Consistency is key to maintaining an elemental position in the game. It’s a straight fact that few independent artists have sold records at rapid speed without a major label behind them. Staying in his own lane and dishin’ out a continuous stream of bangers, it’s apparent that legendary rapper, Z-Ro, doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. I caught up with the man to discuss his legacy, the release of ‘Legendary’, the music scene in Houston, tattoos and more.
Z-Ro, looking back on all of your years of being an artist, how has being brought up in Texas affected your lyrical delivery?
It hasn’t. It just really affects how everybody looks at me and my delivery, but it hasn’t affected my delivery at all. I’m bigger than Texas, I don’t think I rap like Texas, I think I just do music. So it hasn’t affected me at all.
There’s always been a lot happening in Houston. Gamechangers such as Bun B, Scarface and DJ Screw (R.I.P) all come from Space City. Tell us what your thoughts are on the music scene in Houston today.
I think it’s being muddied up by the rest of the world by people trying to sound like they’re from other places rather than here even though I’ve never really sounded like I’m from here, I think the scene has been polluted by other cities. A lot of people here trying to sound like they’re from Atlanta. I mean, I don’t knock ’em. They gotta do what they gotta do, but I think it’s just muddied.
Congrats on the release of your recent release, ‘Legendary’. Other than the obvious, what is the theme behind this album and what life experiences led you to wanting to create it?
Well the theme is just what the title says. A lot of people say “I’m a legend” and I always say “Nah, I just take legendary steps from time to time.” I mean, to be at the age that I am, still doing what I’m doing even on a smaller scale than the big name artists. To have 25 albums as an album cover of the 26th albums, I think it’s kinda legendary in itself. The life experience I mean, it’s not a life experience that led to it, it’s just a statement stating that I’m legendary and I think I deserve to be here and even more than that in a nutshell that I’m worthy.
Photo Credit: Touche
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the artists that brought them to life.
The first tattoo I ever got was my whole left arm. I got did in jail. The first piece I ever got was my 1 deep tattoo which is the number 1 with a guy inside with praying hands with tears coming out his eyes. Really meaning that it’s a hard knock life when you’re doing it by yourself and it’s really a self explanatory piece. 1 deep, I’m in here doing this time by myself. It gets rough but I’m by myself you know, I can’t really depend on nothing and nobody else. That was the first one and that’s what that one means. It just means solidarity and self.
Another piece I have on my top right bicep is a King of The Ghetto piece which is a city and a crown together. There are speakers coming out of it really just saying my music comes from the ghetto and I’m the king of this shit. Nobody do it like how I do it. I am the undisputed king of that. In a nutshell, that’s really what I’m saying. On my chest R.I.P Dorothy Marie McVey Matthew dedicated to my mother passing and what not. That’s a favorite piece. On my lower right forearm I have uh..there’s a couple of ’em really but “Mo City,” a Texas emblem, you know with Mo City going through it, it’s saying I’m from the south and you know that’s mandatory, know where I come from. One more I would have to say is the “0” that’s behind the Mo City tat on my forearm which has a lot of stuff about being in the life. It has DJ Screw’s name in it, it has styrofoam cups in it from when I used to drink codeine, and money, dollar signs, microphones just everything I was involved in. So it’s like 0 and instead of being colored in by just color it’s just different parts of my life that led up to me being who I am today.
In comparison to back when you dropped ‘Look What You Did To Me’ in 1998, other than the obvious with all of the technology that is now incorporated, what different approaches are you able to take when creating an album that make it more feasible to create a masterpiece?
Now having everything at the crib you don’t have to get up and wait on some motherf*cker to tell you when to come in. You might have an idea right the f*ck now and you might not be in the position to be like oh shit I gotta get my pen together or your phone might be dead you can’t jot the shit down in your phone. It’s simple now because I can just get off my ass and run upstairs and cut the studio on and knock my shit out and then zip up the session and send it to James Hoover and let him mix and master that motherf*cker and send it right back. Whereas back then you gotta get up, you gotta book studio time and you gotta wait on some motherf*cker to be like “man, let’s pick this up another day I’m tired” and all that shit. So you know, that’s what’s different now it’s like I don’t have to book time, I don’t have to go buy a beat from somebody, the technology I can get on my email tell someone to send me a beat, Beanz N Kornbread to send me a beat, or I make the beat, and I do the shit right then and there even on the two track and just get them to send me the files later. It’s lovely right now. Back then, it was a better time to do music because it wasn’t a whole lot of people doing music. Definitely easier now to make a masterpiece. I can smoke, don’t got motherf*cker like “man, I want you to go outside and smoke,” or ” I want you to go across the street and smoke” and all that shit. So I like it better now.
Who do you think dropped the best album or EP in 2016 and why?
Shittttt, me! How I’m gonna say someone else? I’m gonna say me because first of all, this my interview and I f*cking love my shit. But at the same time I’ll say me because like on Legendary and the Drankin’ and Drivin’ you know I still do my shit for my fans. You got a lot of people right now, they’re gonna look up and see just because there’s a tight pants epidemic going on, or it’s a turn up music epidemic going on. Everybody else adapts to what’s going on now trying make some f*cking money. I have yet to do that. I still do the same type of music, I have the same type of outlook. Everything’s the same. Everything’s the same. I’ll say for my originality, staying original. I give myself that. On my albums and on my EP, which was right around the beginning of the year, Solid. I was just doing this shit and putting it up on iTunes, and getting the attention on that that I did. I think really I got to give it to myself.
Photo Credit: Touche
Any upcoming shows or tour plans that you can fill us in about?
I mean nah, because I’m doing this shit by myself, I mean it’s an everyday thing. I have some tentative shit I can’t really say until it’s solidified. Right now, I’m trying to get to Macon, Georgia and fix a f*ck boy show situation and this Day For Night Festival this weekend coming up in Houston.
Z-Ro, you are constantly dishing out new work and staying on top of your game in your own lane. What’s your secret to staying on the ball?
I mean shit, I keep going ‘cuz the first of the month, it’s self explanatory. It’s what I do for a living so if I’m not doing it I’m not making a living. And it’s not because I got to, it’s because I know I got to. I have so much music, when you have a whole lot of music just siting here I mean I could just sit here and let it sit here or I can do something about it and release it to the public. I’m still releasing songs from ’07 , ’08, ’10, ’11 and shit like that. That’s why, because I have a plethora of music I need to get out.
Are there are particular movements or social campaigns that you are drawn to today?
There’s a couple of ’em but the only thing I’m really concerned with is not really a movement but the betterment of our people, all people. Just cognitive thinking because people don’t use their brain no more at all and it makes everybody look crazy when the few of us that do not know how to think act like we do. I’m not involved with any movement because there’s a problem with every moment. I move by myself.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
I still do what I do and I appreciate the support thus far and the continued support.
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