What do Southern Soul and Blues have in common with Rap Music? Well, the answer is ‘Black Zack’.
Who is ‘Black Zack’? He’s labeled the First Southern Soul & Blues Juke Joint Rapper. In my article that was printed on page 14, in issue #171 in 2012, I wrote: “I can see our music changing ~Southern Soul/Soul Blues~ that is. I can see our legends making some changes in their style and music like adding Rap into their music and guest appearing on Rap Artist’s tracks. We all know that Rap Artist have always sampled music and flowed/raped over the top of it. Well what do you think about Rap Artists and blues Artists teaming up and doing a collaboration? Is this too much or is it what we need to keep our music alive?
Will Rap and Hip Hop Artists start using more Blues Artists Music now like they’ve used the R&B Artists in the past? (Jay Z & Alisha Keys – New York (an anthem known from Frank Sinatra), (R. Kelly and Ronald Isley with Mr. Big.) Or should I even ask, will it be a new category started soon that will be a mixture of Blues and Rap? Will we hear the usage of more words that are belittling to women such as the “B” word and harps/harmonicas in the same track? I just don’t know, but it won’t surprise me to start hearing more cursing in the Blues music and more Blues music with the Rap Artists.” Well! Here it is Southern Soul & Blues infused with Rap. Let’s see what the First Southern Soul & Blues Juke Joint Rapper “Black Zack” has to say about this combination.
Jazzii – Black Zack, little did I know that when I wrote the article back in 2012 that Southern Soul would have its first Southern Soul Juke Joint Rapper. Tell us about Black Zack…. Who is Black Zack and where are you from?
Black Zack - Hmmm! Black Zack is a Southern Soul, Blues, Juke Joint, Hole in the Wall, Grown & Sexy, Brown Liquor Music Rapper. I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana but I was raised in Cleveland, Ohio “C-town baby”.
Jazzii – How long have you been and how did you get started in the music business?
Black Zack – “WOW” you got me thinking! For about 15 years and my second to the oldest sister Joan helped me get signed to my 1st record deal “Plum-Town-Records”
Jazzii - You have been labeled with a couple of titles… How did you acquire the title of the Party Man and as being the 1st Juke Joint Rapper of Southern Soul?
Black Zack – Well Ms. Jazzii whenever you come to a BLACK ZACK & the ‘Southern Soul Players’ concert... baby!! It’s time to party. As far as being the first Southern Soul Juke Joint Rapper! DJ Lady T-Max booked me on a show in the ‘Delta’, Greenville, Mississippi. I was being interviewed on the radio station 94.3WBAD-FM by DJ Doc Shanks and he told me “Black Zack, I been in this business for a long time and you are the original and the 1st Southern Soul Juke Joint Rapper” and he kept saying the ‘original!! And I thought about it and said yeah!! I am and ran with it, so that title was given to me.
Jazzii – Do you see more and more Rappers combining their craft with Southern Soul &Blues?
Black Zack - Yes, and I’m also starting to see some Southern Soul Rappers coming up. JRed is producing, an up and coming Southern Soul Rapper by the name of ‘Bubbie Smooth’, and that’s great to see. Because I feel like I helped to start a new genre of music and that means a lot to me.
Jazzii – What was your first project and with who?
Black Zack - My first project was in a group called ‘CASUAL’ with a singer name Smokey we were the 1st and only at that time to form a group with a rapper and a singer in Cleveland and this was before ‘BELL BEV DEVOE (BBD) we were produced by Mike Perison the brother of Rudy Pardee from the group ‘LA DREAM TEAM’ who he also produced for and every show we did people just thought it was so unique to see a rapper and a singer in the same group. I have a lot of good memories from them days... Sorry!! But talking about this got me going back down memory lane. Some good times ?
Jazzii – Tell us more about Black Zack – Do you write, produce, play any musical instruments, or sing?
Black Zack - Yes I write and produce although I don’t play any instruments, I can play the keyboard enough to produce a track. And far as singing, I wish. But when I’m drinking some happy juice you can’t tell me I can’t sing lol.
Jazzii – How do you come about your material, do you write your lyrics first and then search for a track or do you write to the track?
Black Zack - Well I prefer to write to the track because the track to me is like a blue print directing you on how to build your house. So with that being said, having a track 1st tells me where I need to go with the ideal of the song but sometimes I do come up with the lyrics before the track and those are the times when it just hit me out of no were like when I’m driving in my car and sometimes in my dreams and I wake up with it still in my head. And I don’t write my songs down on paper I think of the lyrics in my head till it’s time to record the song. Which is not good all the time, causes sometimes I’ll forget the lyrics…?
Jazzii – When you release a CD how do you categorize it?
