If anybody deserves some buzz in Houston right now, it's Z-Ro. It's obvious that Rap-A-Lot has a history of promoting their artists with a lackadaisical approach, as I'll point out in the second part of today's post. Yeah yeah Pimp C's Pimpalation album is expected to debut on #2 with 100,000 units, but how long he can sustain those sales is what really matters in the long run? Why did Bun B's much stronger, much-anticipated solo do some shitty numbers? Why is Z-Ro frustrated and ready to call it quits? I bring you the interview, you do the math.
In case you missed Part 1, we're starting off with the last question from that half of the interview. In Part 1, I asked Z-Ro if there was some sort of challenge associated with being on Rap-A-Lot Records. Here's his response:
Z-Ro: You could say that. I can only speak for myself; I donâ€™t know the next personâ€™s situation. All I know is my situation. My work ethic is unquestionable. Before I came to Rap-A-Lot, I was dropping three records a yearâ€¦independently. I drop one album a year now. Iâ€™m used to flooding the market with my shit. Thatâ€™s what I used to do to stay afloat, not because Iâ€™m trying to make muthafuckas out here respect my grind. Itâ€™s just that I got bills all the day. To tell you the truth, it ainâ€™t just Rap-A-Lot, itâ€™s everybody that I deal with; I get crumbs here and there. I ainâ€™t never really got what I feel I deserve, so if Iâ€™m not given what Iâ€™m expecting from one area of the music, I gotta try to do it from another area of the music. In terms of me not poppinâ€™ nationally yet, itâ€™s gotta be whoever distributing my shit. I go a lot of places to do concerts and muthafuckas is on my shit. I spend the night down there and I go to their record store, and ainâ€™t none of my shit in they store, you know. The music is jamming, itâ€™s just that people are going to the store and not finding my shit.
SOHH Rizoh: So, itâ€™s really the marketing and promotional aspect thatâ€™s lacking?
Z-Ro: Yeah, itâ€™s gotta be. When Iâ€™m doing music, Iâ€™m listening to my shit. Iâ€™m hard critic on music myself, and if it doesnâ€™t make my head bobâ€¦especially down here in Houston. Houston is the muthafuckinâ€™ Apollo. I started my pain shit 10 years ago, there was no trunks poppinâ€™, no million dollars in my pocket. What I did over the years was jack the beats up a little bit so it sounds like some commercial shitâ€¦the same thing [Young] Jeezyâ€™s doing right now. Heâ€™ll take a beat thatâ€™s commercially-strong and put some street shit on there. Now you got the thug niggas buying some shit that really an R&B niggaâ€™s supposed to be buying. I took the same format, started getting better beats. But, itâ€™s been the same for ten years. The man who was concerned with the man-hold-up-syrup-in-my-cup type music, they find out they got problems now. Everybody got a problem down here, so when I talk about a problem, everybody can relate, because the person that was in a candypainted back then might be in a muâ€™fuckin Dodge Gremlin right now. They ainâ€™t rich no more and they feeling my type of music now. So, now theyâ€™re buying my shit.
SOHH Rizoh: Itâ€™s been slow this year as far Houston hip-hop. Do you think we're slippin'?
Z-Ro: Yeah itâ€™s been slow. Itâ€™s slippinâ€™ on one hand because muthafuckas that weâ€™re used to seeing on TV so much, we ainâ€™t seeing them because half of them are really living good, so they donâ€™t really have to come out with no shit right now. On the other hand, some of these muâ€™fuckas are so bullshit and labels ainâ€™t puttinâ€™ no more bullshit out. So, a lot of people stuff gettingâ€™ pushed back right now because their labels are sending them back to the studio like â€œThis ainâ€™t good enough.â€ Some of these labels are trying to commercialize gangstas and gangstas ainâ€™t goinâ€™ for it. Or some of the people that used to be commercial are trying to be gangsta. My shit has always been a combination of the rap music with some singing. I started that way with the whole pot of gumbo. I ainâ€™t pick up none on that shit, I had it from Day 1.
SOHH Rizoh: I think you should keep doing what works best for you
Z-Ro: As far as that goes, I ainâ€™t gon lie man. This record that Rap-A-Lot's going to put out, this is gon' be the last one. I'm out the game after this one. I mean you ain't gotta be no rocket scientist to know that you wanna be paid for your work man. This is gon' be my 20th record coming out. This is album #20 right here.
SOHH Rizoh: That's an average of 2 albums every year. You've been grindin' man.
Z-Ro: Yeah I've been grindin' man. And when you've been grindin' as much as I have, and you go check your bank account and your shit looks like my shit, itâ€™s either time to do something else or it's time to do something else.
SOHH Rizoh: Speaking of doing something else, what's next for Z-Ro?
Z-Ro: Sheeit, you might just not hear from me, period, because all I know how to do is music. There's a lot of mo'fuckas that be coming up to me with that acting shit, but you know, I ain't no acor. I think I'm a bit too real to go act, because they might give me some punk ass role, a faggot or some shit that I can't play. So you know, this just really might be it after this point, because you really expect to get paid for your work. And when the guy who books your shows, heâ€™s cool but he comes back with this little punk money for shows and shit. That shit is hard on my album, makes me donâ€™t wanna fuck with nobody record label. Donâ€™t nobody give a fuck about me or the responsibility that I have as Joseph McVeigh. Fuck that Z-Ro shit. I do the Z-Ro shit so that Joseph McVeigh can be better, you know what Iâ€™m saying. If Iâ€™m doing this shit professionally, and Iâ€™m not getting what I deserve, then whatâ€™s the point of doing it?
SOHH Rizoh: Would you say youâ€™re frustrated with the game, period?
Z-Ro: I ainâ€™t frustrated with the game. Iâ€™m just frustrated with my situation.
SOHH Rizoh: Any guest artists on your new album?
Z-Ro: I got Yukmouth on there. Iâ€™ve got Spice-1 on two tracks.
SOHH Rizoh: Oh, that should be interesting. Thanks 'Ro. We're looking forward to the album.
Why Rap-A-Lot Artists Can't Sell?
-Long considered the strongest label in Houston, yet Rap-A-Lot's promotion game is lost somewhere between horrible and nonexistent. And don't tell me about Geto Boys or Scarface. 'Face was knee deep in the business side of the industry, and literally sold himself.
-You know it's a wrap when a legendary rapper like Z-Ro says he's leaving the game and going back to doing whatever he used to do, because he's trying to pay his rent.
-What about Trae? Where's the promotion for this artist? Oh, he's on the cover of Houston Press. That's 300,000 copies of a paper that no one reads.
-How many Rap-A-Lot artists have their own official website? Google it.
-These guys are supposedly dropping two albums this month yet you don't see that many interviews, press appearances, and everything in between.
-Now I've also heard from several inside sources that Rap-A-Lot is a difficult label to work with, and that's not speaking highly of them.
-How come no one even knew about the 2Pac + Scarface album that was coming out this year?
20 years in the game and coming up short on their promotional, publicity and marketing game? I guess that's why we have alternatives like Swisha House.
UPDATE: According to WordofSouth.com's interview with Trae, Z-Ro is currently doing a four-year stint in jail.
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