Photography by Rosie Matheson
The fortune of being born with one talent that sets you apart from the rest might feel hard to come by for many. Not for Zakhar, however. The North London-hailing rapper was 16 when he was forced to clasp himself from his seemingly pre-destined vocation, football, in favour of rap. While playing at Brentford Football Academy, he began posting freestyles on Instagram and as his bars resonated with followers, gaining traction and attracting the attention of the likes of heavyweight record producer JAE5, his planned career on the pitch had to be shelved.
It seems like a judicious choice from a younger Zakhar, however. “One thing [making that decision] did teach me is to trust your gut,” he explains, “because me making that decision has led me to this moment here.” He’s now one of the UK’s most thriving young rap talents with a debut EP under his belt (last September’s “Scars On My Mind”), almost half a million monthly Spotify listeners, a major label record deal and collaborations with aforementioned producer supremo JAE5 among others.
As he drops latest track “Overready”, we run through his journey hitherto, making that early career decision and goals as he takes his artistry to the next level.
Hey Zakhar! How has your day been so far?
My day’s been good thanks, just been chilling.
You dropped your debut EP “Scars On My Mind” last September. What have the last few months looked like for you?
The last few months have been a mad ting. I came back from Brighton not too long ago after performing at The Great Escape Festival which was probably one of the best experiences of my life.
At 16, you were forced to choose music over football. What was making such a major decision about your life at that age like? What did it teach you?
If I’m being honest the decision wasn’t hard in the moment, it was only after that I started to almost regret it. The more I trained and played football the less love I had for it.
Your initial musical introduction to the world came via your freestyles posted on IG. Now as a more established artist, is it important to you to maintain that DIY spirit and connectivity with your supporters?
It’s very important to have that connection with your supporters and that is even something I’m still working on to this day.
What was the last album you remember really getting stuck into?
I’m not really an album listener so I couldn’t even name you an album that I recently listened to. But if I could achieve one thing in the next half of the year it would be to have my own show regardless of how big or small.