Let South Carolina tell it, the current ascent of Blacc Zacc is one of the most inspiring case studies of rap’s uncharted southern territories to date.
Hailing from the capital of southern hospitality in Columbia, South Carolina, the 27-year-old tapped into his trap music roots as young as 13-years-old. Like many young Black men shackled by circumstances of limited opportunity, Zacc sought influence from the street-grinding lifestyle of his older brother, Tony. Zacc emulated this hustler’s mentality, coupled with his rap star aspirations, until his own action plan toward prosperity eventually took shape. “I came into the game with money,” Zacc shares with BET.com. “So my focus was different when I entered the industry and the music started taking off.”
Zacc’s path wasn’t one of linear success, however. As a native South Carolinian, hip-hop hometown heroes were few and far-between and paled in comparison to its neighboring metropolis to the west, Georgia, and the handful from its northern counterpart, North Carolina. He’d drummed up a mixtape discography, but only in staggered attempts. Thus, Zacc’s lane was already stretched wide open to not only dominate, but usher in his city’s new class of rap aspirants.
Now the honcho of his own rap label collective, Dirty Money Entertainment, and a signee of SCMG/Interscope Records, Zacc has garnered attention far beyond South Carolina and into hip-hop’s big leagues. He’s also established a Carolina brotherhood with two of North Carolina’s most sought-after millennial talents, DaBaby and Stunna 4 Vegas, both of which appear on his well-received debut album, Carolina Narco. In a rare creative move reminiscent of hip-hop album rollout’s past, the project is accompanied by a short film titled, Carolina Narco The Movie.
BET.com sat down with the “Richest Rapper In South Carolina” to learn more about Carolina Narco, his South Carolina emergence, the current state of rap in his city, his allegiance to his fans and more.
BET: Let’s start with your rise in South Carolina. You began rapping around 13. What kept that spark going all the way up until now?
Blacc Zacc: Around that time I was just playing around with stuff that we had in a studio at the house. I’ve always had a love for music. Once I dropped my first project [1st Round Draft Pick] when I got out of high school, I saw the response and I just kept going.
T.I. and Rick Ross are among some of your inspirations. But your earliest was your brother, Tony. So he did music too?
My brother Tony didn’t actually do music. He was more in the streets and got into some legal problems. But he really loved music, too. He always played Gucci Mane and Jeezy and others who were coming up around that time. He always had a rapper image, so I used to look up to him in that light. I knew what that led to, so I incorporated the music with it.
Has he ever seen you rap and perform?
Yeah, and he’s proud! He’s been out [of prison] for about two years now. Just to see the response [from fans], it makes him proud.
As someone just breaking into the music industry, what other jobs do you remember having before your career took off?
I used to work at this one spot called For Checks; it’s like a military spot. I worked there for like a week and then I had to quit. It was too hard and too much work. The work was feeding soldiers, cleaning trays and taking trash out.
Even though you couldn’t stick to that, were there ever any doubts about pursuing a rap career? What was your plan B?
I never had a plan B because I knew if I was gonna do this I would [need to] take it seriously. But there were plenty of times that I doubted myself. I wasn’t consistent. With the music and the business you’re trying to start, there are ups and downs. It’s mostly downs at the beginning, but I always wanted it. I can remember plenty of times I wanted to quit, but I kept my faith and knew where I wanted to go with this.
Was there any specific moment or situation you can recall that created self-doubt?
There were times I was investing all of my money and I wasn’t seeing no money back. I come from being independent. I had to put a lot of money into it before I started reaping the benefits. It turned out to be worth it though. It was me chasing my dreams more than the money.
Let’s talk about your “Richest Rapper In South Carolina” song. Did you come up with that title from your literal riches or do you have another meaning for “rich”?
Honestly, people just started calling me that and I just made a song out of it. In the Carolinas, when I play that song anywhere, the clubs go crazy. I don’t really like labeling myself as “the G.O.A.T.” or anything. I like to let the people decide. I may mention it in my raps or something, but I don’t walk around saying I’m this or that. But that title is true though. I’m rich in spirit, I’m the biggest influencer from South Carolina in my city. They know I got them. I’m not even gonna talk about the money, but I really did influence my city from the cars, to how to get out there and make it happen. Where we’re from, it’s hard to be known for anything. So I really show young rappers that you just have to get on the road and make it happen.
