When Karrio Ballard, also known as veteran Columbus rapper Zero Star, starts threading together rhymes to create a new track, he’s not entirely sure what it’s going to be about or what the hook should be. When the beats and samples come out of the speakers and into his ears, everything starts falling into place. It’s like he’s decoding a message through his own form of freestyle and he’s the only one who knows when the puzzle is put together correctly.
“I really don’t have any idea what I’m going to write about until I hear the beat,” says Ballard. “It just depends on what’s going on in my life and what’s on my mind. Sometimes I hear the beat and think you know, this sounds like number one with a bullet, it just depends. I just know when it comes together. There’s only a few people I can talk to about it, that understand the same feeling.”
When Ballard told people that he could rap years ago, a lot of his friends were surprised. Ballard was rapping while driving around in his car, but kind of shy to tell people he was slinging rhymes together with a proficiency he didn’t expect. Putting together rhymes while driving around in his car grew to going up on stage at Bernie’s for hip-hop night, which grew to a record deal with Weightless Records.
With one full length and a couple of EPs, Zero Star has broke away from Weightless Records and put out his newest record “Don’t Look Now” as what he believes is his most polished and best record yet.
“I still feel like I can get a lot better,” says Ballard. “Just like anything, if you do it more, you’re going to get better at it. If you run a mile everyday, you’re going to get faster and it’s going to be easier. I tried to rap and write more and I think you can hear it on the new record.”
“Don’t Look Now” isn’t the only thing that Ballard’s been working on. He is putting together a monthly hip-hop night that he hopes will resurrect the feeling of the hip-hop nights at Bernie’s, where he, along with a lot of other Columbus rappers, honed their craft.