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In the world of music, longev­ity and con­sist­ency are test­a­ments to an artist’s ded­ic­a­tion and tal­ent. ZOEGRIND exem­pli­fies this with the release of his 18th album, ‘Is It Me?’. From humble beginnings—sleeping on a mat­tress on the floor of his par­ents’ house—to becom­ing a mul­ti­fa­ceted artist own­ing his own label, stu­dio, and video equip­ment, ZOEGRIND’s jour­ney is a power­ful story of resi­li­ence and growth.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on releas­ing your 18th album, ‘Is It Me?’! How does it feel to reach this incred­ible mile­stone in your career?

It feels amaz­ing. When I first star­ted I was on a mat­tress sleep­ing on the floor at my par­ents house because as a man I had to much pride to sleep in the same bed as my little broth­er who just came from Haiti. I didn’t think I would be drop­ping albums, shoot­ing videos, own­ing my own label, my own stu­dio, video equip­ment. I’m so grate­ful I thank god every day.

The concept of ‘Is It Me?’ revolves around the dual­ity of good and bad in soci­ety. Can you elab­or­ate on what inspired this theme and how you con­veyed it through your music and album artwork?

Mat­thew 16:26, as I’m pro­gress­ing in life gain­ing more mater­i­als things like I’m ask­ing myself if these things were really me. I was happy at every stage of my life when I didn’t have these things. For example I have more sneak­ers I can wear now but in high school I wore the same per of Adi­das my 11 grade year and my seni­or year and I was a star bas­ket­ball play­er. If it wasn’t for my dog land­ing me a couple kicks here and there I would still be rock­ing that one pair. But in the moment I wasn’t sad I was happy chas­ing my dreams to be in the NBA so shoes,clothes, money didn’t mat­ter to me. Now I got money so I spend it on fash­ion, song num­ber 8 on the album, on the cov­er, I’m wear­ing fly clothes. Good and bad is really a mind­set and decision mak­ing, some kids in my situ­ation choose drugs, viol­ence to attain the cars, the jew­ellery, the clothes, like scar­face song num­ber 6 on the tape — some choose sports, so I gave them lay up, cros­sov­er, three point­ers and touch­down. All means to achieve the same end.

You men­tioned that both the good and dark sides of life are neces­sary for bal­ance. How do you per­son­ally find bal­ance in your life and music career?

I per­son­ally find bal­ance in my life and music career by hit­ting the gym, shoot­ing hoops, lift­ing weights, trav­el­ing, and exper­i­en­cing dif­fer­ent things to keep my mind sharp when I write.

Hav­ing com­pleted the entire record­ing and writ­ing pro­cess for ‘Is It Me?’ your­self, what chal­lenges did you face, and how did you over­come them?

I also mix and mas­ter every track, I’ve been doing it for 18 albums. The chal­lenges I be facing is tired­ness, hal­lu­cin­a­tions.. “lol does this sound right?”, com­ing up with the right words to say.

Your music often reflects the struggles and tri­umphs of life in the ghetto and slums. How do you chan­nel these exper­i­ences into your lyr­ics and sound?

I chan­nel these exper­i­ences into my lyr­ics by nev­er for­get­ting where I came from, I try to write most of my songs based on my exper­i­ences but it’s only enter­tain­ment at the end of the day so some of my songs are made for strictly entertainment.

The tra­gic passing of your friend played a sig­ni­fic­ant role in your music­al jour­ney. How has this per­son­al loss con­tin­ued to influ­ence your work over the years?

It’s still my motiv­a­tion, my stu­dio is named after the name he used to call him­self ‘j2fresh’. I just star­ted a web­site call, to keep it going.

Born in Haiti and raised in Miami and Pom­pano Beach, how have your diverse cul­tur­al and geo­graph­ic­al exper­i­ences shaped your music and iden­tity as an artist?

Exper­i­ences dif­fer­ent cul­tures and liv­ing in dif­fer­ent cit­ies and coun­tries you real­ize the world is big­ger than your block or the neigh­bor­hood you live in, my exper­i­ences help me with my writ­ing pro­cess a lot for my music.

‘God Gift’ is anoth­er standout track from your recent releases. What mes­sage do you hope to con­vey through this song, and how does it fit into your over­all discography?

God’s gift is my release name and the mes­sage I was try­ing to con­vey through that release was we all have god’s gift, he blesses us all with dif­fer­ent gifts in life.

As someone who has been ‘grind­ing since birth,’ what advice would you give to aspir­ing artists facing their own chal­lenges and obstacles?

Don’t give up, if it’s your dream no mat­ter if you have major suc­cess or no suc­cess, the joy of know­ing you try your best, no one can take that from you

Look­ing ahead, what can your fans expect from you next? Are there any new pro­jects or col­lab­or­a­tions on the hori­zon that you’re excited about?

If God will­ing, my fans could expect more tapes, more videos.. Cur­rently work­ing on my new pro­jects now, I’m sorry and A bless­ing and a Machine, so they need to be on the lookout for those.

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.