“I don’t need no help my n**** / I can do bad on my own / and I don’t need no company little mama / stop ringing my cellular phone / when I be down and out nobody want to come and kick it / I’m a Nobody until I can shine / so when my money is long / I don’t need nobody to visit / leave me lonely like you did last time…” -Z-Ro
There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Loneliness is selfish; it demands everything. Both menacing and rigorous, loneliness stalks its prey. Its’ shadow consumes and smothers. Loneliness is diseased thought; whereas, being alone is most often a calculated decision. The saying goes, “no man is an island.” Well, there are many peninsulas. Why be alone? There are countless answers like, to preserve sanity, or perhaps it is a self-defense mechanism. Whatever the reason, many choose to be alone.
Joseph “Z-Ro” McVeigh is the president of the One Deep movement. Missouri City, Texas raised him but Hip-Hop saved him. Lyrics reflecting his mindset, beat massaging his soul, Hip-Hop is ‘Ro’s open journal. The Mo City Don has run with a crew; yet, he is most comfortable being a solitary MC. Emitting unabashed emotion from his spirit; passion seeps from his pores. In part one of his feature with AllHipHop.com, Z-Ro speaks about his Hip-Hop beginnings.
AllHipHop.com: Describe going from being a listener to becoming an actual lyricist. What album made you want to start writing and getting your message out to the public?
Z-Ro: Really, to tell you the truth, I had always wrote poems and stuff—poetry—before music. But, what really made me want to rap is the Beastie Boys (Licensed to Ill). That was the first record that my people ever bought for me. My aunt, she bought me that s*** when I was still like in, sixth grade. It was back when I was just writing poetry. I was like, these dudes is acting a gaddam fool on this CD and having fun. And then I realized that they doing this for fun, but they getting paid. I’m like, no s***, you can do this and get money? So, I started playing with it a little bit. You know, [they’re] probably the ones that just put it on my mind.
But, what really made me want to go professional with it was my man Point Blank’s record Prone to Bad Dreams. I just heard a whole bunch of crazy s*** on there. I was like how the f*** can somebody think this demented and twisted? But the s*** interested me. The s*** he was saying on that b####, I was like, Man, that n**** crazy! I got to be part of this. You can just get on the m####****ing mic and say what you want, and m####****s are gonna pay you for it. That’s probably the one that put the key in my back.
“I Hate U B*tch”
AllHipHop.com: Do you have the words to describe the feeling that you get when you’re actually on stage doing what you do and the crowd is loving it?
Z-Ro: It gives me chill bumps like a m####****a. You go out there to go to work. It’s a shock to see so many m####****as quoting the s*** that you just might have just said playing around. You may have just said some s*** off the top of your head and these people are living on every word. If you tell these people to jump, they’ll all jump up. You get chill bumps; the s*** gives you the chills! I ain’t trying to be blasphemous or anything like that; but, you’ll feel like, ‘I really got a power.’ It will trip you out. You’re just human. But to be one m####****a controlling the multitude; it’s a feeling of power.
AllHipHop.com: Words hold power. Is there a verse or an album, that each time you listen to it, it transports you back to the time when you wrote it?
Z-Ro: Damn near every song is like that; because, every song comes from something else. It comes from a time in life or a particular situation. But, I would probably have to say, every time I hear “I Hate U B####” –
AllHipHop.com: [laughs] Damn.
Z-Ro: In my mind, I go back to the b####. That will pop up before anything else pops up.
If you get robbed, or some s*** happens to you—okay—s*** happens in the street everyday. But, when that happens to you at the crib, that is going to be in the forefront of your head until you leave this m####****a. You might have got shot before, but how this particular companion did you, might stick out more in your mind than a m####****a who caught you at the stoplight and robbed you for your car. You expect that from a m####****a you don’t know. But, from a m####****a that sleeps six inches away from you, you wouldn’t expect that type of s***. Any song that I done did about a female—where I was going off on a female—those songs take me back to those particular times every time I hear those songs. To me—before any of the drank songs, the getting shot songs, the gangsta songs—the companionship songs are the most adamant.
