Apex Zero has been getting some traction on WIB and it is only right we hit him up for a one on one to get some insight into his music, life and everything in between.
1 State your name and introduce yourself to the audience that may not be privy to your music
My name’s Apex Zero from West London, representing my teams First and Last and The Pantheonz of Zenn-la. I’m an emcee and producer, and I make Neo-Hardcore Hip Hop music – bringing back hardcore Hip Hop in a new form.
2 When did you first start rapping?
When I was about 16 I started treating rapping and Hip Hop as something serious. I’d played around writing bars and battling heads round my ends, but after hearing dead prez’s album ‘Let’s Get Free’ and really seeing that Hip Hop could represent something bigger than music and be used to express views and address the sorts of issues they dealt with, I knew that sort of direction was the one I wanted to travel.
3 What did your family do to encourage you and is there anyone else in your family into music?
I have one cousin who makes music and I have a very big extended family, so I’m not from a musical family in any way. I have cousins in Grenada who are in big Steel Pan groups but I’m far away from that and them. My family has always supported me and encouraged me to keep at it, but at the same time kept me aware that it can be a difficult road to travel.
It’s just subtle and simple but hugely important things like knowing I haven’t always been able to give as much to them financially as I mighta done if I’d done something different, and not trying to convince me to do something else. I know people who’ve been kicked out their family’s yard for trying to make tunes, and one brother who’s parents threw away all his equipment – so I’ve been blessed with my family and their attitudes.
4 Your debut “Reality Provoking Liberation” has spawned some engaging singles such as ‘A Meeting of the continents’ and ‘The world we exist in’ where you touched on socio-political and spiritual themes, will that be a common thread throughout the project and what was the process like during the creation of the album?
Yeah it’s definitely a common thread of the album. I see this album as my way of putting across my socio-political views and message – that’s what Reality Provoking Liberation is, a philosophy based on the theories of Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party, as well my life experiences and environment. People all over the world are suffering and struggling because of a common cause, a common enemy. Globally and locally we all need to stop blaming each other for this struggle, stop killing each other and ourselves and begin focusing that anger on that common enemy.
We’re being trained by our struggle (our Reality) everyday, gaining the skills and tools we’ll need to deal with our enemy. Once we see the reality of our lives we need to inspire and encourage (to Provoke) each other and ourselves to unify, organise and then fight in physical reality for our freedom (our Liberation) from this struggle, not just through music, art or books.
The creative process of the album has been kinda complicated. It’s been three or four years in the making, and some of the beats are even older than that, they’ve just been re-made or re-mixed to be on the right level. It’s taken a while because a lot of different life issues have been in the way, but it’s all part of the inspiration. Those years have been a turbulent time in London, the UK and all over the world, and these things affect you, your family, community and the people you’re aligned with all over the world. That all goes into the music, not just the lyrics but the whole feel of the music too. I’ve produced 11 of the final 15 on the CD, with my brother OMeziah producing 3 and DJ fortune producing 1. I’ve been very involved in the mixing, doing a lot of it myself, and also having input with the masters. I’ve really been able to get the sound I wanted.
5 How was the transition from being part of a duo/group to a solo artist? do you feel being part of a crew stifles individuality at times?
It hasn’t for me personally, but I can see how it could do. With my experience in First and Last I think we’ve really pushed each other creatively as individuals and we owe a lot of our individual skills to the fact that we’ve worked together so long. But I can see how, for example, if you wanted to do or try certain things you might change what you would have done because of the input of others. That’s not a bad thing, but with this project it’s been mostly my ideas and the input from others has been a lot more reduced compared to the past.
Saying that though, in terms of production, input with performances, recording and mixing, OMeza Omniscient (my brother from First and Last) has been very involved with the album. Plus there’s the creative influence through bars, performances, recording and production from everyone whose featured and worked it. So it’s still very much a collective project, it’s just that I’ve had the bigger input and made the important decisions myself.
6 Any collaborations in the works?
Boy, there’s a few, but I’m not saying anything until their definite! I’ve had A LOT of experiences of collaborating with people with beats or bars and then due to personal or financial reasons it just doesn’t come out our go anywhere. So I aint saying anything till I know what’s happening! But OMeza has a few projects coming out that we’re working on, so I can say that for sure, so I guess that counts.
