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Houzmazoo?! What in the world is a Houzmazoo?! How do I pronounce this word? Is this a name? Is someone trolling me?!
I asked myself these questions when I received a direct message from the Houzmazoo Network through Instagram. Houzmazoo (pronounced who’s-ma-zoo) reached out to say that he enjoyed a write-up on artist Joel Vinciithat he read here in City Paper, and hoped to be interviewed himself one day. My next thought was, “Cool, what’s good with you?!”
I was blown away by the answer. Houzmazoo is Alfonzo Duckett, who is 27 and a new father. He also has a day job as a facilities worker. (Happy birthday to his son Kade, who just turned 6 months old!) Aside from that already-good stuff, Duckett also runs Houzmazoo Network. Full disclosure: He is Houzmazoo Network! What is Houzmazoo Network you ask? Please read on.
Houzmazoo is Duckett’s nickname. It’s based on the mispronunciation of former NFL receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s name from an NFL draft commercial years back. His friends thought that he looked like Houshmandzadeh, and the nickname stuck when Duckett replied to being called Houzmazoo with, “What it do?” Boom! A catchphrase was born.
He started his Houzmazoo Network when he returned to Central State University in 2016 for homecoming to hang out with old friends. He started a Youtube channel to keep his people connected and entertained with videos and interviews from the homecoming festivities. “Houzmazoo” just made sense to use as his screen name. “I mean, who else was gonna be called Houzmazoo?!” he says. Duckett was the homecoming king of 2014; he’s a popular and outgoing guy. He majored in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship.
Raised in the Brookland area of Northeast D.C., Duckett has always had “a little business savvy.” He sold candy in high school to his classmates, and when he returned home from college some of those friends who used to buy that candy had businesses of their own. He was motivated by that, and started thinking to himself, “‘What can I do?’ Everybody in my city was doing so much, I ain’t know what to do. I said, ‘I’m gonna just highlight my city and showcase [my friends]. Create a platform for them.’ And it just picked up from there. So basically, my city motivated me or inspired me to, you know, share about it. That’s basically all I’m doing is sharing.”
He shares through his Twitter feed, Instagram account, and YouTube channel. He states his plans plainly: “The goal of Houzmazoo Network is to be a platform that highlights or puts a spotlight on individuals and events here in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas. Dealing with, music, fashion, sports, community engagement, and art. My goal is to be a platform for your business, and let people know what’s going on in my city.”
Well, good people, he’s doing just that. Here’s what he has to say:
Houzmazoo, why highlight D.C.? You could have gone anywhere?!
I live here. I got to do D.C. first. Then other places are gonna see it, and they’re gonna want to take part. Then everyone can work together. You gotta give back. You leave and get what you get, then you give back. I went to college in “Marauder Land,” Central State University. I have to give back to my neighborhood. I came home and I see [my friends] having their own businesses and having success, with clothing, music, sports whatever different types of businesses they having, and I’m like, “Dang, they was never that business savvy. You know? What can I do to highlight them?”
Your network is through your social media. What’s good about using social media to network with people?
It’s free—free promotion, free marketing. Companies can create communications departments, see the talent that they see, through their social media. Or independent entities can just do partnerships with the companies that come straight to them.
My website is coming soon. Having a website is important. It gives you a checkmark for professionalism, it helps you be more official. It says, “he serious.”
So are you currently building a website?
Yeah, I’ve been working on it myself. I wanted to see if I could get it started by myself and reach out when I hit a block. I like to be able to trust myself and learn the process. How can I ask for any help if I don’t know what help I need?
What’s good about sharing your community?
It’s an honor, man. Dealing with those schools. I go into schools and the parents come up to me and you know, tell me words of encouragement, give me advice, and I’m just, I just be like, “Dang, me?” I’m really putting smiles on parents and kids faces like that. It’s unbelievable to me. And the kids be like, “Are you Houzmazoo?! And when they’re not [starstruck] like that, they be like, “Houzmazoo! What it do?!”
Either way, they know of it. They already know what it is.
What schools do you go into, and what’s the good stuff you’re sharing from said schools?!
I’m primarily sharing the basketball games and recording the student athletes. Through word-of-mouth [and my social media], other kids have learned who I am. They get excited to see me coming ’cause they know that it’s going to be on YouTube. Once they start seeing themselves on YouTube, they fall in love with it. I go to McKinley Tech, Dunbar, Wilson, Ballou, Anacostia, Roosevelt, Easton, Ron Brown, Cesar Chavez. Wherever the story is taking me.
(Above, a video of basketball star Azzi Fudd.)
Interesting. You’re highlight communities that are going through changes, very big changes.
I’m documenting the hood’s last days. Barry Farms and Sursum Corda were both up when I started this, and they’re both gone now.
D.C. neighborhoods are changing rapidly. Along those lines, I saw that you recorded the pop-up go-go parade that took place following the T-Mobile/Shaw-area go-go silencing story. That makes me wanna ask you, what was good about the public’s response to #DontMuteDC?!
We all came together for something positive—new D.C., old D.C., all D.C. We came out, and we let the music speak for itself. For many people that was their very first go-go. It was my fiancé’s first go-go, my son’s first go-go, and I was so happy to be able to share and record that moment. It was a moment in go-go history.
And you recorded it and shared it with your network?
Thank you for sharing what’s good with you, Houzmazoo. What’s good that you got happening that you wanna share with the people?!
That’s another one of his catchphrases, “Stay tuned.” Since this interview, John Legere CEO of T-Mobile stated through his Twitter account that the go-go music played outside of Central Communications, commonly known as the Metro PCS store, should continue. Big up, that is very good news!
Follow Houzmazoo LLC on Instagram: @HouzmazooNetwork
On YouTube: Houzmazoo Network
On Twitter: @Houzmazoo
Follow Haywood on Instagram: @woodyseed
Follow City Paper on Instagram: @washingoncitypaper