Discover Friday: Zodiac #717

Zodiac #717 is a Lancaster local musician who recently released his first single, “They Said I Couldn’t.” It’s got a hard beat, and you can hear the passion behind every word he spits. He’s got a nice cadence in his flow, and I’m excited to see what else he produces. You can listen to his latest release here. I had the chance to chat a bit with Zodiac #717 about his music, favorite records, and what he’s up to.

Name one album everyone should have in their collection. Why?

Being a person born into this culture (Hiphop) this question isn’t the easiest to answer. I mean I could possibly randomly give you a top 10, maybe a top 5 that would make lyrical sense to other artists who came up in the same era as me. 

So we have in no particular order:

Capital Punishment by the late Great Christopher Lee Rios / Big Pun

This project was/is/and will always be dope. As a lyricist, Big Punisher was one of the best to ever grace a mic while he was still here. The Puerto Rican roots made this project and his Yeah Baby album with songs like It’s So Hard and 100%, must-haves. Straight fire.

Twins, Dream Shatterer, Still Not A Player.. Rip PUN

The Slim Shady Lp by 1 of the greatest Marshall Bruce Mathers / Eminem

The wordplay displayed on this freaking project is incredibly insane. The storytelling sheesh and every song is not only catchy but fun no matter how explicit. I swear I was the only one in the circle bangin Em back then. My friends would say stuff like, “you’re crazy listening to the white boy,” but I mean, look at him now. Eminem’s discography and God-level lyricism are stamped in Hip Hop forever. 

’97 Bonnie and Clyde, My Name Is, Bad Meets Evil = Slim Shady

Reasonable Doubt by The 1 and only Shawn Corey Carter / Jay-Z

Hov’s flow was different; it bounced and smoothly transitioned. It’s always had a swagger to it. Jay-Z just sounded levels ahead of the game because he always spoke it, dropping gems consistently. 

Can I Live, Friend Or Foe, Dead Presidents  Jay-Z                                                                                   

Don Cartagena by Joseph Antonio Cartegena / Fat Joe

I love this album. The collaboration of hip-hop royalty on John Blaze is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Definitely in my top 5, alongside the 4,3,2,1 LL Cool J joint, Banned From Tv off of the N.O.R.E. album, and M.O.P’s Ante Up Remix, in my opinion, of course. Fun album. Barz tough is as heck, and having Charlie B’more on Walk On By, Dope. Terror Squad was the squad.

John Blaze, My Prerogative, Triplets  Fat Joe

Honorable Mentions: Ready 2 Die by The Notorious BIG, Makevelli by 2PAC, and Hip-Hop was all I listened to when I was younger and are still pretty much what’s playing nowadays. So I could easily say, “Yo go check out! It’s Dark, And Hell Is Hot, and Flesh Of  My Flesh.. by DMX or Illmatic, It Was Written, Magic by Nas, Any Kay Slay Project RIP, Sheek Louch’s Silverback Gorilla, Jadakiss’s Kiss Of Death, Locksmith’s Lock Sessions, Cordae’s From A Bird’s Eye View, NF’s Therapy Session, Puff Daddy’s No Way Out, D-Smoke’s Black Habits. Artists like Az, Foxy Brown, Remy Ma and Papoose, Lloyd Banks, Lil’ Kim, Wayne, Trina, Fred The Godson Rip, Eve, Rah Digga, The SlaughterHouse, and one of sickest spitters out now in Millyz all have amazing work out there for everyone to listen to.

There’s so much great, beautiful music out in the world being put out daily that it’s impossible to come up with an honest answer. I love this. I love music. Putting together this list had me in my feels as I reminisced, traveling through memories that brought some things forgotten back into focus. 

And to keep it super funky, these are artists you should be watching locally in The Rose: D-Burna, Corey O, Laddie Moran, Yo Bull Pnut and Soul Truu, Tory C, Star Show, and The fam Johnny Fontaine. We have so much talent surrounding us, and lots of young men and women getting busy on the microphone. Woo!!! The list goes on and is possibly endless, like the pool of talent we find ourselves in. Respect to everyone chasing their dreams. Keep Pushing Big Shout Out to Jose Rios and TJ Griffin. These guys are doing amazing things with their DREAM LOUD program. Putting recording studios into Juvenile Detention Centers around the US, Music Saves, RS. 

Lancaster, PA Stand Up!!!!! 

From painting to rapping, you create in many different fashions. Which medium came first for you? How?

Definitely drawing before rapping. I really enjoyed reading comic books as a kid and loved drawing the characters but I didn’t really pick up painting till Covid hit. While trying to create another stream of income I figured I knew how to draw, so why not paint my pictures? I’ve been doing it for a little over 2 years now and when not dealing with writer’s block/art it comes pretty easy, almost second nature. I almost always have a pen and sharpie around and there’s paint brushes strewn about the house. 

I started writing music/lyrics in the 6th grade and spent most of that summer playing around with different styles. In Junior High, I wrote music consistently. Every day, in every class and after school, I would gather with associates. We’d play instrumentals and freestyle/rap off the top or get busy with our pens, lacing notebook pages for hours. We might not have been great, but we damn sure thought we were. I’ve been doing this, writing lyrics/music for what seems like my entire life now. It’s pretty difficult to remember a time when rhyming wasn’t something I was doing.

What does your creative process look like when you write music? What comes first, the beat or the lyrics?

Usually, the beat comes first. Some instrumentals only take a few seconds/minutes to get into, but others I listen to for at least a week before I put pen to paper. I listen to the beat/instrumental for hours every day and mentally put together multiple rhyme patterns to attack the beat with.. Using this time to become one with the banging beat I’m attempting to compliment with wordplay is very useful for me, especially with the tongue twisters I frequently use.

So what’s next for Zodiac #717?

All I know is no one is making that decision for me, so we’ll see.

The future always looks bright, depending on the angle you’re looking from

To Peace, Love, and Prosperity For Us All.

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