Casual Victim Pile

Hometown SXSW showcasing sampler

Casual Victim Pile

Zeale

SXSW showcase: Wednesday, March 17, Ghost Room, 8pm

For Zeale, 2010 will be all about taking chances.

"I've been preparing and developing a new musical direction," reveals the 27-year-old Austin MC. "I got together with one of my producers from Europe and told him the type of sound I wanted. He loved it, so we started right away on the concepts, song-crafting, and lyrics."

What came of those sessions with Croatian beatmaker Marko Jelic is an appropriate graduation for Zeale, born Valin Zamarron in Austin. Once a brash, one-liner-dropping battle rapper, Zeale's evolved into a cosmic hip-hop renegade akin to L.A. rappers U-N-I.

"It's not typical hip-hop," he explains. "We're doing some things sonically that create completely different sounds and blends. The BPMs are higher. It's more fun, more up-tempo. There's more dancing and shit like that. We fuse a lot of European portions into it."

Those who have followed Zeale's ascent will notice he's carried a number of his old persona's tricks to the new mold. His robot fascination, spotlighted on last year's Haterz and Robotz mixtape, is fully intact, and he's still a sneaker-head showing no signs of slowing down on his collection. The difference now is a matter of commitment, and Zeale is as committed as any other rapper in the city to making what could be an unprecedented leap.

"Everything I've done in the past six months has upped the ante," he admits. "From a business aspect, I have management, a publicist, some really good people. And I'm finally making music I can take really seriously, because it's mine. I made it, and I own it. I've always wanted to have that product, and I've been working real hard to make sure that it's fresh and doesn't fall into the standard underground or mainstream hip-hop world."

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