2016 was the year of ZULUZULUU in Minnesota music. The band — composed by MMYYKK, Proper T, Greg Grease, DJ Just Nine, ∆RT P∆RTÉ and Trelly Mo — actually formed years ago, putting out a song called “Let It Go” in 2014. But soon after they released their debut album in June 2016, they became one of the most in-demand bands in the Twin Cities. Their interstellar album, energetic live shows, and combined years of experience have certainly contributed to their success. But what boosted them to the tops of critics’ lists and the ends of concert bills was a magic they conjured by being black and proud (after all, Greg Grease told Bandcamp, the name ZULUZULUU “was just the idea of black power stacked on top of black power”).
When I first wrote about ZULUZULUU in July 2016, I couldn’t believe how well the music community responded. Minnesotan artists from all over the genre map — orchestral indie rockers We Are The Willows, guitarist Maya Ratsey, producers Yon and Afrokeys, and more — starting sharing the piece in droves. Of course, I’d already fallen in love with the music myself, but the scene’s enthusiasm let me know the collective had something rare.
Ahead of ZULUZULUU’s slot at tonight’s #Current12 birthday party show, I thought about putting together a post about their accomplishments of the past year (see: selling out their New Year’s Eve show and all four nights of their Icehouse residency, releasing a deluge of new music, being the second act to ever win City Pages’s Picked to Click and the Star Tribune’s Critic’s Tally in the same year, after Lizzo). But it made more sense for artists of color to share their thoughts on why ZULUZULUU rock. Here are a couple of my favorite musicians on ZULUZULUU’s impact.
Talia Knight, producer extraordinaire:
My favorite part of ZuluZuluu is the music! They’ve managed to create a very futuristic sound with an old school funk twist. A lot of artists are catching up to that sound now. Also they’re all very genuine guys. They showed me a lot of support and encouragement when I was starting out, so I will always support them! They’re all incredibly talented in their own way. When they come together, it’s a beautiful thing.
Sarah White, musician, photographer, and fashion icon:
I think part of what makes ZuluZuluu such a powerful force, is that the magic they posess is authentic. They don’t do this for the scene, they do this naturally…it feels sometimes effortless, though I know they have worked hard individually protecting their crafts. They represent black sound from past/present/future, it lives in them. That isn’t something that can be fabricated by the industry. Either you have it or you don’t. It’s powerful to see the example of unity and a TRIBE that consistently work to build and uplift each other while pushing boundaries and growth. It’s real AF.
The world is ready for more bands like ZuluZuluu. We are healing each other because we need to.