Behind The Music: Zoo rass
Meet Zoo Rass.
"Hailing from Brooklyn, New York Zoo Rass is an dancehall/reggae recording artist with a Guyanese and Jamaican background. In 2011, Zoo Rass traded in his dancing shoes for a microphone when he decided to transition from a dancehall dancer to a dancehall musician. From that point on Zoo Rass has never looked back & is looking to make strides in the future of dancehall. His sound is one of a kind.
Zoo Rass music is traditional dancehall music with a twist. He engages his listeners with catchy lyrics & melodies but tends to dip into different genres while still keeping that authentic dancehall sound..." -- ZooRass Online
What is your stage name and what is the meaning of it?
'Zoo' is short for my real name and Rass because I’m a rasta, so I was always called Rass by the community. I was a dancer… so my friends started calling me Zoo Rass and it stuck.
What gravitated you towards music?
I was a dancer coming up from Brooklyn. The dance scene was real big ... so we used to branch out and make music to incorporate with the dances and I used to be the lead. 2011, I decided to go full throttle with it and make music/take more serious.
Who are your top 5 musical influences in the industry?
2) Sean Paul
5) Vybz Kartel
What was your first song and how do you feel about it now?
The first song I ever recorded is called ‘Nuh Follow Them’. My first ‘hit’ that gravitated towards people in 2013 called ‘Deh So’. I consider that my first song because in college that’s when people knew me, they’d play my song in every party. I was performing at mad different shows. When that song came on, people went crazy and people knew me as the ‘Deh So’ guy. It was my first popular song for the area I was in. It was cool, you know. I could never go back to that type of quality, not that it was bad but it was definitely memorable for me.
What genre do you seem to fit under?
Dancehall for a fact, but you know I like to dip into different genres so that you can hear about dancehall artists. People assume if its Caribbean music, you only think of Alkaline and Popcaan. I think my style is different, like Shaggy or Sean Paul. Those type of artists is who I’m trying to be like. Not to be mainstream (well of course) but not be foreign to them. When people go to shows, there’s like 7 rap artists and one reggae artist and they’ll be like “oh shit”. No. I want it to be normalized.
Where are you from and how does that influence your music?
I’m from Brooklyn. My background is Jamaican and Guyanese. I wouldn’t say it influenced my music per say. My influence comes from me studying the game, in general. You might catch me watching performances from dancehall artists to perfect myself, my craft. I used to do college tours, now I’m hosting my own events you know? I just had two big shows in 2019, one for Christmas Zoo Rass and Friends, Holiday Edition powered by Live Nation, and one in June - Zoo Rass and Friends.
Do you do anything besides music?
I’m actually a real big sports guy. I got my degree in Sports Management from SUNY Canton. I play basketball, I’m into wrestling, track amd field, and football. I dance too, every now and then, not like how I used to though... but if a song comes on like back in the day at a party, I’m going to dance.
Who is one artist you definitely want to work with in the near future?
I definitely would say my idol for sure Konshens. But also the people I’ve named earlier like Stefflon Don, Ding Dong, Baby Sham... there’s a lot. A lot of artists I look up to and study. Even Safaree, I can relate to him.
What is your favorite song by yourself? and your least favorite (if any)?
My favorite song is 'Come Please'. I like that song the most because it gives me a mainstream appeal and can be played anywhere. It has a little afrobeat, little edm… it’s a perfect blend. It’s just different. My least favorite is a song from 2013 called 'Celebration'. I had it up for a little bit but I took it down. Maybe some of my older stuff but I don't really refer to that catalog.
Where can we find Zoo Rass?
Stream on Spotify, here
Apple Music, here