Former Longhorn shares stories through rap

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Shanzyan Faraizi spent his childhood recording his *NSYNC performances with his dad’s video camera. Two decades later, he’s ramping up for the release of his debut rap album.

“My family and I went not knowing what to expect,” Faraizi said. “We were watching the show, and when he came up, he and his friend did a rap song. IA was so surprised — I had no idea my brother could do that. I thought only certain people could rap.”

Faraizi, who both produces and raps his own music, started creating tracks in middle school under heavy influence from his brother. After attending his brother’s hip-hop performance at the Mr. Plano East competition in fourth grade, Faraizi realized music wasn’t just something he loved — it was something he wanted to dedicate his life to.

“All of my music taste came from my brother initially, and in the late ’90s, R&B was huge. He rapped for the same reason I did initially — we weren’t good singers,” Faraizi said.

After “stalking” his brother to learn more about rap music and exposing himself to the likes of Kanye West and Timbaland, Faraizi eventually picked up his brother’s computer and opened FL Studio. By the time he hit high school, he had turned into a full-fledged producer but had no one to rap over his beats. That’s when he recruited his friends to create a rap group called Crtfd, the first initial of each group member rearranged to resemble “Certified.” With the group, he quickly discovered his own love for rapping.

“I was the producer of the group, but every now and then I would jump on a song,” Faraizi said. “I really liked helping them tell their stories, because I lived on an Air Force base, everyone was a military brat and everyone had a
different background.”

When the group came to UT for college, their work eventually came to a standstill, but Faraizi took the chance to display his talent to a large audience. Upon entering the annual Gone to Texas video competition, Faraizi didn’t expect much to come out of it. But Faraizi made the list of finalists, and to his surprise, won the contest all with no prior experience in video production. With school taking over much of his time, however, Faraizi’s chances to produce became a limited commodity, although his dedication never waivered.

In his last semester at UT, Faraizi began writing songs again, cultivating his music tastes to work toward a full project which will be released soon. His newest music video,  released today, epitomizes his approach to music, focusing on simplicity as a powerful tool for an effective song.

For his upcoming debut album, Faraizi pulls from a variety of facets of his life, including his distant relationship with his mother and his struggles moving around as a kid.

“That’s what I put in my music, these situations that make me who I am today,” Faraizi said. “Music is my therapy. I’m not partial to one part of the process — I’m an artist. I won’t say I’m a rapper, there’s a lot of meaning behind that. I’m discovering my way around singing as well, I just want to be able to tell stories through any medium of art.”