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An Interview with Zarin Micheal

Zarin Micheal Jerrells is 17 years old and goes to Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, Missouri. Late in January he released his first official single "Best Friend" on SoundCloud, featuring production from Alexander Preston. Since then he has quickly solidified himself as one of the many rising young hip-hop talents from Kansas City aiming to making it big this year.

He has booked shows in Lawrence and at South By Southwest and finished recording his debut release "Sinner Of Attention" that will be out later this year. We were invited to a listening session and promotional photo shoot last week and had the chance to sit down with Zarin and get to know the young rapper a bit better.

How long have you been rapping?
I've been rapping for a few years, maybe three at the max.

Have you been recording all those years?
No, I started taking myself serious maybe last year.

What made you want to start rapping?
Mostly just my friends, because I remember back in the day I used to just freestyle for everybody and just rap playfully, and everybody was like, "You need to get in the studio." But I never knew what I actually wanted to do. You know high school is all about sports, so that was my plan, but then I realized that my real calling and my real purpose in life was to make the transition.

How would you describe your sound?
My sound? It's unreplicable. You can't do what I'm doing.

Kansas City hip-hop has never had much of a unique sound, often borrowing from other cities. Do you think that's about to change?
I feel like we're on a new wave right now. Kansas City, we getting a lot of love. It's a lot of good artists in Kansas City trying to do their thing, but like I said, I'm trying to be on the next top tier level. I don't want to just be Kansas City. I want to be national, I want to be international.

What's helping shape the new Kansas City sound?
Mostly just studying history and studying the rap game. That's basically all I've done since I was little.

What's your single "Best Friend" about?
That's actually pretty funny, I was just in this situation where I left and went on to her best friend, but that's not me. Me writing that song is not actually referring to the situation, it's just taking little bits and pieces. I changed it at the end, you see my voice changes and I say "I became closer to God and I became my best friend," and that's just basically a message to everybody everywhere, whatever situation you're in, God is going to always have you.

Are the lyrics on the rest of the release similar in content?
It really varies. I guess you could say it's similar because I'm just giving my life. Whatever verse I spit, whatever lyric I spit, I'm not telling no lies. I've never lied on any of my records, there's no reason to do that. Like I told you, I'm just spitting my life.

What kind of themes do you end up covering?
I can cover anything such as political issues, things we're going through in the city, relationship type shit like girls, hate. Everything that anybody would relate to in real life, I give it to you in my verses.

How did you come up with the title "Sinner Of Attention?"
I came up with that ... actually I was probably just chilling with my friend Ghost. We were thinking about different names and I just felt like that fit perfect, "Sinner Of Attention," because what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to gain everyone's attention in the city and I want to be the best. I know I say that a lot, I tweet that a lot, I do a lot of ranting and shit, I say I want to be the greatest, but what do I actually do to get there? To be honest with you, I have to kill everybody in my path to get there. Whatever I have to do to feed my family I will do.

What other Kansas City artists are you excited about right now?
Gee Watts. One of my producers Alexander Preston is really on a great wave.

How did you get your SXSW showcase set up?
We just did a lot of research and we just did a lot of different things. We've been wanting to get down there for a while now. We waited a little bit late in the process, but we made sure we were going to get down there.

Lots of rappers online end up deleting their early work. Why have you chosen to do that with some of yours?
Last year I had a whole bunch of songs and I was just in a different place in my life. I didn't want to keep addressing those similar situations, so I chose to remove my music to show the real type of artist I am and how I've developed  a new sound that we all need.

What else should people know about you that they might not?
People should know that I'm here and I'm not going nowhere and I'm not fucking around with nobody. If you think I'm fucking around, then you're in for a rude awakening. Zarin Micheal is about to be one of the greatest to ever do this and I plan on proving it by every single record and every single lyric I do. Whatever we do, it will be mentionable. Whatever clothes we're wearing, whatever hoes we're fucking, whatever music we're making, it will be mentionable.

Any last shoutouts?
I shout out Gee Watts, shout out Alexander Preston, shout out that young kid Kye Colors, he's coming up. He just dropped a new project, he's really nice. I shout out, basically my team, we got Ghost, B-Money, Molly, Lil Chic, Lil T-Duddy, we got everybody in this motherfucker. We're trying to live. Also, Lil Myron, T Dang, Jack Raybuck, Ike Dan, Sonny, Kash, Darryl, Keith, Willie B, Trill and Mak.

Follow Zarin on Twitter and listen to his music on SoundCloud.

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