Nowadays in the music industry, it’s all about standing out. And what better way to stand out then with a fire grill? Insert Zero Below Grillz the California-based company that is quickly establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with in the jewelry and grillz world.
Coming into fruition four years ago, their high-quality mouth candy has been seen on everyone from Jesse Williams and Duane Henry to Dylan Sprayberry and Isaiah Rashad. It was even worn on the small screen by the stars of the hit TV series Blindspotting: Rafael Casal, Jasmine Cephas-Jones and Jaylen Barron.
Rapper and entrepreneur Jayellz is the brainchild behind Zero Below Grillz and he built the company from just $800 in his savings account.
In describing himself, Jayellz states, “ I describe myself more as an entrepreneur, hustler, and great musician, without tooting my horn too much.”
Jayellz is a true testimony of someone who built something from the ground up, it was after he lost his job working inside a DHL warehouse when he decided to go for it — injecting nothing short of hard work, dedication, and passion into his endeavors.
To date, Jayellz was the first person from the Inland Empire to do jewelry and make music, serving over 1000 customers to date.
And if there’s one thing the company stands on, it’s “loving the culture.”
AllHipHop: What was a young Jayellz like growing up in Ontario?
Jayellz: I was bad, I was really bad. I got into a lot of trouble when I was a kid, but all that trouble that I got into taught me about how to maneuver through life. I’ve been selling a whole bunch of stuff since I was 10, 11, 12 years old. That started with candy bars to shoes, whatever I could find. I worked at a shoe store where I learned how to talk to people and learned different human natures.
AllHipHop: Was music always in the picture?
Jayellz: Yes 100%, my older brother inspired me to really get in the game. He was outside with his homeboys smoking when he wasn’t supposed to. They were all outside freestyling and I was listening through the door. It sparked my interest and that’s been forever, at least 10 to 12 years.
AllHipHop: Who were you listening to that made you want to do music?
Jayellz: The College Dropout by Kanye West, Juelz Santana. Damn, Mos Def, Erykah Badu. I was banging on their mixtapes and albums, it inspired me to do my own s###. When I see y’all, when I get up there, I’ma pay y’all back for that.
AllHipHop: When did you first get the idea for Zero Below Grillz?
Jayellz: I was working at a warehouse around that time. I went out of state, met some people, and pretty much paid for their information. I ended up coming back home and getting fired, I only had $800 to my name. It was that fight or flight type s###. What are you gonna do? When I came back home before I had everything established with Zero Below — my connections, learning how to make something and whatnot — I was on Instagram going crazy. “As soon as we get back home, we going up. We’re really about to kill the game!” Even before I had anything set in stone.
I had a foot into it but then I came back and really got into it. It was more seeing it before it was happening. When I brought it back to Cali, we went all the way in with it 100%. I said “I’m not about to go back to what I was doing before or get into more trouble, I gotta figure something out.” I learned everything I knew in the past about selling anything or talking to people, and applied it to the grillz and the game. I treated it like my child. I don’t do anything wild with the business, everything is straightforward. If you do good business, you’ll get good results. You’ll get good feedback and continuous customers.
AllHipHop: How did you know you could create a lane with Zero Below Grillz?
Jayellz: I’ve been in hip-hop culture forever, grillz ain’t nothing new. It was a East Coast Southern thing, they popularized it, then Texas did and down South. I have people from the Midwest and people from the South also, so that has always been [in my life]. Back to the crib to where my parents are from, my family had gold. When I acquired it, I said “I’m bringing it back to Cali because Cali always has a way of putting its own twist on it.” I saw that lack of it, but people still liked it. On the West Coast. it wasn’t really predominant. Except in the Bay Area, in the Bay Area everybody wears grillz. The girls, they be having 20-piece solid gold grillz. Everybody wears them. I brought it back to Cali and knew it had to work.
AllHipHop: What sets your grillz apart from others?
Jayellz: There’s no special gold or diamond. Of course, there’s higher quality gold and higher quality diamonds that everybody can acquire. What makes us so special is that we pay very close attention to detail when we’re making these things. You can have something that’s rushed and looks absolutely not it, or you can shop with us. We’re not going to make you wait too long, we’ll give exactly what you need. It’ll be perfect. We also design stuff. If big artists come to me like “this is my budget, I want to do X,Y, Z for my album cover. Can you design something?” They’ll put it in our hands. Not only do we make the jewelry, we know what’ll look cool too. We’re fly. It’s me and about six of my other people that I’ve taught the game and put on, they’re all under the umbrella of Zero Below. We’re all young and cool.
