For our latest installment of The Whole 9, we chop it up with one familiar face, and a new one, as Detroit’s ZotheJerk and producer Frost Gamble chop it up with us. You may remember Frost from a previous interview with last year with him and Tone Chop. These two have a new joint project dropping next month, titled Black Beach, which will feature Guilty Simpson, Sadat X, Boldy James and KXNG Crooked, among others. Check out the interview below.
the9elements: You two are releasing a new album titled Black Beach. Tell me how this project came about.
ZotheJerk: I told Frost my idea for doing a socially responsible album where I could address different facets of the black experience in America. I wanted to make the music of our time. Music that defined an era where our triumphs and tragedies could be celebrated. Music that meant something more than 15 minutes of fame. Frost provided the ambiance I provided the stories. It came out beautiful.
T9E: The album has features from the likes of Sadat X, Boldy James, Guilty Simpson and KXNG Crooked, among others. How did you both go about getting the features for this project?
Zo: Boldy and Guilt are the homies from Detroit, we have history. Basically Frost put the play together with Sadat X and KXNG Crooked. I’m a huge fan of their work so that was a blessing. The synergy of the features is perfect on Black Beach. I think the tracks with these guys came out beautiful. The mood was perfect and they each killed it!
Frost: I’ve had the privilege of working with Sadat in the past (on my 2014 Handpicked album), and we were able to connect with Crooked through the label, Zo had existing relationships with Boldy, Guilty and Young Bleed. It was thrilling to get all that talent on the album.
T9E: My favorite track off the album is Loyal Victims. The track speaks on the constant racial strike and police brutality that exists in the country. This something that everyone of us feels, but how close is a track like this to you Zo?
Zo: On Loyal Victims we used soundbites I shot personally at Von Derrit Myers candlelight vigil. That song holds a special place in my heart. The air was so thick as we celebrated Von’s life with his family. When Frost introduced the idea of the song to me it blew me away and I knew instantly this was the song I wanted to use to honor his life as well as speak candidly about our people being victimized. We worked on this song in Detroit. I took the skeletons of the song back to Kansas and had the Eveready do the hook on it.
Frost had the homie Dustin Davie add some finishing touches and it came out phenomenal. Loyal Victims will always touch a place in my heart, it always takes me back to that night. I can still taste the air and smell agony of a broken family.
T9E: Let’s talk about the both of you for a second. What’s the nature of your relationship? How did you guys meet?
Zo: Frost is my twin. We have so many similarities its crazy. We met through a mutual friend and publicist. I was hosting my podcast The JN Radio and Frost was my first guest. My guess is it was fate for us to do this work together. We started working together making music almost immediately. It just jives well. It’s pure. That’s my brother for sure, always will be no matter where our journey leads.
Frost: Right, the music flows from our kinship, it is remarkable how much we have in common, how easily we clicked into this path. That’s the power of Hip Hop.
T9E: This one is for Frost Gamble. Last year you connected with Tone Chop on a project titled Leave It Alone, one of the more slept releases of 2016. If you could, compare working with Tone to working with Zo.
Frost: First off, thank you, I’m very proud of that project.
Chop has a full length LP coming this fall, and there’s both similarities and differences. Zo and Chop both like the hard soul grooves I tend to gravitate to. The differences are more in song structure.
With Black Beach, there are songs where I had to mix 60+ tracks of audio, we tend to be more stripped down with Chop. But if you listen to Kill Everything Moving, they sound very natural together, basically, I have one of the best teams in the game.
T9E: Zo, you rep the city of Detroit. The D is a city that regardless of what hardships come, people will find a way. How has your city shaped you as an emcee, but more importantly, as a man?
Zo: Observing the city I noticed Detroit breeds different types of emcees. We have different types of lyricists. Detroit taught me the most valuable lesson that has served me well as an artist and as a man, to be who you are. Detroit isn’t a city where being fake or creating an identity is viable. It can actually get you killed.
Yet isn’t that the essence of great men? Being apologetically who you are and adding value from your perspective? We all live in a parallel universe, meaning we all are doing the same things at the same time yet we have different experiences and perspectives. This is how we evolve the human experience. Learning to mind and create your own world is essential while staying in touch with your environment.
All of these experiences replay throughout our life. They serve as a road map to self-preservation and forwarding the human experience. These lessons remain prominent in my art and life. That shaped my perspective of humans to understand you can never predict a human’s response to stimuli. Respecting the laws of the jungle and universe is what keeps you alive.
T9E: Zo, you have an interesting rap style to me when I hear you. Kind of reminiscent of Freddie Foxxx to me. Who were some of the cats you looked up to that made you wanna rap?
Zo: Interestingly enough, I studied Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap and the greats of that era. I studied Eminem, NaS, 2Pac, Jay Z, and the greats of that era. I like when words are visual so I always try to make the listener see what I am painting. To taste the euphoria and smell the air. To understand what drives the behaviors in the stories. I’m a fan of great writing. I’m just trying to add to the genre.
T9E: What’s next for the both of you guys?
Zo: I’m already working on the follow up to Black Beach. We have Muscle Shoals which is the soundtrack to Luther Ingram’s Autobiography in the hangar. I’m supporting anything the squad does. Anything Frost is on I’m on wholeheartedly. I support Tone Chop the same. Right now I’m on solidifying our legacy and getting my hands dirty taking our respect.
Frost: Zo’s one of the most prolific writers I’ve ever seen, we stay on working on new material and serve up the very best. Chop’s Respect Is Earned Not Given comes fall 2017, and my compilation project I Missed My Bus after that. Who knows, Zo and I may drop a few surprise singles here and there as well, before his next full length.
T9E: I really appreciate the both of you taking this time to chop it up. Any last words?
Zo: Black Beach…May 26th. Get it and Experience it.
Catch the wave! Hit me up on Twitter, @thejerknation and on Instagram, @zothejerk.
Frost: Check www.frostgamble.com for updates or holla @frostgamble on Twitter. Thanks very much the9elements. Your ongoing support is truly appreciated. Black Beach…May 26th. Please cop it!