It's not often that you see an up-and-coming rapper repping Laguna Beach. But for 21 year-old Zacky T, seaside life informed his flow and style in ways that set him apart from a wave of local emcees tripping over themselves to prove their street cred. You won't see too much blunt smoking, gun toting or other trap music tropes coming from this guy. Instead, cliff-side views, blue water and sunsets are a more suitable backdrop for his effortless and positive lyrics woven over Drake-inspired beats on music videos for "Glow" and "Django." Maybe it's not the toughest setting in the world for a rap video, but you can't argue with the idea of a rapper keeping it real and still coming off looking cool at the same time.
His flows are also dripping with humility on tracks like "Float," a warning about not getting caught up in a fabricated world of earthly possessions. Then there's "Blessed Up," a hip-hop mantra for Laguna's youth who live with heavy hearts after seeing friends pass away far too young behind the Orange Curtain. His sensitive and retrospective approach to rap helps his rhymes ring true on his new mixtape, The Final Touch, currently available on Datpiff. We had the chance to interview Zacky T about his journey to create this album, the adversity he faces making a name for himself, dream collaborations, and his role models in the industry.
OC Weekly (Taylor Morgan): When was it clear that you wanted to write/produce rap music and how did you take that first step forward?
Zacky T: I've always had a passion for rap but I fell in love with writing my senior year (should out to my English teacher, Mr. Brusky). The only thing holding me back was doubt. Shortly after I graduated high school I made my first couple of tracks. My homies loved it so that made me keep going.
What adversity does a rapper from Laguna face? What struggles and triumphs does your music hone in on?
I get a lot of love from people in Laguna, but it's challenging to get people outside of Orange County to see or believe in my vision. My lyrics talk about 'the grind' and spreading positivity, even at your lowest point. It's easy to get discouraged, especially in a place that is based on material accomplishments, but that doesn't stop me from doing what I love.
Most impressionable album/artist growing up and today? Why?
My older brother put me onto Pac and Biggie when I was really young. I immediately fell in love with Biggie's flow– it's so smooth. The thing I love about Pac is how aggressive he delivers his message. My favorite artist today would have to be Drake. He really is running the game and his music really influences me.
What's your recording process like?
I call up my best friend/producer Wyatt Bock and we meet at the studio, either in Costa Mesa or Hollywood. He starts with the beat and we bounce ideas back and forth with each-other. Once the beat is done, I start with the hook to get the concept of the song. After that it's history– I do love recording in Orange County but there's something special about Hollywood. We usually record late, when the city is all lit up. I love it.
My dream collaboration would have to be OutKast…hands-down. "Roses" is my favorite song. I'd love to try and emulate that sound. Another artist I would like to collaborate with would be Post Malone.
What is the most challenging part of the music industry thus far?
The most challenging part is being heard. There is a lot of 'business' behind the music. I'm learning everyday and the struggles make me try even harder. I'm blessed to be doing what I love.
Your music is like (x) meets (x)?
My sound is like Yin meets Yang. It's up and down when it comes to emotions. Life is a balance and it's not always going to be good all the time, or vice versa. I speak from the heart and always will.
When will your album be available via iTunes and Spotify?
It will be on iTunes and Spotify by the end of the month. You can get it for free on Datpiff.com
Where can we see you perform next in OC?
I will be doing a lot of local shows around Laguna and other spots in Orange County so be on the lookout.
What is the next step in your career? Music video? Next album?
I will be focusing on music videos for a little bit. Giving the people something that's visually dope and refreshing. Once I finish the videos I will get back in the studio to work on the next project. I hope y'all stay tuned in because I'm here to stay. Much love!