AllHipHop: How does it feel to be the first person from the Inland Empire to do jewelry and make music?
Jayellz: It’s tight. People from the IE… IE’s been a little brother for a little while. We have a lot of people who have been coming out of the Inland Empire, whether it’s on a smaller platform or the background area, or the bigger cast. Hitboy just dropped an album with Nas, and he’s from where I’m from. We were just at the Big Sean, Lil Durk, and Hitboy video shoot.
AllHipHop: How was that?
Jayellz: It was amazing, you’ll see me in there. That one’s good.
AllHipHop: Who were the first artists to first support the brand?
Jayellz: We’ve worked with Lucky Daye, Jesse Williams, and Duane Henry. It was more artists coming up at the time like the Pure Luxury and Tobi Lou. We did more people that were on TV also. Jaylen Barron was a very early supporter too. We’ve done a lot of people, the list goes on.
AllHipHop: How much of a role does TikTok play in the brand?
Jayellz: It plays a major role. Initially when we’d started it, we were completely new to TikTok. We were one of the first people to make a grill, put it on TikTok, and it started getting millions of views. Two million views, crazy numbers like that. It’s very effective, I stand behind it. TikTok is the wave. Me personally, I probably won’t be on there doing dances but I’ll definitely be uploading content. It’s a quick, easy way to interact with people. It’s definitely played a big part in new customers, out-of-state customers, and international sales.
AllHipHop: Talk about your love for the culture. How did your hard work pay off to build the Zero Below Grillz brand into what it is today?
Jayellz: As far as the culture, I was making music before I was making jewelry. I’m watching MTV, I’m on YouTube looking at all the Swishahouse. I’m looking at Paul Wall, Lil Keke, Mike Jones, Slim Thug, all of Swishahouse. Man, I gotta get my car candy painted. I gotta put spokes that poke out so I could really swang. I was really intrigued by that whole culture, the style and colors, then the flashiness of it. It was a flashiness, but at the same time it was a subtleness.
How I wear my jewelry, I do that in the same way. It’s on me, but that’s not the first thing I’m going to present myself with. That’d always intrigue me, just looking at that culture. I always pay respects to it, it’s nothing new. It’s been jewelers before me who really paved the way for us to even do this right now. I pay respects to them, you know how that goes. It’s been an honor to be able to produce these things and the culture accepts us. Why people shop with us and continue to shop with us is because we are them. When they come and talk, I’m talking to them like how I talk to my homeboys. Of course in a business aspect, but I’m talking to you as a friend. I understand and you can keep it a buck with me at all times.
AllHipHop: What are you working on music-wise? I know you took a break in the last few years.
Jayellz: It was a break in a sense of consistency. I was still writing music, but I wasn’t really putting too much out. Prior to the jewelry, I was throwing local shows for people under Bread N Butta, including myself. We’d be doing these music shows every month or month and a half. As far as the music, I just dropped a project called Telephone Man, it’s on all platforms. That’s in rotation right now, we’ve been doing videos for that.
I’m working on something new. I took a break for those couple of years to solidify Zero Below Grillz so that I could have the funding under me to do what I want to do. The majority of the time with independent artists, you want to consistently put stuff out but it gets hard when you don’t have the funding to do it. I took that approach, so now I have a little bit of dirt under my feet and I’m about to start kicking people in the head again.
AllHipHop: You performed with everyone from Curren$y to Nipsey Hussle, what was that whole experience like?
Jayellz: All active, it was dope. The big stage is of course different from the smaller ones. It was all unreal. I love being up there, I can’t wait to get back to performing on stages like that. It’s unreal when you’re good at something, then people respond to it more than what you expected them to. It makes you feel like “alright okay, I’m really right.” Even though you already knew you’re nice with it. Those experiences are crazy, very blurry but very present at the same time. I absolutely love performing, I can’t wait to be doing it again. They’re all cool people too.
AllHipHop: Any goals with the music?
Jayellz: Yeah, for sure. Probably at least 7 to 10 hit singles, then y’all can leave me alone so I can live my life and do my businesses. I’ma do a couple projects that are timeless, then I’ma call it a day. We’ll put that money into doing something else. I’m always going to be doing music in the background, if that’s writing for someone else or managing someone and bringing them up. I’m going to run the game for 5 to 10 years, then let y’all have it. Let that be that.
AllHipHop: What’re you most excited for this year?
Jayellz: I don’t know, it’s been a weird year hasn’t it? I’m excited to take stuff day by day. We pray for this stuff, we manifest it. When stuff happens we’re appreciative of it, but it’s another day in the life. I’m excited to continue what I’ve been doing.