“This is my story. It’s all about me and told by me. I can’t have no other artist come and tell my story for me.”
Historically speaking, Tennessee has been a major player in the game as far as delivering musical talent. As far as bringing tons of Country artists, Jazz artists, and even the legendary rap group Three 6 Mafia, it goes without explanation the amount of impact Tennessee has had on the music industry as a whole. For the sake of Chattanooga Tennessee specifically, things may not have always been that easy. One artist in particular who is here to tell the world from his perspective, is the 18 year old Slatt Zy.
The “came from nothing to something” story is something we have all gotten used to by now–to the point where we almost expect it from certain artists. Slatt Zy on the other hand, his story feels so much more rewarding and ambitious than the others do. Coming out of a household with 11 brothers and sisters, Zy was born into poverty and hardships, and he grew up with it his entire life. With this being all that he has ever known, he continued to live life not knowing what it felt like to be on the outside of it. Looking at life with that perspective is amazingly admirable to me–as it shows that you look at life with a glass-half-full perspective, and you are willing to stay optimistic.
Singing and rapping with tons of melodic flows, Slatt Zy is fresh off of the release of his latest offering East Lake Projects–coincidentally named after the project building he grew up out of. Being so intrigued by the music I’ve heard on the project, I was eager to sit down and have a conversation with him about his past, his present, and the future of Slatt Zy.
Read our conversation below!
LL: Interviewing new artists is always amazing to me because it allows me to get to know more than what may be out on the internet already. With you being so new, tell me a bit about your story thus far.
SLATT: I grew up in Chattanooga Tennessee, East Lake Projects. I started rapping maybe about a year or so ago, so I’m really just now starting to gain the attention I deserve. I came from a very large family and I come from a city where nobody really makes it out of. For whatever reason, the ones that do make it out of here, they never really claim it like that.
LL: Why do you think people don’t claim Chattanooga like that?
SLATT: It seems like the city I’m from, it’s a lot of hate. They hate on you when you trying to get up and get out of there. I feel like it’s really more of a competition thing more than anything. They don’t like to see someone doing better than them. It could be somebody rapping for 30 years and don’t make it out, but then they see me, and I’ve been rapping for really only about 12 months—they’ll instantly begin to hate me just because I’m further than they are. They know the grind and see how hard it is and they would be like “how in the hell this n*gga doing that?”. I don’t really pay attention to what other people got going on or what other people doing though. I just try to focus on Zy.
LL: Even though you’ve been rapping for a short amount of time, you’ve been able to distinguish yourself and come up with your own sound and your own voice. What was that learning process like?
SLATT: To be honest, I don’t really know where it came from or where I got my sound from. I was really just in the studio being me. I always try to put everything I’ve been through in all my songs. Having the people I had around me believe in me so much, it just made me feel like I’m my own man. It made me realize that it’s time to eat and it’s time to work.
LL: With you only rapping for about a year now, I really can’t tell in your songs and the way you make your music. How do you think you gained so much knowledge so fast?
SLATT: I think that’s more so just about me being smart. I’m a very fast learner and I can catch on to things really fast. I caught on how to make a song just by watching other people do it, and I’m like “this is hard”, and it makes me want to try it on my own time. I had a lot of time on my hands to do what I wanted to do since I wasn’t in school. Just me being at home thinking that I want to rap, I had so much time to practice and write all my raps. My whole family really came from a musical background. I got brothers that rap and sing so I was really always around music.
LL: You were working at Hardee’s right before your music started to pick up, and here you are. Did you imagine your career taking off that fast?
SLATT: Yeah I feel like I was prepared for it. Like I said, I was putting in the work for it to happen. I had a whole plan in my head about this shit. I used to think like you make one song and you make a lot of money, but I found out it don’t go that way. I was making music and I got me a team, and my team flew me out to Miami, and they made my ass work. They kept me in the studio, and they made me go crazy. I was never used to that at first. I used to never be in the studio for more than an hour because I always paid for one-hour sessions. I feel like once I got to Miami and I was in them studios for 7 or 8 hours, it made me work harder and really grind for this.
LL: Was that the moment in your life where you really felt like this was your true moment and your time to shine?
SLATT: Yeah that plus me getting out of the studio and letting my brothers listen to it and see their reactions, my other siblings listening to it and seeing their reactions, the fans reactions too. The people around me they supported me so much, plus that money started coming in too. That really let me know that this shit is serious.
LL: You mentioned coming up with 11 brothers and sisters in one household. Tell me about how that was coming up being under one roof with all of your siblings.
SLATT: Man it was crazy for real. I’m talking fights every day in the house. Crowded as hell all the time. We used to fight about the smallest shit too. Growing up in a house full of kids, you’ll never know who did what. It could be fifteen kids in the house, and something go wrong and it’s like “hey who did this?” and everybody just sitting there like “it wasn’t me”. You got all these suspects, and nobody wanted to own up to what they did, so now it’s like my momma was mad at the whole house. We made the best of it though. We had some good ass times together.
LL: That’s amazing to hear that you made the best of it all. You’ve seen and been through a lot of things in your life for you to only be eighteen years old. How did you manage to find happiness in it all? How did you find the beauty behind all of the madness?
