ARTIST PROFILE: MK Zulu
MK Zulu grew up in a musical household – his mom was a drum major and flautist; his brother played the saxophone. He and his brother were soloists in the church choir who took music more serious than most but as preacher’s kids, they weren’t allowed to listen to hip-hop. However, he stumbled across Nas’ “Made You Look” and a love for rap was born. Originally a Christian rapper, he began recording in high school and went on to major in music business at Howard University. A minor in trumpet performance, rapping took a backseat to instrumentation. Then, senior year, MK Zulu got into J Cole and Kendrick Lamar. With them came a resurgence of lyricism that inspired him to start writing again, and led to his debut project –The War of Art.
MK Zulu started off as MKZ, but his Dupont Brass bandmates insist on calling him MK Zulu when introducing him to the stage. MK stands for “Moral Kombat” — a play on words referencing his black belt in kung fu and his core values as a preacher’s kid. After pledging with the nation’s premiere music fraternity while at Howard University, he took the line name “Wrath of Zulu” — Zulu meaning “child of God,” and wrath for an infamous temper that reared itself while he was on line. His name is all about finding one’s personal Heaven — whether it be getting closer to God, landing that dream job, or having the family you always wanted.
MK Zulu tries to be as transparent as possible — musically and lyrically. An eclectic musician who raps about diverse topics, he finds it difficult to stick to one genre. He considers himself a student of the game, with Lloyd Banks being a huge influence thanks to his affinity for punchlines and musician-producers Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, and Christian Scott standing out because of their ability to seamlessly blend different elements. After graduation, he embarked on a week-long tour with Howard’s jazz band to Senegal, performing at the Festival Jazz De Saint Louis – Africa’s grandest arts festival. The experience solidified MK Zulu’s path, and since, he’s played in the horn section for both Sinbad and Ginuwine. His next project will bring him closer to fans as he introduces his sound and persona through rapping, singing, and playing the trumpet.
A song for the smokers, “So High” was released on 4/20, and is a light-hearted track featuring singing and a subtle trumpet. With the official video out now, “So High” precludes The R.A.N.T.S. (Rapping Ass Nigga Trumpeter Singer) Experiment, which will include something for everyone from jazz aficionados to hip-hop heads – and of course, he didn’t forget the ladies. Slated for a summer release, The R.A.N.T.S. Experiment is MK Zulu’s opportunity to finish what his predecessors started by bringing instrumentation back to the forefront of popular music in legendary fashion.