I remember my first encounter with Samuel aka Ozer. I met him at one of the first Goldmind Gallery events in Berkeley. He was super humble and down to earth. After talking to him for a while, I discovered that we actually go to the same school (CSUEB). I also discovered that he was an artist and I had the chance interview and know the person behind the music. Enjoy.
Give an intro for those who don’t know
I go by the name of Ozer, I’m a hip-hop artist out of Bayview Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, CA.
Life story in 30 seconds.
I was born to Melissa Glass and Samuel Owens Jr. in San Francisco, CA. My dad was somewhat in and out of my life because he was caught up in the streets. Which lead to me being raised by my mom and the rest of the women in my family. I grew up going back and forth between Hunter’s Point and Sunnydale since my parents weren’t together, so I seen both sides of the spectrum. Even though I was around a lot of adversity, I still managed to do me and excel in school and now I’m in college going to school full time as well as working full time. If I stay on track, I’ll be the second person in my family to graduate from college.
Where are you from?
I was born in San Francisco and raised in SF. My dad stayed in Sunnydale and my mom stayed in Hunter’s Point, so on the weekdays I’d be with my mom and on some of the weekends I’d be with him, so I guess you can say I’m from both, but I try not to get caught up with because of how things go nowadays, so I just rep for the entire city.
How did this journey in music begin?
It began as a kid honestly. I always wanted to rap, but I was just shy and on top of that I wasn’t that good. I would have to wake up at like 6 AM for school when I was around the age of 5 and before I left to school I would try to write a rap while my mama was getting ready. They were horrible, but it was a start.
Once I got to High School, I THOUGHT I was the best rapper out, but I was far from it. I put a video on YouTube of me rapping over a Nipsey Hussle beat and I thought it was the illest rap ever, but I had a couple of friends give a reality check. So following that I took another break and then one day I got in the studio and recorded a song called “Misunderstood” and that’s when I started getting into actually trying to say something in my songs. I dropped the song like 3 years later when I was a senior in HS and the reception I got and that’s what made me want to do it even more.
Use three words to describe your music.
Thoughtful, Triumphant, and Relatable
How did the name OZER come about?
It took a while to get the name, but I got it from my dad’s friend. I was in a barbershop and this dude yelled “ Eyyyy you lil’ Sam Ozer” and I liked the name, but I didn’t know what it meant. So I did a little research on it and ran with it. I found out that it has both good and bad connotations. The good is the fact that it’s Hebrew and it actually means ‘helper’. The bad is the fact that It refers to drugs. So, I kept it because I thought it represented Yin and Yang, good and bad, which I think we all can relate to.
How do you get into your creative space?
I don’t really have a routine. It’s sort of random. I just have to be inspired to start writing and I could really be inspired by anything. For my job, I have to socialize with people all day and sometimes I get inspired from a simple word or topic that comes up in a conversation.
5 things you need when you’re in the studio.
I don’t even think I need five things honestly. The only two things I really need is Water and an iPhone charger. Sometimes I like to smoke in the studio, but it depends on how I’m feeling. I try not to smoke or drink before the studio so I can keep my mind right.
Have any other artist influenced your music?
Yeah, I’ve been listening to a lot of J.Cole, Kendrick, Joey Bada$$, Alex Wiley, G. Herbo, and Bryson Tiller, but the list goes on. A lot of older stuff too. I like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Otis Redding. I mess with Jazz heavy too, I like this Japanese Jazz band called Hiroshima.
Favorite producer’s/ dream collaborations
My ear is really everywhere. I don’t really have a favorite producer, but I have dream rap collabs. I’ve always wanted to work with J. Cole and Kendrick. Those are my two biggest idols. I always try to find their studio sessions online so I can see how they work and how they edit their music.
How has the Bay influenced your music?
I think the Bay has influenced my music quite a bit. As a kid that’s all my dad listened to, so I’ve heard a lot of it. I use a lot of words that only people in the Bay might understand. That’s actually where my song,
“Gravy” came from. As a kid, my dad used to say if all the time and when I grew up I started to say it, but people didn’t understand me, so I wanted to put people on to something that they didn’t know about. On top of that, just Bay Area music in general helps me a lot, especially the old stuff. I think back then, the Bay Area music was big on storytelling and it put the listener in a certain environment. I look to that to get my mind flowing at times, especially the “Mail Man” album by E-40, one of my favorites.
Favorite spot in the Bay
Man, it’s so much out here, that’s sort of hard. I think honestly, my favorite two places are Twin Peaks and Grizzly Peak. Twin Peaks is in SF and Grizzly Peak is in Berkeley, right above UC Berkeley. I just like looking at things and letting my mind go off and wonder, makes me appreciate life for the simple things. As far as food goes, I have two favorite spots. First, it’s this spot called Brenda’s. They serve creole food and they have this bomb Shrimp and Grits, I could eat that all day. The last place is this spot called Home of Chicken and Waffles in Jack London Square. On a late night, that’s the spot to go to. It’ll do ya right.