The Whole 9 takes a trip to New Orleans to chop it up with rapper/producer Ze11a. He recently released a single titled Out Here, which featured Anderson .Paak. He also a new album out titled 4What4U, which features Mannie Fresh, Dee-1, Pell, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Dani Kartel, and more. Check out the interview below, and for more, check him out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
the9elements: How did you get your stage name?
Ze11a: I grew up Uptown New Orleans, in a hood called the 11th ward. Chilling on St. Thomas St. with the homies, I got the name Ze11a (pronounced zel-la) in a ribbing session. That shit just stuck to me. Now the ladies love to say my name.
T9E: What made you decide to become a rapper?
Z: I came up playing music. From jazz bands to west African/Afro-Cuban, I’ve played and been around music my whole life. The first time I heard Uptown Thang by B.G. and Mannie Fresh, I knew I was destined to share my sound with the world.
T9E: What’s the first rap song you ever heard? Describe the moment.
Z: It probably was The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. My older brother had a dope ass vinyl collection and I used to listen to all his shit. But Represent by NaS and DJ Premier had to be the first time I was really paying attention. I fell in love with rap at that point.
T9E: How did your single Out Here come together? What was the genesis of your coming together with Anderson?
Z: My manager came back from SXSW with the Venice album and I fell in love with Anderson .Paak’s sound. In our minds Drugs was the biggest hit and to find out dude is a drummer, it just made more sense because I’m also a drummer. We flew out to L.A. one week and was able to make the connection through my fam and the rest is history.
T9E: How was Flight School born?
Z: A bunch of producers from the city got together because we were all working with the same artists (Lil Wayne, Juvenile, Mannie Fresh, BG, Kevin Gates, Dee-1, Kidd Kidd) etc… and figured it’d be easy to push the movement forward faster as a squad. Years later we linked up with Mannie Fresh and toured the south with the Beat Summit. Our main focus is continuing the sound and legacy of one of the greatest music cities on earth: New Orleans.