “LONG LIVE US” before it was release courtesy of the Culture Villains. I’ve got to say, CZAR Josh accurately wove the spirit of Atlanta and being black in America into his sophomore project. I’m appreciative to Travis and everyone at Culture Villains for giving me the opportunity to cover this release.