By Reed Dunlea
Minutes after first meeting each other in a tattoo shop, ZillaKami and SosMula knew they were destined to find stardom together. The two took over the shop’s computer and started working on beats, and just like that, City Morgue was born.
We sat down with the two rappers to talk about their latest album, “City Morgue Vol. 3,” their wild videos, the perils of performing when sick to your stomach and much more in a freewheeling conversation.
Y’all wanna introduce yourselves? How are you all doing today?
SosMula: Chillin’. I’m hungover.
ZillaKami: Tired. I’ve been up for a couple days. I’ve been on a flight. We just had Rolling Loud.
Which one? LA?
ZillaKami: Yeah, well, San Bernardino.
How was that?
ZillaKami: It was OK. I was sick, fighting through it.
Playing shows when you’re sick kinda sucks.
ZillaKami: It’s crazy, you’re trying not to shit yourself. Literally trying not to shit yourself when you jump.
So… ever shit yourself at a show?
ZillaKami: (Laughing) You know what’s funny? There was this one show where I had on a red jumpsuit. We had an intermission and I came back in a grey jumpsuit… that’s what happened. I had the runs and I thought I could turn it up. I jumped up in the air and it was over for me.
There was this punk festival I used to be involved with in New York, and one year three members of a four-member band shit their pants over the course of the weekend.
ZillaKami: That’s kinda fire though… they definitely planned that.
What’s been the best Rolling Loud for y’all?
SosMula: I think the New York one was probably the best. Miami was pretty lit too.
ZillaKami: New York is usually better for us. San Bernandino was just a really bad day for everybody.
Which day did you play in New York this year?
SosMula: It was the last day of tour, matter of fact. What was our last day of tour, October 29, 30? One of those days.
ZillaKami: We played Rolling Loud and then we had a show directly after that. So we did two in one day. It was at Irving Plaza, it was fire.
So besides not shitting your pants, what makes for a good show?
SosMula: The crowd’s energy. It’s really on the crowd.
ZillaKami: We put out the same amount of energy as they do almost every time. So if the crowd is turnt, we’re turnt. If the crowd’s not turnt, we can sit there and be turnt for three songs, but eventually we’re just gonna be like, “Damn. I guess we have to bullshit our way through this one cause they suck.”
Where have you guys found the coolest energy from the fans?
SosMula: I’d say Boston is pretty lit. A couple other states is crazy too… Atlanta was crazy. Atlanta’s always crazy. I’m trying to think of a weird state… when we were on the Grey Day tour we went to Worcester [Massachusetts], that show was crazy.
ZillaKami: Bro, that was batshit. That was one of the best shows.
SosMula: What was the outside one we did on Grey Day? That outside shit. Was that Sacramento?
ZillaKami: Yeah, I think so. We performed in an alley. It was a whole block and it was in a T, we were in the middle. It was literally flooded with people. You look down the alley and it was just like ants. Down that alley, ants, ants. It was so crazy because we’re in the streets, so kids are climbing the street signs and shit. Hanging off and shit. It was kinda crazy. No, it wasn’t kinda crazy, it was batshit crazy.
When did you guys first meet?
ZillaKami: In 2016. At his mom’s tattoo shop.
SosMula: We met through Pete, Righteous Pete.
Do you guys remember what it was like that first time you met?
SosMula: I really felt like I already knew him cause I’d been talking to Pete, so I already knew about Zilla. It was natural. Organic.
What about the first time you made music together?
SosMula: That shit was organic too. The first time we were just writing, listening to instrumentals in the shop, that’s how it started.
ZillaKami: Yeah, right at that shop computer, just blasting the music.
Your solo music sounds very different from each other, so you both have your own style and taste. Can you tell me a little about what each of you brings to City Morgue that is different?
SosMula: Obviously when we make music together, it’s that City Morgue sound and shit. It’s hard for me to explain with my solo shit, I’m still trying to figure out the sound. You just gotta wait and hear it, I’m still working on it. It’s definitely different. We don’t even really have that much shit out yet, we only have one solo project each. And how many City Morgue albums we got? One, two, three, four… four projects. And a bunch of SoundCloud shit.
ZillaKami: And one each of the solos. So that’s not enough time to be like, “This is my style.”
Do you guys listen to the same type of music, or do you listen to different music?
ZillaKami: We definitely listen to different music. But also the same music… so it’s weird.
