In this era of labeless personas and complete freedom of expression, many won’t admit one glaring truth: we love lists.
From the moment we are born, each person enters the imaginary rankings of life. We classify everything according to its usefulness. Words such as “good” and “bad” enters our psyche as our caregivers decide which portions of our being are desirable. Beauty becomes a construct of vanity and we are judged by appearances rather than character. Each facet of the human experience lands us on a list in some cosmic being’s mind. Hell, even our souls are subjected to the notion of being worthy or unworthy of peace beyond physical existence.
We love to use our own understanding to rate things.
And many times, our basis for rating is complete bullshit.
At some point, the collective unconscious decided how we should be and what forms of expression are acceptable. Those same archetypes have morphed into deadly stereotypes. We have begun to use our knowings incorrectly. Misguided ideals for any person is manslaughter. A human can’t be too dark, too tall, too masculine without certain parts of their identity being ignored. The brute never has feelings, right? The world asks us to ignore who are in order to fit into the falsehoods created for us. And these falsehoods literally create mental destruction.
St. Louis-based rapper Zado uses his voice to practice an introspection that has not been affording to black American men. His music is soaked in emotional intelligence. He understands that art is created from a sacred space of feeling. Because of this connection, listeners are able to identify their own internal narrative. Your feelings are the connection between physical experience and spiritual knowing. It’s as valuable as witnessing healing waters washing away every interjection made by evil. Zado reminds all listeners, male and female, that there is no greater strength than moving with the ebb and flow of your own emotions. In the words of Jay Jay Benny of Polite As Flannels, #SelfCareBoyz.
For the record, what mediums of art do you partake in?
i try to do all of them. i feel like as a creative we all indulge a little in various mediums. i like to draw and shit. lol. i cant draw for shit but i still do. out of a sense of wanting to put a pic onto paper. sometimes stuff i cant exactly rap. sometimes stuff the world will never see. it’s important to have multiple outlets. but music, music will always be #1. i want people to know Zado, The Human. As a Rapper. thats the most important thing. im fine with being pigeonholed as that. i dont run from that. but no one will stop me from drawing when i want to. and writing. prose, poetry, scripts. i work on architecture alot. my dream for years has been to design furniture for ikea. again, i cant draw but it’ll happen. lol
How long have you been creating?
i think we’ve been creating since birth, dont you? like, little babies drawing pretend monsters and making monstrosities with their toy blocks and action figures. thats creating at its purest. the earliest thing i remember creating was a fiction novel when i was in 2nd grade. i remember they gave us glue and stitching and let us make real hard back books. i remember my teacher being so blown away that i was using big words at that age and was able to create such a vivid world in that book. i think musical elements started following shortly after.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself through your creative process? What inspires you?
that im more able to do than i think. all the times i had no money and was able to make something beautiful to me. as long as have my ideas, i’ll be whole. and my ideas are worth more than Gold. im inspired by everything really lol. im the type to look at the dumbest, blandest thing u can think of, and find some inspiration in it. lately its been alot of serene shit. like waterfalls. how could you be pissed sitting by a watefall surrounded by a bed of flowers? also ive been inspired by random animals like squirrels and dogs and raccoons. just realizing that without trying, they mastered the art of BEING. to just BE. thats what im working towards. to just BE sometimes.
A lot of artists pull inspiration from past creations (like older music artists, movies, etc.). Do you do this at all? If so, what are some of your favorite eras to pull from?
lil wayne and pharrell and kanye are my 3 biggest musical influences. all the music is a mesh of me really Rapping but also not being afraid of bridges or doing shit with my voice (even tho i cant sing) ive been doing that since i first started making music. it really clicked that i could be whoever when i seen the NERD Lapdance video. i hadnt really seen a black guy sound like that and be that til then. i was ignorant. i think alot of us were. at that age, rock to me, was white people headbanging. but seeing P do that, showed me i can be that outcast. its ok to be alienated. like, i know you want me to be that but im gonna over here and do this.
What do you think about music’s classification of genres?
i think we are gonna get to a time where there are no more genres. everything has always blended elements of each other, but i think there will be a point where its just MUSIC. i cant say if thats good or bad. but given Americas’ history and handling with black music, who knows. i do hate when they try to throw us in those stupid ass classifications. like the grammys listing albums under “Best Urban Underground Over 40 minute With Black Composers Album” or some shit. that makes me cringe. urban makes me cringe. like no nigga, that album is Album Of The Year. we dont need our own additional spaces. we need to occupy YOUR spaces.
