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About Zero 9:36
A rapper, singer, and musician with an aggressive style and an angry world view, Zero 9:36 rose from a cult figure in the Philadelphia hip-hop community to an alternative artist with a nationwide following by the time he was 22. Under the name Zero, his machine-gun delivery and caustic verses made him a talent to watch with his 2016 mixtape Paradise Campground. By 2019, he'd changed his handle to Zero 9:36 and combined rapping and singing as guitars and electronics took on a bigger place in his arrangements on the 2019 EP You Will Not Be Saved.
Zero 9:36 was born Matthew Cullen on May 11, 1997 in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, a suburb 25 miles from Philadelphia. His first experience in a recording studio came when he was ten years old; a relative who worked in music production needed a child's voice for a vocal sample, and young Matthew got the job. By the time he was 12, Cullen had discovered rap music, citing Tory Lanez, Blackbear, and D-Pryde as key influences. Adopting the stage name Zero, he began honing his skills as a rapper, devising a rapid-fire flow and a confrontational lyrical stance that led to frequent comparisons to Eminem. In 2013, Zero's father died, and the loss added to the hard edge of his music and the intensity of his lyrics.
Zero developed a powerful underground following that grew with the release of his 2016 mixtape Paradise Campground, a hard-hitting set that included guest spots from his hero Tory Lanez (on "All the Time") and Huey Mack (on "We Don't Care"). Zero's star continued to rise as he landed a spot on Futuristic's "As Seen on the Internet" concert tour, his independent success attracted the attention of major labels, and he struck a deal with Atco Records. Zero changed his billing to Zero 9:36, and his production developed a bigger and more abrasive sound that incorporated elements of electronic and industrial music, alternative rock, and metal. His first track under the Atco deal, "Leave the Light On," appeared on March 1, 2019, while "Aim Steady," a collaboration with Boonn, was released on June 25, 2019. An ambitious seven-track EP, You Will Not Be Saved, made noise when it was issued on September 27, 2019. ~ Mark Deming