It was a chilly Friday night in the West Bottoms. A tan Mercedes-Benz c240 pulled up outside a downtown art studio in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. Out the passenger seat stepped 17 year old Zarin Micheal, iron-clad and dripping with confidence. The Lincoln Prep senior just wrapped up recording his debut album Sinner of Attention and was here to do a promotional photoshoot and hold a small listening session for his friends and colleagues in attendance. This month, the Kansas City native had the honor of performing at SXSW and opening for Maxo Kream and Gee Watts. However, we sat down for a quick interview a couple weeks prior before it all happened.
CXS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Z: I’ve been rapping for a few years, just trying to be the best to ever do this. That might be a lot to say coming from a 17 year old, but if you don’t got the confidence, you won’t be able to succeed in this game. I feel like I was born to do this ever since my mom played me that first Jay Z CD.
CXS: Your sound is hard-hitting, gritty and borderline maniacal, something Kansas City has never heard before. On songs like New Amerika, which you previewed for us, you speak on a handful of political issues concerning African-Americans and white America as a whole. Listening to this immediately gave us Tupac vibes; is he by any chance an influence?
Z: Of course, to me that’s one of the greatest to ever do it. But I listen to different artists every single day and people may feel like you’re biting but nah, you take parts and you learn. So when I listen to Tupac, I feel like he always had a message and I know if I don’t rap, I won’t have a message. If I don’t talk and say the shit I want to say, I won’t have a message. So in my music, I just speak what comes from the heart because I want to be a historical figure [like Tupac] one day.
CXS: Who else influences you as both an artist and human being in general?
Z: Well, my mom is a big Jay Z fan. I listened to every single song, every single album he put out and I can spit word for word every song he released. I remember just riding in the car, all those long nights just listening to that man and it influenced me so much because the position he has now is exactly where I want to be. In fact, I want to be better and like I said that might be a lot to say, but I always strive for greatness. I just want to be above everything that we’ve ever seen before.
CXS: Where do you see Zarin Micheal in 5 years?
Z: In five years, simply put, I plan on being one of the best rappers in the game. I want to be signed to either one of my idols Jay or Kanye, I want my debut album to be one of the greatest my generation has ever heard and I want to win grammys.