SosMula: He’ll be playing shit, all the shit that I fuck with I’ll be Shazaaming right on the spot. So I’ll be having this whole playlist through Shazaam. I listen to more rap, but I listen to everything too.
ZillaKami: You’ll play songs [I don’t know], especially Young Dolph. I didn’t know shit about Young Dolph. I usually don’t listen to rap, or I don’t search for rap. If someone plays it, and I like it, it happens.
Can you tell us about how you grew up, how New York or Long Island influenced you guys?
SosMula: I grew up in Spanish Harlem, it’s the hood. I grew up in the projects. We pretty much just listened to rap in the projects, you feel me? I grew up listening to everything, literally everything. Dipset a lot, State Property, DMX, shit like that. I could go on. My mom played a bit of everything, she played a lot of Bob Marley, a lot of Deftones, Nirvana, Manson. My mom loves Manson too, she’d play a lot of old Manson shit. As far as rap, I listened to everything. Even some old R&B, shit like that.
ZillaKami: Long Island has a really big hardcore scene, that was basically all I listened to for a while. Obviously my parents are basically hip-hop historians, so if you play any old song I’ll know all the lyrics. You can play Jadakiss… I’ll know all the lyrics to it. But my personal taste was really hardcore, grunge. Like Gorilla Biscuits, Title Fight, Citizen.
I’m from Albany, New York, so it’s kind of like the same thing.
SosMula: I was locked up in Albany. At Greene Correctional.
For how long?
SosMula: Eighteen months.
How was that?
SosMula: It was fun (laughs).
ZillaKami: He said it was fun! (laughs)
How many times have you been locked up?
SosMula: A lot. I did three months, six months, did 11 months and then 15 months. And then a bunch of bullshit, two days in the booking, you know? Probably got, like, over 20 arrests, unfortunately.
Do you think that has affected the music you create?
SosMula: I feel like it helped, it helped a lot. It helped who I became, who I am, who I evolved to be. I ain’t been in jail since 2016. I’ve been home ever since I met Zilla. I don’t plan on ever going back. That shit is whack. That shit is for the birds.
Why do you guys work well together?
SosMula: It felt organic, like, it just happened. If it didn’t happen organically I feel like it wouldn’t have worked. It just worked. We just went with the flow. We didn’t even have a name for the group, we was still trying to figure that out, but we were already making music. The name just came as we were making the music. Shout out to our boy C. He had a brand called City Morgue. It was a clothing line but he stopped doing the clothing line, so we asked him if we could use the name. Shout out to that one episode of “The Simpsons.” (Laughs)
It’s probably pretty self-explanatory, but what does the name City Morgue mean to you?
ZillaKami: It means the morgue in a city. It just sounds cool. It’s like what Kurt Cobain said, “My lyrics have no meaning, they just sound cool.” That’s the name. City Morgue.
It clearly goes along with your image and your videos.
ZillaKami: To be honest, that name, when we heard City Morgue it just fits.
How would you guys describe your image, if you had to put it into words?
SosMula: I would describe it like a documentary. We’re just showing the real shit that we live every day. If it’s not us, it’s the homies too. We don’t do too much illegal shit, but we just document our life. When you see the videos, we do that shit. That’s what we do. You see the cars, you see whatever, that’s just our life.
The videos are definitely pretty wild. I remember seeing the video for “SHINNERS13,” and I was like, alright, this is pretty intense. What was it like making that one and what’s it like making all of these videos?
SosMula: That was the hardest vid to make because it was our first one.
ZillaKami: Yeah, we had no money at the time. We were like, how the fuck do we get this?
SosMula: It took two months to shoot that. The whole summer we was shooting it. We had no bread, so anytime we had a little bit of money, we were like, we’ll make it happen.
What was the response like once that was out in the world?
SosMula: Crazy. It got taken down as soon as we dropped it. Three times.
ZillaKami: We were fighting for our lives to get that video up. We still got a lot of views though.
Why do you guys think it got taken down?
ZillaKami: Because of everything (laughs).
SosMula: We had a heroin addict in there, one of the fiends from the block, shooting up. It was everything. Our first three videos got age restricted, basically taken down, same shit. You can’t find it unless you type it in and sign in. A lot of our vids, still to this day, get age restricted.
