(AllHipHop Features) Standing on a balcony of the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center, Vaquan “HighDefRazjah” Wilkins looks out onto the city’s radiant skyline. The lights pouring from the skyscrapers’ windows drown out the glow from the heavens, almost like a reflection of the young producer’s own inner powers sometimes being overshadowed.
“Where I come from you don’t see this. It’s probably like seven buildings there. So when you see abundance, it’s more than just the view. It’s seeing people’s hard work to put those buildings up,” says Razjah. “So I see opportunity and hope every time I look out. It’s like [the buildings are saying,] ‘Keep going.’”
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HDR has come a long way from his adolescent days playing basketball in Suffolk, Virginia. An unfortunate injury ended his hopes of taking his athletic talents further.
So instead, Vaquan connected with childhood friend-turned-mentor Lex Luger, the super-producer behind hits like Rick Ross’ “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” and Jay Z & Kanye West’s “H•A•M.” The two VA representatives have been building together ever since.
“What I can tell you from my experience knowing him all my life and being his understudy, he’s an amazing person. He’s smart, a great father, a great teacher,” declares Razjah about Lex. “He will wake me up at six in the morning like, ‘Alright, bro. Let’s work.’ He’ll have a phone call with PartyNextDoor or Juicy J. I’ll ask, ‘You’re talking to Juicy?’ He’ll say, “Yeah, it’s nothing. It’s work.’”
Razjah can now list his own notable production placements. His credits include “Far Away” on Jay Pharoah’s The Resurrection and “Take It Or Leave It” on Rae Sremmurd’s SremmLife 2.
However, it was an A$AP Ferg cut titled “Let It Go” on the Harlemite’s Trap Lord album that sparked the fire within the 24-year-old creator to take his new profession seriously.
“‘Let It Go’ was my first album placement. I was like, ‘Wow, this is it. I’m on.’ I didn’t really know the business then,” Razjah explains. “After I went through that and got paid, the money was gone. I realized: You still got a lot to do. That’s just one song. It’s just this amount of money. It can be gone.”
He adds, “Once that happened, it motivated me because I love living like this. I have to work to eat. It’s written. A man that don’t work, won’t eat.”
The initial payout for his work with Ferg was a nice financial introduction to the music industry, but it also served as a wake-up call to the fact that funds come and go just as quickly as the latest trending topic.
An adjustment was orchestrated. Patience, trust, and communication became the three pillars to the up-and-comer securing victories as a breadwinner in the entertainment biz.
“Without patience, you can rush something. Without communication, you don’t know what’s going on and both sides can over think,” states Razjah. “It’s pivotal to keep those things in mind.”
Spend enough time with Vaquan and it becomes clear the need to maintain the reins of his own consciousness is a fundamental part of who he is.
While drugs and alcohol serve as self-medicating remedies HDR uses to cope with his introversion [he openly admits to taking shrooms in order to be comfortable enough to conduct our interview], books such as The 48 Laws Of Power, Behold A Pale Horse, and The Ancient Secret Of The Flower Of Life feed his hunger for alternative knowledge.
For Razjah’s spiritual wellness, meditation and manifestation are regular routines. The practice of promoting positive energy is another form of connection to a higher power.
“It’s crazy that I’m now realizing things that are right in front of your face that you’ll never notice until you focus on it. That’s why I say anything is possible,” HDR proclaims.
That bright outlook is clearly embedded in the person who released the Psychedelic EP. But there is a faint dimness to the glow surrounding Razjah. It’s almost as if he has not fully tapped into the dynamism that’s lying dormant somewhere in his soul.
The fog could be left over from a childhood which consisted of peers putting him down for doing well in school. As a result, Vaquan may still have a pocket-sized chip on his shoulder for anyone ignoring his abilities, including the man in the mirror attempting to overcome his own insecurities.
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Razjah says, “Stuff will be right in front of my face, and I don’t even know it. I don’t want to say I downplay myself, but I like to earn my worth. I’m just starting to realize it now.”
A struggle with a health concern also shepherded a change of focus in HDR. He learned to balance the complications happening in his life.
In addition, there is clearly a constant battle between immense confidence and hindering anxiety raging in Razjah’s head. The former combatant appears to be on the verge of claiming victory.
“My biggest fear is over thinking what I can’t do. Can’t nobody defeat me but me,” he says. “The music game is crazy. It can draw you away from things. It can draw you toward things.”
Razjah continues, “I was living too fast. After ‘Let It Go’ I was exposed to the life. I started doing drugs more. I was in parties with girls I never thought I’d be around. It’s a confidence booster. People look at you different once you give something to culture.”
HDR is not done offering art to the universe. The rising performer promises he will no longer let personal issues block the formation of the music.
A video for “The Art Of Psyche” has arrived and a body of work called The Frequency is on the way. Besides his own project, Razjah has sent tracks to G.O.O.D. Music’s Pusha T and LVRN’s Raury. His close collaborator Asia Mari is up next as well.
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As Razjah progresses through the ascending levels of the music game, he knows history will ultimately define his place as an artist. The legacies of prominent figures such as Prince, Michael Jackson, Jay Z, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, and Rick Rubin are career goals for HDR.
“I want to let the world know I’m here, just know that I exist. When I walk up to a place, I want any race, culture, alien, human, fish – I want them to know me for being a great person. That’s all that matters in the end,” says HighDefRazjah. “[I want people to say,] ‘He made me smile today. You helped me get through my day. You helped me get through my year. You helped me get through my life.’ I want to get to that point. I don’t just want to turn you up.”
Once again Razjah steps out into the Atlanta air stories above Centennial Olympic Park. At the moment, the Omni Hotel serves as a palace for the Virginia-bred prince as he overlooks an artistic kingdom ready to be conquered.
Vaquan Wilkins reflects, “Looking at the [SkyView Atlanta] Ferris wheel, I think about my daughter… Looking over here, I’m thinking: Where can I put my building? When I’m out here and nobody’s here, that’s what thoughts go through my head. What’s about to happen next?”
A photo posted by Prod. Of Take It Or Leave It (@highdefrazjah) on
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Watch the video for HighDefRazjah’s “The Art Of Psyche” below.