“Pimp On (Screw remix)”
AllHipHop.com: Upon your first introduction to DJ Screw, what was your impression of him as a man and as a musician? How did your perception of him evolve as you got to know him better?
Z-Ro: My first perception was, ‘This man can get me out of the ghetto.’ That’s your first perception with anybody that’s got a place of power. You’re thinking that they can put they hands on your career, and do something to help you get promoted. It was on some business s*** at first. A friend of mine, Grady, he used to always tell me, ‘B####, you need to get up in Screw’s house. I’m telling you as soon as you get there that’s gon’ be it. As soon you get in Screw house your career is gonna really start!’ For me not really being a people person, I didn’t want to be in nobody’s face. I ain’t like m####****as up in my face. But, you know, the s*** happened.
We met. I did a show and [DJ Screw’s] brother Al D called him…The s*** that was a trip about it was, I actually had already met Screw just on a business venture. My first record I did with Fisher Boys, Look What You Did to Me, I had a song on there called “Pimp On.” We did a remix to “Pimp On” and we got Screw to come to the studio. He came through. He got on the remix, did some s*** talking and did a little mixing on it. So, I had already met him business-wise. So now—fast-forward to his brother introducing me—his brother was like, ‘This m####****a got something on the mic.’ So, I started f***ing with the man. I’m just thinking that I’m going to be on the mic all the time, makin’ nothing but Screw tapes.
After you become an acquaintance, you go to [being] a friend. And it was like, ‘F*** this rapping all the time!’ He used to always tell me real positive s*** like, ‘Man, your career ain’t never gonna be s*** if you don’t get rid of your attitude. Your career ain’t never gonna be s*** if you don’t put this pistol down.’ All the drugs and s*** I was on, he was like, ‘Man, you ain’t gonna do nothing but use all your m####****ing money to buy these drugs and these pistols. So, it’s going to be for nothing.’ That really turned into being a mantra after awhile. My perception went from, this is my ticket out this ghetto to this is my ticket to being a man.
AllHipHop.com: Damn, that’s profound.
Z-Ro: Yeah, so that’s what that was.
AllHipHop.com: Which came first, you becoming part of S.U.C. (Screwed Up Click / Soldier’s United for Cash), or you and Trae forming A.B.N. (A**holes By Nature)?
Z-Ro: It was S.U.C. Really, I got to say it like how it really go. First and foremost, you know, it was the Killa Klan. You know, with Street Military, and Bam and Klondike Kat, all them cats. And then out of that came the H.P.C. (Hog Pen Clique) with K-Rino and Point Blank, and Ganksta NIP and all them cats. Really, Killa Klan and S.P.C. (South Park Coalition) are like, damn near one, and the ‘hood I’m from MO City (Missouri City, TX). Lil Flea from Street Military, he’s from the same hood, and he was vouching for me and he started bringing me around, as did Dope-E’s brother from Terrorist’s; he started bringing me around S.P.C. at the same time I was going around the Killa Klan. So, that came first and foremost.
At the time I came in with them their careers and s*** was still booming. It really wasn’t time for a n**** to do too too much with them. So, I was down with them, but the first person to really put me on some s*** and give me some money for it was Screw. So, you know, I’d do a song with Street Military, I’d do a song with Bam—or whoever it may be—and it was just for the sake of doing songs. It wasn’t no money. When you’re sleeping outside and s***, you don’t want to play no favorites. You want to go to where you can get you some money in your pocket
Screw was on some s*** like, come freestyle on this beat and before I leave that man house I’d have like $400 dollars. Four hundred dollars was a whole lot of money to me back then. I was tripping like, ‘gaddam, what I got to do for this s***?’ He was like, ‘You done did it already.’ So, yeah, it was S.U.C. I actually got named to be in the Screwed Up Click, right around the time that me and Trae and them, and Doug when we had our first beef. I wasn’t even f***ing with Trae and them, and they wasn’t f***ing with me at the time that he [DJ Screw] put me in the S.U.C.
