When I met freshman Hip-Hop and R&B artist Dawit Gebre(a.k.a. Gebreezy), he made sure that I knew how to pronounce his stage name after I mistakenly called him “JABreezy.” “It’s GUHBreezy. The G is hard,” he said.
More and more students at Stanford are starting to know Gebreezy’s music because just a few weeks ago his new single Gold Rush dropped. The new song features a music video filmed by fellow freshman Punya Chatterjee with many of the scenes filmed on Stanford’s campus and at Half Moon Bay.
Gold Rush serves as a melancholy farewell to his life as it was in Atlanta, as he embraces what comes next and sings, “I’ll be in California like I’m rushin’ to the gold.” This particular song features Gebreezy’s smooth melodies, powerful bass, and clever lyricism, but what makes his music most exciting is its versatility.
Gebreezy says that he tries to use his music “to arouse emotion and stir vibes.” Some songs like Gold Rush are slow-moving and melodic while others like Ain’t Worried feature a fast paced and assertive style.
Gebreezy officially began recording music under that name two years ago. His mixtape Birds in July from about a year ago was a big milestone for his early career. More recently, Gebreezy released a single Ain’t Worried in September just before arriving at Stanford.
Fellow freshman Guy Kasznik works closely with Gebreezy on campus to promote his music. He says, “His music is very unique because of the way the songs flow. A lot of his songs flow more elegantly than most R&B and Hip-Hop. You vibe. You feel the music.” Kasznik did not even want to compare Gebreezy’s music to other artists because he says, “It is its own style.”
Born in Atlanta, Gebreezy embodies the clash of culture that occurs when moving from “Hip-Hop’s Mecca” to the Bay area. In Atlanta, Gebreezy says, “the city is buzzing with unparalleled creativity, potential, and musical opportunity.”
When he was only 16, Gebreezy met with a producer and vocal engineer in Atlanta who acknowledged his talent and potential and gave Gebreezy reduced rates so he could begin recording his own music in the studio. This producer’s studio is in the heart of Atlanta, and some of the artists he has worked with are Future, Young Thug, and Travis Scott.
Gebreezy feels something truly special when he steps into the recording studio. In his Education as Self-Fashioning class in the fall quarter, Gebreezy learned about the idea of “flow” or “wu wei,” which is the feeling of rapture that we feel when we are wholeheartedly immersed in an activity. After hours of work behind the mic in the studio, Gebreezy feels this “wu wei.” He keeps saying, “run it back…run it back…run it back,” until the song is flawless. Gebreezy says, “It’s not like I’m just spittin’ rhymes. I’m making art. It’s flow. F-L-O-W.”
Gebreezy has set his expectations sky-high for his career, and his determination to succeed in the music industry is tireless. As Kasznik says, “he is a perfectionist.” If anyone has the talent and willpower to be a successful Hip-Hop and R&B artist from Stanford, Gebreezy is that person. Nonetheless, he is still committed to his role at Stanford as a full-time student. The man says himself in Gold Rush, “I’m still with my school shit, I’m still on my school shit.”
Over the past few months, Gebreezy has been consistently recording music here in the Bay area and back in Atlanta as he prepares to release his next mixtape, CaliforniATL, which he plans to release within the coming weeks.
The upcoming release of CaliforniATL will be Gebreezy’s biggest opportunity yet to make a name for himself, and Gebreezy radiates excitement for the future: “It’s starting to form. It’s real. This is becoming a movement."
By: Mason Smith
Photography by: Mason Smith