Junior Zack Gray Creates Rap Music Across Multiple Platforms


Credit to Avery Witherbee

By Evan Becker

Music is one of humanity’s greatest connectors. It’s something that brings people together, in joy and sadness. For Zack Gray, a junior at FHN, music is more than a bond with others: it’s his passion.

For as long as he can remember, Zack has been a fan of rap music, especially rappers like Jaden Smith and Childish Gambino. Due to the sometimes profane nature of rap music, when he was younger, his father didn’t always approve of his choices.

“I was like nine years old, on my dad’s computer and I ran into a rap song,” Zack said. “He got mad at me for [it], but ever since then I’ve just really liked it. So, I just kind of kept on listening to it while he wasn’t around.”

His father, Gary Gray, always knew that Zack was musically gifted. Zack would watch cartoons like Little Einsteins, in which he would listen to Mozart and other composers, and recognize the instrument without seeing what they looked like.

“As he got older, I realized that he had something called perfect pitch, which is very rare,” Gary said. “When he hears music, he sees it the way that we see colors. So, if you play F-sharp on the piano, he knows.”

Zack has taken that gift and turned it into what he hopes will be his future career. He writes and sings his own lyrics with a microphone hooked up to his phone, using what he’s gone through in his life to inspire himself.

“Some of my past experiences are what motivates my lyrics,” Zack said. “I’ll use, for example, my mom passing away that was a very big factor in my life and I wrote a whole song about it.”

While Zack’s audience isn’t huge yet, he is starting a merchandise line and creating lasting relationships with people, such as his friend who produces for him. These relationships encourage him to continue persevering his goals and to reach for newer and better things.

“I remember something [my friend] told me for one of my songs,” Zack said. “He literally told me, ‘I’m not being biased but this is like the best song you’ve ever made.’ It makes me feel like a better artist and just makes me want to keep going.”

Topics like divorce and death are tough to discuss in a blunt manner. For Zack, rapping provides a way to express his emotions, fears and desires in a safe space. It gives him a chance to channel that energy in a positive style.

“I think it’s more self-exploration,” Gary said. “I think he deals with a lot of his own demons that have haunted him growing up. It’s an outlet for him in terms of some of the anxiety that comes with being a teenager and those insecurities.”

Zack will only consider a song done after hours or days of hard work in writing lyrics, discussing with his friend what he’s looking for in terms of a beat and producing the sound that he wants.

“I think the best part of it is, I listen to the song after it’s done and it makes me feel really proud,” Zack said. “I just see myself improving from there. My stuff is just getting crazier with lyrics and beats.”

Gary has always been supportive of Zack’s production of music, even if he doesn’t always agree with the mature content within and continues to encourage him in pursuing what he wants to do.

“In life you have to find your passion,” Gary said. “You have to go after whatever you do and you do that the very best. In terms of being an artist and making it big, that’s a very rare thing as well, but as long as he continues to work then success will come his way.”