Black Zack - Southern Soul ‘Hip Hop’
Jazzii – I know you work a lot because I see your name on a lot of the bills. Are you doing any international tours or is that something in the works?
Black Zack – Yes I do!! But, I have never been overseas, but that’s my dream, to go places like Australia, UK, and Japan. Cause I do have a fan base over there. A DJ out of Sidney Australia by the name of Suniula Daniels CEO of MUZIC “N” ME radio show plays a lot of my music out there. So hopefully in the near future and God’s willing I will be able to perform in other countries.
Jazzii – As a Hip Hop Artist what are some of your works?
Black Zack - In the early 90s while in the group called ‘CASUAL’, Plum-Town Records released our 1ST album called ‘TAG THE BOOTS’, we had some great songs on that album, like “Nasty Attitude, Casual Groove, Just My Imagination and Aint No Sunshine featuring the RNB group the ‘Break Of Dawn’ plus many more. That album is a classic in my book. Ok, in the late 90s I went solo. And I was singed to the Death Row’s spin off label called Knockout entertainment. I added black to my name and made it BLACK ZACK and named the title of my album ‘ZACK’s WOURLD’ with songs like Get Buck, Haters, Drank Dank Stank, Player s%!t, and the 1st hip hop version of Balling On a Budget, I recorded this song again with a southern soul style and put it on my southern soul album. I also did a joint project with Platinum Bass recording artist 12Gauge and hip hop artist Pretty Boy Thug, we took Van McCoy’s Do The Hustle and remade it into a line dance song in 1999 and called it the ‘HUSTLE 2000’.
Jazzii – After having the pleasure of being on main stream as a Rapper, what made you come over to the Chittlin’ Circuit and why have you stayed?
Black Zack - Well, Bruce Billups produced my entire hip hop album when I was on death row’s Knockout Entertainment Label. He also produced Stand Up In It for Theodis Ealey and produce hit songs for southern soul artists like Lebrado, Lacee and many more. He ask me to come and rap on a track called the TWIST with William Bell’s recording artist ‘Jacquel’ a song that was made by Team Air Play. Ok, to make a long story short the song got a lot of play in the Southern Soul market so team air play booked me on some southern soul shows and I fell in love with Southern Soul cause its grown and sexy and the people just want to come out and have a good time... plus I have gotten older and didn’t want to rap about what the DJ’s were playing on the mainstream radio stations. So I decided to become a rapper in Southern Soul because I can rap about grown up topics with a juke joint flavor and I love it. I’m not looking to get rich or become a huge star over here. I’m just having fun and entertaining people while I’m doing it and that’s why I’m staying. It’s in my soul now.
Jazzii – You have done and are still doing some mighty big things. Also, you have recorded with some season Artists like Sir Jonathan Burton, a former member of the Manhattan, please elaborate on this.
Black Zack - Jonathan Burton is one talented brother with an awesome voice, and it was truly an honor to rap on his song. We kept bumping into each other at gigs and on the road. Then one day he told me that he like my style and asked if I would rap on a remix to “Party Don’t Start” () and I said hell yeah so we made it happen.
You can also check me out in an independent animated and still picture movie called Gorgeous Knight by Origin Nile Films. I have worked with Eshe from ‘Arrested Development’, Khalil and Stevie D. Lundy of the Force MD’s, also the Force MD’s have a movie documentary coming out called Force MD’s Relived you can check me out in that. I’m also cast in two other movies that will be out in the near future, so be checking for Black Zack on the big screen at a theater near you or a boot leg copy at the corner store or barber shop...LOL can’t knock the hustle. And I also had the pleasure of working with the legendary Queen of New Orleans Ms. Betty Harris; she had a hit record out in the 60’s called “Cry To Me”. She’s featured on a song that’s on my album called the “OTHER SIDE”. And I can’t forget my man Fred Bolton ‘R.I.P.’ we recorded a remake of Ronnie Lovejoy’s song “SHOW WASN’T ME” () which is also in heavy rotation in the Southern Soul market. You can purchase these songs from my album SOUTHERN SOUL RADIO `Juke Joint Rap` at any of the online music stores like Cd baby, Amazon, ITunes and many more you will love it, it has a lot of great songs on it.
Jazzii – I have had the pleasure of listening to a lot of your work since you have been over on the Southern Soul market. I must admit when you come in you really light up and give extra life to a track. I don’t know what you are like on stage but I promise if your live shows are half as good as the life you bring to a song then your show should be awesome. Some of your work that I am familiar with are – Club N Da Woods () with Jacquel and now the opening theme song for my radio show, N-Da-Kno with Jazzii A. (www.wndk.biz)
Who are some of the artists that you would like to work with or rework with on a project in Southern Soul and any other genre?
