Cornell Johnson, aka ZERO is one of Boise’s premier solo recording and performance hip-hop artists as well as a member of the MC collective The Earthlings. With a knack for passionate tracks and live shows, ZERO has made impressive progress in his first year actively and seriously pursuing his craft as a career, stacking a multitude of opening and headlinding slots at high-capacity venues such as The Knitting Factory and The Revolution Concert House, as well as at the more humble and down-to-earth stages of The Crux and The Basement of Tom Grainey’s.
ZERO began rapping at the age of 9, and though he’s grown more skilled with experience and age, he still draws imaginative influence from the cartoons and anime he watched as a kid. References to Naruto, ninja stars, and Jiu Jitsu are sprinkled throughout his lyrical repertoire, and often permeate and mesh adroitly with even some of his most serious and personal content.
While mastery over the arts of entertainment and lyricism are longstanding personal goals of ZERO’s, the road to peace is what he raps about, and achieving it is his ultimate goal. His undeniable emotion shines throughout his first self-titled album featuring fellow earthlings Axiom Tha Wyze, Clev Speech, and Andy O., as well as performances by The Vacationists, Dedicated Servers, Natalie Grace, and Armani.
ZERO’s proficiency is what has landed him spots opening up for the likes of Tech Nine, Hopsin, Dizzy Wright, K.Flay and T. Mills, as well as feature performances at the Boise Music Festival as well as the touring Shades of Black showcase.
With a sound somewhat reminiscent of MURS and influences that include Talib Kweli and Mos Def, ZERO is a multi-talented performer who’s in it for the long haul.
“I want to make this a job, a career,” he says, “and not because I’m pursuing the money. I’m not driven by the generic dream of relishing in treasures or any shit like that. Nah, I’d rather influence the world.”