Fresno rapper Zee Will did well by naming his new mixtape "Young & Driven."
The 22-year-old emcee is both those things. And you can add a third title: promising.
Unlike many rappers who will tell you they've fiddled with the craft since they were in their young teenage years, Zee Will only started pursuing music a year ago.
Already, he's released two mixtapes and seven videos, plus opened for two big-name rap stars: Tyga and Kendrick Lamar. Both of those shows came from Zee Will (real name: Zoe Lee Cooks) winning the Next Big Thing talent show at The Big Fresno Fair, where both stars performed last October.
Zee Will toes the line between young, modern hip-hop and the golden-age sound of Nas and Wu-Tang Clan -- so he appeals to two generations of hip-hop fans, much in the same way famed Fresno rapper Fashawn does.
We talked to Zee Will to learn more about his style, his quick-rising career and what you can expect from him in the future.
How did you get started rapping? The person who really got me started in music was my good friend Brian Cade. His passion for music really inspired me to go for mine.
Describe your style. Who are your influences? My style is hip-hop oriented mixed with that new-school sound. Main artists that influenced me were Nas, Tupac Shakur and Wu-Tang Clan.
You have a new mixtape out. Tell us about it. I just dropped the "Young & Driven" mixtape. It's my second project showing my progression in music and presenting more of my storytelling side.
Where can people find it? You can download all my music at my website at illZeeWill.com.
Last year at the Big Fresno Fair you won the Next Big Thing talent show twice and got to open two shows. How has that helped your career? Being a part of the talent show has really opened doors for more opportunities and gotten my name out there as an artist throughout the Valley. Shout out to DJ D-Soto for informing me about the opportunity.
There's a lot of young rap talent in Fresno right now. What sets you apart from the others? I feel what sets me apart is my versatility, lyrical content and what I represent. I want listeners to feel my passion through every song. I'm young and driven.
What are you doing to make a name for yourself outside of Fresno? Just collaborating with other artists in different cities and performing. Taking trips to meet different DJs, reps and music heads, to showcase my catalog of music.
What should your fans look for from you in the coming months? New music, videos, performances and events I'm throwing. Just me coming up as an artist and growing in this industry.
For music and more: illZeeWill.com.