Zebra Katz is a 25 year old New Yorker and something of a rarity as he’s an out gay rapper. Signed by Diplo to his label in the US, which goes through Mad Decent. Since his track Ima Read was used by Rick Owens for his A/W12 show it has really kicked off with over 600,000 views on You Tube already and the track is a massive hit on the underground club circuit.

Ima Read will be released here on September 16th with additional mixes from Tricky and Grimes.

Brooklyn based Rapper Ojay Morgan, originally from South Florida and raised in West Palm Beach, initially went to arts school then decided he would go to college in New York so like many a budding creatives in search of culture it was off to the big city. At first he set out to study fashion only to discover it wasn’t for him. ‘It didn’t work out,’ he states somewhat laconically. He decided to study Theatre as his major, and this is probably the thing that has set him apart from other emerging artists and talent.

In his study year abroad Ojay came to London, where he studied Shakespeare and quickly realised he was going to have to make it happen for himself having noticed the distinct lack of parts for him to play. Ojay developed a short performance piece called ‘More Contradictions’ and within this short piece Zebra Katz was born. When I asked him how, he said, ‘Out of all the characters I think he came out swinging the hardest’.

At the time music was a hobby he didn’t give much thought to. He certainly didn’t think he would become the ‘musical actor’ he describes himself as today.

This can be seen in any one of his videos but probably more noted in his recent release Ima Read featuring Njena Reddd Foxxx. Signed to Diplo’s Mad Decent label Jeffree’s, Ima Read is more than just a song, the wordplay and imagery alone are loaded with subtext, juxtaposition, and pop culture references to rival most up’n’coming talent in rap. The imagery is powerful and the subtle hints of physical theatre, all bring together a sense of who Zebra Katz is.

Ima Read was the online viral that catapulted Zebra Katz into Fashion’s gaze when the track was used in the Rick Owens’ show in Paris Fashion week and was quickly dubbed the ‘soundtrack of Paris fashion’ week all over. Volt Café caught up with him ahead of his headline gig at YoYo, Notting Hill Arts Club, a staple London music night, famed for hosting and breaking the next big thing.

Volt Café: Tell us about your way of working.
Zebra Katz: It’s really interesting that music that I did ages ago is now being worked on and getting momentum – it’s a great feeling to know that. It’s great to know I can start working on stuff and not release it right away but know there will be the right time.

VC: Define what makes Ima Read right…
ZK: I didn’t want the record to sound misogynist which I knew it could if you didn’t get the references so Njena came into the studio with me, laid down her track and it just sat there, we didn’t go back to it, even though people were like add this edit or that edit, I said no I don’t want that.

VC: Sum up your thoughts on Fashion and Music.
ZK: I’ve always wanted to design clothes, style and music go very much hand in hand especially for a character like Zebra Katz. He’s so exuberant! He likes clothes and he likes to make fun of clothes too.

VC: What do you feel is different about Zebra Katz?
ZK: With the success of Ima Read it’s easy for journalists to find references in pop culture sub culture or the scene we’re all in but you know what? We’re all making different music; we all have different stand point and I intentionally try and set myself apart especially when it comes to sexuality and gender because I know that it can easily be pigeonholed into some viewpoint on genre that doesn’t exist.

VC: What’s next for Zebra Katz?
ZK: The ultimate dream is to keep on dreaming, growing and creating new things as an artist and bring through new artists who are incredible and should be spotlighted.

Check out Zebra Katz

Words by Rosa Doherty

Tags

Diplo, Ima Read, Njena Reddd Foxxx, Rick Owens, Zebra Katz,