Beyonce once stated that all artists are bi-polar in some ways. Kanye West has shown us a myriad of personalities and a wide range of mental health states over the years. Do you think creatives are more susceptible to emotional trauma and mental health issues?
if Dr. Beyoncè says im Bi-Polar, then im Bi-Polar.
How do you think mental health enhances or hinders creating?
theres a clip of mac miller speaking the same sentiment but just to echo it: i used to think i would be more creative if i was depressed, and dark and morbid. like that would make it brilliant. but its just not true. its important as artists, that you always document real life tho. the good and bads. thats real life. Rainy Days + Sunny Days. creating on both days. here in 2018 and some of my best music comes from a liberated state. when i was at Peace. and if i do make some sad shit, its important i remember not to wallow in it. remembering that i dont have to live in that moment forever. these days im creating from square one. everytime. ive made my foundation with how i wanna sound. my goal is to never be hindered by it. to always be unchained.
What's your safe space?
in my dreams. the ones in my head and the ones im going to achieve.
How do you think social media has aided in the increase in mental dis-ease?
it created a glass bowl for us. we are all fish in that glass bowl. and theres a million people tapping on the glass at all times while you swim back and forth to which seems like nowhere. it made us more susceptible to our triggers. but we became more aware which is awesome. me being 11 years old, i didnt think anyone else felt how i felt. thought the things i thought. but social media made it more common. more hunan. people have to know they’re not alone. as long as we have our anchors like that to hold us down, we can still traverse social media. its all good.
How do you think region (West Coast, East Coast, South) impacts sound? How has traveling impacted your creative journey?
i think regions Vaguely still have a sound, but as i was saying its all starting to blend. so you got people like asap rocky who grew up in new york but loved south sound. which makes a whole new sound. or london niggas doing drill. theres all genre specifics but it blends. i still havent figured out whats midwest lol. as much as i love nelly and chingy and the other legends, i knew that wouldnt be my sound. i lived in Arkansas alot when i was younger, so being in the south gave me that southern bounce. im attracted to alot of southern bounce beats. i cant help it. i was on alot of outkast, and yo gotti and 8ball and MJG. creatively that made me hungry. but confident. niggas in the south have a country confidence. its unbridled. i carry alot of that.
What do you think about the culture of the independent art scenes that exist nationally?
its so much more inviting i think. than it used to be. which happens. things grow. theres so many avenues full of independent artists and curators that kind of Glue this shit together. i can see that Chicago has a strong infrastructure. as well as Atlanta. California. things move like a machine it seems. people are so involved and all want to see each other succeed. i think STL has its renaissance coming. soon.
In your opinion, is there anyway artists can generate more resources and opportunities for their own city without traveling elsewhere?
i honestly don’t know. and i wish i did. if theres no infrastructure there for it to even exist, can u even get those resources? people leave and pursue it elsewhere cuz thats where the infrastructures are. spaces where things can happen for you. i hope saint louis can get it. we deserve it.
What larger themes exist in your music?
Introspection.. sitting and fucking reflect on you. but not too long. just being self aware. that its ok to be Vulnerable. Honesty. my favorite line ive wrote is on this song i have coming out called “See My Face”. the line is, “I been so transparent i could walk thru ya”. which is the thing, ive been open about everything right there in the music. things ive never told anyone that ive said in songs. the people expect and respect honesty. they know when its real.
What is the most important idea you want people to get from your art?
the idea to create. the inspiration to get up and make something. i want people to listen to my music and be inspired. thats my purpose. to give people inspiration and to give out genuine Light + Love.
How is this body of work reflective of your real life experiences?
its a literal SELF-PORTRAIT. thats the name of it but thats what it is. a drawing of how i looked at the time interpreted by me.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
to keep going. cliche advice is cliche for a reason. the simplicity of it. like thru all your doubts and apprehensions and tribulations. Keep Going. i try to give out advice whenever i can tho. thats my role as big brother. “Hov did that so hopefully you wont have to go thru that”
When can we expect another project to be released?
im releasing SELF-PORTRAIT this year. the culmination of all my demons losing time and time again. i fashioned it to be a painting/movie. you’ll hear it. its a roller coaster. theres love, hate, anger, dissatisfaction, sadness etc. all thru that.
Is there anything else that you want people to know that they may not have gathered?
im not as much of a hermit as people think. talk to me and lets have a conversation. its all love. suppport independent artists. we really rely on the people to keep going. look out for NOWHERE. a million more things coming. thats about it