So what exactly is the rap scene in South Carolina like right now, especially in comparison to other southern territories like Atlanta, Memphis, Houston, etc.?
South Carolina got a lot of talent. North Carolina got DaBaby and Stunna 4 Vegas. They done really kicked the door down for us. Those are my brothers. As far as South Carolina, I’m the first to really come out and show the world that it’s talent out there. I know there are plenty of other artists from South Carolina who are going to come behind me and go crazy. But I feel like South Carolina is the last on everything — from clothes to everything. We don’t even have a football team down there. So, it’s really our time now. It’s cool to be from South Carolina now. You don’t gotta act like you from Atlanta or Florida or nowhere else anymore. It’s all about the grind.
Help me understand how the Carolinas are conjoined. Geographically, you’re neighbors, but socially and musically, do you consider yourselves a unit?
We try to make it a unit between [myself, DaBaby and Stunna 4 Vegas]. But it is divided as far as people wanting others to know when they’re from South Carolina or North Carolina. Some people try to make it seem like one place is rougher than the other. We don’t even get into that. We just want everyone to know we’re from [the] Carolinas.
To that point, you’re really the only artist from South Carolina that has emerged in the contemporary industry scene. What do you think helped you break the mold compared to other rising artists from your city right now?
I wasn’t scared to invest my money and stay consistent. There were times when I was in Columbia and I felt like everybody was against me. I felt like nobody was supporting me. But I realized I couldn’t get mad at the DJs or nothing because it’s probably a million people that send them songs every day. So, I had to grind and make them want to hear my music and pay attention to it. That’s probably the difference — my work ethic.
You have some pretty big names on Carolina Narco. How did you go about choosing the artists that you wanted to be featured?
The crazy thing is, they all came from just working and being at the right place at the right time. As far as the record with me and DaBaby [“Bang”], I posted a snippet of that song on Instagram, and he called me like, “I got to get on that record.” Personally, I didn’t really [imagine him on the record]. But, it’s Baby — I’m not about to tell him no. So I pulled up on him and he recorded it. In the midst of that, Yo Gotti was in the room, so I was telling him like, “You one of my favorite rappers. It’d be a pleasure to work with you.” He told me to send him a song. He said he was going to Miami, and he was gonna send it right back to me. He didn’t lie. He sent it straight to me.
Same with Moneybagg Yo. I saw him at a concert, and I just told him we need to work. All of them had already heard of me, so he was like let’s do it. Stunna [4 Vegas], that’s my brother. I talk to Stunna everyday.
One of the songs that standout to me from the album is “Plain Jane.” It sounds very experimental for the trap range. How did you go about choosing the production for that song and the rest of the records?
I had locked in with Young Kio. That’s the dude that made [Lil Nas X’s] “Old Town Road.” But overall I was just in the studio with a lot of people. I knew for this particular project I wanted the beats to sound like some Spanish sh**. Like Latin flavor. Guitars and pianos and stuff. Just like the narcos.
What stood out to you about “Make A Sale” and “Carolina Narco” that made you choose them as singles?
It was kind of a team decision for “Make A Sale.” For “Carolina Narco,” I wanted to set the tone with the video and the Carolina narco [scene]. I wanted it to be El Chapo-themed. But, I kind of don’t even like picking singles before the music drops because I don’t know what my supporters will like. I like to let them pick the singles.
I love how invested you are in the preferences of your fans.
Yeah because I remember not having any fans. I remember when people didn’t care about what I was putting out. I never feel like I’m too big for anybody. I don’t care if it’s one person or a million people.
What makes 'Carolina Narco' stand out from the other mixtapes in your catalog right now?
For this one, I really came up with a strategy behind it. For the other mixtapes, I was just making the music and putting it out. I didn’t have a real plan or a team. It was just me and my brother, Beezy. We’d just make the music. I had to go from being a rapper to trying to be a CEO. Now, I have a routine since I got with SCMG and Interscope.
(Photo: Alex 'Grizz' Loucas)