Jacob ZL: 'Haven’t Said A Word,' Capturing Moods, and Living in the Moment

Ezzah Rafique | April 19, 2022


Reflective in essence, Jacob bleeds his heart into his work by melodically rapping and singing lyrics that are the epitome of intimacy in "Haven't Said A Word." Read his interview with Hazze Media here.


Q: "Hi! How have you been so far into the year? Tell us about yourself!"


I’m chilling; can’t complain, although it’s always a relief when spring comes around. The shorter days and lack of sunlight during winter really drain my creativity. I feel much more inspired when it’s warm out.


Q: "What initially made you go into pursuing music?"


I’d heavily attribute it to where I’m from. Growing up in Flatbush (Brooklyn, NY), I was just around it all the time. I would listen to Lil Wayne and Linkin Park and feel moved by their art. No matter if it made me sad or feel like I was the flyest person on the planet, I enjoyed that it evoked emotion from me one way or another. When I was younger, like between 12 and 18, I was really going through some shit. Just constantly depressed, and by the time I was 15, I realized I could kind of release some of that through making music. For a while, I was too embarrassed to actually release a song. I didn’t wanna put myself in a vulnerable position by letting people know what I was going through. I showed a few of my friends some of my unreleased music and they were like “Damn, this is fire.” That really made me feel like I was on the right track. If people could still fuck with my music despite the relatively depressing content, then I didn’t care about being judged as much.


Q: "Your new single, 'Haven’t Said A Word', releases April 8th. What was the creative process like from writing the song to putting it together?"


I was going through a weird time in my life where I stopped being friends with someone I’d been close with for nearly a decade. I didn’t know what to make of the situation and felt betrayed but had really struggled to articulate my emotions. One day I was in the studio with my boy Kurt Stewart, he’s an unbelievably talented producer. I told him I wanted something super stripped-down in terms of the number of sounds in order to accentuate the lyrics of the song. I don’t care about making hits or music that’s geared towards TikTok, I just want to make shit that encapsulates who I genuinely am or what I’m going through at the moment. He really understood what I was going for, and I just freestyled it as he was making the beat. The whole process of writing, producing, and recording the song took about an hour.


Q: "Are there any artists or songs that inspired 'Haven’t Said A Word' or was it primarily based on writing sessions / personal experiences?"


“Day Before” by Young Thug and Mac Miller definitely inspired the overall mood of the song. I listened to Thug’s whole album when it first came out, and when I got to the last song- “Day Before”- I immediately felt moved. It’s just a beautiful ass ballad that’s clearly not supposed to be a “radio song” or something like that. It’s straight emotion and feeling. I love it.


Q: "Do you have a favorite lyric from 'Haven’t Said A Word' ?"


“I got bigger fish to fry/I was only twenty when my brother died/Last week my best friend’s mother died/This is real life and I’m terrified, of it all”


Q: "To someone who hasn't heard your music before, what do you hope they take away from it? What atmosphere are you trying to create with your music?"


Each song I make is designed to capture a certain mood, whether it be sorrow, excitement, joy, regret, confidence, etc. In terms of takeaways, I want people to recognize the genuine nature of my music. When I was younger, I wanted to be anyone but myself, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that’s a pointless battle. So, every song I make is 100% embedded with who I am.


Q: "Between all of the songs you have released so far, do you have one that you enjoyed creating more or have a stronger connection to? Why or why not?"


I made “Haven’t Said A Word” back in December. At the time, it was the one I connected to most. But the more recent music I’ve made in March is what I’m connecting to most right now. I’m not currently feeling what I felt back in December– my unreleased, recently recorded music always tends to be a better depiction of where I’m currently at in life.


Q: "Lastly, what's one thing you've learned along your journey as an artist?"


Shit is hard but as long as you’re making music that you enjoy, it’s worth it. Nothing happens overnight. Just stay true to who you are and things will work out one way or another.