Z-Man's recently released Show Up, Shut Up and Rap EP blends
urban tales with stories of meddling, disconnected A&R windbags.
Between a busy schedule of recording, drawing, art shows and
performances; Z-Man was kind enough to call me up and shoot the breeze
for a bit.
What’s been happenin’?
Well, I got Bicasso from Living
Legends who is doing an upcoming art show with me April 9th. We’re
on art, so they offered us an exhibit at Lower Haters around the corner
How did the Show Up, Shut Up and Rap EP come about?
Those were a lot of old songs that were something completely different
from the upcoming album and I was like, where am I gonna put these
songs? The album sounds way different than that. But still, I had all
these old songs and I was thinking, where am I gonna put them? Then I
started thinking man, just get em out, get this buzz going so that’s
what Idid with that. It’s been cool!
“Gurp Logo” with Trunk Drank and the Eddie Def cuts has an element of Southern style in the flows and crunked up bass along with the call and shout hype. Was this in mind when laying down this track?
Ya know, with “Gurp Logo” I first heard the beat. My boy DNAE Beats produced the
beat a long time ago and I said, damn, this is tight I wanna do
something with this, but he wasn’t tripping on the beat, but I was so I
presented it to them and I kept thinking “Gurp Logo” with Eddie K yelling on the track.
For us uninitiated, what’s a “Gurp Logo” exactly?
Well basically it’s our Gurp City logo, my boy Matt Loomis designed it years ago. I was thinking man I just wanna do a song with that anthem. When they see the logo, they know who it is and know what it’s all about they fall into a spell.
You go out with a bang on “Yell Ho.” The flow sounds like a manifesto, how did this track come about?
Dude, when I had to write that song, we wrote it three times. When it
first comes you think it’s gonna be a club banger. Maybe it was written in that vein, I wanted to talk about what I was going through. (A&R reps)
think you’re there to shut up and rap. You have nothing else to say, just shut up and rap and I wanted to talk about those politics. That’s their
whole thing, just show up and just write these raps. And I’m the microphone with the mask of my face falling off (referring to the cover
of the EP).
Dope cover art, a lot happening with the A&R rep representing two different tunes, two different skin tones trying to get your inner microphone to sign a record deal. How long have you been drawing?
Well man, I’ve been drawing for years! Since I was little, I was about
three years old when my mom saw me drawing Woody Woodpecker and she was
like,what? She said to draw it again, In which I did and she went crazy,
so I’ve been drawing since then. And for my painting on canvases I have
been painting seriously for ten years. I used to paint on people’s
gear, pants, jackets, shirts, hats, everything. Been doing it for a long
time, little things here and there. I've always loved writing and
rapping and drawing the covers. I had this group 99th Dimension and I drew covers then too.
The intro to “Going Hard” features a sample of a record company agent telling you where to stand, telling you to write 200 verses for only 12 of his choosing. You even rap in” Yello Ho,” “Shameless promotion and gossip / I got some much on the industry that they don’t want me talkin’ about.” How has your experience in this industry contributed to your focus on the interference of the company with the artist?
That’s like the industry, I didn’t have to go through all that but it’s a
scenario and fools go through that stuff. They may tell you that in the industry. They may punk you and try to mold you, telling you that you
don’t know what’s going on, you gonna write this and write that.
With A&R reps, there was this one I dealt with for One Block Radius,
we’re not playing with them any more, they basically just dropped the
ball. But we had an A&R dude and he kept telling me to rewrite this song a bunch of times. The flow was tight, but he wasn’t really feeling the
flow and then my boy Marty was like don’t do it so obvious, put this and that in it and then I was like dude, I don’t give a fuck about this. So I came back to Martel and we just wrote it together. So I thought about A&Rs and how they just want to tell you how to write the song.
Yeah, they’re micro-managers and then there was the rep I was with around
the time of Dope or Dogfood who was also a piece of work.
Describe your stint with Hiero Imperium Recordings.
We’re cool, we’re folks I’m not doing a lot of business with them right
now, but we get down and kick it, we’re homies. I hang out with Opio and I
got him on my album Six Pack of Dymamite and Manifesto too.
