Last updated: 11/14/2013 05:41:16 AM
According to the dictionary the word zero is a numerical symbol that represents the absolute absence of any quantity or magnitude. It is the lowest possible point or degree, nothing, zilch, nada, nil. Over the years the word zero has come to represent the average brother struggling to survive in the wake of devastating poverty and institutional racism that has regulate young Black men to the bottom of Americas socio-economic latter; hence the reason why Houston native and Rap-A-Lot latest rap sensation Z-RO chose the numerical symbol for his stage moniker. I come from nothing, says Z-RO. Didnt have nothing and couldnt see nothing up ahead. Everything was just nothing. So I told myself a long time ago that I am going to adopt the name of nothing and make something with it. I took that name to keep me grounded and to remind me of where I came from and to respect my blessings right now so I dont go back that way.
It was through hip-hop that Z-Ro found a channel for his experiences. While playing basketball at Willow Ridge High, he was also getting good grades. "I mean, I was doin' it right," he says. Then, another setback. He got shot, and couldn't pass the physical to play ball. To this day, Z-Ro carries the shell casing in his body. "I was like 'I can't play ball no more, I don't want to be robbin' and shit, let me give this rap shit a try,'" he says.
Z-Ro, born Born Joseph Wayne McVey in Houston's South Park area, (Also home to Scarface) states "It was the regular lil' ghetto life, ya know?" says the rapper of his formative years. "I wasn't born into no ghetto, my people had money so I was goin' to a good elementary school. But then tragedy strikes - my momma die. I'm livin' house to house now, 'cos don't nobody want an extra mouth to feed." Times were hard, and with no fatherly guidance, a young Z-Ro had to fend for himself. It wasn't until Z-Ro grew older, that the trauma of his mother's death hit him. She died from cancer, and at 20 years old, Z-Ro still very much remembers. "I was six-years-old, I seen my momma when the paramedics came in, took her up off the bed, with a sheet over her face," he recalls. "I ain't know what that meant at six-years-old. I thought 'damn, why y'all messin' with my momma, she asleep'. When I got into my first apartment at 15, then it hit me for real, 'cos I was payin' all the bills. It tore me up. By this time he had moved to Missouri City (a Houston suburb known to locals as Mo' City')"I was on my own pretty much 'til 13," he continues. "I got 13 and I moved back with my grandmother. From then on, it was crazy. Thats when shit started to get real, recalls Z-Ro. A nigga started experiencing muthafuckers gettin' shot, killin' themselves, drugs, stab wounds and all that other type of shit. That shit hit me like a storm. I got caught up in the underflow. I became a product of that for real, I became a muthafuckin' threat.
A veteran of 16 albums at the age of 28 and an acclaimed member of Houston's Screwed Up Click, Z-Ro is much more complex than his surface or the simple intro of THE LIFE OF JOSEPH W. MCVEY may imply. Started making music with befriended local rap group, Street Military, who were signed to EMI-. "I'd go over they house, we playin' ball, smokin' weed, and around 8 o'clock, Lil' Flea used to come downstairs and be like 'look, we gonna start recording. Everybody that ain't recording, get the fuck out! If you ain't here to work, leave'," recollects Z-Ro. "So I stayed, just to peep out the process. They was writin', bobbin' they head, smokin' weed, singin' and shit. I fell in love with that and it seemed like overnight it came to me, ya know? I had always been in singing groups and church choirs, my old man played music, my momma used to sing. It was in my genes already, I just had to tap into it". Now a member of Street Military's Killa Klan collective, with his rap skills being honed, Z-Ro found himself inducted into DJ Screw's infamous Screwed-Up Click in 1997 his fiery, toe-taggin body-baggin & braggin style contrasted with the slowed-down crew. But Screw wasn't the only one to pick up on Z-Ro's talent, and what followed over the next five years were a string of independent albums, considered by fans around the world to be Down South classics.
