Waleed Shabazz (born August 3, 1975), better known by his stage name C-Rayz Walz, is an MC from The Bronx, New York. He is currently a member of the NY hip hop syndicate Stronghold. C-Rayz Walz has been a fixture in the New York hip-hop scene for years. He hosts many hip-hop shows and events, has appeared on over 43 singles and started his own label, SunCycle Ent. C-Rayz has appeared on many other rappers' records, including those of Aesop Rock and Immortal Technique, and has done work with such artists as Percee P and Messiah J & The Expert.
Shabazz was born and raised in The Bronx. At the age of two, his father was murdered, likely as a result of his involvement with drug dealing. According to Shabazz, his father was "a Drug Kingpin but a good man & Dedicated Father" and was the inspiration for his song Protect My Family. In an interview, he describes how he was deeply affected by his death, saying, "I was always socially dysfunctional, as far as my fathers Death & Absence were concerned." Shabazz described how he drew wisdom from older community members and ultimately gained inspiration for his music and how he views being a Father himself. In the same interview, he points to his music as compensation for his social dysfunction resulting from not having a Dad growing up.
At the time that Shabazz was growing up, The Bronx was the site of the early hip hop scene. Shabazz recalls listening to DJ Cool Herc, who is credited with originating the genre, in Echo Park where he lived. In this environment, Shabazz developed a love of music and began freestyling with his friends for fun. Both he and his childhood friend and now professional rapper Prodigy describe MC battles in the lunch room in school. He recalls how his ambitions to be an MC were sealed when Busy Bee Starski heard him rhyming: "When I was 5 or 6 years old I freestyled for Busy Bee. He gave me $5, said, 'Boy, you're good. Keep rocking son.' I ran with that because he was one of the greatest of all time. I knew I was a freestyle legend when I was 6."