Zack Fox is in the middle of his rap set at New York’s Central Park—specifically, somewhere between sharing a Barack Obama drone-referencing “based freestyle” and twirling on stage to NY legend Jennifer Lopez’s 1999 club classic “Waiting For Tonight”—when he makes a declaration.

“This is hard. Why do people want to do this?”

Either legitimately out of breath for a minute or pretending to pant a little for the gag, Fox moved on from that comment and jumped right into another bit within seconds. That’s what he does as a comedian. But his momentary maybe-fake-maybe-not-fake self-realization was a reminder that he’s still getting used to rhyming about throwing chairs and having sex with a former first lady on stage, as his growing music catalog saw a milestone addition with his October 15 debut album, shut the fuck up talking to me.

“Moving into my 30s now, I’m thinking about bodies of work, and how to communicate the last 10 years of my life in other ways that aren’t so transient,” he shares over Zoom, days before the release of his debut. “[I have] jokes, tweets, and little projects here, and they’re amazing, but this is one of the first bodies of work that I’m giving people. So for those moments it’s like, yeah, I’m a rapper.”

Rap hasn’t taken the place of comedy for Fox at this point, but one spin of his debut album might make you think otherwise. The record is stacked with production from Kenny Beats, the Alchemist, BNYX, and more. It features cartoon references that opt for rarely-mentioned side characters rather than the regurgitated big names, and moments where Fox goes lights-out like his seasoned vet friends. As he reveals proudly, it’s also released entirely independently—Fox’s way of rejecting big companies that prey on musicians, in what he calls his Luke-Skywalker-Death-Star moment. 

Yet if you go into shut the fuck up talking to me expecting something funny, Fox can’t promise you’ll get what you want. It’s up to you to decide what you want to take away from the comedian’s first rap album. His only goal was to make an album you’ll be cranking in your car so loudly that vehicular manslaughter isn’t out of the question. 

In celebration of shut the fuck up talking to me, we reunited with Fox for a lengthy chat about intertwining his passions, how rap is like origami, and what it feels like to hop on an Alchemist beat.

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