29 September 2010

[ ] : Who is Zak1? Please introduce yourself.

[ Zak1 ] : Zak1 is now more than a rapper thanks to the game, but started rapping in high school with a crew of friends on karaoke machines. I had been influenced by hip hop since a young kid, break dancing and doing graffiti, listening to Kool G Rap, LL Cool J, Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Eric B & Rakim, Slick Rick and more to name a few. Then in High School I hooked up with another aspiring musician, DJ Spexxx, and started doing more serious recordings.
After stints in and out of jail for various offenses, I hooked up with other old school friends that were in the music game, and got more serious about music.

[ ] : Tell us the history behind two underground, hard-to-get projects by groups Hurtful Circle and Head Honchoz.

[ Zak1 ] : Like I had said, after stints in and out of jail for various offenses, I hooked up with some old school friends that were recording, the Shedwellaz, an underground rap group from Redwood City. Some of the members of the 'Dwellaz had ties to hard core "grind" rock music, so they had an underground following already. Thus, the 'Dwellaz with Zak1 went on to release two vinyl releases ("Unstoppable Force" or "USF" and another Shedwellaz release). They also released various underground CDs.
I then hooked up with another old school partner of mine, Juan Kanobe, also from Redwood. He was an old school MC from Redwood I had known since elementary school. He showed me the new stuff he had been working on and I showed him some of the Dwellaz stuff I had been working on. We decided to start recording. I tried bringing Juan into the Dwellaz circle, but it never seemed to work out. Though we did have songs with the Dwellaz and Juan featured together, they were all for the Hurtful Circle projects. Juan was never featured on a Shedwellaz song.
The Hurful Circle pretty much started with Juan Kanobe & Zak1 started recording. The first half of the Hurtful Circle was actually supposed to be a Redwood compilation Kanobe was putting together, but ended up more of Kanobe & Zak1. They hooked up with the other members of the group who were people that they knew from Redwood City that did hip hop as well. The other members of the Circle are Best Bets, Incognito Gino, DJ Top Nach, Mr. Nacho (14 Caliber), Jimmy X, Nade the Butcha & Ceffy Cef. They went on to put out two underground releases out of the songs recorded after Juan Kanobe tragically died with another friend in a car accident in San Jose, Ca. The group then gradually fizzled out into different groups/solo artists. Jimmy, Nade, and Jimmy's bro, longtime Redwood MC Brewmasta went on to form the Lyrical Fanatics and Ceffy Cef stayed solo. Mr Nacho, DJ Top Nach, Incognito Gino & Zak1 went on to form the Head Honchoz and pressed their first real project "Runnin da Show." This gained the group a good local buzz and they eventually went on to recording various other solo projects and group projects. Mr Nacho went on to join 14 Caliber and has a solo release ready soon and Incognito Gino is ready to mix his solo, due soon also. Zak1 & JB Da Original also went on to record an underground street tape, "Itz Nothin'", that featured Killa Keise, Head Honchoz and more.

[ ] : Did all these groups split for good? I haven't seen you guys around...?

[ Zak1 ] : All members are still in touch pretty much, but only some are still recording. We always talk of a reunion album for the Circle but it seems far fetched because of the amount of members. However Mr. Nacho, Incognito & me have been plotting on recording a new Honchoz album.

[ ] : You went solo and released a debut full-length album way back in 2004. Tell us more about it. What do you think about it from today's perspective? What was the acclaim?

[ Zak1 ] : "Shortstoppn'" was one of the best things I ever did. I met lots of people, got a whiff of the real studio and music scene, and established myself with a lot of San Francisco artists that I still talk to and work with. I have a strong relationship with lots of artists out of the 'Sco.

[ ] : "Shortstoppn'" seemed one of few official rap projects from Redwood City. Is the scene so small or just too local, not reaching other parts of the Bay?

[ Zak1 ] : "Shortstoppn'", "If These Trees Could Talk" and "Studio Fix" plus an album by Bosha ("What Part Of The Game Is This?") were some of the only RWC releases at the time, plus the underground albums etc. mentioned above. Redwood City is a very small city in between San Francisco and San Jose with a large Hispanic population. For this reason, it's "labeled" at times to gang related or solely certain style of rap (which is far from true, Redwood City is a VERY diverse city with a long history of hip hop). There are many young artists now coming from here that will be helping put us on the map big time, I am affiliated with almost anything you hear coming from Redwood.

