The Break Presents: Zoey Dollaz
Zoey Dollaz is flying high. The Miami-born rapper, who considers himself a mama's boy with deep Haitian roots, has checked an item off of the typical artist to-do list: sign to a major label. Earlier this month, Zoey inked a deal with Future's FreeBandz imprint and Epic Records, solidifying a working relationship with the EVOL creator after meeting him two years ago.
The 25-year-old aviation student set himself up nicely before signing the major label dotted line a few weeks ago. Zoey made major impact with his Smash David-poduced banger "Blow a Check" last summer, moving from the clubs to Diddy's studio to record a Bad Boy remix to the track. The effort appeared on Diddy's MMM album in late 2015, and received an accompanying visual this year that featured Zoey running through the money with the rap vet and French Montana. While the track centers on blowing cash fast, that's not its sole purpose.
"I feel like it's a motivational record," he tells XXL. "Whether you're a hustler, a business man, whether you're in the gym, working out, whether you're a girl, everybody wants to feel like they're financially straight to blow a check. Whether it's on food, clothes, group of girls go out and get your hair and nails done, that's blowing a check on yourself. You know that smart kid in college who blowing a check on books, I just feel like it's motivating. When you hear it, it pumps you up, like alright man, this song is crazy."
But the southern rhymer was building momentum months before "Blow a Check" surfaced. In February of 2015, he dropped the New '90s EP, a collection of tracks differing from the usual booty-shaking, bass music heard down in Miami. The work also featured fellow rapper Bizzy Crook and producer TM 88 and his knack for penning tight rhymes. Now, more than a year later, Zoey is prepared to deliver some new heat for his legion of fans. His forthcoming mixtape, Port-au-Prince, will be his first release as a FreeBandz signee.
As Zoey Dollaz finishes crafting his next tape, find out more about the guy who can't go anywhere without his two phones. Read on as the rapper opens up about following in Jay Z's footsteps, becoming the voice of the people and his dreams of flying the friendly skies.
Name: Zoey Dollaz
I grew up listening to: "I grew up listening to Jay Z, Biggie, Lloyd Banks, Eminem, Nas, Big-L, Eazy-E, a few of them. Home, Miami, my favorite rapper is Rick Ross, that's who I listen to back home. I didn't really have any influential rappers in my city because I never really listened to them. Some of my favorite R&B singers are Chris Brown, Barry White, Trey Songz, Michael Jackson.
I was about 11, 12 years old and I was like taking verses from Jay Z and verses from Lloyd Banks, snatching bits and parts from them and creating the whole verse for myself. I was like, oh this sounds so hard, I didn't even know that I could do it, and then within years I just learned how to not even write anymore. I haven't written down anything in like five, six years.
I just go in the booth. All the songs that you heard, that's just me hearing the beat, going in the booth and let's do this, alright hold on, bring this back, let's do this -- the whole song.
[Growing up in Miami], due to the fact that I went through so much stuff in the hood -- or women -- which is what I mostly rap about, situations that a regular kid in the hood has gone through. Girlfriend problems, beefing problems, I never sold drugs so I never rapped about selling drugs. It made me a tough person, but an emotional person. That’s why I’m so in tune with putting my emotions out in music, without feeling the need of being criticized for it because it’s other people out there that doesn’t have a voice like I have or who could put it in rhyming words like I can.
So I feel like those are the people I make music for. I was raised by all women, that’s why I’m such an R&B head, besides my sister and cousin were banging out Eminem and Lloyd Banks and Jay Z. That’s why Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers because of my sister."
Most people don’t know: “I'm big on airplanes. I'm actually enrolled in aviation school. That was my dream -- to be a pilot. [And] I think my fans know that I eat everything with a banana. Everything. Soup, whatever it is."
My style has been compared to: “I hear people say Meek [Mill]. I hear people say Jada[kiss], I hear so much. People will say Drake. You'll hear the weirdest comparisons and they're like way away from what you know. It's just the single fact that people nowadays are so used to that certain type of music. When you go out of bounds and do something different and the only rappers that are doing something different is those rappers, they're always going to put you in that category with them, you know what I'm saying? They're going to put you in that box, but I feel that music is music.
If I have to do a country record, I'm going to do it. If I gotta go get Tim McGraw to come do a song with me, I'm going to go get him to do it. If I gotta go get Meek to do a song, I'm going to go and do it. Music is repeated history, it's something that, nobody really came out with a different genre of music and people were like, okay, this is... first of all, it's going to take you a hell of a long time to be accepted. So you gotta have a little bit of Jay Z, Tupac, Biggie, all that in you in order for you to be a dope artist. When you listen to J. Cole, he for sure reminds you of Jay Z. It's just music, itself. That's what I believe in."
Standout moment to date: “Puff brought me out New Year's Eve at Pitbull's New Year's Eve concert on live TV, Fox. Ah man, it was so crazy. I came out and I just saw everybody. I knew about it, but I didn't expect it to be what they were saying it was going to be. It was big. Fifty million viewers, it's crazy.
[Puff] did the 'Blow a Check' Bad Boy edition. The song went viral back home and that was during Revolt Music Conference [in October 2015] and him seeing me performing in every club and they're looking like, 'Who's this guy? The club going crazy like that? We never heard of you.' It was like, you know what, a friend of mine hooked me up with French [Montana] and put it together -- a strategy -- and then it was like Puff flew me out and we did the Bad Boy edition. We recorded in the studio.
[Puff] just tell me like, you're making history for where you're from. You're an unsigned artist [at the time], you're 25 years old and you get to be on Puff Daddy's album. That's like different, I feel like that's a trend. I feel like now bigger artists used to give upcoming artists that chance, to be part of their projects, if it won't be a headache."
Standout song: “I mean, ['Blow a Check'] one of my biggest songs that took off. I released it Aug. 24, 2015. The growth of it is amazing because you know when you put a plan together and you just throw it out there and you watch it work?
You just gotta hit them with the Birdman hand, so it's working. But sometimes I feel like I want to see myself as what my friends see me as. They knew the guy that was going to the clubs that was performing and everyone was just looking like, they didn't boo me, because it was actually good, but now they watch like, thousands of people going crazy, raging.
So it's like, I want to see myself the same way that they see it. I want to be on the outside looking in, but I'm on the inside, so to me it feels like work. It feels like, alright you gotta go ahead and do what you gotta do, even if it's 10 people or 10,000 people."
My goal in hip-hop is to: “To be that voice for the people that can't say certain stuff. You know life, if you got this girl and you want to tell her stop leaving shit in my house? You gon' listen to my music. If you in the vibe that you wanna blow a check? I'm that voice. If you can't put the feelings into rhyming words, you're going to be a fan of mine. I just went through this and he's rapping about it, that's what hip-hop is and I want to be able to help other artists get on as well, like put them out there and put a light on them. That's my goal."
I’m going to be the next: “I feel like I'm the next Jay Z. That's some big shoes to fill in. Just for the fact that he's my favorite rapper. I don't want to be better than him, I don't want to be less than him, I want to be just like him and do the things that he's done. As far as putting certain people on and the business moves that he's made, stuff like that. Not more so the money, just who he is as a person."
Standout Song: "Blow a Check"
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