“I just wanna go and be the greatest;
I just wanna feel right.”

 

The first lyrics heard from Daz Rinko on LIFTED, the Memphis emcee’s 2016 mixtape debut, could very well serve as the thesis statement for his career up to this point. Over the past few years, Daz has seen a steady rise in his musical opportunity while experiencing the trials that come with growing older and living in an ever-changing world. These, along with the unique pressure one is only able to place upon themselves, can present a challenge for young artists. Through it all, however, Daz has maintained a sharp focus on developing himself further both as a creator and performer.

“I knew there was only so far I could take it with jacking beats,” he says when talking about the move from LIFTED, a display of ability, to 2017’s Black Boy Joy EP, an exhibition in craft. While work on the mixtape consisted of Daz sifting through pre-existing instrumentals on SoundCloud, Black Boy Joy would find Daz seeking out and establishing creative relationships with producers such as Melbourne’s SPRILL. or Donato out of Connecticut, as well as the familiar face of Memphis’s own C Major. With their hands in production, Daz sought to craft his individual sound–his voice as an artist, which resulted in a form of unmistakably Southern optimism in the face of difficulty laid over a bounce that seemed to be from everywhere and nowhere all at once. Best exhibited on the EP’s opening title track and the closer, “Blessings from Above,” these qualities would be a driving force throughout Black Boy Joy as well as its 2018 follow-up.

 

 

“I wanted to make sure people didn’t think it was an album. When my debut album comes, it’s gonna be known: DAZ RINKO’S DEBUT ALBUM.”

 

When speaking about Black Boy Joy 2: The Bigger Picture, Daz makes certain to refer to it either specifically by name or simply as a “project” and never an “album.”

“I feel like an artist’s debut album is a big point in their career. I see a lot of artists who rush that, and they miss it.”

With that in mind, one can look at the Black Boy Joy sequel as a natural extension of the EP, further refining and reinforcing Daz’s overall message and sound but experimenting with what could be around the corner. Noticeably longer than its predecessor, The Bigger Picture takes time to revisit the optimistic themes and sonic bop Daz explored on Black Boy Joy while slipping in a slow jam like the Rahel-assisted “The Way,” along with features from Toronto-based singer Desiire and fellow Memphian She’Chinah. Altogether, the two projects stand as a bold, solid foundation showcasing the sheer quality of work Daz is capable of putting out and simultaneously setting the bar for what is to come.

In Memphis, you can catch Daz performing at intimate SoFar Sounds shows and City of Memphis events alike. Outside of the Bluff City, Daz has been extending his reach and performative exposure to other major musical hubs. In October, he attended and performed at Atlanta’s A3C Festival & Conference alongside fellow Memphis-based artists Coldway and Unapologetic’s Cameron Bethany and A Weirdo From Memphis. After that, it was time to hit the road for The Bigger Picture Tour, which would stretch into 2019 and take Daz to Toronto, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn. A cross-country performance on the west coast would cap off a successful 2018 for Daz, but it’s October’s stop in Toronto that takes a particularly special spot in his career: the artist’s first time leaving the United States and the first show he would headline himself–a milestone sure to bring with it a unique type of anxiety.

“The whole process of having to get people to actually buy tickets to come see you is nerve-wracking, so the fact that we had a good turnout was amazing. That’s been another payoff: being able to see people who’ve been waiting for me to get to that level, where I can come to their city.”

With Black Boy Joy 2 collaborators She’Chinah and hometown artist Desiire in tow, the Toronto stop on The Bigger Picture Tour proved to be not only a success but an excellent kick-off to the series of shows and Daz’s record as a headlining performer. When it comes to plans for 2019, Daz is more than ready to follow through on the momentum of Black Boy Joy 2 and The Bigger Picture Tour before taking the time to refocus his creative energy on the next big step: the debut album. He’ll continue to drop new music and visuals between the two projects, but his ultimate goal post-BBJ2 is simple: “get better.”

An artist like Daz, while at times dealing with the abstract, tends to base his material well within the reality of his own life and experiences–namely, his ongoing battle with mental health. On tracks such as Bigger Picture cut “Broke Lawrence,” Daz raps about how, even at his best, anxiety and self-doubt place immense pressure on him, whether warranted or not. His most recent project isn’t his first experience with these feelings, either.

“After LIFTED, it was kinda dark for a second. I put a lot of expectations on myself. I couldn’t create music that I felt was good. Black Boy Joy–I’m not gonna lie–it changed my life, and it’s just the beginning. That’s kinda where Black Boy Joy came from: just me being able to fight through depression and anxiety. I’m gonna be able to look back on this whole process.”

Using his music as a medium for getting this anxiety out in front of himself, where he can combat it with what is sure to become trademark charm and positivity, allows Daz Rinko to contextualize his own struggles in the bigger picture of those experienced and shared by others in the hope that, maybe, we can all confront it together.

“I just really want people to know that the music–what I’m saying and putting into it–is real. I want people to know I’m really the same as them.”

 

You can find Black Boy Joy 2: The Bigger Picture on iTunes and streaming platforms.

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