INTERVIEW: Zico MC | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Zico MC is in an excitable mood. It’s not a new phenomenon, as anyone who’s witnessed his effervescent live performances before will attest. But who exactly is Zico? “I’m King Louie, son to a mother, father to a son, rider of vibes, MC of many styles, survivor of twenty-four winters, King of the True North and the Last King of Scotland. Taking it from the Toon to the entire world!”

Despite his tender years, Zico’s experience as an MC goes back a long time. Recently, a video emerged on YouTube showing a fresh faced youngster taking part in a Compliments Battle at World Headquarters with Teesside rapper, Jister: “Yeah, that was one of my first and only battles. Battling was never really my forte but at that point, I’d been performing at the venue for two or three years at Lively Up – our reggae/jungle night – and a few other things. It seemed right to take part.”

Getting involved in the scene happened earlier than that though, as Zico explains: “I actually got into MCing when I was ten or eleven after seeing my best mate’s brothers, MC Drop Dead Fred, NoBull, and their crew Verbal Terrorists rap about life in the Toon, our crack up here, and touching on political issues. I thought, ‘Woah! That’s mint! I want to do that.’ I ended up getting into deejaying first and then a mate of mine wrote my first bars for me when we were twelve. Obviously I write my own now!”

I think if you’re a proper MC you should be able to spit over anything, any style, any tempo

The political element can be seen all over Zico’s social media and rears its head more than a few times on the record. Was this an intentional thing? “Yeah,without a doubt. It’s great to be engaged in political debate and if my music can inspire more people to get involved then that’s class. While a lot of my stuff has a political message, a lot of it just social commentary and my own brand of self-therapy.” A remixed version of YungHydro’s Black British is a typically strong statement piece: “That song got me straight away and I was like, why haven’t I written something like this? So, I did my own version.”

Where’s Zico? touches on a wide range of styles including dub, hip-hop and dancehall. Reflecting on Zico’s influences and life as a performer. How does Zico define himself? “I think if you’re a proper MC you should be able to spit over anything, any style, any tempo, and that’s what I do! People might say I should stick to one genre but I listen to a bit of everything and I think that reflects in my music.”

And why the title? “It’s a bit of a running joke because I go missing from time-to-time to just escape and recuperate. An old friend of mine kept hash-tagging #whereszico if I didn’t show up to something. Also, my boss used to tag me on Facebook on a weekly basis if I didn’t show up for work on time and he’d get a load of likes on it. The albums pretty much about where I am, where I’ve been, and when I’m nowhere to be seen!”

Where’s Zico is released digitally on Friday 9th September.

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