Duke Eatmon

Duke Eatmon

Groove Innerviews

“I knew how rich and vibrant the scene was here in Montreal, so I just came over and tried to make it happen. Within a year I’d garnered enough attention and tried to keep it going. I kept going and here we are”.

This was Montreal hip-hop, reggae, pop and everything else in between artist Zack Zoya about making the big move from his hometown of Rouyn-Noranda in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region of Quebec.

We sat down recently to talk about his ever evolving career just before his sophomore e.p. No Love Is Ever Wasted” was released on June 10 on Universal Records.

Zack Zoya has signed with Universal Music and will perform at Osheaga

Not exactly the typical hotbed of hip-hop in the now global world of rap music. Born to a South-African father and French-Canadian mother, growing up in the northwestern region of the province, music was the last thing on Zack’s mind as a possible future profession.

“I grew up as an athlete. I played hockey all my life. That was main thing. My life kind of revolved around that. I was in a scholastic sports program, so my life revolved around that. Then I hit 16, 17 and I fell in love with music. I started free styling with my friends and stuff. I think I decided at that point that if I were to try something in hip-hop that it would be now.”

Zack Zoya has been wowing local hip-hop heads the last couple of years with catchy and danceable singles that although have hip-hop at their base, elements of R&B, reggae, pop and even alternative rock find their way into the mix.

His hit-single Start Over from last year is what really kicked off the whole Zack Zoya love fest he’s had with Montrealers and his music.

Signed by Toronto rap veteran Kardinal Offishsall, Zack represents the first real Montreal hip-hop artist getting love from “The 6” (Toronto) and to actually be signed to the world’s biggest label, Universal. “He kind of scouted me out. He was the one that brought me to the attention of Universal Canada. We had been looking for a record deal for awhile, but it was Kardie who put his foot down and said; ‘Yo! Let’s go and get this kid.’ I think Kardie has really taken on a new role like a mentor to the up and ‘n’ comers. Now a lot of my fellow Montrealers are getting signed. Montreal is definitely on the map now and on the radar for international hip-hop… so that’s good”.

A charismatic performer, Zoya easily stole the show at this year’s Gala Dynastie awards show at Place Des Arts which honours the best in Black achievements in the Quebec. He performed Start Over and put on an almost meticulous showing.

Earlier this year, Zoya was able to be associated with the epic Super Bowl Halftime show line up which featured superstars produced by Dr. Dre, including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar. Zoya recorded a version of Lamar’s 2017 album “Damn” which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for music.

Zoya’s performance of the song in a video was used to promote the Pepsi star-studded halftime show as a teaser online. “Basically NFL Canada reached out directly to me and asked me to be one of the influencers. I chose to do a rendition of a Kendrick Lamar song, who is one of my favourite artists. Kendrick made me want to start rapping and now I’m getting this huge opportunity and I think it was a good moment for me to honour his music.”

Zack ZoyaZoya will perform at the Osheaga Music Festival on July 31 along with other superstars on the 3-day weekend bill that includes: Aracde Fire, Dua Lipa, A$AP Rocky and dozens of others. He performs a sing-song rap style, first pioneered by 50 Cent in the early 2000’s, and most recently utilized by many artists with the auto-tune effect, including Canada’s own Drake.

“I’m starting to be in that zone where I feel like I’m finally starting to make music that is going to finally define my style. I really think I’m starting to find my niche. My little thing that nobody can quite do like me where it sounds like Zack Zoya. I feel like we’re developing that. Yeah, I’m excited man!” Zack Zoya’s latest recording No Love Is Ever Wasted is out now.   www.zachzoya.ca

Duke Eatmon’s music segments can be heard regularly on CBC Radio’s Let’s Go, hosted by Sabrina Marandola on 88.5 FM