Premiere: Gullymarc’s ‘Real One’ featuring Zarin Michael

We’ve been fans of neo-R&B singer Gullymarc and rapper Zarin Michael for years, so it’s a real pleasure to present the premiere of “Real One,” a track featuring both musicians. Although Gullymarc moved to Atlanta to further pursue his career in music, his connection to Kansas City remains strong. Check out the video below, as well as an email interview with the singer in which he gets real about his story.

The Pitch: How’d you and Zarin come to work together?

Gullymarc: Even though Zarin and I have known each for a long time, our route to collaboration was … circuitous. We both attended Lincoln College Prep. I was a junior or senior and at the time, he was a freshman … so naturally, we really didn’t hang out. We had choir together. Sometimes we had mutual laughs and talked some shit but otherwise, we weren’t more than classmates. I graduated and went on to my full-ride at Langston University studying journalism. The more I studied though, the more I felt I was being distracted from my purpose (music). So, with the help of some mentors and local producers, I started traveling home on the weekends and attempted to record near the end of 2016.

The more I moved around in this scene, the more certain names became familiar: Jooby Truth and Project Laing. Mae C. Kye Colors. Zarin Micheal. And that name was so familiar…more than the others. So then my producer and engineer at the time, Bam Keith, showed me an article of Zarin in the Star. I’m like, “You’ve gotta be shitting me. This kid? From my high school choir class??? He’s really getting shit done.”
I admired it and respected it. You can even say I envied it. I’d performed for years by that point, in plays and doing background vocals. I’ve toured. But I was always a cog in a larger machine. Nobody cared about what [EYE] was doing. But here he was. He and I came from the same place.  I was so intrigued, wondering where our paths diverged for me to end up almost a college graduate, having accomplished nothing as an independent artist…and here he was, making considerable strides as a what? College freshman? Sophomore?
So…I’m thinking…I know him…he knows me…I’ll try to follow him. I’m not sure if he ever saw my attempts to get his attention but he never followed back. That cliche high school hierarchy dynamic had reversed lol. At the risk of seeming like a thirsty weirdo, I figured it’d be best if I just keep working, putting myself out there…because my music will speak for itself. And one day we’ll be peers. Maybe friends? Nah, too much. Colleagues. With a mutual respect for each other’s being and work. Because outside of what he had accomplished while in the limelight, he was (and is) EXTREMELY talented. So I was a fan of the talent itself and had to produce work that made others (including him) feel the same way about me. Took a few years to get there…but I did.
So now, it’s 2019. We were mutual on Instagram. I had attended the ASCAP Expo in LA and a producer named Big Knuck approached me after hearing one of my songs (Can I) be critiqued. He thought I was a fuckin prodigy lol. He sent me a pack. There were some grimy, yet soulful West Coast vibes in that pack that really spoke to me. The beat for Real One was in that pack and immediately the hook came to me. I’m like…I need a feature verse on here. I’m really an R&B singer…but the song needed to be injected with some…gangsta. Something believable and something people can connect to. It had to be somebody that’ll really slide. There was a very short list of potential collaborators….some homies from NY…but their gritty Brooklyn bars really wouldn’t amplify that underlying West Coast vibe. I don’t know any rappers from LA or the Bay…so KC rap (descendent of Bay Area rap like Messy Marv and Mac Dre) would have to suffice. Kutty was already working on not one, but TWO albums lol, plus he had recently declined my offer to feature on a previous release (How It Feel) so I figured he’d pass.

I thought this may be my chance with Zarin. I dm’ed him and asked for his number. He gave it to me with no hesitation. I sent him the track. He sent the voice memo back with the verse in less than 24 hours. I was driving on 435 South when I got it and was so excited to play it. By the 4th bar I was literally screaming like wow this dude MURDERED IT. Way harder than I could have imagined. He pulled up to 825 Studios and cut the verse in maybe an hour and a half.

Who’s doing the artwork in the video?

That’s the homie Phil! In addition to being an exceptionally talented and original visual artist, he’s a gifted designer. His clothes are also featured in the video.

There’s like, a whole crew present. What do they represent — the “valid and genuine at all times” people you’re wanting folks to be?

Kind of depends on how you want to interpret them. They could be that—real ones. But consider the single art. Their faces are scratched out, leaving only me and Zarin. At the end of the day…what if I’m saying is that…you can only count on yourself to do what’s best for you? *hits blunt* Or they could just add to the production value and aesthetic of the video lol. You tell me.

This is even more laid back and kinda dark, as opposed to the last two videos. Was there something which prompted the stylistic and visual change?

Um…yes. Life. Life happens. My artistry is still in its infancy stage. I’m finding my voice…or more likely finding a voice that’s marketable lol…but still true to me. As I grow and change, my sound will do the same, reflecting what I’m going through or how I’m feeling. I’m a multifaceted, multidimensional person…as we all are. And while that may make it hard for people to discern what kind of artist I am at this stage, I believe that good music…REAL music… speaks for itself. I always get unsolicited advice like I should drop this style of song, or work with this artist or do what this person has done or whatever to “take off.” With my artistry, I’ll do what I want, when I feel it is appropriate…and the only defense I will offer is that it’s the truth. It’s me. Why would you want anything else from me? So let me do me, folks, and please enjoy the records! Or don’t. That won’t stop me.

You’re now based in Atlanta, but obviously keeping a connection to KC —  where do you go from here? 

Who the hell knows? I’m just along for the ride. As doors open, I try to take advantage of opportunities and strategically advance my career but…when will the next door present itself? What’s on the other side? Couldn’t tell you.
It’s funny, though. When I was in KC, I was just another regular on the scene…nothing special. But once I moved to ATL and doors started opening for me here (major label writing sessions, tv appearances, acquiring Rick Ross and French Montana’s lawyer), the flood gates at home opened. When I left, I originally thought I was leaving that wide-eyed, amateur, born-in-the-middle-of-nowhere persona and associated stigmas behind, but it’s proved much more advantageous to embrace it.

Follow Gullymarc on Instagram @gullymarc or on Twitter @gullymarc_.
Categories: Music