Black Zack - I just collaborated with the Southern Soul Blues Artist ‘Bobbie Doll Johnson’ on her new song called ‘Twerk It’ and it’s doing well. Now I’m actually working on my new album as we speak and I will be working with Theodis Ealey, Ms. Jody, Falisa JaNaye’, Avail Hollywood and R&B Legends the Force MD,s. I would like to work with Bobby Rush, OB Buchana and Luther Lackey. And on the R&B side I would have to say, I would like to work with Anthony Hamilton, New Edition and Jeffery Osborne.
Jazzii – I must also say alone with several other DJ’s in different parts of the US, that you have the Hottest New Line Dance for 2014 “Row Row”. Tell us about the making of your dance “Row Row”.
Black Zack - Let me first say thank you Ms. Jazzii. Because I must say what inspired me to do the “Row Row” is your song “Stomp” that I use to do in my shows on the road with the twist and the floor would get packed so I decided that I was going to come up with a line dance and I taught the dance to everybody that was on the road with me Jacquel, Rasheeda, Lebrado and the retired NBA star Terry Cummings, he gave up the basketball and picked up a mic. So at the end of your dance “Stomp” we would all do my dance the “Row Row” together and the audience loved it. So when I got back home I told Bruce Billups that I was going to record a song to it. He said cool but he didn’t have time to record it because he was going on the road with Theodis Ealey. So I went to STR Studio, which is ran by my band leader Scott T. Roberson and he loved the idea. We then called guitarist Chris Blackwell over and we started production. I kept hearing a Michael Jackson voice in my head so I called up the group the Force MD’s and sung the part I wanted them to sing. I then emailed them the track. They sung their part and then emailed the vocals back and that was a wrap baby…We had the “Row Row”. So check out the video on YouTube, just type in: Black Zack Row Row. ()
Jazzii – Are you aware that I am the fourth person in the world to have a copyright on a dance, me and MixxMaster Lee? So, you already know I’m going to ask, do you have a Copyright on this dance?
Black Zack - Yes I did the po’boy Copyright, I mailed the dance back to myself with the post office stamp on it and I’m never going to open it!! LoL!! I’m just playing. No, I don’t have a copyright on the dance, but maybe I can be the fifth person to copyright a line dance. So Ms. Jazzii, maybe you can help a brother out with that, and share some of your knowledge & wisdom…?
Jazzii – You are a spokesperson for Inca Gold VIP, tell us a little bit about Inca Gold VIP…what is it like and how did you became the spokesperson for this spirit.
Black Zack - Inca Gold VIP is a Pisco from the Peru one of the top spirits in that country and now it’s being launched in the United States. They somehow came across my music and contacted me and said they like my style and my image. So I guess that means they were digging my swag. !!LOL!! So they shot a commercial, put me in it and made me the spokesperson. So go to your local spirit store and pick up a bottle of Inca Gold VIP. Inca Gold VIP is stronger than Vodka but smoother then Tequila. You can find out more about Inca Gold VIP at www.incaspirits.com.
Jazzii – Rumor has it, that you have a cruise. Do you have a cruise and if so, will you tell us about it?
Black Zack - Yes it’s the 3rd annual cruise. The cruise is Aug 24, 2014 to Freeport & Nassau, Bahamas with "Jesse James”, “Bobbie Doll Johnson” & Black Zack...Interior Cabins $400….Ocean View Cabins $425.00…..just $50.00 will hold your spot…..So in the words of Smokey Robertson "BABY LETS CRUISE" ITS GOING DOWN EVERY YEAR…To book your cruise, or for more information go to: www.apollotravel-tours.com OR CALL 770- 815-1490.
Jazzii – What can the world expect next from Black Zack?
Black Zack - I don’t know what to expect from myself. I’m still trying to figure me out really, so I just take it as it comes I put God first and go with the flow of life. But I would like to try my hands in producing and directing movies
Jazzii – Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about Black Zack or anything that you would like to add that I may not have ask you?
Black Zack - I think you pretty much got everything out of me and I thank you so much for this memorable opportunity. And I just want to add this; you only have one life to live so by all means please make the BEST OF IT. Much love to my God and much love to my family you guys are #1 in my life. Much love to my fans cause without y’all I’m no one but with y’all I can be number #1 and much love to you Jazzii. ? Peace Earth People, it’s time for me to go back to my planet ~~~
Jazzii – No Black Zack, I want to thank you, for such an opportunity to be able to do this interview with you and to give our readers the chance to get to know Black Zack. It has given me the opportunity to be one of the first to have the pleasure to write about the infusion of Southern Soul Blues with Rap and to be able to shed light on how Southern Soul Juke Joint Rap was born. I would like to encourage everyone to take a look at Black Zack and his music and I truly think that you will find it to be Refreshing, Innervating and Up-lifting. So until the next time I am the one and only Ms. Jazzii A.