Where did Raiza Biza go? And other questions asked during an illegal car ride
I pull up at Wellington airport’s domestic terminal in an old station wagon I’ve borrowed from my friend. I’m determined to find the rapper Raiza Biza before the 10 minute free parking period expires.
He’s not hard to spot, tall and dressed in a camo jacket and joggers, smoking in the non-smoking area with an entourage I wasn’t expecting. There’s no way they’ll fit in the car.
Raiza blows smoke and greets me. I feel like we know each other already.
His entourage loads their luggage into the boot and start piling in, four in the back seat, camo, bright orange and yellow raincoats, leopard print and lace. I’m nervous. My learner’s license is not with me, there are no L plates on the windows, and we’re not exactly flying under the radar. I peel a 50 off my wad and ask them to take a taxi. They refuse and we’re closing in on 10 minutes so I peel out.
Raiza Biza is back!
Fans were nervous there for a while. Dude was putting out a quality album every few seasons for years, each one featuring hot collaborations and a different tone. They explored his life’s philosophy, understandings of consciousness and personal growth. Raiza went deep and we loved it. But then we got nothing for two years.
The entourage are talking amongst themselves and I use the opportunity to ask Raiza prying questions.
“I came to a point in my career,” he says, “I think it was after I released the Summer album or maybe The Imperfectionist, where I took my foot off the accelerator because I felt I had released enough material for my fans to digest over the next year. So I took a break.”
“That was the biggest mistake I made creatively because it took me a long time to get back into what I was doing so easily. It took me a long time to get that momentum back.”
In his lyrics, Raiza explores the struggle to make something of yourself and to find the intrinsic motivation to do so. Most of us can relate.
“It really takes time to become you,” he says. “There’s so many hours you have to do. It’s like being a pilot.”
I’m taking sharp corners quickly and the entourage are getting to know each other better in the back seat with every turn.
Raiza Biza tells me how he used to wake up, write, record, go to sleep and do it all again the next day during the first few years of his career. When he realised people were listening to what he was putting on SoundCloud, he got the cringes and deleted his entire library. Raiza started over from scratch, dropping new tunes almost every month and that’s how his albums were written.
Biza consistently releases fresh music, and fans love him for it.
The secret is routine.
“I write every single day,” he says. “And when I’m proactive and I’m creating every single day it just happens naturally. It’s about staying in that state of mind.”
We pull up at his hotel and the entourage climbs out, thanking me for the ride in between inside jokes. They’re in good spirits.
Raiza stays in the passenger seat.
“So you’re back in Wellington where it all began… how do you feel?” I ask.
He chuckles and thinks for a moment.
“I miss those shows where there was barely anyone there and I was just focused on trying to progress and progress and progress. Progress is inevitable if you’re coming from the right place, but you can never live this again. Make sure you really take the chance to enjoy it and soak in these moments.”
I wasn’t expecting that answer. There’s a pause and Raiza opens the door, grabbing his lighter off the seat before climbing out. I turn off my voice recorder and he taps on the roof of the borrowed station wagon. I speed off.
“See you at 8.”