Student talent Aziz to open for hip-hop star
Published: Monday, October 10, 2011
Updated: Monday, October 10, 2011 22:10
On Sept. 27, North Carolina-native rapper and producer J. Cole released his new album Cole World: the Sideline Story. The album, featuring hit artists Trey Songz, Drake, Missy Elliot and Jay Z, debuted as No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Chart and currently ranks No. 6 under the Top Albums on iTunes. As J. Cole's "J. Cole World: World Tour" takes off, Brandeis' self-made rapper Aziz Dieng '14 will be performing as the opening act for Cole's Worcester, Mass. show at the Palladium on Oct. 22.
20-year-old New Hampshire native Dieng—known by his stage name "Aziz"—got this opportunity through the production company NV Concepts, through which he has also opened for musical artists Chris Webby, Curren$y and Fabolous. Aziz has also opened for Snoop Dogg, Far East Movement, Mac Miller, Big K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA and Stalley as well as performing at fraternities and sororities at numerous colleges. J. Cole graduated magna cum laude from St. John's University in New York, and Aziz intends to graduate from Brandeis with an independent interdisciplinary major that combines Business and Music.
"J. Cole is probably my favorite artist right now," Aziz said. "I can relate to him because he's real, honest, but most of all he's humble. His poetry has crazy wordplay, and he works on his craft. He's like a breath of fresh air to mainstream [music]."
Aziz will be performing "Got a Shot" and "Ode to Pete Rock"—songs from his most recent album Daydreams of a Spaceshot—along with some a cappella and verses. Aziz hopes to select songs with his manager and disc jockey based on the interests of J. Cole fans and his image as a rapper.
"For this particular concert, I think the message is telling stories of what I've been through and what I've seen," Aziz said. "I want [the audience] to know who I am. It's a lot of things deeper than the facts: Aziz, 20 years old, Brandeis, New Hampshire born. It's a lot deeper than that."
Aziz's opening act was scheduled for last March 2011, but J. Cole delayed his tour until the fall. Long awaited, the show is a stepping-stone for Aziz to spread his music and to make himself known to J. Cole fans.
Aziz has been writing poetry since age nine and recording since 18. The artist derives his inspiration for music from many sources, a similarity he shares with J. Cole. Both artists were born into multicultural families. Aziz explains how his bicultural heritage of having a Senegalese father and German mother, his experiences of racism and witness of hardships, such as poverty, have allowed him to use poetry as a motivating tool for himself, family, friends and fans.
"[Music] started out as a coping mechanism, and now I don't know what to do without it," Aziz said. "My story is different. I've never been a rich kid; I've seen what it's like to be poor. There are a lot of different topics I can go about with music because there are so many problems like that. Not everything is sweet. … I don't talk about murder, I don't talk about drugs, I don't talk about many negatives. I'd rather spread positive messages [about] what I do on a daily basis and hopefully people catch onto it."
J. Cole certainly will not be the last big name in the music industry that Aziz will work with. Aziz intends to start his own tour in the spring, collaborating with other artists, performing at venues and continuing to release new music. Eventually, Aziz hopes to start his own management company and become a full-time rapper. Aziz has big plans for the future, but his music will remain genuine and memorable.
"I want my music to be ill and to speak for itself," Aziz said. "Through time, with the route I'm going, I hope my music catches the right way and that it will have longevity."