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The Rap Game UK: Meet Zoellz

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Loud, fun, opinionated and a self-confessed tomboy, Zoellz was born and raised in Birmingham. Naturally the centre of the attention in any room, Zoellz charisma, charm and ‘main character syndrome’ makes for a bubbly rap style, which she describes as ‘wavy rap’, incorporating melody and flow into her heady rhymes. Performing in front of anyone for the first time on the show, she is hoping to break down barriers for females like herself in the industry – and debunking the ‘sex sells’ stereotype, Zoellz is here to dominate in the male-lead industry.

How did you get into music?

My dad’s really into music, so I grew up with it around me. I’d wanted to drop music for a while, but I didn’t do it because I’m a perfectionist and didn’t want to put out something bad. Then we went into lockdown, and like everyone else in the world, I had more time to get into something I’d wanted to. So, I started going to the studio with my friends and I figured out I’m quite good, so I started to do it more.

You describe your genre of rap as ‘wavy rap’, can you explain what that is?

With wavy rap I don’t just focus on transitions, but it’s about the energy as well – I feel that that should always be at least one part of music making. Even if it’s a bit crazy at one point, or it’s a bit slower on another area so that someone’s like “yeah, I like that bit”. I really like to make music that’s just more of a vibe; not everybody cares about wordplay and being technical all the time. You don’t want to be listening to a track and always trying to listen out for punchlines, you just want to enjoy it.

In terms of lyrics, is there anything you really enjoy writing about?

I like writing about having a good time, going out to party with good company, and overall good vibes. I don’t really rap about negative stuff – I don’t feel like there’s any point. Music makes you feel things, anything from anger, sadness, and joy, so when you’re listening to me I don’t want you to feel like you need to go and create negativity with anyone else. I like to make music that makes people feel good.

How did you hear about The Rap Game UK, and why did you decide to apply?

I’d watched The Rap Game UK even before I even really got into music. I thought it was entertaining ‘cos there are a lot of talent shows that don’t have any substance to them, but this was different and really felt attainable, that’s what I liked about it. I didn’t start rapping until lockdown, so after the third season I thought this would be a good show, so I put myself out there. The show allowed me to show my personality and other elements to myself too, rather than just music.

How has your experience on the show been – was it what you were expecting?

You think it’s easier when you’re watching it, and then you get on it and realise it’s not, you’re like “bro, I have 24 hours to do this like…”

What was the most challenging part of the experience for you?

The most challenging part for me was having to memorize for challenges, not necessarily because of the memory aspect, but the pressure of having to do it on short notice and doing it on tape (with only one take) because you’d never have to do something like this in real life. Before the show I’d also never performed in front of anyone – this was a first as well as having to do it all recorded, let alone in a pressure-filled environment. Everything was so new to us all, a whole new experience and we were all out of our comfort zones.

You’ve had some incredible mentors this series, was there anyone you were excited to work with?

My favourite mentor was Shaybo. I was also happy to see Meekz [Manny], as well as D-Block Europe, they are my top three ones out of everyone I listen to and, obviously, it was great to have a female mentor as well, she’s so big on the scene right now, so that was a plus.

…do you listen to quite a lot of Shaybo? Would you say she’s one of your musical inspirations?

Yeah, I’d say out of all the females on the scene right now Shaybo is one of the hardest. Shaybo and Ms Banks – I feel like they both represent female rappers well; sometimes people get lost in the whole sex appeal element of female rappers, and they forget that you are supposed to be rapping as well. I rate her a lot, she’s unapologetically who she is and such a talent.

What did you hope to get out of the show? Do you feel like you grew in any way?

Before going on the show, I’d never performed in front of anyone, I’d only ever made music from my room or going to the studio with a very limited amount of people, so I feel like the show got me out of my comfort zone in terms of my confidence, 100 percent. Also, I’m a competitive person, as well as being a perfectionist so it made me work harder, as well as having to do things in a shortened space of time.

What has the show taught you about the industry as a whole and who you need to be to excel in it?

I feel like it taught me to not give up on yourself and who you are naturally as a person. Sometimes, when you’re a lively character it can be weird if others around you aren’t like that, but it’s my strength and I feel like people gravitate towards me because of it. It’s a fake it til’ you make it industry, so you’ve got to believe in yourself because no one else is going to.