Zebra Katz has been setting the world of fashion alight this year with his stripped down, minimal, dark rap & at last he seems to be breaking out of the pages of the fashion mags & into the pages of the music press.
Got to be honest, the whole Kanye / Jay Z style of hip hop's never set my world alight. Worse, it's managed to 'blandify' & stagnate the whole of the rap game for way too long as far as I'm concerned. But recently things have been changing quite appreciably, to the point where I think it's safe to say that these are, in fact, pretty exciting times for hip hop.
There are now noticeably more different sub genres of rap than I think there has ever been; just what hip hop needs to grow & move on. From the slinky jazzy sounds of Shabazz Palaces & THEESatisfaction on the one hand, right through to the confrontational noise rap of Louder Than War favourites Death Grips & new kid Sensational, who recently teamed up with Dead Fader for the insane track Fishsh (rapping over some bonkers heavy dubstep beats) which you can stream below. Then of course there's the Odd Future gang who, like them or not, have undeniably given rap a bit of a kick up the arse, and finally, speaking as someone whose first recollection of rap was hearing Peel playing a Roxanne Shante track back in the 80's, I'm stoked to see women more then holding their own in the rap game these days with Azalea Banks & Niki Minaj amongst others.
But you'll probably know all about them. I'm gonna guess, however, that it's less likely you'll know about Zebra Katz. Unless of course you follow the world of fashion as it was during a show at this years Paris fashion week that Zebra had his break, when the track embedded below was chosen to accompany Rick Owens's show. Indeed, so far most of the press about Zebra Katz has been in fashion mags rather than in the music press (he's been featured in Vogue for instance) although that appears to be about to change.
As with Death Grips, Zebra's rapping can arguably be described as industrial, but that's about where the similarities end between the two. Zebra's rapping is a far more minimal industrial than Death Grips (who obviously goes more down an aggressive industrial route). Having said that though Zebra's rapping is also pretty scary, just in a more subtle, dark, psychological way than Death Grips.
Mainstream acceptance isn't something that Zebra Katz is likely to strive for. Artistic integrity is at the root of his work & his uniqueness is one of his selling points. Compromise is unlikely to be something he's prepared to do as he seems to have a very clear vision of what he wants to do & where he wants to go.
Zebra Katz is already getting a reputation for not only making unique music but also for carrying this uniqueness through to the live setting - not surprising considering he comes from a multimedia and performance art background.
Arguably his finest moment so far is the stripped down, pared back track "Hipster" with it's accompanying video recorded on the L-train (see below). A seemingly off the cuff recording that captures all of Katz's Brooklyn cool. This guy is gonna be one for the near future so you've been warned.
More info (plus social media links) about Zebra Katz can be found here.