AllHipHop.com: Around what year was your first beef with Trae; why’d y’all get into it?
Z-Ro: Well, s***, it ain’t never really been no beef; so, I really can’t say beef. Well the first, I’d say, falling out, was whenever Big Moe’s City of Syrup record came out. Big Moe put out “City of Syrup” I was ghostwriting for Moe and D-Gotti was ghostwriting for Moe. That time was when our first misunderstanding came about. I want to say was around ’00 or ’99; like right around that time when Screw was going into the ground and s***.
AllHipHop.com: They say that blood is thicker than water. Along with your cousin, Trae, y’all formed A.B.N.; how do you prevent the business/creative relationship from negatively affecting the family relationship that you have with Trae?
Z-Ro: Well s***, obviously we didn’t. Because, the God’s honest truth is, we are not related at all. Ain’t none of us [are]. Doug is not my brother, Trae is not my cousin, and you know; but, Jay’Ton and Trae are really brothers. But I mean, you know, wasn’t none of us in the Guerilla Maab immediately related, or in the first A.B.N. So, I really look at it like it really couldn’t be no real love there to be fam; because, if it really was, then it would have probably ended up being on some different s***. When we did come together to do a record, we’d come together to do a record and just stay cool long enough to get a record out, and then it’s back to, you know, f*** him, f*** me.
AllHipHop.com: Right now, there’s no plan for future collaborations?
Z-Ro: I don’t know what he would have in mind. But as far as that goes, that’s a closed chapter in my life that’ll never be reopened. Well, you know, I’m focusing on Z-Ro’s career. I’m not real crazy about doing too many records with muthaf***as other than Z-Ro, unless Farris tells me otherwise, or some s*** like that. Nah, that’s some s*** that got too personal. There’s no bad blood between us now; but, we’re both going to hold a grudge until we take our last breath. There are two things in my life that I’m positive about. Number one is I will die one day. And, no, I will never do music with Trae again.
AllHipHop.com: Never is a long time.
Z-Ro: Yeah, it’s a long time; but, bulls*** been happening for a long time. At the end of the day I can really say 75% of the bulls*** didn’t come from him or me. I just probably, you know, woke up a littler earlier than he woke up. It comes a time in your life where you got to stop listening to what the next man is saying. Because, ultimately Trae is a force and Z-Ro is a force. We are hurricanes in this s***; all these other rap n****s are like drizzle storms.
For us to be together is they worst muthaf***ing fear. They really loathe and despise the fact that if ‘Ro and Trae get together, they’re dead again. So, these muthaf***as in our ears; they love when we’re focused on beefing and not making good music. They love it so they can slide in right beneath the both of us and try to take that position from us. But you know, if we really got the talent muthaf***as can’t take the following that we got. The both of us, we got like a cult following. Add A.B.N. together, s###, that’s all his fans and all my fans. S***, that’s like a multitude.
These muthaf***as fear that. They fear the togetherness. So, they’ll come around me like, ‘Say, man, ‘Ro, I heard that n**** Trae said f*** you, he the king of the ghetto.’ And then go around him and be like, ‘Say, Trae, I heard that n**** ‘Ro say f### you! He the king of the streets.’ And nan one of us said none of that s***. It’s these muthaf***as delivering the messages that’s trying to break the whole situation down, simply so they can eat. Basically, what it is, I’m selling crack, he’s selling crack and these muthaf***as selling some bulls*** crack, and they want to come through and drop dimes on us. Get us to go to jail and get us to kill each other. So when you look up the next month these muthaf***as living in our houses selling the same crack. That’s what all this s*** is about. I just peeped the s*** before he peeped it. That’s why I showed some humility in the situation and I backed all the way off the s***.
“Ain’t no such thing as friends only associates.” – Z-Ro.
Be sure to stay tuned for the rest of this exclusive, in-depth interview!