Zuse Is Getting Back to the Streets on His New Mixtape
For Atlanta-by-way-of-Jamaica rapper Zuse, the past few years have been a sharp learning process. The young MC, affiliated with T.I. and Hustle Gang, has been steadily making a name for himself with his distinctive flow, hyena-like laugh adlib and close relationship with Tip and Young Thug in particular, following up his breakthrough mixtape Bullet with solid offerings like Illegal Immigrant, The Real Don Dada and his latest project, TrapZuse, which came out last Friday. Bolstered by its Young Thug-featuring lead single "Plug Is Latina," the project is a return to form of sorts for Zuse, combining his Jamaican roots with a street-oriented sound that he's cultivated from his time working in studios in Atlanta.
But he's also been out on the road, most recently with Strange Music's chief Tech N9ne on Tech's massive Special Effects Tour which took him around the country. Tech, Tip and Zuse also collaborated on the track "On The Bible," with an official video that dropped back in May. Now with TrapZuse finally out, Zuse spoke to XXL about the concept for the project, learning from mentors like Tech, T.I. and Trae Tha Truth and what he's got in store next. —Dan Rys
XXL: How long have you been working on TrapZuse?
Zuse: I've been working on it for two months.
Why did you decide on that title?
Well you know, trap stands for hustle; it doesn't stand for the same thing as it did 10 years ago. I really made this mixtape for the streets and the hustlers and the people in the trenches, you know what I mean, the people in the mud. So that's the reason I called it TrapZuse. My fans in America who are familiar with the trap and what it symbolizes in the culture; me being from Jamaica, I felt like it was the perfect thing to fuse Jamaica with the down South culture, you know what I mean?
Did you have a concept for it going into it?
I just wanted it to be very club-friendly... The process, you know, I feel like music speaks to my soul and it comes naturally and that's what I like the most. It was very, very natural, it came very easy, there was nothing forced. The Drumaticz from EarDrummas helped me a lot, Metro Boomin, FKi, that's the home studio, the home boy, that's family. But it all just came very very natural.
What do those producers bring to the table?
They all have their own particular vibe; I feel like everybody brought their own dynamic to the table. I'm not sitting up in the studio with every single producer; people send beats. But like I said, it came natural. It's easy when you have chemistry with people you've known for over two years, you've known them for a while and you respect them and they respect you.
You and Young Thug have a mutually respectful relationship. What's that like for you guys?
Well you know, I'm affiliated with [T.I.'s] Hustle Gang and on the come up, when I first started my career, Young Thug was there recording; that's when he was making "Stoner" and all these records. And when we met each other we just had so much respect for each other and we just wanted to see each other win and come up. And although he's much, much more successful than I am today, he's still the same guy that I met back then. He's the type of person who would step in traffic if you need him to, you know what I mean? I can't speak for everybody, but he always shows love to me. We have so many more songs in the vault coming, so just stay tuned. Actually, "Plug Is Latina" is an old song; it's old but it's new to the people. We've done so many songs since then. But you know, everything takes time. I don't really want to flood too much with songs with Thug, but that's my family.
What are some of the lessons you've learned as a young artist on the come up?
To try to be as clean as possible. When I say clean, the music that we make is very violent, but I realize that this is still a business. You have to know how to carry yourself clean, how to speak to people, know how to carry yourself. Know how to be respectful, how to separate the streets from the music. Being on the road with Tech N9ne, he's so successful and he's such a respectful person. He treats everybody the same, just like T.I. They taught me that, be chivalrous and be respectful no matter what. You have to be a servant to the people, you have to serve the people; you can't seem like you're entitled, because people think artists are entitled and you have to show them you're not.
So it's like the importance of being humble.
Yeah, you have to be very humble. Sometimes in music people tell you, "You're the greatest, you're the best," and it clouds your judgement, you know what I mean? I try to keep myself with the elders. I show love to all the youngin's who are coming up with me and work with me, but I soak up the game from T.I., I soak up the game from Tech N9ne, I soak up the game from Trae Tha Truth, these people because these people have had longevity, have had long careers. They must have been doing something right as to why people still love them to this day, you know what I mean?
What was the experience like touring with Tech N9ne?
It was phenomenal, man. I had the chance to perform every night in front of 4,000 people with everyone screaming out "Bullet." It's phenomenal; people really really embraced me. It was a life-changing experience and something I'll never ever forget, something I'll cherish. Tech N9ne is a phenomenal person.
How do you feel TrapZuse is different from your last project?
To be honest with you, my last two projects—Illegal Immigrant and The Real Don Dada—I feel like when I listen to them they feel like industry mixtapes to me. They didn't feel like the old me. I felt like Don Dada lost the essence of what I represent sometimes. And I feel like TrapZuse is bringing that back; you'll feel that aggression, you'll feel every word, you'll feel every line because it's real. When you hear it you're like, "Fuck." This shit's crazy from track one to 12, it's ridiculous. The song "On God" that I released in July with Post Malone is more soft and more worldly. This is for the streets. "On God" and songs like that are for the world, but this is for the streets, for the projects, for the nigga in the bando posting up, the nigga on the corner. This is for the streets.
What else are you working on now?
I'm going on tour with Shy Glizzy in the fall and I got a new project coming in February for the ladies. I feel like I've given enough to my niggas, so to speak, so it's time for the ladies. In February, I promise you, I'll blow your fucking mind. I have some music for the ladies that's gonna make their panties really wet. But on TrapZuse I want you to really feel Jamaica.