ZillaKami: Especially now. When we were doing “SHINNERS,” YouTube was very different than it is now. Now, you can’t even say gun. Even with this interview, we might get a little too much into drug talk… if you say how to do a drug it’s over for you.
Alright, let’s go there, how do you do a drug?
SosMula: (Laughs) For real? Depends on what type of drug you’re trying to do.
What’s the last drug you did and how’d you do it?
SosMula: I drank codeine last night, with soda.
What kind of soda?
SosMula: I think it was Fanta. You just pour it into the orange Fanta, ice up, then drink it until you feel good. Fall asleep. The codeine comes in a little bottle prescribed from a doctor.
Is it hard to get?
SosMula: It’s pretty hard to get.
What color is it?
SosMula: It depends, it’s either red or purple, depends on which one you get. It’s not something I recommend. Some people like it without ice, I like it with ice because it waters it down, dilutes it. It’s really on you, how you like it.
How about the shrooms? You eat ‘em straight up?
ZillaKami: Nah, I used to eat them straight up, they smell like feet. Now I put shrooms in the blender, pour milk on them, then I get a hot chocolate packet. Blend it up and you have a hot chocolate where you can’t even taste the shrooms. Then you throw up about an hour later. It always makes me throw up, but right after that it’s dope.
I like when drugs taste a little bit like shit.
ZillaKami: It means they’re good. I know this taste, it’s like, this is disgusting. This is foot. I’m eating feet.
Tell me about the new album, “City Morgue Vol. 3.”
ZillaKami: That shit, that shit is banging. It’s good. It’s fire.
Anything about Vol. 3 that you’re particularly proud of?
ZillaKami: Not too much, I think that’s my only critique I have of Vol. 3. It doesn’t have one standout thing where you’re like, this is the spectacular part. It’s just very good at everything, you know? But it didn’t have that one spectacular thing. Like, Vol. 1 had the best delivery with lyrics and attitude. That rawness. Vol. 2 has the best production, hands down. And “Toxic Boogaloo…”
SosMula: “Toxic Boogaloo” is my favorite tape.
ZillaKami: I think that was the master version of Vol. 1 without the rough patches. Vol. 3 is just good at everything but it didn’t have the one thing where you’re like, Vol. 3 was this.
How has your process changed over all those records? Have you learned stuff about each other and how certain things work super well?
ZillaKami: It got easier. In a way that’s also a problem, especially if it gets too easy and you get in your comfort zone. That’s why Vol. 3 is really good at everything, because we know how to make it. I feel like we need to do something we don’t know how to do now. Make some weird shit.
How about tattoos? We are Inked, after all. When did you get your first tattoos?
SosMula: I was pretty young. I was probably 17, 16. On my hands. I might get a bunch of tattoos in one year, then I might not get tattooed for two years. It really depends. I don’t make appointments for tats. Every time I make an appointment I don’t go. I just gotta get it, spur of the moment. That’s why I regret a lot of my tats.
ZillaKami: I was 18, 19. I was the proper age to get a tattoo. My brother did my first tattoo. I was just in the tattoo shop begging people. I’m like, “Yo, come on Eddie, bro, give me a tattoo…”
SosMula: You have mad unfinished tats too, right?
ZillaKami: I have the biggest unfinished tat. It’s just a skull and crossbones, I’ve had it since I was, like, 19. Shit’s just been sitting there.
Do you usually get tattooed in a shop or at people’s houses or what?
ZillaKami: In a shop. Or my house. When we had a place together, we would have a tattoo artist pull up and get turnt.
SosMula: Yeah, he did a lot of our tats. He did two of my head tattoos.
ZillaKami: He’d roll up to the crib, I’d just lay on the floor. He gave me a lot of cool tats. He did my Eraserhead tattoo. I have “In Heaven, Everything Is Fine” really big on my ribs, he gave me that one. It’s one of my favorite tattoos.
What’s each of your least favorite tattoos?
SosMula: My sleeve. My whole sleeve. I have, like, three tats on my back, they’re faces. Eddie worked in my mom’s shop. I’d just be in the shop chillin’ and he’d just be drawing saying he wants to tat it on someone, and I’d be like, “Tat that shit on me.” He did a Pennywise on my back, I don’t like it. He did a Danny DeVito Penguin, I don’t like it. He did the Jared Leto Joker… them three shits, I don’t like them at all. They’re just there, it is what it is.
At least they’re on your back, you don’t have to see them.
