Mashpee teenager ZYG Peters is a prolific “new-age composer” and performer
ZYG Peters was playing in Boston when a passerby called him an “808 human” because it sounded like an 808 drum – an electronic drum primarily used in hip-hop productions.
This is how the teenager born Morgan James Peters II became the ZYG 808 (pronounced Zee-Why-Gee Eight-O-Eight).
Host, producer and songwriter ZYG 808 graduated from Mashpee High School this year and is a member of the Wampanoag tribe. He has won numerous scholarships and awards, not only for the originality and creativity of his music, but also for the ability of his music to raise awareness of social issues.
As well as being the personification of a legendary drum sound, ZYG is part of Southcoast Thump & Soul, a movement that features South Shore artists from a mix of genres – soul, rock, jazz, hip-hop. , edm / afrobeat and indie rock.
Southcoast Thump & Soul aims to create a regional sound for southern New England, according to a press release on artistpr.com. It’s âgood vibe musicâ for this region, with the mission of raising the profile of BIPOC artists, according to ZYG.
Although Polyphonic Studios in Buzzards Bay, founded by the ZYG family and where he records much of his music, officially launched the Southcoast Thump & Soul Movement in January, the movement has its roots in the ideology of the GroovaLottos. ZYG have been playing in this soul-funk ensemble founded by their father since the age of 13, and the group has set themselves a goal of breaking down traditional genre concepts, according to ZYG.
Thanks to the Cape Cod Cultural Center in South Yarmouth, ZYG received the Four-Year Alexander Holmes Fellowship, created in memory of a Falmouth musician who was killed in a car crash in 2014 at the age of 26. ZYG will be a student at Goddard College this fall to study music. Although the school is located in Plainfield, Vermont, ZYG will largely work remotely from Mashpee, which he says allows him the flexibility to be able to continue his education without having to stop the current music he is working on. . ZYG has also mentored middle school and high school students at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis.
Q: How did you come to hip-hop / rap?
A: I started rapping in eighth grade. I have listened to hip-hop all my life. I remember (being) in the back seat of my dad’s car, listening to Rakim, and KRS-one, The Roots, Big Daddy Kane, people like that. These eventually became early influences. I picked up the microphone for the first time in eighth grade, hanging out with my cousin. He put on a few beats and we all started freestyle. We all took videos, we listened and we decided to continue.
Q: You were involved in music even earlier, weren’t you? Did you play drums?
A: I had started on drums, yeah. I had played drums with the Groovalottos, and my first drum teacher was the founding drummer of the Groovalottos, Eddie Ray Johnson, who sadly passed away last year. … Towards the start of high school, I had also started studying with Martin Vasquez. I officially joined the Groovalottos when I was 13, during the Gathering of Nations powwow in Albuquerque.
Q: Do you identify more as a producer or rather as a rapper?
A: A composer is really what I identify with. … This is actually an interesting thing that I have already brought up in a conversation: it is like being a younger artist, like an artist of color, I notice a lot of artists of color who write music or make rhythms. .. rather they are classified in the producer or beat-maker category. If I were white, I bet I would be classified more in the category of new-age composers.
Q: In your song âGlory of Historyâ you start with a sketch and quote from Harry Truman, and you talk about how blacks and browns have always had to choose between the lesser of two evils. Can you explain this?
(The skit was ZYG sharing this classroom quote from former President Harry Truman as part of a school assignment: “I believe that a man is as good as another as long as he is honest and decent and not not angry or a Chinese. âZYG mentioning having to choose between the lesser of two evils was in reference to voters in the recent election choosing between Donald Trump and Joe Biden).
A: I will gladly explain to you what I mean by that. You are familiar with the two-party system. Neither side actually thought about the best interests of blacks and browns, in politics or otherwise. That’s why I say it’s the lesser of two evils, because the end-to-end “right” just doesn’t care. And the left, what they’re doing is one of two things. â¦ It is either pimping, or blacks and browns, or symbolic victories like Juneteenth which has become a national holiday.
Q: Do you think your music has always had this social conscience?
A: Yes, I point to my first examples: there was this anti-opioid song, which I did with two other members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, Young Sumo and JJ Nice, it’s called “Flippin”. … This was specifically talking about the issues in the aboriginal community with opioid addiction and opioid related deaths.
Q: In the future, do you think your music will continue to have this social awareness, or will you move away from it?
A: If we were to see real change, or significant changes in policy, and any real improvement, then of course my music would move away from social consciousness. When there are no more problems in the world, I guess. … So I don’t foresee in the near future where my music will move away from social consciousness.
So far this year, Zyg has released a seven-track mixtape titled âBeat Lounge Notesâ of the singles he released in 2021, including âGlory of Historyâ. He plans to release more singles, is working on two more mixtapes and is co-producing GroovaLottos’ upcoming album.
“Beat Lounge Notes” is available on bandcamp: https://thezyg808.bandcamp.com/album/beat-lounge-notes
Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll contributed to this report.