The first time I heard “Two 16’s” by ZMoney and Valee, I was hooked. Putting on for his hometown of Chicago, real name Zernardo Tate is a man of the streets and a man of the people. The crazy part is he only started making music six years ago. With an ear for what’s hot, Z drew inspiration from rappers in the South, proving his ability to lay down relentless bars over vicious trap beats. Read more…
Fast forward to 2018, ZMoney signs to Gucci Mane’s 1017 imprint — the same rapper that inspired him to enter the rap game to begin with.
For those who don’t know, who is ZMoney?
A young, humble entrepreneur from West Side Chicago. Started out as an entrepreneur, and then turned into music.
How’d you get your name?
My real name begins with Z, and everybody in the hood calls me Z. I come from money. I’m not one of those rappers that came from nothing. I come from drug dealing and money making. I ain’t going to say I was rich… I come from money when I was in the hood. My father was paying money off, and my mother was on drugs in my neighborhood.
I didn’t have nothing. My father was getting money. So I was the freshest young ni**ga in the neighborhood, but I walk around the corner and I see my mom on drugs. That type of shit. I had both hands of the stick. So me just always being humble and chasing money is how I got my name.
Speaking of, you’re from Chicago. How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
Literally, before rap, I would come to LA all the time. When I started rapping and I came to LA, I was already used to it. I swear to God. I used to come to LA every summer, since I was 12 to probably 16 or 17. I went to LA and Vegas every year. Vegas was six days, LA was 7. So I was already used to LA.
So you transitioning into rapping, how would you describe the sound?
Different. I’m not even going to say different, I’m going to say unique. Everyone says different. I’ve got my own sounds. People say, “You sound like Gucci, you sound like this,” but I’ve got my own sounds. I don’t rap like nobody. I’ve never tried to rap like anyone else. I always do my own thing and everything I rap about is authentic.
Everybody who knows me knows, “Oh, what he’s talking about is for real.” That’s just me. I’m humble. I don’t care about that shit. I’m just trying to get money. I’m just trying to feed my family and do some shit I’ve never done before.
What do you want fans to get from your story, through the music?
I want my fans to know it’s real, authentic, and something they can relate to. This is how my life was. I started off like my father, doing his thing. Growing up, doing what I do, I always stayed in the neighborhood, in the worst part of the West Side of Chicago. All my cousins were there. I had to go to school out there when I got kicked out of public school.
Then my father went to jail — maybe like freshman year, I was playing basketball and shit — I had to drop out of high school during my sophomore year. I was used to my father taking care of me, so I had to get my money. And that’s what I did.
How did you get on in the rap game?
I mean, just working. Ain’t nobody ever vouched for me. Ain’t nobody ever did anything for me. I just worked and showed people I could. ‘Cause everybody in Chicago knew that I had money and thought, “Oh, this dude is just going to rap and make money.” But no, I kept it going. I kept going to the point where I made them believe me. I made my own sound and made my own fans.
I was going back and forth to jail so much. My last time in jail, I was getting so much mail and realized I missed so many opportunities. I told myself I was taking this shit more serious when I get out.
How’d you link with Gucci?
Working. Gucci has always been my favorite rapper. Gucci has always been the person I looked up to, always. Me just working in Atlanta, and he just heard my music and heard what I had going on. He just liked it.
Talk about signing to his label.
That was a blessing. I was with 1017, before I was really with 1017.
If you had 1 song for fans to hear, what would it be?
“Stove On.” Or I’d say “Prefer.” Or “Two 16’s.” I’ve got so many songs for them to hear. My songs are for different moods. I got something for every mood.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I’ll have 100 buildings. I want to continue doing the shit I was doing before the music. My music, I want to continue building and making a difference in that. But outside of music, I’m going to have a lot of properties. I’m going to have a lot of businesses running. I’ll have my own clothing line.
What are some new business ventures you’re doing?
Right now, I’ve got something called Kashmir. They’re rolling papers. They’re the best rolling paper out right now. They’re better than Raw. They’re organic.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us thru.
A normal day in the life of ZMoney is waking up to 100 phone calls.
Yeah, I get so many phone calls.
Do you do emails or nah?
I don’t email like that. I’ve got people to do that for me. I also work out a lot.
Who are you bumpin’ when you’re working out?
Me. Or Gucci, Project Pat, Young Dolph.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
I was in jail, and fans had wrote me and sent me money. I love my fans!
I already got my dream collab.
If you had to pick one!