MC Zuko - Rap and Hip Hop Artist
MC Zuko is a young rapper and hip hop artist hailing from The Valley. His style is about the rhythm— hard, poetic, singing, screaming— and he creates music to decolonize. With an influence of family, his partner, his peers, OPM artist, and fellow hip hop artists, MC Zuko is about respect, emotion, and music for the Fil Am community and all people. A MC Zuko performance is passion filled and we look forward to the music and performances he produces in the new year.
Youtube - MC Zuko
Spotify - MC Zuko
Where are you based?
The Valley, North Hills of Los Angeles to be exact. My immediate family lives in Palmdale and I visit them once or twice a week.
When did you begin performing? And when did you realize music was something you wanted to pursue?
My first performance was back in May 2016. I had a couple more in 2017, and finally started doing bigger and more shows this year in 2018. I realized music was the career I wished to pursue back in the Fall of 2015 after I messed around and wrote my first full length Hip Hop song. I started studying other rappers and practicing my writing in 2016. In 2017, I dropped a couple songs and an EP on SoundCloud and filmed a couple music videos. It wasn’t up until the beginning of this year in 2018 that I decided to take it seriously and drop music on all streaming platforms.
Can you describe your musical style? And how did you develop it?
My musical style is like dancing to the rhythm, whatever it may be! I never wanted to restrict myself to a certain sound. Versatility is key to me because I can reach all sorts of audiences that way. But in terms of Hip Hop, I love doing it all! Old skool boom bap, new skool trap, poetic spoken rap, singing, screaming, you name it! I developed this fluid style because I grew up with a family that was and still is, heavily in tune with music. Pun intended! Karaoke family parties, singing oldies and OPM during the long drives back and forth between here and the Bay Area, and being exposed to West Coast Hip Hop which introduced me to everybody else in Hip Hop. Watching my family, especially my parents, evoke powerful emotions when they sang (sometimes rapped!) showed me that we as human beings are complex creatures capable of feeling a variety of ways. We can be happy one minute, angry the next. Sad and alone today, excited tomorrow. I want to express myself through every emotion.
Do you have certain messages and themes you cover in your music?
All of my music will always have an underlying tone of family love and sacrifice in it. Music is my decolonization process. I am currently developing a sound where I can address issues in the Fil Am community that aren’t normally talked about due to a colonized mentality or our culture of silence while still being able to make a person jam to it no matter what ethnicity they are. I want to be a server for my people through music while still captivating the hearts of all people.
What are some of the songs you enjoy performing? What songs get the most crowd reaction?
Definitely “Omanignatup” featuring my Ate Jojo AKA “Hennsational” from my “Respect the Hustle Mixtape” because that motherfucker gets people going. We scream and rap in that song and the crowd, especially CSUN FASA, goes nuts! The next one is “Temptation” featuring Breana Marin. That’s my highest streamed song on Spotify, probably my most known song! It’s about my love for my partner and the crowd, of course, ESPECIALLY CSUN FASA get so giddy over it!
What/who has been instrumental in your personal and creative growth?
I pull influence from everything and everyone I interact with. Family is a given. My partner is a given. My peers and my experiences in life have all shaped me to who I am today. I firmly believe that as soon as I started to take my music career seriously, I began focusing on what’s best for me and what I can contribute to this wild world. Once I locked in on my growth, things just started to become more clear on what I felt I had to do.
Who are your musical influences?
My parents, the OPM artists they all sang to me, and each artist in the history of Hip Hop. My parents made me believe I could do this, OPM grounded me, and Hip Hop carved me.
What is your dream gig?
Performing with Asin in the Philippines in front of my family.
What's on your current playlist?
Rocky Rivera’s “Rocky’s Revenge” in my car, Kendrick Lamar and MC Zuko on my earphones.
How has the Filipino American community come out and supported you?
Reposting, sharing, and purchasing my music, showing up to the events, and providing well organized platforms where we can perform! Y’all got no idea how life replenishing your actions are to me as a person and an artist.
Do you have any upcoming events, music, videos that you are excited about?
No events for the rest of 2018, it’s family time! I have a feeling 2019 is going to change my life and boost my career to the next level. But y’all just gonna have to wait for that!
Photos courtesy of MC Zuko and taken by Jaimar Viray