[ ] : I have recently noticed a digital version of collabo with JB Da Original. Was it ever pressed and officially released? Was there anything else around that time?

[ Zak1 ] : I think I mentioned the JB/Zak1 project before. It was never officially pressed but gained us even more underground fame. The project is still in rotation on some Internet radio stations. I've just recently put it up on, lots of people ask me for it still so I put it up for them. As for anything else being around at the time we were recording lots of projects that never got released due to data loss etc. We also had another underground release called the "Northern Alliance" that never ended up getting released, as well as a 14 Caliber/Head Honchoz split album.

[ ] : Up till 2010 you stayed underground, mostly recording local mixtapes meant for free Internet downloads. What was going on for these 6 years?

[ Zak1 ] : Over the last 6 years I've been planning and building the Core Studio with a business partner. We have come a long way and have aspirations of one day becoming one of the 1st giant recording label from the West Coast, like Death Row did. I now have in-house recording, production, mixing, mastering, graphics, photography, video and more, so I can put out projects now for almost nothing. Just the pressing, which I also have a great line on.

[ ] : Ok, let's focus on the brand new joint venture with V-Boy. How did you two hook up?

[ Zak1 ] : The "B-Boyz..." album stemmed from me and V's old school relationship. We had always been good on the streets, though some of our people had their differences. We were from two separate clicks from West Redwood City that were neighboring each other. He had done his stuff and put his people on back in the days, as did I. He nonetheless doesn't work musically with anyone from his past really. I was still doing lots of stuff and knew he wasn't into much but getting paper. So I hit him on some managerial shit, to see if he was willing to get back into the game and use some of his old school contacts plus all of mine to "manage" me, since I still manage my own stuff to this day. This somewhat woke him up and he got back into the music and started getting beats and jumping back in the booth. He got all the beats together, I did the graphics, we wrote our shit and hooked up at my studio to record the project and thus the project. It's one of the best projects I've done to date, you can really tell how much we've both matured on the tracks. It was crazy, we recorded 15 songs in 15 hours. I had a new respect for him after we left the studio, as he probably did for me. We got a great relationship in and out of the booth, that's my dude no matter what. Lots of cats hate on him (via, etc.) but they don't know the real dude. He'll get 'em up with you at any given moment, that's the only kinda cats I fuck with. Real soldiers on some grown man shit, but we'll take it back to the old school in a second and hand a sucka his jaw for poppin' that greasy shit.

[ ] : What do you think about your outcome? How would you encourage someone to buy it? In which way is it different from tons of other projects flooding the northern Cali market?

[ Zak1 ] : As I said, so far the outcome is ok, but I feel I'm almost starting over in a way by just releasing another cd after a long period of time. But it's good, 'cause I have so much stuff to release I'm about to wake 'em back up and stay consistent with all my releases. The "B-Boyz 2 D-Boyz" project as I've stated is one of my best works yet, it definitely stands apart from lots of stuff in our area. It has a more universal feel, I think people all over can relate to at least one of the songs if not all of them. I would encourage people to buy it however they can, via CD Baby, iTunes or hit me and I will send u one. It doesn't matter, but I swear on everything this is a must have project, I'm not just trying to sell this on people like that really mean it. If you want another classic like "Shortstoppn'" I'd definitely grab this one.

[ ] : Do you feel that Redwood artists are disregarded? If so, why?

[ Zak1 ] : Redwood has a very cutthroat attitude. There are so many artists doing their thang, but it doesn't seem people understand that if you STICK TOGETHER you will make a lot more things happen. Teamwork make the dreamwork! There are too many artists trying to be the "first one" from our city to do certain stuff, but they should see the bigger picture, it doesn't matter who it is as long as we all support each other and stay true to each other we will all bubble and THEN it will come down to who's the most talented etc. Until we get on the same shit Redwood will continue to be slept on.

