Young Las Vegas rapper La’Reonte Wright AKA Dizzy Wright is distracted. In between this interview and the NBA finals game he’s watching, he’s also babysitter for the day. “I’m just looking out for my sister. Watching her bad ass little kids. I love them but they’re bad as hell,” he says in a stoner drawl. “I’m just the neighbourhood fucking nanny right now. I have no idea how this happened.”
The same could be said of his career – from being an anonymous rapper in a city known more for Frank Sinatra and Celine Dion than hip hop, to being about to embark on his second tour of Australia, all in the space of a few years. Along with his Funk Volume collective, Wright has built a loyal fan base at dizzying speed (sorry). And like that other famous Sin City musician, Wright has done it his own way – with a little prodding from his mother.
A concert promoter, Mrs Wright had her ten-year-old son working as a youth reporter for a kid’s news show, and by twelve she was encouraging him to start rapping – even going so far as to write his lyrics. “It was like when I was about 12 or 13, when I kinda started, like, when I just wanted to come up with the hooks,” he laughs.
By the time he entered his teens, he was writing his own lyrics but still treating hip hop as a hobby. “Well my mom saw something in us before we saw it,” he says. “I didn’t know that I really wanted to do it until after high school. That’s when I was like ‘okay, I’m about to get busy, I’m gonna make this shit work’.”
Wright attracted the interest of a few record labels, but ended up joining the independent outfit Funk Volume after label head and rapper Hopsin discovered his music online. Since then, the outfit has built a strong following in the mould of other west coast collectives like Top Dawg Entertainment and Odd Future. The loyalty of this following was proven when, after missing out on a coveted spot on the 2012 XXL Freshman List, Wright was voted in as the People’s Choice Freshman, earning a place on the magazine’s cover.
“That shit was cool man. I love my fans and they came through for me. On the ‘Can’t Trust ‘Em’ remix [from the SmokeOut Conversations mixtape] I planted the seed, I was kinda like ‘… Tell XXL I want the motherfuckin’ cover‘,” Wright raps. “That was like me planting the seed, just to let my fans know, like ‘if these motherfuckers don’t pick me, y’all niggas need to have my back’. And I’m so happy that my fans came through for me.”
Wright toured Australia last year with Hopsin (“The ladies liked me,” Wright laughs when asked about the tour. “It was cool man, I smoked some real good weed out there and I had a real good time.”). And this time he’s being joined by another member of Funk Volume, Jarren Benton, who released his debut album My Grandmother’s Basement last month. He’s also busy working on a new mixtape, The Golden Age, for an early August release.
It’s been an impressive rise for Wright – and, especially, for the mother who has followed his career from the day she initiated it. “Now she’s like ‘damn’,” Wright laughs.
BY JOSHUA HAYES
Dizzy Wright plays Metro Theatre on Saturday July 20.