When your lyrics aren’t serious they have a biting satirical edge. I like the balance of these tones in your work.
I’m always kinda sarcastic with it all, always pokin’ fun at something. I
mean there’s serious stuff on there, but there’s lyricism and stuff
that needs to be said whether it sounds racist but I got to put it in their face. Not out of shock value but to be like hey,
this is how people are livin’. You have to put your all into it, you can’t
insult everyone’s intelligence because they’ll get it. Not everyone
always relates, but maybe somebody out there gets it. I’m always trying to figure out in my head, how should I do it this
time? Should it be like this or like that? I try to make it not so simple.
If I wanna go out there and get crazy with it I will and this is one EP. So this is what I want to say on there; just gettin’ it out there,
it ain’t no gimmick but it’s entertainment.
I remember hearing the euphemism “Cupcaking” in high school to refer to any number of approaches to making out. I’m mixed up with the etymology of the word, where did you first learn the expression and how do you define “Cupcakin”?
Cupcaking basically is what it sounds like it is. It’s sweet, you put icing on the top, I don’t know, but it’s funny you ask. I’m doing a video for it on April 11. The funny thing too is I heard Boac and DNAE Beats play it and we added some new stuff on it so I was going through it
and I just had to write about cookin’ with the back ground (sings) “oh
oh oh oh oh.“
It took me back. I was like who the fuck is talking about cupcaking?
But that was about those days and I had to talk about them days right now. You know how it is being in a relationship, it starts out and it’s all good, but it’s about me not having enough time for that. Always
out, on the road, in the studio doing my thing.
“This Has Gotta Be Love” is a lucid track about the harsh realities of heroin addiction. What brought you to create a flow this heavy?
It’s crazy cause I used to indulge a little, but I wanted to write this
song but I didn’t want people to think of me as a junkie. I wasn’t sure
if fools were ready for that and I was tripping, but I was reading over
the first verse and then I was like, man I gotta write another verse. I
was writin’ too for an old friend, exaggerating a little but on the
point a little bit as well. You have to make it sound somewhat real and
make it believable and put some heart behind it. It was like a letter to some folks I know.
I like how you ground your rhymes in a realism of the street makes think of various scenes happening around 6th and Market and the inner
city Tenderloin district. What influences your direction of rhyme?
Man, just how I’m livin’ and being brought up in such a culture and seeing eras go by and hanging out with fools who grow out of the dirt
and folks who do art and hustlers and folks who know how to live and the
creeps that live hard but I can’t judge them; it’s bad for me and bad
for my health. And I am just glad I’m still here, I did things too and I
could have been dead as a motherfucker. And lyrics, I can’t front on
that and I think sometimes you get rappers that are dictating how it’s
gonna be and I’m just doing it and I got a little rap buzz and I just feel the situation and I’m like check this shit out. My inspiration is
like if the beat is real then I wanna rap on that.
What’s the pulse of the Bay area hip-hop scene from what you can tell?
Definitely changed, commercially everybody wants to be real mainstream
because the stakes are higher now and everything. The Bay Area sound has
changed, everybody wants to sound like everybody. It’s the big trend
with everyone wanting to be all hipster. I don’t want to listen it! But
you know, we got a lot of talent here. People need to be themselves,
own their style and not be afraid of it. That’s a big thing, it’s not what you rap
about, it’s whether or not you rap it good.
Eminem is rapping about raping and pill popping and middle America is
going crazy, but if you can do it well than shoot. It’s entertainment,
fools are doin’ whatever but keep in mind your entertaining and that’s
what you’re really doing.
One them of the things I was thinking when I heard “Yell Ho,” was that you could really show mainstream rappers like T-Pain a thing or two. Have you ever met T-Pain?
That’s funny, actually I have met T-Pain. I had to kinda explain to him
who I was. We were playing a show with Gym Class heroes and he was there on the spot but he’s cool.
When should we expect the Six Pack of Dynamite LP to drop?
Man, hopefully it will be out in September? I could be wrong, but definitely this year. Everything has gone single but man, I’m making an
album! I got a thing or two to show the world.