[ ] : What are notable RWC talents?

[ Zak1 ] : There are many notable Redwood City talents. You've probably heard lots of them in this interview already. The most notable in no order have to be V-Boy, J-Dash, The Spitta, Baby Boss, Alpha & Omega, Incognito Gino, Mr. Nacho, The Shedwellaz, The 1628 Factor, DJ Spexxx, Mr. 007, Lil Mike and anyone else that has gone through the blood, sweat and tears of putting a real album/project together. There's lots more, shout out to Loudvoice Records, the homie Gumby doin' his thang and even more, those are some for you to check out though.

[ ] : How do you find the Internet? Is it a good medium for promoting / selling your music?

[ Zak1 ] : Being that I do almost all of my own promoting and management, I've found the Internet to be the second best tool for networking besides actually being out at clubs, studios, etc. physically. I've networked with people all over, there's lots of fake shit out there on the Internet, but there's lots of useful stuff too. Digging around helps a lot. Do your homework before you pay to start accounts and stuff like that. Research the companies, find reviews. Be smart!

[ ] : I heard you were working on lots of new albums, shed more light on them.

[ Zak1 ] : I'm working on so much stuff it's crazy. The next project I will be dropping is entitled "Left 4 Dead", 'cause I kinda felt like that's exactly what happened to me. People haven't heard from me for a while so they kinda been writing me off, but I'm here to let 'em know I ain't gone nowhere. That will be available only online. The next will be the "Real. Life. Soprano. Vol. 2" mixtape, which is basically a collab by myself and M Dot Brando out of San Francisco. That will be available for free, I will also be pressing up that to give out at my shows and for promo. I will also put it up online for free download. The next project I have lined up after that is called "Woodworkz", another collab album this time with Ed Dosia, formerly of 14 Caliber. We call that the collaboration of minds, because we on some different shit for that one. We both have two entirely different styles, so they complimented each other very nicely on this one. Anyone who has purchased or heard Dosia's new album has heard us on a track and they know just what I mean. Lastly, "Softmore Slump" was meant to be the follow-up album to "Shortstoppn'", but due to recording label and producer issues has been pushed back. Basically this album was supposed to be released on a label that Scoot Dogg of Hoodstarz fame was also supposed to be signed to. The label's creator fell off and was not able to make it happen, so Scoot's material was never released and I was stuck with the option to "buy" the songs I still wanted to keep. I grabbed the three best ones and put those together with others I had done and will be mixing that soon. So that album has features by San Quinn, Hoodstarz, Berner and more, it's definitely another classic. I'm still plotting on more too, I love collabing with other artists. Big Bread Ed (formerly known as Young Ed) and I have recently discussed a mixtape collabo. We'll see, but people can bet on hearing lots more from me.

[ ] : Thank, Zak. If there's anything you'd like to add, please go ahead.

[ Zak1 ] : I just want to thank all the real peeps that made it from my city, I'm not even talking about rap. When I rap I don't just rep for my own city, but I'm talking about my experiences throughout the whole Bay. Some people get things twisted when they hear me rap about things that may not seem to occur everyday in my city. The Bay is a diverse place and I've seen a lot coming up, not just in Redwood City. I've lived in Daly City, South Hayward, San Bruno, Union City, East Menlo, shit even Pacifica. I also would like to give a big shout out to my patna JB The Original, who was shot this year in San Francisco. Keep your head up family, we ridin for ya!! Also free Vito Mitchell, my patna Wino and all the other homies locked up and rest in peace to those we've lost. Last but definitely not least I gotta give a big shout out to my boys Bart, Kuba and everyone else that works for and supports Keep on doin' what u guys are doin' and much love an respect to ya!!

You can read reviews of both official Zak's albums at
Zak1 & V-Boy - B-Boyz 2 D-Boyz
Zak1 - Shortstopp'n
Visit Zak1 and the Core Studio at their MySpace pages.
Buy "B-Boyz 2 D-Boyz" at CD Baby.
Download free "Spittaz" mixtape from
Download free "Real. Life. Soprano" from
Download free "Itz Nothin" with JB Da Original from