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80s Hardcore

The Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Anaiah Lei of ZULU Speaks

Photo by © Tim Strong

As a kid growing up in L.A., how did the Crenshaw Murals make you feel? Did they have an impact on your life and the music you create?

Stuff was tight growing up around LA and the Crenshaw area of course but wasn’t a big big impact on how I create. Beautiful murals fasho but if anything, that street graf really was eye-catching. 

How and why have you picked the vocal samples you’ve used?

I took from things that I like, things I listen to and that inspire me. When making these 2 EPs I had a vision of how I wanted it and how I can make it one big flowing piece. The samples help bridge that well, and if you’re a hip hop fan, you already know how deep that runs and how much that means to reuse and pay homage to classic artists from the past. 

Where does your love for ’90s and ‘00s Hip Hop culture come from? Who are your top 5 MCs from this era?

I’ve always loved that stuff, I can’t even really say where I got it from. My folks played all kinds of music growing up and hip hop was one of them. I think also growing up with everything in your house being from the 90s rubs off a bit haha.

And top 5 geeeez, ok well in no particular order at all:

  1. Collectively Smif n Wesson 
  2. GZA
  3. Roxanne Shante 
  4. Prodigy 
  5. DJ Quik 

Have you ever thought about alcohol as a form of mind control? Especially when it comes to the African American community, because many of our neighborhoods don’t have fresh grocery stores, but we do have liquor stores on every corner.

Straight up truth yo. You’ve seen it time after time, they put that into the communities to keep people suppressed and dazed. It’s wicked how they do that to the people, and how they still get away with it too. Of course, being straight edge, I wish more people would see that line of thought but that’s just not how it is. To a lot of people, it’s just something to have a good time with, to a lot of folks in these Black communities it’s a way to ease the pain. It’s heartbreaking to see that still yo for real.

Describe each of your albums in terms of your favorite meals: Our Day Will Come and My People… Hold On?

Dang I’m not sure I understand the question completely, but I’m gonna do it like this:

Both these records are like a dinner meal. 

You can choose which ever you want, whenever you want. 

Your music is beautiful and a real celebration of Blackness. Talk about how you became comfortable in your skin to create from your point of view, even if don’t match what other people in your hood are doing?

Thank you I appreciate that very much for real. I mean I grew up with Asian and Black parents so the idea of being comfortable didn’t necessarily come easy. I say that because people would trip on my last name and be like “you’re Asian?” Or see me with my dad and serve some crazy looks because I don’t look anything like him. So I suppose from early on I’ve accepted my being Black is very apparent, but never something to be ashamed of. My mom made sure of that too and living in my house where it was Black as heck

Shoot that’s all I knew! I guess for me, I didn’t take no chat from anybody about me. I was proud of who I was and what I look like especially. To this day that’s how I feel, and will always feel. 

ZULU’s Instagram

ZULU: Sonic Unrest Vol. 6

How old were you when you realized that the Police didn’t have your best interest at heart as a young African American man?

I learned that right there from early, my folks made that known. Growing up Rastafarian, it was “fyah bun babylon.” Got that concept as a little kid, once I got into my early teens I understood that a bit more. The older I got of course the more I learned about what was really up. 

Police Brutality is a theme that I hear in some of your tunes…So I wanted to get your take on defunding the Police and how you think it would benefit your community?

It sure is! To me, we’d be able to fund other vital programs in our communities. Whether that be schools and art departments, libraries, homeless shelters, recreation centers, etc. Stuff that kids would look to if they actually had those options. Other different programs that can help people in crisis that isn’t the police showing up. You seen in Los Angeles alone how much money goes to LAPD. For what?? Guns and new cars, them foos don’t actually do anything either except beat down the oppressed. 

I know we’re living in crazy times, so what do you do to keep your Mental Health on point?

I love spending time studying Star Wars lore, skating, creating music, connecting with my loved ones. Those things keep my mental health on point for sure, especially right now. 

If you could put three of your songs in a time capsule to be opened 60 years from now, what songs would you put in there, and why?

Throw any of them in there, the crazy thing to me is if those songs are still relevant truthfully. There’s plenty of music from way back when that is still definitely relevant now and that right there is a shame it is. 

Talk to us about the young creatives in your hood and how they inspire you?

I live in Northeast LA where I originally grew up and it’s now all gentrified as heck. Sadly nobody over here is inspiring in any way 🙁 

The people that do inspire me in my generation are homies that live elsewhere. 

Outside of creating killer Hardcore and Power-violence, What are some of your other passions?

Thank you haha, I love skating over course! Some people know me from that world, I also love dancing as well! And I love collecting Star Wars collectibles 🙂 

You have a strong sense of self when it comes to your creative vision. What life experiences helped shape your sonic vision?

For this band, growing up with nothing and having nothing handed to me. When you grow up in the struggle, your view on life is definitely a certain way. I don’t think I have to even explain that, those that know get what I’m saying. 

How did conceive the art direction for your two EPs?

I had a general idea for the first cover and I wanted it to be a mixture of stuff going on. When I brought it to Savannah, and told her the overall vibe of the record

She came back with that first cover and absolutely killed it. Same thing with the second cover. She just knew what I meant and with only having given a simple description of what I wanted. 

What are some Black-Owned businesses in Los Angeles we should know about?

Compton Vegan 

Ackee Bamboo 

Lettuce Feast 

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