Hailing from Atlanta, the Kingston, Jamaica born MC Zuse is one of the young rappers who’s starting to gain some momentum. The 23-year-old spitta’s music is part reggae, part trap and brings a totally new sound to hip-hop. The up-and-coming talent is affiliated with T.I.’s Hustle Gang label and is gearing up to tour with Tech N9ne this spring. He released his latest project, Illegal Immigrant last December. The album, which features Tip, OG Maco, Money Makin Nique, and Trae Tha Truth, among others, blends music genres into one excellent showcase of how talented he is. XXL sat down with Zuse to learn a bit more about who he is. Bullet.—Emmanuel C.M.
Hometown: Kingston, Jamaica
I grew up listening to: Shinehead, Buju Banton and Bob Marley. Eventually when I got older, I grew up listening to Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent really. Chronic 2001 came into the picture. Dr. Dre, Eminem, Jay Z, off the top of the head that’s where it’s at for me. I listened to those people. I listened to some Billie Holiday too, bro. Nina Simone, I listen to all types of music just to cleanse my soul; different songs, different types of music.
First rap album I ever bought was Get Rich or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent. I remember I was on the toilet taking a shit—pause—I put the CD to my Walkman and listened to that whole album. I listened to that whole album over and over again. I fell in love with hip-hop after I heard that album. “Patiently Waiting” with Eminem, I don’t why they didn’t make a video for that song. “Many Men,” “Back Down,” the whole album was a classic man. But it’s really between 50 Cent and Jeezy. When Jeezy came out with Trap or Die; they can’t do no wrong to me.
I came to Atlanta around two and a half years ago. I came to become a rapper, not to become a drug dealer or run away from Jamaica. It’s a third world country. People come here to America to make money. I came her to become a rapper and be the best at it. People in my country didn’t believe in me. They told me, “we are a reggae community and we created it. You can’t be no Jamaican rapper going to America trying to out-rap niggas that was born in U.S.” Now those same people told me that they are now fans because I came a long way. I went through a lot to become a rapper. FKi discovered me, them boys really polished me. T.I. met me and really believed in me and I am where I am because of all of them.
Most people don’t know I: I have no children. I have no kids. I have no tattoos. I am an only child from my mother. I can’t cook. I’ve been expelled from five schools. Been to jail three times.
My style’s been compared to: There’s no comparison. I can’t do what they do; they can’t do what I do. They can’t DJ. DJ meaning reggae. Not DJ meaning Disc Jockey meaning what Vybz Kartel and Buju Banton does. I can rap, sing, DJ and put it all in one song. No one has ever done that before it’s now called the Jamerican sound, it’s a new genre of music that I created. It’s the perfect blend.
Buju Banton is a big influence in my music; the raspiness. But you can’t only give him props; you have to give props to Young Jeezy. I always wanted to sound like Young Jeezy. I believed it. I believed his songs; yes this guy comes from the pain. My inner self channeled it. I channeled that same
My standout records and/or moments to date have been: Standout moment is when Tech N9ne sent me the link to his intro and said “Zuse said he got to pack a toy.” Standout moment also, T.I. pulls up to the studio and I’m the only person in there. He walks in and says, “Hey nephew I came to work with you tonight.” 5 o’clock in the morning. Didn’t carry his engineer or anything, he just came to see what I was doing. Walked into the booth, T.I. recorded for an hour until he was done. He doesn’t even remember that. He’s such a busy person but it showed me that this guy, who sold platinum records, pull up at 5 a.m. just to check on me to see what I was doing. He knows I work very hard. And when he gave me that verse, it meant the fuckin’ world to me bro. That shit meant the world to me.
My goal in Hip-Hop is: To be the greatest; to really bridge the gap and be the greatest at this thing. To show people that anybody who puts their mind to it can achieve anything. If you asked for it, you will get it. I believe in the law of attraction. Something that is very real to me and I believe in it. I want that kid in Mexico to say he’s really from Kingston, Jamaica, born and raised there and became a rap fucking megastar. [I want] to uplift youth all around the world, especially my demographic. We come from nothing. The difference between America and Jamaica is this. It’s a first world country, of course. So when people are hungry, they have food stamps. In our country, if you don’t have any money, you don’t eat. We don’t have the luxury to stand in lines for Jordans because we can barely afford slippers in our country. I’m in it for them. I want to be the greatest rap act since Tupac. I am the reincarnated Tupac. I am the modern day 50 Cent because these guys these days are all liars. I don’t believe them. I come from the real struggle. When I hear them talk about all this “bang bang” shit I laugh because I know they can’t live a day in my world. Everything I rap about I mean it, I stand by it and I’ll die by it. I’ll be the greatest rapper this world has ever seen.
I’m gonna be the next: I’m going to be the next megastar, the next fucking megastar. Selling albums means the world to me. To see that Drake can come out and sell 400K the first week, to see that J. Cole can come out with no single and sell 300K the first week. They’re pushing the envelope. That’s my competition to me even though the music is completely different. I want to give those boys a run for the money. Selling singles are easy but can you sell albums? Can you sell a 150K in the first week in this time? I will do that and they will watch me do that. I’ll do it over and over again. I’ll do it consistently. When I blow up I’m not going to say, oh I’m on the lean man. I’m going to blow up and say, y’all want to party, drive the phantoms I’m going to stay in the studio. I’m going to make these hits. I’m going to work forever. I’m 700 songs in right now. I’ve been rapping professionally for a year and a half. I released three mixtapes in one year: Bullet, Plug and now Illegal Immigrant. I think my work ethic speaks for itself. “Ew (remix)” it was me, T.I. and Young Thug. It was a blessing. Tech N9ne, I’m on his album, I’m going on a tour with him. It’s a blessing. It feels like it’s happening very fast and I’m very grateful for that.
Standout: Illegal Immigrant
Lil Herb featuring Zuse “Heaven Or Hell”
OG Maco featuring Zuse “Heat”
“What You Gon’ Do Bout It” Zuse, TIP, Trae Tha Truth, Zuse
Zuse “Dirty Sprite”