From the inlands of Fresno, California, hip hop artist, Zee Will makes his entrance into LA with his hard-hitting new album Strategy Guide 2. Continuing his story and message from his 2015 release Strategy Guide, the prolific wordsmith has a message to share. I recently got to speak to him and got a firsthand look into the artist at work.
What inspired you to write the album?
I felt like me getting out of my comfort zone and taking the leap to go from Fresno to LA was a big turning point and I wanted to talk about that. Also, wanted to talk about things prior to that, and where I am now, just for my sake. To get my true side and get my experiences out. I feel like creating this project was perfect for where I was at. I’m in a new environment. I’m starting out fresh. I got all the tools and have the ability to create with all my own resources. Let me just see what I can do and put it out.
Your lyrics. Is there a message that you’re sending or are you just telling people your story?
Almost all the songs in the project is a message that I want to portray. It is not one general message; it is diverse cause I feel like many people go through many things in life. I try to get on top of those things that I personally feel or what I’m going through or what I see. I just add purpose to my music.
In most of your songs, whether you’re talking about frustration, love, pop culture, fun, or political, I always hear a reference to social media, can you speak on that?
There’s a positive and a negative to social media. The biggest positive is that it keeps us connected from one place to another. You can instantly find out what’s going in another country, like Japan or Europe. You know, we’re very connected, and 10 -15 years ago there was only a telephone / landline, but if you didn’t have that, you had to ride your bike to your friend’s house. Social media has definitely connected us in an efficient way, but at the same time, we can get obsessed with it, addicted to it, and get lost in it. You become out-of-touch of reality, and people get anxiety from this. From the amount of likes and views they’re getting or how people perceive them on there. You know, it is crazy what social media is doing to some people. It has so much good, but there’s so much bad to it. I pretty much want to shine the light on both – the positive and negative. To be aware of both sides.
Do you feel like social media can distort your writing process as a musician/writer?
Definitely. They say. I feel like some of the greatest artist’s downfalls and fear is self-doubt, self-criticism. Sometimes we don’t put out art or our ideas because we feel like it won’t get, enough views or likes, since we find validation in that. If I have a great idea and put it out, but it only gets ten likes, some people will think that it’s not a great compared to a meme that got 100. Not saying that it’s that exactly, but I think people find validation in these views and likes, instead of the art. I think it surpasses great minds because they are scared to put out the ideas. One thing I try to say with my music is to move without fear, move fearlessly, because you never know who’s going to like it. Move without risk.
Tell me about your song “She knows.”
That song is touching on women that I personally appreciate and look for. Women that know their personal worth and value. But you know, all women should know their worth, and have that empowerment. I have a lot of women in my life that I feel empowered just by the way they move and know themselves.
Your last album seemed very straight to the point; I felt that this album was a consciously groovier. As in, the content was just as raw, but sonically, it was more experimental: jazzier and upbeat. Would you say that was the feel for Strategy Guide 2?
Honestly, in this project I was comfortable and knew what I wanted to do. I’ve gotten experimental, now I just know what I want. All the past projects were me trying to find myself and sound- to find my identity in the music. Like, when I first did music, I took it super serious. Not saying that it’s not serious now, but I just want to have fun – I like goofy stuff. I like a lot of things, so I like to get to a place where I’m outside of the box. Like, I’m the plant that has grown out of the pot and now I want to be planted in the forest, and have the roots grow further.
Shout out to the team: Dey La Ramos, Casino, Dj DeSoto, Crash, Jukebox, Family, Mom. Everyone knows who they are. Shout out to all the people that are still following me on this rollercoaster.