SosMula: Yeah. I want to cover them shits but it’s too much. I don’t like covering tattoos because it’s double pain, know what I’m sayin’? For what? Fuck that shit. Just leave it and keep going. It still looks cool.
What about you, Zilla, what’s your least favorite?
ZillaKami: I like my tattoos. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten one I hate. I’ve had ones where I thought, damn, I wish I did this somewhere else. I wish it was in a different spot. Like this dog, I wish it wasn’t on my hand.
SosMula: I wish I had gotten faces on my hands, I regret these a lot. I could have done something way cooler. I might still do it, just blast over it. Someone said they could do it, but I don’t know.
ZillaKami: That’s really why I regret the dog. I could have gotten something mad detailed, I love detailed hand [tattoos].
SosMula: That shit is fire.
You said y’all live together?
SosMula: Not no more. We did for four years. It was lit. That was the crib. That was the spot. We had Brooklyn and a LES [Lower East Side] crib too. Brooklyn, that was the last crib.
So did you get sick of each other or what?
SosMula: Sometimes. But it was lit. It’s lit living with your friends because there’s always something going on. Even when you might be on some bored shit, then you come out of your room and it’s a party. It’s fun.
ZillaKami: You used to be getting mad because I never cleaned up nothing. (Laughs) I’d wake up in the morning and I hear, “Y’all don’t be cleaning up nothing!”
SosMula: There would be, like, shit and throw up… it’s hard, bro. It’s hard living with savages, know what I’m saying? We’re all savages. There’d be girls coming over so I’d be like, we got to clean this shit up, man. I’d be like, let me clean this shit up so girls don’t be talking shit about us.
Five minutes left, only a couple other questions…
ZillaKami: Are they cool?
Not really, to be honest.
ZillaKami: You gotta ask our favorites.
Alright, what’s your favorite dessert?
ZillaKami: I haven’t eaten dessert in mad long. What’s that lemon cake? You know what I’m talking about? Lemon cake.
Some guy on set: Lemon cake. I think it’s just called lemon cake. Or do you mean lemon meringue pie?
ZillaKami: Yeah! Lemon meringue pie, that shit is gas if it’s not too sweet. Sometimes it’s too sweet.
SosMula: Cheesecake is it. Good cheesecake, not Cheesecake Factory.
ZillaKami: Cheesecake Factory is ass.
SosMula: That cheesecake from Junior’s is fire.
What’s your favorite movie?
ZillaKami: Ooooh… that’s a hard question. I got a lot of favorite movies. “Platoon.” I like “Lone Survivor’’ a lot. “Eraserhead.” “The Void,” not “Into the Void,” it’s a horror movie. I love that movie. And “Baskin,” that’s a good-ass horror movie too. I got a lot of favorite movies.
SosMula: I like a lot of Stanley Kubrick movies, like “Eyes Wide Shut.” I like a lot of Quentin Tarantino movies. I like “Natural Born Killers” a lot too, that’s a crazy movie, I watch that shit all the time.
That definitely seems City Morgue style.
ZillaKami: I watched that movie, like, two, three years ago. You would have thought I would have watched that long ago. My dad was like, “You’ve never watched ‘Natural Born Killers?’”
What’s your favorite color?
ZillaKami: I don’t think I have one. I like green a lot… but I don’t really have one. There’s too many. Sometimes red will be cool, sometimes blue will be cool.
SosMula: I think my shit is red and black, red and black is my favorite colors.
What is your least favorite interaction you’ve had with the police?
SosMula: Every time I have an interaction with them. Any time I’ve gotten beat up by police was pretty bad. Any interaction with them is bad.
ZillaKami: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever had a positive interaction with them.
SosMula: They’re pretty disrespectful.
ZillaKami: They’re never like, “Hey, how you doin’?” (Laughs) That always sucks. It’s never, “Have a good day!”
They came around after the City Morgue videos, right?
Both: Oh yeah, they came around.
SosMula: Feds. The ATF came. But it was fine.
Any last shout outs or fuck yous?
ZillaKami: Don’t get stick and poke tattoos. They all suck. I don’t want to see a star on your ankle, it’s not cool.
SosMula: Don’t do drugs and don’t get tattoos.
ZillaKami: Get a combover and a mustache.
Photos: Jason Goodrich
Production: Rachael Goodrich
Grooming: Paige Campbell