Elzhi first gained notoriety as a rapper during his frequent visits to the legendary Hip-Hop Shop in Detroit during the mid nineties, where he took part in the weekly emcee battles. Originally part of the F.O.D. or Fingers of Death crew, El' (then called L.Z.) earned his reputation based on his rapid fire delivery and unique cadences.
Eventually, Elzhi would become part of the Breakfast Club with fellow artists Dwele, Big Tone (Then called Hodge Podge), Lacks and 87. During this era of his young career, El' would record such sought after classics as "Vitamins" and "Physical Therapy" with Big Tone.
Out of Focus
In 1998, Elzhi recorded a number of songs with Detroit hip-hop icon DJ Houseshoes. These recording sessions yielded the material that would become the legendary Out of Focus EP. Showcasing his unique delivery, complex rhyme structures and empathetic personality, the EP was regarded as an instant classic to those who were able to hear it. The project, however, was never officially released.
In late 2000, Elzhi acquired his master tapes and provided his close friends with cassettes of the Out of Focus EP, in addition to 3 extra tracks. These few cassettes allowed the material to eventually leak onto the internet under the name "Unreleased Solo Project." CDs sold or distributed under this title are usually completely mislabeled with innacurate tracklistings and credits.
925, Waajeed and J.Dilla.
In 1999 Elzhi became affiliated with the 9-2-5 Colony, a group formed by Nick Speed and Magestik Legend. The trio of emcees recorded only a few songs together: "Gun Talk," "Oh Shit" and "Farewell." "Farewell," produced by Lacks, is a song where each emcee spits a verse about their relationships with women. Elzhi reprises a verse he had originally recorded for the DJ Houseshoes-produced "What I Am," a discarded song from the Out of Focus sessions that eventually was released when the EP leaked onto the internet. "Farewell," like the rest of the 9-2-5 material, remains incomplete and unreleased.
In the year 2000, Elzhi became a frequent collaborator with Waajeed. During their countless recording sessions, the pair would create an untold number of songs. "Stunted Growth" is one of the few tracks to ever emerge from this era of recording.
As Elzhi and Waajeed became closer in their collaborations, so did El's affiliation to Slum Village. Elzhi even had the opportunity to record songs using Jay Dee's beats ("Days and Nights Analyzin'" and "Concrete Eyes"), eventually leading up to Elzhi's national debut on Jay Dee's aka J.Dilla's, Welcome to Detroit. Elzhi's verse on the song "Come Get It" was acclaimed by Hiphopsite.com upon its release.
In 2001, with J.Dilla no longer an official member, Slum Village began recording their follow up to Fantastic Vol. 2. During the sessions, Baatin invited Elzhi to collaborate on a few tracks. Recognizing their chemistry, Baatin and T3 invited Elzhi to become a full-time member, a choice enthusiastically supported by J Dilla.
With his versatile delivery and clever wordplay, Elzhi is the most lyrically celebrated member of the group.
Libido Sounds and the Future
In 2004, Elzhi and Nick Speed formed the Libido Sounds label in order to release Witness My Growth, a double CD compilation of Elzhi's unreleased solo material from as early as 1997. The double disc includes exclusive J Dilla collaborations as well as highlights from the Out of Focus EP. Production credits on the mixtape include to J Dilla, Waajeed, Karriem Riggins, Page Kennedy, B.R. Gunna, DJ Magnetic, Houseshoes and The Alchemist.
2011, Elzhi presents Elmatic
In 1994, one of the best debut albums of all time, Illmatic, was dropped by Nasir Jones, aka Nas. World renowned producers DJ Premier, Q-Tip and Pete Rock all took turns in the studio making beats that have become anthems for most hip-hop lovers across the world.
Elzhi decided to pay tribute to the legendary rapper’s first studio recorded album by referencing all the same beats and even some of the same lines, but over the stories and struggles of an emerging 21st-century artist. Some may say this is stealing, unjust or unoriginal, but personally I love a good tribute album . . . especially to someone so significantly great and inspiring like the man himself, N-A-S.
This Friday, August 19th, we present Elzhi Live in Concert. Doors open at 11:30PM. Midnight Show. @ The Jazz Kitchen. Special Guest: The Native Sun.
Advance Tickets at http://www.elzhilive.eventbrite.com/
The Jazz Kitchen
5377 College Ave.
Broad Ripple, Indy, 46222
Facebook Event Page --> Elzhi Live