It all started when a young and inspired 16-year-old Ozy Reigns from Columbia, South Carolina was walking through Atlanta’s Lenox Mall with his friend and former rap partner Tweet. They became starstruck as they ran into Outkast, Ice-T and Tracey Lee. “I’m moving to Atlanta!” he said to himself. Two years later, he enrolled at Clark Atlanta University.

It was at CAU’s student center—during an open mic event hosted by D.R.E.S. Tha Beatnik—that he slid his way into the emerging underground hip-hop scene in the wake of Binkis Recs and Dungeon Family.

Ozy Reigns has since emerged as a prolific and influential artist who has been honing his craft over the past two decades.

Now a resident of Los Angeles and part of the film industry, his acting world and ATL hip-hop music family align. This was the case with the film Pathways (Sean’s Lament) when Ozy found himself in a familiar role as a manager of a female rap group played by friends he had rocked the stage with many times before. He returned to Atlanta for the premiere, and that’s when I caught up with him for Episode 1 of the new Beat Studies Podcast.

In this episode, Ozy Reigns offers advice and real talk inspiration for aspiring actors and musicians who want to move to Hollywood to pursue their art as a career. He explains how the competitive nature of the entertainment business forces idealistic artists to also concentrate their thoughts on the business side. “When you’re an artist, you often don’t like to focus on those things,” he says.

Ozy also reflects on the people who have inspired him, either by collaboration, competition, or straight-up admiration.

His latest musical brainchild is SunBorn and includes some of Atlanta’s finest producers providing the bed for this wise, yet funky songwriter to lay out his thought provoking rhymes and melodies.

We periodically break up the interview with song snippets that reflect on the conversation. The track “I Want To Live” takes a bold social stance in the face of racism and police brutality without sounding desperate or hopeless. Ozy suggests, we need to ask better questions to get better solutions, and does just that through his music.

Also featured is Codafied Muzik, who was very prevalent on this LP from the production side. He sits in and joins Ozy and I for a casual, yet personal discussion about the golden age of hip-hop, the younger generation, collaboration verses competition, work ethic, personal loss, and taking the best aspects of it all to make creativity shine like the golden California sun.

Listen to the Ozy Reigns interview on SoundCloud