7 If you could dabble in another genre of music, what would it be?
I’d really like to do a Hip Hop- Rock/Metal album. I love the energy of Metal and I’d love to put a band together and spit over that kinda stuff – sorta Rage Against The Machine and Cypress Hill style. Plus I want to start making some more out-there instrumental stuff, with some poets/musicians/quotes from important speeches on it too. I really like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I’d like to do something a bit like that but with more of a Hip Hop style, along a DJ Shadow kinda vein. These are ideas but we’ll see how it goes and if life lets it happen.
8 Who would you most like to open for?
There’s a lot man! Just all the legends that have influenced me – problem is a lot of them aint together no more or are in the next world. Wu-Tang just did their last ever tour, obviously brothers like Tupac and Big Pun aint here. I guess The Roots, dead prez, Immortal Technique, Black Star, Pharoahe Monch – they’d all be ill to open for.
9 What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
There’s a two that stand out. One was the first time we performed at Speaker’s Corner at Brixton Jamm with our own set, not just on the open mic. It was for a compilation album we were on with a lot of big UK heads – Terra Firma, Skinnyman, Foreign Beggars – and it was the biggest show we’d done at that point. We rocked it and straight after our set a load of people came straight over and bought CDs – it was an ill reaction. The other was our first international show at the EOW world-finals in Berlin 2010. It was spread over a week and even though we didn’t have a set at one of the main shows, we performed a few times over the time we were there.
The vibe and reception for Hip Hop in Berlin was crazy, and it was deep being around so many genuine Hip Hop heads. Constant cyhpas popping off, mad graff being done everywhere and b-boys and b-girls just bussing out moves at any time. It was deep just building with heads from all over the world and comparing our perspectives and views on Hip Hop – I’ve never really had an experience like that before or after.
10 What ís your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?
I’ve been training in martial arts for a few years and I love it. I practice a style called WuShu Kwan – it’s deep, philosophical but practical. I’ve been slacking a bit recently because of injury and workload but I’m healing up well so I’ll be back on it soon. Its all about keeping healthy and on point as much as you can – like Stic.man said ‘…we really got beef with the po-po, never know when they gonna put you in a choke hold’. Plus I read a lot – mostly philosophy and history. Plus I like Japanese Manga and Anime.
11 Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.
‘Berserk’ – a Manga series by Kentaro Miura. He’s been writing/drawing it for over 20 years. It’s a masterpiece, one of the greatest stories ever written and the visuals are incredible. Even though it’s set in the past and in an alternative reality, it has some deeply relevant and eye-opening insights into the human psyche, the nature of leadership, the nature and reality of war, of trust and betrayal, of religion and society, of ethics. It’s had a big influence on me.
12 Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Probably Frantz Fanon. Having a chance to discus his life and theories would be a blessing. His life, his character and his work, especially ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ and ‘Black Skin, White Masks’ are some of my biggest influences and inspirations. It wouldn’t even matter what I serve! I’ve been trying to be vegan for about 9 months but I’ve recently got back on eating fish, and I fry a mean fish so I’d probably serve that still!
13 Describe your musical style with just 1 word
Musical style – wholehearted. Hip Hop style – Neo-Hardcore. Hyphens make it one!
14 Last words for the audience tuning in.
My album ‘Reality Provoking Liberation’ is out October 28th. There’re features from my brother OMeza Omniscient, Amy True (Caxton Press), Hasan Salaam (Viper Records), Iron Braydz (Triple Darkness), DJ crew Invincible Armour (DMC/Zulu Nation), singer Kyra and my man Seapa (POZ).
Anyone in London, or those who wanna travel, come down to my launch event at Vibe Bar (Brick Lane) onNovember 2nd. I’m gonna be performing with a live band and there’ll be performances from Caxton Press and Iron Braydz. It’s gonna be a big night! All info on me and my team First and Last can be found atwww.firstandlastpride.co.uk – you can get the links to buy the album, watch our videos and download free music.
Respect to Word is Bond for the interview and the support. Peace!
Apex Zero “Reality Provoking Liberation” releases on Design Chaos 28th October 2013
Apex Zero’s album launch event is Upstairs at The Vibe Bar, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL on Saturday 2nd November. Also performing will be Caxton Press & Iron Braydz with DJ A.Gee (Itch FM) & host Peaches. £5 on the door, 8pm – 1am. Venue site is www.vibe-bar.co.uk There is also a special event page set up on Facebook which you can check HERE