In the past five years, XXL magazine’s Freshman Class, a roundup of breakout artists to watch, has included Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore. In 2013, a 22-year-old from Las Vegas named Dizzy Wright joined the list, becoming the first local rapper to reach what should be considered the most sought-after rising star status symbol in the rap universe. When I caught up with him, he was somewhere in central Texas, 40 tour dates at his back, emanating through the phone a tireless energy wrapped in what I guess you could call a duvet of pot smoke.
Dizzy Wright hasn’t been best known as La’Reonte Wright since he was 8, rapping under the management of his mother, a concert promoter and publicist. At one point on his timeline, Wright was Dizzy D Flashy, who, in 2010, performed on the BET show 106 & Park. In 2011 he joined hip-hop label Funk Volume, a small shop based in LA, founded by previous XXL Freshman Classer Hopsin. “Joining them, a lot of little things have changed [about making music],” Wright says. “I don’t let people get too involved in my creative process. But the biggest thing I needed was production. I’ve been putting out a lot of projects and I do my own thing, but Funk Volume was already on the elevated, higher production. They’re really big on the little things.”
With the label, the notoriety and the intense tour schedule, Wright’s local presence declined drastically, from doing what he estimates at 50 shows in 2011 to only two or three the next year. He started focusing more on what else was out there. If he says he’s looking forward to playing the House of Blues, he means New Orleans, not Mandalay Bay. “Local fame stopped mattering to me in 2012,” he says. “Being local famous is what it is, but I feel like I’ve got potential, so I’m going global.”
But even with the rise in popularity, the intense touring and big-ticket bills (this year Wright performed at official SXSW showcases for Fader, World Star Hip-Hop and Pandora, the former with Macklemore, and he’s officially accepted for 2014), Wright’s goal isn’t the big-hitter labels. It’s going to be how it’s always been: organic and personal, with a lot of elbow grease. “My mother showed me how to prepare for a major label, and I realized I don’t want it that way,” he says. “If I can make it work, if I can provide, doing it my way, I’ll do it. But it’s gotta be my way.”
Dizzy Wright With Emilio Rojas, Marcus Moody. November 1, 8 p.m., $16-$20. Hard Rock Live, 733-7625.