Show & Prove
Zoey Dollaz is carving out a place for himself in hip-hop.
Words: Steven "Preezy" Brown
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Most rappers are inspired by Jay Z. He’s just the God MC who laid out the blueprint for the new guys to follow. And that goes for Haitian rapper Zoey Dollaz, the budding rap star making a big buzz with his record “Blow A Check.” “My biggest inspiration in rap is Jay Z, period,” explains Zoey. “I wanted to always be like him.”

Always started at age 10 when Zoey first began rapping. Born Elvis Milord in Haiti, he and his sister were raised in Miami by their single mother. It was Zoey’s big sister who first introduced him to hip-hop. “My sister definitely caused me to rap from hearing her playing all types of mixtapes and other stuff,” the 25-year-old rhyme slinger says of his early days. “I used to steal her CDs and used to really learn [and] recite those rhymes and that’s how I learned how to write my own rhymes.”

It wasn’t until 2006 that Zoey coaxed his mother into booking his first studio session. The aspiring MC turned tragedy into triumph by using the death of some of his comrades as fuel for his lyrics and dropped his first tape, Love, Money & Bullets in 2012. Over the next three years, Zoey grinded and dropped music while establishing new relationships in the industry. He dropped one mixtape and one EP before putting out his Who Don’t Like Dollaz tape last August, which featured “Blow A Check.” The record caught the ears of Diddy and French Montana who hopped on the official remix in February 2016.

Soon labels and artists were reaching out to sign the rap newbie, including Future who offered Zoey a deal as an artist on the Atlanta rap star’s label, Freebandz. “We [had] a sit-down at [the] Super Bowl and Future was telling me, ‘I want you to be part of the team, but only if you wanna do it and what’s better to do than join one of your favorite rapper’s camps?’” Zoey tells.

“[Zoey’s] one of those guys, even if he didn’t have a record that you fell in love with instantly, you just want [him] on your team because you know he’s good enough to figure it out at some point,” said Anthony Saleh, Future’s manager.

With a home at Freebandz and his upcoming mixtape, Port-Au-Prince, on heavy rotation, Zoey is carving out a place for himself in hip-hop. His new record “Couches” is already gaining traction and a collaborative mixtape with Future is scheduled to drop this summer. Now Zoey’s time has come. “I see myself with more fans,” he admits. “A lot more hit records and just a successful artist, period.”

Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2016 issue including our 2015 XXL Freshman year-end report card; Joey Badass, Raury and Dizzy Wright talk about The Four Agreements, Madeintyo‘s Show & Prove interview, Bump J speaking straight from prison, Cardi B’s rising rap career, Le'Veon Bell's rap skills and more.

See Behind-the-Scenes Photos From the 2016 XXL Freshman Shoot