Gorilla Zoe: Complicated Monkey
If not quite a full on suicide note, Lost definitely represents some sort of departure. Once just a serviceable trap rap star the Boyz N The Hood pinch hitter (he stepped in when Young Jeezy bounced) is in the midst of bold creative changes. While none of the buzz tracks leading up to the Dont Feed Da Animals have matched the miserable brilliance of Lost, all are similarly unexpected. Were talking muted trance ballads (Echo, Later Alligator), anthemic lesbian house (I Like Girls) and even a Katy Perry freestyle. (Of these, only Echo made the final cut of the album.)
Simultaneously and strangely he remains dedicated to making more traditional Hip Hop. Animals is littered with straight forward cameos from hood favorites Gucci Mane, OJ Da Juiceman and Rick Ross and seems Zoe seems to jump in and out of that role with relative ease and little concern for continuity. In fact he basically shrugs off any suggestion that the transition from the street simplicity of Hood Nigga to Lost or Echo is anything but logical. And in todays twisted rap landscape of autotune rambling and Weezy gargles, he might actually be right. The rap digression has almost become a rite of passage.
Its hard to tell if Zoe is taking a calculated risk or just going completely crazy (and, ultimately, its irrelevant.) But if he is truly having the sort of breakdown that Lost implies then he is dealing with it in the calmest way possible. The taciturn emcee recently hit HipHopDX for a brief conversation about musical evolution and rocking the (actual) gorilla deck at the Atlanta Zoo.
HipHopDX: It seems like you're taking a lot of risks on this new record from what Ive heard?
Gorilla Zoe: Yeah, yep.
DX: What inspired all that? To make a record like Lost which is completely dark and sounds like nothing youve done before?
Gorilla Zoe: It's about music, man. It's not about making a certain type of... it's not putting a puzzle together or piecing together something [predictable]. It's not about a hit that's supposed to be 100 [BPM] or it's supposed to be 75-80 beats per minute or it's gotta have a certain analog [synth] sound to it. It's not about that. It's about making some music. A hit is a hit. I just felt like I wanted to prove to everybody that the world just ain't one way. But then I also wanted to do what I've learned. And what I've learned in going out all over the country, different places in the world, is that people just like good music.
DX: Have you been listening to a lot of music from outside the Hip Hop world?
Gorilla Zoe: Yeah I do listen to a lot of different stuff. Right now I'm rocking that Coldplay. I'm stuck on it.
DX: Are you worried about losing fans who discovered you through "Hood Figga" or Boyz N The Hood?
Gorilla Zoe: No, because I'm a king at making that shit. I make that shit with my eyes closed.
DX: So in a sense it almost seems like you got bored with that and wanted to challenge yourself?
Gorilla Zoe: Yeah in a way, that too. I want to be in every club in the country. Every major club, every hole in the wall. [I just finished] my first major tour with [Lil] Wayne [click to read], so...
DX: It seems like a lot a of artists are branching out in new directions, you mention Wayne. What do you think sparked that trend?
Gorilla Zoe: It was just natural. Evolution.
DX: How did the label respond to you evolving like this?
Gorilla Zoe: Of course it's gonna create some type of unsureness [sic], but once they'd seen the response...
DX: Are people in that camp pushing for this departure?
Gorilla Zoe: The whole label is now, it's a new lane. New money, anything that can open up a new lane... it's new product.
DX: What else can we expect from the album?
Gorilla Zoe: "What It Is" is the second single with Rick Ross [click to read] on it. I got some banging street music on there I can't not do that. I love making it, it's the quality of it, the sound is just harder. The beats are harder, the thump is harder, the claps are harder, everything just sounds better. And my subject [matter] has stepped up, I've stepped it up 100%.
DX: What are some of the things you're talking about on there?
Gorilla Zoe: I really wanted to reach into shit you say every day and just bring it to life. I got songs like "Shit On 'Em" and "Helluvalife" with Gucci [Mane] [click to read] and OJ [Da Juiceman].
DX: Who are you working with as far as producers? I know Drumma Boy's done the first few tracks.
Gorilla Zoe: Zaytoven. I produced some songs, [I did] one of the hardest songs on there called "Hood Clap."
DX: Have you been producing for a while?
Gorilla Zoe: For like three years now.
DX: So what's the music scene like in Atlanta right now?
Gorilla Zoe: Um... it's... changing. It's growing, it's evolving.
DX: In a good way?
Gorilla Zoe: I think in a good way. Everything changes. Change is always good.
DX: Are there any artists out right now you're checking for?
Gorilla Zoe: Just Wayne and Gucci right now. I can't wait for Gucci to get out. And I'm actually working with Wayne on his new album, it's crazy.
DX: Tell me a little about this listening party at the Atlanta Zoo.
Gorilla Zoe: That shit was wild, man. We did it on the gorilla deck. I let everybody listen to the album, open bar. We had a party in the zoo!
DX: How did the gorillas like the album?
Gorilla Zoe: Uh... they didn't know what the hell was going on.
DX: What inspires that how do you even arrange something like that?
Gorilla Zoe: My publicist did it. It was unique, we gonna try to do it in other cities.
DX: You could do a zoo tour.
Gorilla Zoe: Yeah that'd be crazy!
DX: Is there anything else you want to add?
Gorilla Zoe: I appreciate everybody keeping an open mind and supporting what's going on with music that means [a lot]. People fuck with me and that means a lot to me. That gives me a reason to keep making music.