Hard-working Raleigh rapper does 'NC Showtime' at the Pinhook

CorrespondentNovember 28, 2013 

  • Details

    What: “NC Showtime” with Wreck-N-Crew, Scienze, Lazurus, Bobby James and the Real Laww

    When: 9 p.m. Saturday

    Where: The Pinhook, 117 W. Main St., Durham

    Cost: $5 ($10 under 21)

    Info: 919-967-1100 or thepinhook.com

So the story goes that Benjamin Curtis came into this world and left it shortly after. And, then, he came back. His family still doesn’t know how it happened.

“They have no idea,” he says about the day he was born at Rex Hospital in Raleigh. “I was born. I was alive. I died – I lost pulse. And fourteen minutes later, I came back to life.”

So when Curtis began rapping in his mid-teens, coming up with a name for himself was a no-brainer.

“My family’s called me Lazarus my whole life, just for that reason,” he says, though he replaced one “a” with a “u” in the name to make it distinctive. “So, when I started to be a rapper, that was just the natural name. I didn’t wanna pick some corny name, you know.”

Since then, the 26-year-old, Raleigh-born-and-based Lazurus has been one of the Triangle’s hardest-working MCs, consistently doing shows around the area – like the upcoming “NC Showtime” show this Saturday at the Pinhook in Durham, where he’ll perform alongside Wreck-N-Crew, Scienze and Bobby James.

Even though he cites artists like Eminem as prime influences, Lazurus has been known to remind listeners of the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith. There’s good reason for that.

“My first CD was a Will Smith CD,” he remembers. “I had Nas on tape. I had Ras Kass on tape. I had Busta Rhymes. But my first CD – and this is from my grandma. She goes, ‘Oh, you like rap? I’ma buy you the Will Smith’ – because it had no cursing on it.”

Lazurus has been dropping mix tapes and full-lengths over the years on his own label, Lazrso Records, which he started with partner Derrick “Rsonist” Nicholas. Like most successful, versatile MCs these days, the man can rap and sing. But he insists he’s been doing it way before a certain light-skinned Canadian showed up.

“I’ve been doing it much longer than I’ve known Drake even existed,” he says. “A lot of times, when you’re doing the song, we’ll start at, like, 7. By the time we need the hook, it’s about 3 in the morning and there’s no singers around. That’s why I end up singing most of the hooks, because we’re trying to get it done.”

While he was been known to spit some deep-thinking rhymes (he rapped about how we’re living in a “mediocracy” on his 2008 release “AlieNation”), Lazurus went a bit light for his last release, titled “Solstice.” Released in December of last year (like most of his releases, it can be found on his Bandcamp page), he wanted to record a holiday-themed rap album.

“I wanted to make something that my grandma could play,” he says. “I wanted to have something ... that the family could listen to. It’s still me – I’m not sacrificing my core values or my rhyming ability.”

What’s more, Lazurus is hoping for “Solstice” to become a holiday standard. To insure this, he’s re-releasing the album again this season with two more songs. “You hear the same Christmas songs every Christmas. I’m trying to make it so maybe 20 years from now, people start singing maybe one or two songs off of this.”

Oh, by the way, did his grandmama, the woman who gave him the inspiration to be an MC in the first place, ever listen to the album?

“‘Solstice’ is probably the first album my grandma ever listened to,” he proudly says. “I put out probably six or seven and that’s the first – not just mine – rap album she’s ever listened all the way through. And that means a lot to me, you know. She was like, ‘I heard your album.’ (I said) ‘Whatcha mean you heard the album?!’”

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