His first major appearance on Houstons rap scene came with his unforgettable freestyle cameo on Wreckshop Records Ghetto Dreams back in 1998. From there, Z-Ro made a name for himself on the production/ghostwriting tip, penning lyrics and making beats for everybody from Big T to Big Moe. His own hardcore but heartful lyrics garnered him so much underground fame as a member of Guerrilla Maab that is caused a series of break-ups and make-ups within the group. In 1998, Z-Ro released his first album Look What U Did To Me, 1999 saw the release of the equally lauded Rise by the Guerilla Maab, a group Z-Ro formed with his cousin Trae, and brother Dougie-D, followed up two years later in 2000 with his second solo album, the acclaimed Z-Ro Vs. The World. Z-Ro continued to impress his underground following with his third album released King Of The Ghetto 2001. Songs like "World Wide" and "Still My Life" combined strong subject matter with commercial and club appeal, and with Z-Ro's numerous guest appearances on releases from the likes of Big Moe, DJ Screw and ESG, the rapper enjoyed a growing following of loyal fans. "Each album was like a stepping stone to now," adds Z-Ro. "On my first album I did free shows, my second album I did $500 shows, and so on. The more money starts building up in my pocket, okay, now the more dope I am, ya know what I'm sayin'?" As such, Z-Ro shows are guaranteed roadblocks throughout the South. Prolific output isn't the only thing he has in common with hardcore legends such as Too Short and Rap-A-Lot icon Scarface; Z-Ro also cuts his hard-edged street delivery with a haunting, almost hypnotic, introspection. Z-Ro released three albums the next year, releasing two albums on KMJ and one on Presidential. In 2004, Z-Ro released an album on Rap-A-Lot, but was sent to jail soon afterward for drug charges. His old label, KMJ released another album soon after even though he was no longer on the label. In 2005, Z-Ro teamed up with fellow S.U.C. member Lil' Flip for his latest album, 'Kings Of the South'. Months later he released his tenth album titled, 'Let the Truth Be Told', on Asylum. Produced by a slew of the Souths hottest producers lead by the legendary Mike Dean Let the Truth Be Told stands as one of the best records that the label has released in a while. True to Rap-a-Lot and Z-ROs tradition of keeping their music real street is the lead single entitled The Mule featuring label-mate Devin the Dude & Juvenile, a slow and nasty song that harks back to the randy tradition of the Geto Boys This Dick is for You jam. For those that dont know hitting them with the mule means fucking the dog shit outta somebodys daughter, explains Z-Ro. Another standout track is the heartfelt song Im Going Platinum, a song that displays Z-RO positive outlook on his career. While these songs help to give the album a variety it is the hardcore, take-no-prisoners attitude of songs like the title page that make Let the Truth be Told so irresistible. With appearances in XXL, The Source, and Murder Dog in 2003, the world is beginning to embrace a new superstar in our midst. But don't judge Z-Ro on the fact that he dissed the so-called biggest rap star in the world, on the aforementioned "Bitch Nigga". There's so much more to him than that. He truly is the 'Mo City Don'.
Im gonna let the truth be told on faggot-ass police. Im let the truth be told on these faggot-ass CEOs of these record labels, I let the truth be told on these faggot-ass niggas in the street, Im letting the truth be told on these rappers thats one thing about me is I tell like it is. You can call me a label muthafucka because I put labels on muthafuckas. Its a lotta muthafuckas rapping from the 3rd person man. They just there to talk about shit in general. Me, Im gonna talk about some particular shit or some particular muthafuckas. If I feel like a muthafuckas being less than a G then Im gonna say it on my shit. Thats why I called it Let The Truth be Told.
And to All my real niggas and my real bitches, and my real women, grown-ass men, ya know responsible baby daddies, responsible baby mama-type people, keep supportin Z-Ro and keep buyin that Guerilla Maab and be on the lookout for Traes new shit, Dougie Ds new shit, keep buying S.L.A.B. keep supportin that, and keep supportin Gangstafied and support Houston music we in this, gon be the muthafuckin force to be reckoned with. You know Imma keep puttin out that gutter shit, but at the same time that real shit. Its gonna be full of some gangsta shit, full of some shit to make you cry, full of some shit to make you smile, full of some shit to make you wanna beat a muthafucka up. Its gon be the same shit on every release so I need my same fans and hopefully I can get a few new ones along the way. And last but not least, these mothafuckas might think you last in the race but when the smoke clears, were gonna see whose the last mothafuckin man standin.