About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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July 2010 - January 2013
Artist Of The Week – Zoser
Monday, August 03, 2009

Chicago has long been a hotbed for Hip-Hop and Zoser is primed to be the next in line to become a part of the city’s storied lineage of great emcees. His latest album, which is his third overall, is Day 3: The Science and it features a jazzy blend of music, some lyrical dexterity and subject matters that have real depth and meaning. Zoser is laying his first seven albums out as separate days in a week, saying “the common thread is the fact that I am taking my career and life one day at a time. Growing and learning with each day.” Wanting to learn more about this dynamic artist I caught up with Zoser to find out about his musical background, which includes his father’s career as a jazz musician, the ways in which he feels positive thought can play an important role in our everyday lives, and the impact he hopes to have both on music and his local community.

Adam Bernard: First off, how’d you come up with the name Zoser? Are you looking to build some pyramids?
Zoser: Zoser was one of the early great pharaohs and yes, he built one of the first great pyramids. I came across the name when I was about 17. I read this book, The African Origin of Civilization, and it talked a little about him, so I looked him up and found out he was also responsible for uniting upper and lower Egypt. I always saw myself as destined to do great things so the name was a natural fit. I pronounce it as Zo-Sair, though, to be a little different. And while I'm not looking to build some pyramids I am looking to leave a lasting mark in music and on the world. I wanna do some things that can never be forgotten, or overlooked, kinda like a pyramid, but through my music and actions.

Adam Bernard: Growing up in the Chicago area with a father who was a jazz musician, when did you get into Hip-Hop and was your father accepting of the music and the culture?
Zoser: I got into Hip-Hop very early, like about the age of five. My older cousin gave me a mixtape filled with classic artists - Dana Dane, MC Lyte, Run DMC, Rob Base - and that’s all I listened to until I was old enough to find music myself. I used to write down the words and then substitute my name in. I guess those were my first attempts to rhyme. My father never tripped on the Hip-Hop music or culture. He used to try to play the beats out on the piano, or with other instruments. I thought that was funny back then, but now I find myself working with musicians and trying to get them to do the same thing. Everything comes full circle, you know.

Adam Bernard: With your father being a jazz musician, were the more jazz influenced rap acts the ones you were first drawn to, or was that not a factor?
Zoser: As I got older I was definitely drawn to the more musical acts like Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest, but even the West Coast acts, like Dr. Dre, even though his music was considered "gangsta rap" he used a lot of soulful samples and made real melodic music with singing and all of that and I don’t think he gets enough credit for those things. Some people shy away from the singing aspect of Hip-Hop, but I think that a singer is just like another instrument if used correctly and can really add to certain tunes. As far as the jazz aspect I think I just feel the music in my soul. Sometimes when I listen to an artist who uses jazz music and live musicians, I just get a chill. It just feels right.

Adam Bernard: You have worked with a litany of impressive producers, from No ID to the Molemen. How have these beatsmiths each brought something unique out of you?
Zoser: I worked with No ID for two years here in Chicago and he taught me that good isn't good enough. He was such a hard critic, but it made me better. He taught me a lot about rhyming in the pocket and making complete songs. I also learned a lot of life lessons from dealing with him. This was like five years ago and I thought I would get a deal, or get on or something, by messing with No, but nothing really came out of it except some good music. That situation brought the indie MC out of me. My delusions about the "rap deal" were officially destroyed and I decided the best thing for me was to make my own company and get myself on cuz if it’s gonna get done I'm gonna be the one to do it.

Adam Bernard: Your current album is Day 3: The Science. Tell me a little bit about it.
Zoser: This album took me a year to record and I got the idea for the title from a book I read called The Science of Getting Rich. It was written in 1911 and is the basis for popular books like The Secret and Think and Grow Rich. On the album I rap a lot about changing yourself through thinking the right way. No matter what your current situation is you can change it by believing that you can. Using myself as an example, I was working in downtown Chicago thinking about being successful in music the whole time. Eventually I had to leap out on faith and quit the job to do music full time. Now I've made this album that’s in stores in Chicago and on iTunes that people really love and I have the opportunity to re-release it through E1 (formally Koch) later this year. In addition to all that I know there are even bigger and better things headed my way, too.

Adam Bernard: That’s fantastic. You know, I think when people listen to your work they can hear the kinds of music that have influenced you, but for my last question I want to flip that – what influence would you like to have on music?
Zoser: I was touched and changed by the music that I grew up listening to. I know the music these kids are hearing now is affecting them. I want to influence the younger generation to look at life differently than many do now. They need to know that there are more options out there and that going to college is cool and good for them. I'm not against the hustle but I want cats to hustle with a purpose and a goal in mind and understand that there are consequences to everything. There's a 60% dropout rate in my city. That means six out of ten kids don't finish school and they think this is normal. I just want to be the one that tells them the truth about the world. They don't have fathers, or many good older male influences, and I need to be that. I look at how kids react to my music and I know what I'm doing is right. I've had some people tell me my music has made them better people and it’s not like I'm preaching. I connect with listeners in an emotional way because I actually DO care. I care about the youth and the city.

Related Links

Website: zosermusic.com
MySpace: myspace.com/zosermusic
Twitter: twitter.com/zosermusic
YouTube: youtube.com/zosermusic


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:39 AM  
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