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An Inside Look: Houston Zizza
October 27, 2012
By Jessica Root
Intern Reporter for the Tribune
From the LSHS class of 2005, Houston Zizza has pursued his passion of writing to make his dreams reality. Attending UMKC by day and serving tables at Summit Hickory Pit BBQ by night, Zizza is a rapper on the rise.
Zizza’s had a show on October 22 at The Riot Room in Kansas City off Broadway in Westport. He will be the opening act for the Nappy Roots. They are a national hip-hop act that had a few number one hits in the early 2000s.
Previously, Zizza has opened for Nelly, Lil John, Mac Miller, Tech N9ne and Brother Ali. This hybrid rapper will be rapping with the best of the best someday, and the people of Lee’s Summit will say, “We knew him when…”
Zizza entered the rapping game because he loves to write.
“If I am writing a song, I can express myself however I want. For instance, when I wanted to party I wrote the song ‘Welcome to the Rage.’ It is a song that goes fast and has a dub step club beat. Writing gives me a way to express my emotions about things I go through in life,” Zizza said. “‘Show Me’ is a song written about a past relationship. ‘I Die,’ released on my first album titled ‘Imagine,’ is a song about the struggles that I’ve been through with music yet I’m still surviving. Writing lyrics gives me the opportunity to express the love I have for my hometown Kansas City; ‘Kansas City’ is one of the more popular songs on my new album, ‘Graffiti on Wax.’”
Zizza claims that writing has saved his life. He hopes one day it will also provide for his family.
“The fact that I can combine my love for writing with my love for music is just one of the benefits in life,” Zizza said.
Zizza began rapping in high school with some of his friends at the apartments they hung out at. He rapped on stage for the first time at The Stray Cat in Kansas City.
“Throughout the night I became friends with one of the DJs that was spinning records. I told him I rapped and he asked if I wanted to rap during his set. I said yes, and an hour later I was on stage for the first time. My girlfriend at the time went around the venue and got people to come watch me on stage. It was a crowd of about 100 people or so, and I was as nervous as you can get. I knew the lyrics to the songs I performed, so I didn’t sound that bad. The crowd seemed to enjoy my performance and then it was all over,” Zizza said.
Zizza will never forget that night. That’s when he knew he wanted to be on stage with a microphone in his hand.
“A lot of my inspiration comes from my Uncle Brett and my son, Keegan. My uncle was a great man. He loved Christ, family and music. He was like a father to me before he died in 2009 from ALS. In so many ways I resemble him. I think of his originality in music when I create my own, and I try to work just as hard as he did. My son inspires me because he gives me a reason to do what I do. He gives me the only reason I need,” Zizza said.
Zizza is highly influenced by his mother’s success in running her own business. She is the owner of the Rusty Spur, a local boutique to Lees Summit and now the Kansas City area.
“One thing a lot of people don’t know is how much BUSINESS there is behind music. There is more business in music than there is music. The entertainment industry is just that, an industry. As an independent artist I have to handle almost all of the business with my music myself. I am an entrepreneur. My mom is the exact same. I watched her and her husband, Terry, build a business from the ground up,” Zizza said. “I saw first hand the work that it takes to build a business. Watching this has given me knowledge that you can’t get from a book, it is something you have to go partake in. By watching them build a business, I have seen what mistakes to watch out for, and I’ve also learned not to be scared to take the chance. An old friend told me once, ‘If you’re scared of success you will never succeed.’ Even though my mom didn’t say that to me, it is something that she lives by while running her business.”
Zizza understands that is takes hard work and dedication to be successful in the music business.
“Really, you could say it’s a crapshoot. You’re either hot and people like you or your not. Either somebody gives you the chance, or they don’t. Some of the most talented individuals in music –rapper, singer or musician – will never become celebrities,” Zizza said.
Zizza is attending UMKC to get his degree in journalism so he has something to fall back on if his rapping career doesn’t work out.
“I love to write raps, but that’s not looking at the big picture. The big picture is that I love to write. This is why I chose to study journalism. It is a degree that I can study for that will ensure me a job as a writer,” Zizza said. “As of right now, I don’t make enough money on music to support my son. That is why I must make the decision to have a career that will provide a good life for him, even if it means I have to make sacrifices. I am not giving up on music any time soon though, you can bet on that.”
Zizza’s rapping style is hybrid: a combination of different elements that, when fused together, create a new unique style of rap. He’s done songs with a rock feel as well as club songs.
“My favorite rap memory is probably a combination of a few memories of me working in the studio with my producer and friend, Michael ‘Topspin’ Tosspin. Mike and I have spent hours, days, and now years, working in the studio together. We’ve laughed, we’ve argued, we’ve discussed Christ and life and we’ve made a lot of music together. I think of not only the things we have created but also the road we took to get there. When I think about all those nights in the studio working I can’t do anything but smile. See, it’s the road that I had to take with music that I love so much and the memories that I’m fondest of,” Zizza said.
Zizza thanks everyone who has supported him during his rapping career. Music has taught him that he needs help from others sometimes, even though he is such an independent person.