DC’s own ZayyDussé Has Lapped His Competition. This Time He’s Going for the Gold.
In the 2 years since he’s come on to the scene, Zayy’s patented R&B sound has caught fire.
Some people call it chance. Others call it destiny. Terms aside, when a person steps into their purpose, the only respectable thing to do is acknowledge the greatness that came from the moment. ZayyDussé, one of the DMV’s brightest warriors, found his purpose after losing the most valuable person in his life.
Wrecked physically and emotionally by life’s blows, he found his voice and gave voice to a newer generation of adults who grew up inspired by the previous generation’s musical artists. Right or wrong, he’s determined to make a way for himself and bring his area to the forefront.
Prince George County, Maryland, exposed Zayy to a range of influences, both negative and positive, close and far, that helped shape him as a man.
“Growing up in the DMV had its perks and difficulties. It’s a special place, says Zayy.
The Washington Metropolitan Area, also known as the DMV, has long served as a hub for the area’s residents, but despite its proximity has also suffered from a lack of collective unity in its efforts to brand its music scene. Zayy shared similar thoughts in our interview, echoing the thoughts of Pusha T who urged the area’s artists to stick together.
“What I can say is a lot of artists in the DMV were on a crab in a barrel type vibe. It’s hard to come up as an artist because of that, says Zayy.
Raised by his mother in a loving household, he grew up appreciating music and his mother’s voice. Although he knew how to sing, Zayy gravitated to sports first, dabbling in football as a high schooler before finally finding his lane on the track. A gifted athlete, he started running track as a sophomore and immediately began making a name for himself in the county.
“I excelled and made my way to the Junior Olympics in 2017. But that road was rocky.”
The summer after graduation, Zayy got one of his biggest blessings and biggest challenges when he received an invitation to the Junior Olympics shortly after his mother was killed in a car accident.
Undeterred, Zayy attend Mars Hill College on a track scholarship and attempted to push through the pain of it all. The track had always served as a balm for the pain, but in his words, “Music came in and became the new outlet and source of peace.”
Influenced by artists like Drake, Party Next Door, and Bryson Tiller, Zayy began making music in 2020 after a chance studio encounter with a group of his college friends. While in college at Winston-Salem State College, Zayy accompanied his friends to the studio and, after being prodded to jump into the booth, shot his shot.
“Before the year 2020, I wasn’t thinking about music. I was an athlete. My first three or four sessions weren’t even about me, though. One night though while I was in Greensboro, I was sitting in the back and someone said yo you should hop in there. I went in, did it in one take and when I walked back in there, everybody was just looking at me like where did you come from!?!”.
Spurred on by his friends, Zayy began committing himself fully to his new passion. Right on cue, life presented him with another roadblock when he and a friend found themselves in the hospital following a car accident. He broke his neck, left collarbone, and left shoulder, which required several months of therapy to repair.
“I had nothing but time night after night. I never slept at night. Music got me through it.”
The experience strengthened him though, and after recovery, Zayy released his first single, “Cloud 9ine”.
“I put that song out intending to sustain the fanbase I had at the time while I was still trying to find my sound, says Zayy.
One of Zayy’s friends gave him his name after the pair fumbled around for a name that rhymed with Zay, but it stuck. “It was a people’s choice. My supporters chose this for me.”
From there, he set out on his path to building a consistent audience. In 2021, his single Euphoria tipped the scales in his favor.
“Euphoria was the song that made me realize I could do something with this. It was mainstream competitive.”
Crafted on his phone, the song introduces his signature style of harmonious vocals full of adult anxiety and party energy.
In the two years since Zayy’s made music, he’s got his music on various radio stations around the county and secured Spotify playlists without the help of a manager. 93.9 WKYS, the premier station in the DMV, heard one of his songs and put it into their rotation.
Him on Instagram: "In my element. Delegated from way high up above, Preparation met Elevation & now…
Him shared a post on Instagram: "In my element. Delegated from way high up above, Preparation met Elevation & now they…
“Getting on the show for three nights in a row was an eye-opener for me. Getting radio play as a new artist and hearing my name on air just sounded right. It was like it was supposed to be there.”
Zayy credits the host, Little Bacon Bear, for giving DMV artists a chance with the DMV artist submission portal.
His most recent EP, Him, represents the culmination of all of his work. Led by the single “Nights”, the project and its songs are doing well on streaming sites like Spotify. Last month, he released another single, “Right or Wrong” capitalizing off the momentum he garnered in 2022.
Zayy has a lot to learn and admits he’s far from where he sees himself, but as long as the listeners can feel him it’s a win.
“I want the listeners to be able to feel the passion and time I’ve put into this. I’m trying to give them something new. I want to be that artist every time.