New Hampshire emcee JZAC is an artist who caught our attention right from the jump. Whether he’s rapping about real world problems or just spitting over Rocky Horror-produced Harlem Globetrotter samples, he always keeps the staff at NSM entertained. Recently, I was privileged enough to sit down and talk with one of the Internets best kept secrets.
Ryan: What up JZAC? What made you want to start rapping? And how long have you been working on your craft?
JZAC: Once I got to college. I started writing songs and messing around on my friends MacBook. He had GarageBand and then things started to get really serious and we went from there.
Ryan: Oh that’s dope. Where did you attend college by the way?
JZAC: I actually graduated college. But I attended Plymouth State University.
Ryan: New Hampshire doesn’t exactly strike me as a hotbed for Hip Hop artists. What is the rap scene like in the Granite State?
JZAC: Yeah, it’s definitely not the most rap friendly area. Which kind of has both its benefits and negative sides. I have a crew of about four or five artists who are really talented that I truly support. I’m lucky enough to live right on the border of Massachusetts, so we’re only 30 to 40 minutes from Boston. So when something big is going on up there we can check it out.
Ryan: DJ Statik Selektah is from New Hampshire… or has ties to New Hampshire. What do you think a Statik Selektah / JZAC collaboration would sound like?
JZAC: Oh man that would be epic. Old school and gritty. It’s just the kind of style of hip-hop that I love. That’s not really the style of music that I make but it would be legendary. My inner kid would be fulfilled.
Ryan: I know that you work with producer Rocky Horror a lot. How did that relationship come about?
JZAC: I met Rocky about a year and a half ago. I was working on music for 3 years and never really found an in-house producer. It turns out that he lives a couple towns over from me. I was always looking for that person who could take my sound to the next level. One day he reached out to me and asked if I wanted to work. Now he’s my main producer and engineers all my music.
Ryan: The song “Keyboard Kenny” is very insightful and brings up a lot of controversial subjects (dope video too). What/who inspired you to write that song?
JZAC: One night it just kinda came to me. I think I was on the computer and saw this whole new era of the internet. I saw all this negativity while reading blog and YouTube comments and I just sort of laughed about it. It was at the point where people weren’t even hating. It was more trolling than anything. I saw that it was a whole different world itself. I thought it would be cool to put my own spin on it and make a song about someone who sits behind the keyboard writing this stuff. I thought creatively and just rolled with it and it turned out pretty dope.
Ryan: I’m a big fan of the message in your music and I feel like it speaks to people in a super positive way. When writing songs, is it your intention to try and impact people’s lives with your sound?
JZAC: Definitely. I also think there is a time and place to make other music as well as like… all that party music and what not. I am inspired about telling my story on a deeper level. I think that if I can help touch people and inspire them to do better that’s what its all about. Its cool to connect with people who benefit positively from the music. At the end of the day that’s really what it’s all about.
Ryan: Who are your biggest influences? Both, musically and in your life outside of rap.
JZAC: Musically… people always ask. It’s so tough to narrow it down to one. I love so many artists that I grew up on like Jay-Z and Kanye. Then there’s Lupe Fiasco who really got me into word play and rhyming. Obviously the new guys today, like Drake, Kendrick Lamar and J-Cole to name a few. There are a lot of artist who inspire me. As far as outside of music… life itself. Things that you go through and visualize on a daily basis.
Ryan: “Problems at Home” is one of your most popular songs to date (and is also a personal favorite of mine). What was the inspiration behind that song?
JZAC: Just seeing where we are at as a culture and being a spectator of what we can improve upon in everyday life. Both online and in life itself.
Ryan: I recently saw that you entered Funk Volume’s “Don’t Funk Up Our Beats” contest and placed in the top 27 out of 600 entries. What was that experience like?
JZAC: It was cool man. I’ve entered for the last few years and that was my first time placing that high. Even though I didn’t win… progress was definitely made. It was cool. I got to chop it up with the CEO of Funk Volume. He told me to send me future material so he can critique it and what not.
Ryan: That’s awesome. What other rap contests have you been involved in (if any)?
JZAC: None other than the Funk Volume contest. I try to get my foot in the door a little but but it’s not something I’m focused on. I’m more focused on my own music rather than winning contests.
Ryan: Absolutely. If you could give advice to any young emcees just getting into the game, what would it be?
JZAC: Keep grinding. I worked for 3 to 5 years without seeing any results really. It took me all those years to just get my foot in the door. I feel like young people in general are impatient. They make one project and expect it to generate buzz. When really it takes persistence and dedication to your craft. I would say really just say go hard.
Ryan: Solid advice. Lastly, what can we expect from JZAC in the future? More contests? Is there a new project in the works? Are you planning to go on tour?
JZAC: As of right now, I’m actually working on my first full length project. It will be a free album. I’ll be working on that all winter. After that… hopefully a little tour. Maybe hit up a few cities where the demand is real high and start moving around to areas other than where I’m from. And, recently I put out three new songs on Soundcloud just this past week (listen below).