Zebra Katz - I'm the new wave shit. Black Wave. Nu renegade
The sultry, the unfiltered, the provocative. Zebra Katz is Ojay Morgan's luscious persona that came to be during his college years and rose to prominence in the 2010s when Rick Ownes featured a looped fragment of "Ima Read" at the 2012 Paris Fashion Week. Since then, he tailored for himself an haute-couture, haute performance signature style that is sure to leave you buzzed.
Zebra Katz gets his fix of inspiration from various sources, be it classics of the horror genre, Nina Simone or 90s old-school rap. While many write about him as part of the so-called "Queer rap" scene, he himself is less that excited about the term. In many interviews he talks about how the word is just a way through which people try to label "otherness", something unfamiliar to the normality that they're accustomed to. And it's easy to get his point. Refering to a style of music in relation to the sexuality of the singer is a gross over-simplification. It's not that Zebra Katz doesn't address issues with sexuality but he does much more than that. He peers deep inside your innards and exposes the murky mess that are our feelings and instincts. Because as much as we like to think and say that we have ourselves figured out, we're just a confusing jumble of contradictions.
What Zebra Katz does and does well is that he uses his guttural voice, minimalistic beats and visceral bass to activate a sizzling electric charge within you. He doesn't shy away from talking race, representation or self-representation and he usually owns it. He understands that these issues and the language attached to them can have an either positive or negative connotation depending on the context. So he reworks the semantics in a way that strips the words bare. He famously used the word "bitch" at Tarantino-esque proportions: 87 times in the song that shot him to glory, "Ima Read", purposefully doing so to numb its misogynistic meaning.
Listening to, watching or experiencing Zebra Katz are three distinct affairs. Luckily, you can do all three of those at Vienna Independent Shorts this year. Catch his latest video, "Nu Renegade", shot in our very own city of Vienna, in the Music Video National Competition; come see him live during what will undoubtedly be one of the hottest Viennese performances and, until then, prepare your ears for the juiciness to come by listening to more of Zebra Katz's music on Soundcloud or Youtube, and stalk him properly on Facebook and his official Website.
Text by Diana Mereoiu