Z-Ro is a perplexing figure. On one hand, the renowned rapper-singer-producer from Houston is considered one of the South’s most revered artists by both fans and his peers.
On the other, the man known as the Mo City Don doesn’t really get much love on a national level and never really has. With a stacked catalogue of over 15 solo albums and numerous projects as a member of the ABN, Guerrilla Maab and Screwed Up Click, Ro definitely deserves his due.
To reinforce The King Of The Ghetto’s technically sound skill set and always downtrodden sense of reality, we present ten tracks everyone should know from Z-Ro.
Be sure to check out previous entries in The Primer Series where we break down the catalogs of many other legendary artists and groups.
“Look What You Did To Me”
Right from the beginning of his career, Z-Ro’s broken honesty was on full display and this title track from his 1998 debut was an audible cry for help that showed his technical prowess and gave fans an open window into his troubled soul.
In an era when weed songs weren’t a dime a dozen, Z-Ro showed his more relaxed side by lacing this potent dedication to Miss Mary, from his 2000 LP Z-Ro Vs. The World.
“I Found Me”
Along with his cousin and long-time ABN partner-in-crime Trae The Truth, Z-Ro kicked off his 2001 album King Of The Ghetto with this self-produced reminder that the only people we can depend on are ourselves.
After a few more projects that built his buzz regionally in the South, the Guerilla Maab member teamed with Rap-A-Lot for his 2004 album The Life of Joseph W. McVey. The well-received LP is maybe his most notable to date and features this unmistakable introduction for anyone unfamiliar.
“I Hate You B*tch”
Another highlight from The Life of Joseph W. McVey, this smooth track might be the epitome of Z-Ro’s style. Although the music might come across breezy and almost uplifting, the theme features Ro putting a trifling female in her place and is the opposite of positive. But that open book juxtaposition is what makes the H-Town emcee so special.
One of the more aggressive tracks off The Life of Joseph W. McVey, Z-Ro used producer Mike Dean’s futuristic funk to ease his mind and get a point across to all the police that double-standards will not be accepted.
“Mo City Don”
Most folks wouldn’t expect a Houston rapper to start off his album with a four minute freestyle, especially over an Eric B & Rakim beat. Yet, that’s exactly what Z-Ro did with this fan-favorite introduction to his 2005 Let The Truth Be Told LP, which shows why many regard him as one of the South’s best rappers.
“From The South”
During 2005, Z-Ro was experiencing some of the biggest moments in his career. Along with a prominent feature on Bun B’s “Get Throwed” single, his Let The Truth Be Told album was well-received and this perfectly slowed collaboration with Paul Wall and Lil Flip was one of the major reasons why.
“Continue To Roll”
For this windows-down single from his critically acclaimed I’m Still Livin’ album, the Screwed Up Click veteran used a well-flipped Spandau Ballet sample to speak on how he handles the daily roller-coaster of trials and tribulations. When Rap-A-Lot released the project in November 2006, Z-Ro was in prison for drug possession.
Amidst a string of under-the-radar albums titled after hardcore drugs and centered around his own personal issues, 2011’s Meth album featured this smooth, slow-burning song about how the Mo City Don prefers to be left alone and explains why he’s always been content with his underdog status.