SLATT: I was really just living in the moment. Me being from East Lake Projects and being there my whole life, I never knew what anything outside of that was. I didn’t know what a house was like. I didn’t really pay attention to other people and say oh they got this and that. I didn’t start realizing those things until I got older and in my teenage years. At the time, I was just thinking that this was life, and this is what everybody is going through. I was never looking at what people have, and I don’t. I was living my best life.
When I got older, I had to start handling things on my own, making my own money, going out of town and all of that. At that point is when I realized that I was a man now. I just always had that mentality of keeping my eyes on my own. You can easily get distracted by looking at what other people have and putting so much time on other people. Your circle can get smaller, you lose people along the way, all of that. It can really knock you off your block.
LL: Did any of that take a toll on your mental health at all?
SLATT: No not really. Not at all. I’m a very optimistic person. Like I said, this is what I was used to my whole life and I didn’t know any different. With all those kids sleeping in one house, some of us had to sleep on the floor. There were days where we couldn’t afford to eat, and we were eating ramen noodles for all of us. I always looked at it like there’s people out there right now who may not have a house to sleep in, food to eat, and stuff like that. I just always looked at it like it could always be worse type shit.
LL: Another amazing thing about you is that both of your parents are still together to this day. How was it having that full family home feeling and how important of a role did they play in your life and career up to this point?
SLATT: They played a major role in my life, and once I got older, I realized how big of a role they played in my life too. I started to be thankful that I had both my mom and my dad together cause a lot of people around me didn’t have a mom or dad or both sometimes. I know for a fact, that if I didn’t have my dad in my life, I would probably be doing life in jail or something.
I know that they’re proud of me too—they tell me all the time. We came from a dark world and a dark place. Even though we came from a dark place, we all had each other at the end of the day. They’re really involved in my career too. For the most part, it’s all me when it comes to the creation of it, but I always play it for them and get their input on it and all of that. I know if they give me an A+ on it then I got myself a hit.
LL: From me speaking to you, I can tell you have a very diverse ear when it comes to music. Where do you draw your musical inspiration from?
SLATT: A lot of places. R&B & Country. As far as rap goes, I never really listened to a lot of underground rap or anything like that—I always just listened to whatever was poppin’ in the streets. A lot of the artists who dropped from like 2007 to about 2018 is where I got a lot of my inspiration from. I love the music that showcases melodies. I’m not even gonna cap, all I used to listen to was melodic shit and melodic rap really.
LL: Earlier you mentioned that a lot of artists don’t really come out of Chattanooga Tennessee like that—how does it make you feel to be from there and be one of the few that are really putting your city out there and on the map?
SLATT: To be honest, I never really sat down and thought about it. I do think it’s a great accomplishment that I will be able to look back and think about, but I never really looked at it as me putting the city on. I’m always just looking forward to doing what I can do while I’m here type shit. A lot of people tell me that I need to get up out of there, and that I can do more somewhere else. It can hurt you thinking that you can always have to do more for your city, but sometimes you need to get out in order for you to be better. It can always be one of those things where I leave and come back and help somebody else do it and keep that torch going. A lot of people from the town been that want to make music with me. I just let them know that I need to do my thing now and then I’ll come back and fuck with them heavy. I know I got to give back though. I was always taught that as fast as it can be given to you, it can be taken away. So I always do my best to give back whenever I can.
LL: How has it been for you adjusting to being signed to a label?
SLATT: It’s a lot of work. A lot of hard work. But in all honesty, it’s all to make me better as an artist and as a human being. I feel like they push me to my full potential. If I didn’t sign to my label 100K Management, I probably wouldn’t have been pushing this shit as hard as I am. My manger put me in that studio, and he made my ass work, and it’s starting to pay off. When I first got in the studio with him and I was recording, he would let me know like “you said those bars before”. He would really make me get back in there and actually say some shit on the track.
LL: You recently just dropped you latest project East Lake Projects, and I know you said that’s the name of the housing you lived in. Tell me a bit more about the creation of the project.
SLATT: East Lake Projects was literally my first and only home. I came right home from the hospital straight to East Lake. It was all I ever knew, so I decided to put everything I been thru on this project. We been through it all from poverty, to seeing dead bodies around—all of that. It was really bad, but there was also a lot of good times with us living there. Looking back on it now that I’m older, it may have seemed bad, but there was a lot of good in it. I put all of that into my music on this project and that’s the direction I took on this one.
This is my story. It’s all about me and told by me. I can’t have no other artist come and tell my story for me. I really didn’t even anticipate putting together an actual album because when I make music, I just be recording and recording. My manager and I was in LA, and he asked me if I had any songs set aside for an album and I said no. We started going through my songs and we came up with the perfect body of work. I got a lot more shit that’s way harder than what’s even on this project.
LL: What’s one of your favorite songs on the project?
SLATT: One of my favorite songs on the project is “Left Out”. At the time of me making this song, I was going through so much, and it was hard to have a good time. A lot of the songs on here I can’t say I was having a good time. I was fucked up at the time from losing my brother. It was all bad, but it put it all into the music. Another favorite of mine is “How It Go”. Hotboii and I liked up for that one. I remember my manager told me he had one of his artists coming to the studio, so I was like “alright bet”. He’s under 100k Management too so it was like he was already gang. He ended up making a song and leaving me a verse, and I did the same for him. He freestyled this whole song too.
LL: What can the world expect from Slatt Zy?
SLATT: Nothing but hits. Nothing but heat I’m gonna be a legend. I want everyone to know who I am until my dying day. I want my music to live forever and live longer than me.
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