Q+A with HeyZeus of Cute Like Zeus

[dropcap letter=”C”]ute is a sharp word. An adjective commonly applied to a puppy with floppy ears and teetering gait. Artist and rhyme slinger HeyZeus is here to change your expectations of the word. The self proclaimed “Cutest Rapper Alive” has just released his clothing brand, Cute Like Zeus, a nostalgic clip art style brand that makes you yearn for the early 2000s and a can of Surge. The line features original and eccentric designs blending religious and horror icons with playfulness on one piece and the ultimate fantasy tour spots on another, asking the question if this is a clothing brand or ripped pages from HeyZeus’ eighth grade sketchbook. 

I chopped it up with HeyZeus to find out how he came up with the quirky style for this new brand and what fueled his creativity while creating the novel pieces that make up Cute Like Zeus. Check out the interview below!

Where does the “Cute” branding come from? Aside from it being a part of the name for the line, it comes up in your music as well.
It started with me wanting to stick to my playful nature. Most people associate “cute” with kids or girly things. You don’t really think “rapper” when you hear it. I was a chubby, cute overweight kid growing up so I wanted to stick with that brand and keep my art fun. Most people wanna brand themselves as the hardest or best rapper alive, I wanna be the cutest.

I love it. You are taking the “Macho Bravado” that a lot of rappers employ and flipping it.
Absolutely. I love being out somewhere with “Cutest Rapper Alive” on my shirt and seeing people wonder, “Who are you talking about? You can’t be talking about you.” And I’m like “Hell yea I am, I’m the cutest rapper alive.”

Are all designs original concepts by you?
Most of them are. I have always been a big fan of clip art. So I have taken a bunch of inspiration of clean cut logos and I revamp them to make my own form of clip art. I want to keep it simple but still have a specific style.

Are all designs original concepts by you?
Most of them are. I have always been a big fan of clip art. So I have taken a bunch of inspiration of clean cut logos and I revamp them to make my own form of clip art. I want to keep it simple but still have a specific style.

When I look at your line I instantly get Adult Swim meets Pop Art vibes with a hint of New Age Nostalgia. It teleports me right back to the early 2000s. Did I get that right?
Definitely, man. Like most other people our age I grew up on Toonami, Cartoonnetwork and Adult Swim. So when I started working on these designs I wanted to carry that with me and make it artsy and make sure people experience these designs on the clothing as art. It isn’t just about the clothes, it’s about pulling in all of these forms of art to make whole new, different from of art that makes the brand Cute Like Zeus, and above anything else I wanted to keep it fun.

And I think you did that with such grace. Specifically with the design where you mixed an iconic interpretation of Jesus with the Scream mask from Scary Movie and still managed to make it silly and fun. Did you have any worries about blending these two drastically different icons as far as people’s interpretation of it?
It’s funny, my Dad was the first one to bring that up and told me to be careful with that one. Some people aren’t going to see that the same way you do. And I never do anything to intentionally offend someone. But my first thought going into it was to keep it playful while still being respectful. I think subconsciously I wanted to show that even Jesus has a silly side. Think of it like if God went trick or treating. My personal interpretation of that design is to never take anything too seriously and that is all I was trying to say with that design.

The “Holy Rollers: Up in Flames Tour” shirt has all of our best-loved fictional metropolis’s. Everything from Bikini Bottom to Gotham City. Why did you pick these cities as opposed to real ones?
To really stick with the fun and cute brand. I researched a bunch of famous pop-culture places and took the traditional concept of going on tour to real places and applied it to all of the places we grew up watching on TV. I wanted to bring that fun, silly and fantastical element throughout the whole brand. Everyone knows at least one place on that shirt so I wanted it to be able to reach everyone.

I love what you did with the “AUX Friendly” shirt. You took the patch fad that has become so popular and flipped it on its head with clip art style designs. What design started this shirt?
That’s a good question. I want to say the first design that sparked it was the word search on the back of the shirt. It has all of the fictional places we mentioned earlier as the words to find. It reminded me of when we were young before phones and you had coloring books and word searches. Just trying to bring in the dash of nostalgia for your generation. The name of that piece is a reference to my music. I try to make music that is for everyone, something everyone can get down with.

When I look at these pieces I feel like they are ripped pages from a sketch book of yours that happen to find themselves onto clothing. Do you consider this line to be clothing by HeyZeus or art by Heyzues
I think it leans more towards art. A lot of it is random sketches that blossomed to full blown designs. I doodled a lot as a kid all throughout school and that was my first real form of artistic expression. I look at it as selling art that you happen to be able to wear as opposed to selling clothes that have designs on them.

The “We’ll Be The Judge Of That” you just recently released seems like an audible form of the pieces you made. Almost like a companion piece to the clothing line. Did you make this EP after you saw the end results of your line and get inspired by that or did the EP inspire the clothes?
Man, that is a great way to put it. The clothing inspired the EP. It really started off with just one song and it kind of grew into three. Zoids was one of my favorite shows growing up so I wanted to show some love to Liger Zero on the art work. I actually made the EP in a matter of days. I got some beats from one of my producers who’s been trying out some new sounds and I really enjoyed three of them. I wish i had a better story for how it came about but it all just sort of flew out of me naturally and organically. But shoutout Zoids man.

Final words from the Cutest Rapper Alive?
I am currently working on a bunch of clothing and music. Very excited to be doing my first holiday sales this year. Gonna do a cyber Monday sale. I’m horrible with plugin stuff, but just keep an eye on Cute Like Zeus. And keep spreading love guys and gals.

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