Interview with Pitch Black's Zakee.
you been up to lately?
signed to Fontana and we have an album coming out late summer or early
fall. That joint is a real hardcore East Coast album. We're going in.
We got Alchemist, Cool and Dre, Marley Marl, Pete Rock, we have Primo
of course, we have Spiderman from back in the day, he produced "Poison"
for BBD. We have a couple other producers on there. It's a real nice album.
We're going to give you the raw Pitch Black.
you want the new one to be different from your first album Pitch Black
Black Law, we were trying to be more diverse. That's an element that's
always been a part of us. We enjoyed working with Teddy Riley and Swizz
Beatz. Pitch Black Entertainment has R&B producers who produced our
second single "Good Times." We enjoyed working with them, but
we wanted to give you that raw music, which is what we originally started
doing. That's what we brought you with this album.
industry ready for a new Pitch Black album right now?
I think it's
going to take time. I think they have to see the movement, feel us, and
see what we're about a little more before the industry gravitates towards
us. Our hardcore fans are going to love this because it's raw Pitch Black.
We have something on there for everybody. We have a song called "Mama"
for the mothers. Some may be radio-friendly, but they're still hard.
York want Pitch Black right now?
New York wants Pitch Black and they want something that sounds like that.
They want that raw Pitch Black sound. We kept it raw, East Coast music.
That's what New York wants right now. Everybody in New York, including
the DJ's, are indulging in the snap music and the other movements because
that's what's hot right now. The streets of New York want to hear that
New York sound right now.
you get producers like Primo and Marley to work with you?
I learned about being in this industry is that people in the industry
have a totally different outlook on artists. There are people we run into,
like Jazze Pha two years ago, he said we were hot and he wanted to work
with us; what I'm saying is we get a lot of respect and admiration from
a lot of people. The Lox show us a lot of love. Styles P is the only hip-hop
artist we have as a guest on the new album. He's on "Nice."
They love what we're doing and they appreciate the art. All we have to
do is build it up and let the world see it.
dropped a year ago, right?
put it out for the world to hear it. On the B-Side was a joint called
"Revenge." That song is crazy. I can't wait for the streets
to hear that.
happy with how "Nice" did?
Yeah. I wanted
to let our core fan-base know that we're still here and we're not going
nowhere. It also allowed others to gravitate towards us. It kept the movement
moving. I'm very happy with it. We just put it out to see what would happen
and we got a lot of love. We'd go out to a lot of parties and people would
tell us they were loving that joint. I'd be at SOB's or Joe's Pub and
people would tell me they needed the vinyl. That was really good.
going to push "Revenge" next?
right now. It's been a long time. Our first album came out February of
2004. Now it's May of 2006. There's a big gap there. We have to see what
our fan-base wants from us first. If they want "Revenge," then
we'll put it out. If there's something else they want, we'll put that
out. We're coming out this summer with that raw and we'll be out there.
We're getting our grassroots movement up. I'm up on MySpace a lot. I even
got my AIM screen-name up there. I'm trying to get out there where people
can feel us and touch us. It's a gradual process. By September, when our
album is supposed to drop, we'll be in the midst of it again.
are you working on right now?
on my album with Che Logan. You guys posted our first single, "So
Much Man." I'm working on finding any way to get me, Zakee, and Pitch
Black out there. People that might like Live Wire, who's also on the single,
and Che, who's in a group Lochannan, they might like me. I got a lot going
on right now with two albums dropping this year. I can't complain.
is one of my coolest friends. A lot of people are going to look at the
album and be like, "Where did this dude come from?" In all actuality,
that's my man. He was in a group called Lochannan, and before that they
were DotCom. They had a single on Hot97 featuring Big Kap called "Bananas."
DJ Red Alert was giving it play. When Lochannan was formed, they had their
own following. He's raw and Brooklyn to the core, so me and him together
now is like how we used to be in college together, because we went to
college together. We started doing a few songs, then it was five or six.
It's Che Logan's solo album but it's featuring Zakee.
you and Che work together?
all left college, this is like 2001, I wasn't really doing too much musically.
We were doing some Pitch Black shows. Che had called me and said, "Let's
do an album together with everybody we were chilling with in college."
My right-hand man JUS was a part of that as well. The chemistry was crazy
because we were around each other on a regular basis. It came out crazy,
so when it was time for Che to do his solo album, he called me like, "What's
good, let's do some joints." Che is the type of artist who's a thinker.
He's very metaphoric. You have to really listen to what he has to say.
Nobody's talking about what he's talking about right now so he's going
to be very relevant.
that album going to drop?
for June, July, or August. We're hitting up the internet heavy. We have
the MySpace page for that. We're putting a team together to help us market
and promote it correctly. People are definitely going to get to hear it
and judge it.
have any plans to come out as a solo artist?
