A lot of these interviews I’ve been conducting this year have been from all over the place, because hip-hop is universal. Another place that’s been slept is Kentucky, producing artists like Deacon the Villain, Flame, Sheisty Khrist and more, it’s clear they have talent. Kentucky artist Zack Daddy just released his EP “Daddyisms” and I was able to sit down and talk with him about the Kentucky scene, his introduction to hip-hop and more. You can cop his EP “Daddyisms” right HERE.
Dead End Hip Hop: For those who don’t know who is Zack Daddy?
Zack Daddy: I honestly started as a page poet. I used to write a lot and attend poetry and spoken word events throughout Lexington. I was also musical: played guitar, piano, sang, and dabbled in production. In 2014 I let those elements of poetry and music mix. I started rapping and realized it was something I enjoyed.
DEHH: Kentucky is a hotbed for hip-hop, what part do you play in it? And tell us a bit about what the scene’s like.
ZD: I cut my teeth at the Foundation, a cypher run by two well-established Lexington emcees, Just Me and Sheisty Khrist. That’s where I linked up with four other local artists: Fred C., Vonte, Body Bagdad, and Cobb Ransom. The five of us formed “Soul Food” and worked together in various subsets for about a year. We did shows in the city and toyed with putting out a joint project, but eventually went separate directions. It’s difficult to take five different artists with five different styles and five different egos and work productively together. That was a growing experience. Everyone sharpened their skills and gained confidence with performance. We’ve all gone on to release individual projects.
DEHH: What exactly was the inspiration behind “Daddyisms”?
ZD: I write from my life and “Daddyisms” hits at some different angles. Daddyisms, the title track, is straight flows, nearly stream of consciousness. I use to rap that way all the time at cyphers and always got a good response. Other tracks are more thematic. All I Need deals with a difficult break-up and how I used music to fill that void. A Different David tells the story about my sister getting shot. Crewless touches on the fall-out with Soul Food. Etc. In the end I wanted to keep the project short and digestible and make it something somebody could connect with on an emotional level.
DEHH: Now what threw me for a loop was the brilliant mix of singing and emceeing, enlighten me a bit on the singing. How do you determine where melodies go versus emceeing?
ZD: The singing is something that developed throughout the process of recording “Daddyisms.” Cyphers in Lexington are more about bars – people showcasing their skills. I used to spit 100 bars straight without a hook and without a break. For a while, that was my thing. But there’s a difference between spitting bars and writing songs. I had to shift my mindset to create a tape. Anderson Paak’s Malibu definitely affected my direction. At a time when most of my friends were heading more towards a trap sound, I moved one step towards like a neo-soul, funk type thing: and that was my comfort zone. So on “Daddyisms” I found a style that I’m happy with.
DEHH: When people are done listening to “Daddyisms” what do you want them to walk away with?
ZD: My dad was a professional bassist for twenty years. I remember him telling a story from the time when he was in college: An older friend of the family asked what he was studying. Embarrassed, he replied, “Well it may be stupid, but I’m studying music.” The older man looked at my dad with a serious expression and said, “That’s not stupid, I couldn’t live without music.” I feel that way every day. Music lifts me out of depression and anxiety. Music gives me the courage to face my responsibilities. Recently I was caught in traffic and feeling completely overwhelmed with life. For some reason I threw on “Sir Duke” from Songs in the Key of Life. It was the first time I really felt that song and understood what it was about. When you can feel it, music gives life. So to answer the question: really if anyone listens to “Daddyisms” I hope they can feel it. I hope they can connect with some track or some lyric on some level.
DEHH: With 2018 right around the corner what have you learned this year in regards to being an indie artist?
ZD: I think being an indie artist is always a sacrifice. If you work full-time, go to school, and have kids, but you still want to create, you have to carve out that space in your life. And if that means less going out, less socializing, less TV, whatever it is, you have to set a priority. Another thing I figured out: I can’t make music if I’m strung out. I lose all motivation. So I tried to practice self-care this year. A good night’s rest, healthy food, and the gym: those are my big three – Because not only am I trying to be creative, I’m simultaneously fighting self-doubt and anxiety about the very value of the process. The last thing I had to learn is not to overthink the music (especially the mix). At first, I was tearing the mixes apart. I just wasn’t satisfied. PJ did a great job. I had to determine the difference between “better” and “different.” I had to set realistic expectations for what a –$ mix can get, especially when some of the beats aren’t tracked out. I had to accept that I was making a mixtape and not an album. In the end, just to release, I had to let go of a lot, including my pride, and try to have fun.
DEHH: What’s coming next for Zack Daddy? Will we get a full-length from you in 2018? Will we be seeing you on tour?
ZD: I laughed to myself at the tour thing. Life is so full – You know the deal. The fact is yes, I would love to put out a full-length album. Time is hard to come by. And indie rappers do have to invest a little money on the beats and mixes. So I’m hanging on loosely. It may be a minute before you hear from me again, but there is more to come. When I put out an album, I want the songs to feel different – more relevant and more important. I want the music to convey something. Also, I keep dabbling back into visual arts. I made some actual cash selling drawings last year. So that may take up my creative energy for a while. Either way, the next album’s inside me waiting to come out.