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  • Interview: Gorilla Zoe

    Fri, 02 Nov 2007 13:50:07

    Interview: Gorilla Zoe - The up-and-coming Atlanta rapper talks straight about his style, his hood and the politics of language

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    Atlanta’s Gorilla Zoe hit the scene with authority, dropping two projects on Diddy’s Bad Boy South label a week apart. First he blessed the streets with his debut album, Welcome to the Zoo, and before anyone had a chance to breathe he was back as part of the Boyz N Da Hood crew on their second album, Back Up N Da Chevy.

    Zoe’s voice is deep, and it resonates with the kind of authority that comes from learning lessons on the block. Considering he replaced Young Jeezy “The Snowman” as part of Boyz N Da Hood, it should come as no surprise that he spins tales of pushing product and flossin’ ice in excess. What may surprise is how deep his understanding of the game really goes.

    We gave the rising star a chance to speak with ARTISTdirect about his new releases and break down some of the misconceptions surrounding rap music. Zoe spoke honestly, if unapologetically, about his mindset and where he thinks our attention should really be focused when it comes to righting society’s ills.

    I wanted to say congratulations; people everywhere seem to like the album. How does that make you feel considering this is your debut?

    It makes me feel good, man. Makes me want to let as many people as I can know the album is out there.

    Tell me how you got started.

    God first. He prepares you for things before he throws you out there. I went through a lot of trials and tribulations before I saw triumph. I started in the streets, man. All kinds of different hustles. Different kinds of jobs. Eventually went into retail, entrepreneurship. Then, from business owner to the studio, learning how to use the equipment and record myself. That’s how a lot of ideas came up. From there a CD got in the hands of “Block” [Russell Spencer, CEO of Block Entertainment] and there I was. Over the past year I’ve recorded over 200 songs. I did a handful of mixtapes, recorded two albums, worked with Eightball & MJG, and Yung Joc. I’ve been working.

    All that grinding has to make you appreciate the payoff.

    It makes me very appreciative of the situation ‘cause I could have nothing. I came from nothing and I could have nothing. God saw fit to put a lot of the right people around me. They’re vital to who I am and where I’m going. It’s a blessing.

    You had all this time before you blew up to develop. How would you break down your style?

    If I broke it down, if you were talking football players—you had generations of running backs that ran a certain way and were built a certain way. Now you’re seeing the beginning of a new generation of running back.

    Who influenced you to create your new running style?

    I watched Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders; I watched the greats. It wasn’t on purpose. I never knew what I was going to do, so I listened to Eazy-E and Ice Cube. I bought Warren G’s album. Now I understand how the sounds I listened to got made. I listened to Das EFX, Biggie, Pac, Outkast, Too Short. I put it all together but in an original way. I don’t copy.

    Your name is certainly original. Where did it come from?

    I’ve been Zoe. As I got older the Gorilla got attached. But I’ve looked back and now I see how powerful that name is. The gorilla is sharp, intelligent and powerful. It’s just crazy.

    I wanted to speak on that intelligence. I’ve read some of your interviews and watched you talk and people are sometimes surprised that a guy who speaks real talk can also express himself so well. Do you think it’s important to be able to speak on what you do?

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