I have a
lot of plans with that. I realize that this is a business at the end of
the day. No matter how nice I feel I am or how nice other people think
I am, I realize I have to sell records. As Pitch Black, we didn't sell
enough records to get where we wanted to. I have to, as a man, get out
there and sell some records myself. Me and Che Logan have to do our numbers
and I have to let them know what Zakee is about. If I do my numbers, I
can approach the labels and distributors and come out how I want to come
out and have the right team around me.
wrong on Pitch Black Law?
two things. I'm going to be as real as possible without going too deep
into it. We all came into the game together, as a group and with our production
company. Before people heard "It's All Real," we had been rocking,
doing Pitch Black, for ten years. We were together for ten years trying
to murder the game. When we got our deal with Universal, we were still
fresh. There were still a lot of things we didn't understand. I blame
this on me. We didn't build a proper relationship with the label. That's
number one. Number two is there were a lot of politics at Universal at
the time that we got signed. The dude who signed us had his own situation
up there where it was crazy for him. That trickled down and affected our
deal. We had "It's All Real" on BET and MTV and the streets
were talking about what's next, and the label pulled the plug on us for
political reasons. I can't even be mad at that. That's how it goes. Now
I know we have to know what's going on at a corporate level so you can
fit in. Pitch Black is a brand and we didn't fit in and they didn't spend
any money on branding us.
have any ill will towards Universal today?
No. I don't
have any ill will towards Universal. We still sort of build with them
because Fontana goes through Universal. I don't have any ill will towards
anybody there. I feel that one person up there could have put us on to
what was going on up there. When everything hit the fan and that person
went one way and Universal went the other way, we were left out to dry.
That person could have manned up and told us what was going on, and that
didn't happen. I got love for Universal though. At the end of the day,
it was business, not personal, and if they offered me the right deal,
I would go back.
look at going to Fontana as a step down?
No. I look
at it as getting in where you fit in. Our core fan-base is not mainstream.
Mainstream listeners are followers. They follow what's hot at the time.
Our core fan-base is not followers. Being independent, we're able to reach
our core audience more and have them embrace us instead of going to a
major and having the masses like us for a minute. As an independent, you
have more control over your image and likeness, your music, and you get
more money for each sale. We just have to put it out the right way and
everything else will be fine. I don't see it as a step down for us, although
it might be for other people.
ever frustrate you that Pitch Black can't be hugely successful in a mainstream
I have knowledge
and understanding of the situation, so I'm not frustrated because I know
what's going on. At the same token, I have the freedom to do what I want
to do and I can be the type of artist that I want to be. There's no price
tag you can put on that. Other artists don't have that much control over
their situation. They may have money, but that doesn't mean they're necessarily
happy with the type of artist that they are. That's irreplaceable. I don't
think any type of money or any type of fame could replace that feeling
because as artists, you want to be portrayed a certain way and your voice
portrayed a certain way over a beat instead of being told you're going
to be placed in the studio with Pharell and you're going to take your
pictures like this. Not having that control would be hell to me.
expecting mainstream radio play in the future or will you be satisfied
with satellite radio and internet play?
I think that
everything is a step and I think it would be best to start with satellite
radio and places like that. You have to walk up the steps. When you get
to the top, you get there. If you're in an elevator, the elevator is in
control. If you get stuck, you can't move. I feel like starting out small
is a blessing in disguise because you can see your progress. You're going
to progress. That's natural. That's a part of life. When you do get to
the top of the steps, everybody at the top down to the bottom is going
to remember you and like you because you walked the steps with them.
your cousin DCQ been up to?
He has his
group Medina Green. He stays on his grind. Believe that. I heard Studio
Distribution doesn't exist anymore. He's doing his thing and we get up
from time to time. That's family so it's all good.
your other cousin, the mighty Mos Def?
Mos, Mos is Mos. He's working on an album. I haven't been in the mix of
that but I heard some and he's going back to what people want to hear.
He's doing good for himself. The most important thing was that growing
up, he's always been on TV, so me seeing him, I always wanted to be a
rap artist and I always wanted to act. I remember seeing him doing ABC
series and Pepsi commercials and the Cosby Mystery Series. There's nothing
else he could do to bring me inspiration that can top that. I have to
thank him for that.
going to do some tracks with DCQ and Mos in the future?
we see each other, it's family. I don't really try to discuss music with
them. I'll play joints for them and they'll play joints for me. It's more
of a support thing for us. Mos came to our album release party. Whenever
he's performing, I go and show support. I always support him and he'll
always support me. It's the same with DCQ. He's on his grind. He's got
his things popping and he's doing his numbers. We support each other,
that's how it is.
your main focus right now?
right now, for me, to be honest with you, is to develop Pitch Black, Zakee,
and Che Logan and everyone else I work with as a brand. I feel like if
we accomplish that, we'll have a voice. The main thing right now is branding
us. We have a lot of people in this game and we want to brand ourselves
and make money so we can survive as an entity.
you want to say to everyone?
We're coming. Be true to yourself. If you're trying to come up as an artist
or a ballplayer or whatever you want to do, stay away from the nonsense.
Before you can be anything, you're a man first. Remember that.