Jason Powers better known as Elzhi is an American rapper from Detroit, Michigan. Known to many Underground fans as "Detroit's Best Kept Secret", he is a former member of Slum Village and now records as a solo artist. He is known for his complicated rhyme schemes, many of which contain polysyllabic ‘patterns’, internal rhymes and alliteration, evocative imagery, simile and metaphor. On May 10, 2011, Elzhi released his highly anticipated mixtape Elmatic as a tribute to Nas’ classic debut Illmatic. Produced by Will Sessions, the mixtape has received glowing reviews from critics and fans alike. In his youth, he made numerous visits to the Hip-Hop shop in Detroit, taking advantage of open-mic nights hosted by fellow Detroit rapper Proof. These sessions gave him the opportunity to be surrounded by Detroit's most talented MC's, such as Obie Trice, Magestik Legend, Finale, Invincible, Phat Kat, Guilty Simpson, Royce da 59, One Be Lo, J Dilla, Baatin, D12, and even Eminem during his battling days.
Out of Focus
In 1998, Elzhi recorded a number of songs with Detroit hip-hop artist DJ Houseshoes with DJ Rios. These recording sessions yielded material that would become the Out of Focus EP, but the project was abandoned due to personal obligations and a lack of distribution options in Detroit. During the mixing process, DJ Houseshoes passed the DATs onto Dilla, who intended on remixing the whole album before his passing.
In late 2000, Elzhi acquired Dilla's master tapes and provided his close friends with CD's of the Out of Focus EP, plus 3 extra tracks. With a few CD's out in the open, the EP eventually leaked onto the Internet under the name "Unreleased Solo Project", but many CD's sold or distributed under this title are mislabeled with inaccurate track-listings and credits. The project was re-released in 2011 on his official website with a 27-minute bonus track showcasing verses from past features.
925, Waajeed, and Jay Dee
In 1999, Elzhi became affiliated with the 9-2-5 Colony, a group formed by Nick Speed and Magestik Legend. The trio of emcees recorded only a few songs together: "Gun Talk", "Oh Shit" and "Farewell". In "Farewell", produced by Lacks, each emcee spits a verse about their relationships with women. Elzhi uses a verse he had originally recorded for the DJ Houseshoes-produced "What I Am", a discarded song from the Out of Focus sessions. "Farewell", like the rest of the 9-2-5 material, remains incomplete and unreleased.
In 2000, Elzhi began extensive collaboration with Waajeed, and the pair created an untold number of songs. "Stunted Growth" is one of the few tracks to ever emerge from this era of recording.
As Elzhi and Waajeed became closer, so did El's affiliation with Slum Village. Constantly working on his music, Elzhi had the opportunity to record songs over some of Jay Dee's unused beats (e.g. "Days and Nights Analyzin'" and "Concrete Eyes") and attracted the attention of Slum Village member T3, who took the young artist under his wing, bringing Elzhi to the attention of Jay Dee. This connection paved the way for Elzhi's national debut on Jay Dee's Welcome to Detroit album, for which he received his first ever pay check in the rap game. Elzhi's verse on the song "Come Get It" was acclaimed by Hiphopsite.com upon its release.
In 2001, with Jay Dee no longer an official member, Slum Village began recording their follow up to Fantastic, Vol. 2. During the sessions, T3 invited Elzhi to collaborate on a few tracks. One of the earliest of these was the "Aerodynamic Remix" by Daft Punk, which was featured on the Kiss of the Dragon soundtrack. Originally, Slum Village intended Elzhi's presence on the album to be nothing more than a featured guest. But, recognizing their chemistry, Baatin and T3 invited Elzhi to become a full-time member, a choice enthusiastically supported by J Dilla. In July 2010, Elzhi officially announced his departure from Slum Village at the advice of his manager the J.B. Group.
Libido Sounds and the Future
In 2004, Elzhi and Nick Speed formed the Libido Sounds label in order to release Witness My Growth, a double CD compilation of Elzhi's unreleased solo material from as early as 1997. The double disc includes exclusive J Dilla collaborations, as well as highlights from the Out of Focus EP. Production credits on the mixtape include J Dilla, Waajeed, Karriem Riggins, Page Kennedy, B.R. Gunna, DJ Magnetic, Houseshoes and The Alchemist.
His first solo project with national distribution, The Preface, was released on August 12, 2008.
On May 10, 2011, Elzhi released a mixtape as an homage to Nas's debut album Illmatic, with Will Sessions recreating the sounds of the iconic album. The mixtape was greatly received by hip hop fans and considered one of the best projects released in 2011. He has released three videos for the mixtape, "Halftime", "Memory Lane", and "It Ain't Hard to Tell", which has hit 1 million views despite not being backed by a major record label.
The Weather Man
In 2012 Elzhi announced on Twitter that his next album will be titled The Weather Man (re-titled from the previous announced title The Feed). The lead single from the album is "Blue Widow" and a music video has been released for the song. Elzhi reported that the album is to be released sometime in 2013. Elzhi was recently featured on Phonte's single "Not Here Anymore".
- 2008: The Preface
- 2014: TBA
With Slum Village
- 2002: Trinity: Past, Present And Future
- 2004: Detroit Deli: A Taste Of Detroit
- 2005: Slum Village
- 2009: Villa Manifesto EP
- 2010: Villa Manifesto
Extended Plays (EPs)
- 1998: Out Of Focus
- 2000: The Breakfast Club (with Dwele, Lacks, Big Tone & 87)
- 2010: Out Of Focus EP (re-release with 20 min bonus track)
- 2004: Witness My Growth: The Mixtape 97-04
- 2005: Prequel To A Classic (with Slum Village)
- 2008: EuroPass: An Exclusive Tour CD (Tour CD)
- 2009: The Leftovers (Unmixedtape)
- 2011: Elmatic