Lil’ Zane
Back for his second full album release, Lil’ Zane comes correct with his new album “Under The Radar” this spring. Besides achieving much success from his first album which featured smash hits featuring 112 and Tank, he is also known for his acting skills from Dr. Dolittle 2 and Finding Forester. Read on and find out what he has next in store.
Interview by Rob Schwartz

WHO?MAG: You came into this industry fairly young. How was it breaking into the industry at such a young age?
LIL’ ZANE: It was the best thing that could have happened to me. By the time I was of age and could sign my own papers and make my own decisions, I understood the game and the industry more verse being 18-19 just coming into this industry. You’re going to make 10 years of mistakes before you do it right. I already made my 10 years of mistakes. I’ve been in this industry since I was 10. That’s the difference. By the time you have this experience, you can make smart, wise, and accurate decisions.

WHO?MAG: How did you first “GET RECOGNIZED” in the industry?
LIL’ ZANE: I was first recognized by my fans when I was in a group called Chronic signed to RCA. It was me, my brother, and my cousin and we were signed from 1993 to 96. They never put our project out. We recorded a lot of albums and sent a lot of money and never put out a single. I was 12 or 13 at that point. Now at 23, you might not get that second chance, feel me? After Chronic died out, I went solo from ’96 to ’99. That’s when I ran into 112. They allowed me to jump on a song with them called “Anywhere” which was a single on 112’s album “Room 112.” Then Lil’ Zane was born.

WHO?MAG: How do you feel you’ve grown creatively since your last album?
LIL’ ZANE: There’s a big difference and at the same time no difference. Let me explain that. The big difference from when I first came out and now is that now I own my own company called Three Male Entertainment abbreviated 3ME. I am in the process of closing my distribution deal right now with a major distribution company. When I first got in the game, I was signed to other labels. I had less creative control and less marketing control. I had less control of my career. Now I have my own label and I can make most of my own decisions. If I think a single is whack, I won’t put it out. If the album is doing well, I can decide to put out a 2nd or 3rd single. When I first came out, I didn’t have a goal or a plan. Al I know is that I wanted to be a rapper. Now I have plan. When I first came out, I was just a rapper, now I’m a rapper, actor, business man, and have a foundation and motivator. I want to inspire younger people to do what I did. Get your own and control of you life. The part that hasn’t changed, is I’m not killing anyone in my album. I wasn’t killing anyone when I first came out and I’m not killing anyone now. People get brainwashed because everyone is telling them what to do in the industry because that’s whets selling. I just like making music for people that like Lil’ Zane. I made music for the fans when I first came out and I make music for the fans right now. I don’t want someone who has nothing to do with how I make my money tell me how to make my music.

WHO?MAG: A strong acting career has spun off from your musical success. If you could pick either one or the other, which one would you choose and why?
LIL’ ZANE: It always started with music which is my first love so I have to say I would do music until the day I die. It’s my overall love, but I am full interested and available in doing any movies. If someone wants to give me a chance to do something big, I am available to do that. Everything started with music, so I could never ever get away from that

WHO?MAG: What’s your process for writing one of your songs?
LIL’ ZANE: A lot of weed smoke, a lot of family in the studio, and some fat JBL’s so I can turn it all the way up. Also, before I write, I read magazines, hip-hop magazines, fashion magazines. I usually read a book an hour before I write. I like to write with words in front of me so I never run out of words.

WHO?MAG: How did you first get into acting?
LIL’ ZANE: I was in NY doing my first album and I walked this McDonalds that had a sign on the door that said “Auditions for Finding Forrester with Sean Connery”. So I called my agent and I called my label and said, “Can you guys get me in this audition in NY? I want to be in this movie” the said “alright” and thought I was kidding and I go the role. It just started from there. That’s why I say I have always been a business man. I always keep my eyes open for the next thing. I don’t care if I’m walking down the alley, if someone says look over there, I’m going to look over there.

WHO?MAG: You collaborated with various artists on a few of your songs. How do you determine who you want to work with?
LIL’ ZANE: I determine that with whom I like personally, what kind of music I like, if I’m a fan of the artist or like a song that they do. I am a fan of there music before I am a producer of it. I also want to make sure there is a connection. I don’t want to do a song with P. Diddy because he’s hot and everyone else is trying to do a song with him, give him $100,000 and run with it. I want to work with someone I can connect with where I like there style and they like my style and let’s work. It shouldn’t be about the money, but more about respect. If one person is willing to pay and another isn’t willing to pay, I don’t want to be in a situation like that. Also I like to work with someone that will take me to the next level. I would like to work with Kanye West, Jermaine Dupri, Needlez, Puff again, and Just Blaze, Trackmasters, and Pharell. I would love to sit down with Master P and Russell Simmons and talk business so I can be in the game along time. Another guy I talk to a lot is Jermaine Dupri’s father Michael Molten and Hirium Hicks. Also Ludacris and Nelly. I would also acting wise like to work with Denzel, Ice Cube, Morris Chesnutt, Edward Norton, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett, Halle Berry. I’m talking about leading roles with love interests. Like me and Gabrielle Union doing a love scene. I would also like to work with Brandy. There are a lot of people I want to work with because I’m a fan of them that really don’t know I want to work with them.

WHO?MAG: What do you do to prepare for an acting audition?
LIL’ ZANE: First thing I do is when I get the script, I ask for the whole script. When you’re a new actor, sometimes they won’t give it to you, but you can demand it. Sometimes I get my scripts and my auditions the same day so I like to look over it as much as I can and get in character. If I have a part to play, I try to hang around someone just like that and have been through what my character has been through and study him. If I only have an hour before an audition, I usually call someone I know that has a family member that has the same problem that my character is going through and kinda just jump into that character. For example, Nick Nolte is in a movie where he plays a homeless guy. People thought he was crazy, homeless, and on drugs but come to find out, he just did it to prepare for this roll. I’m pretty sure after the media hears why he did that, his hard work will probably nominate him for an Oscar. Will Smith had to gain 40 pounds for his role in Ali. Preparing for a movie is being mentally prepared to play every part.

WHO?MAG: What would you change about the entertainment industry?
LIL’ ZANE: I want people to be more original and more open minded. Just because something is hot, that doesn’t mean that it will be hot forever. I feel like one thing blows up and everyone is trying to do that same thing.

WHO?MAG: What’s next in store for Lil Zane?
LIL’ ZANE: I got a new company where I am the CEO and President called BME and currently closing by distribution deal with a major distribution company. My album is due out in Spring 2005. The album is called Under the Radar. I have a few new artist I’m working with called Real Young He’s a young hot artist that’s a breath of fresh air. Also I have movie coming straight to Blockbuster called “The Walk”, an urban Christian film and another one called “Lewd Behavior” also coming out straight to blockbuster this spring. The Walk is staring Eva Pinford, she’s the American Top Model. I’m executive producer of that. I also am working on a book deal with The Mary Jane Girls about there life with Rick James. I also have a foundation called Arts for Kids that I’m working on. I’m in the studio everyday. I have an acting classes and I’m constantly doing auditions.