[Music] The Poet of Rap | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Music] The Poet of Rap

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Zachery Jhontel Esters is not only a rapper but also a musician, artist and honor roll student. Esters, better known to his fans and the hip-hop world as Z-Flo, is a new recording artist, who has been given the title "Prince of the Muddy South." His debut single, "Sholl'iz" is playing on radio stations all over Mississippi—including Jackson's WJMI. The song has a catchy beat, and its hook has already made thousands of fans addicts.

Originally from Greenville, but now living in Starkville, Miss., where he attends Starkville High School, Z-Flo, 15, is signed to Major Money Entertainment out of Texas, and has a label of his own, Country Boy Entertainment. Country Boy boasts six artists, all of whom Z-Flo has helped produce.

"I've tried to help local artists who don't have anyone to produce their music. They have lyrics, but no money. So, I've worked with them to produce beats and create the music for their words," Z-Flo says.

Although Z-Flo has been rapping for only six years, he wrote all the lyrics for and the beats for his demo CD, which he helped produce. His gift for words has been evident to those around him since the first time he picked up a pencil and began to express him self on paper. At 7 years old, he began writing poetry which his teachers and mother, Bridgette Esters, immediately recognized as advanced for his age.

"It surprised me that he began writing creatively at such an early age. But the real surprise was how elaborate he was and how extensive he was with his vocabulary," Bridgette Esters says.

The young Esters' talent in poetry writing earned him several awards, including having some of his work published. While he continued to write and win poetry competitions, when he was 10, his artistic expression was transformed by a new medium—music. The transformation came after his mother bought him a keyboard. Without any formal training, he began playing by ear and putting his poetry to music, creating his own style and flow.

His dedication comes largely as a result of the support he receives from his mother, who tried to instill an interest and appreciation of the arts in her children by encouraging them to draw, write, play instruments and read.

"Every time she saw one of my poems in a book, she would get so excited," Z-Flo says, "and it's the same now. She gets just as excited every time I write a new song. So whenever I make a CD, I give it to my mom. She shows it to everyone, and then other people start to ask for it. That's really how I got started."

Aside from helping in the distribution of Z-Flo's music, his mother has played an important role in nurturing the talents of her young prodigy. She has helped in any way she could, from helping her son to find a label, to buying him the equipment he needs to produce his own music. Since Z-Flo is only 15, she also listens to all of his music before he does anything with it.

"I am a liberal parent and didn't have any problem with Zachery turning his love for poetry into rap. But I do have certain guidelines. He has to keep his songs clean. This means refraining from any references that would be degrading to women or any ethnicity, and not using the 'N' word," Bridgette says.

This young rapper is happy to spit a verse for any fan who wants to listen. He's played at concerts, radio stations, football games and festivals. He has caught the attention of several producers and labels because they recognize his universal lyrics, and they have no doubt that as he develops, his musical skills will continue to improve. Z-Flo hopes that his single will have everybody boppin' their heads and chanting, "Sholl'iz!" for a long time.

Learn more about Z-Flo at www.myspace.com/zflo

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