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The Hilltop


In Tune Vol.1

Photo courtesy of Zuri Franklin @_cupidshotzuri and @twenty6thronin

Zuri Franklin, known by his stage name “Zuri!” uses music as a form of self-expression in hopes to change the world. The 19-year-old freshman psychology major is motivated by his listeners and the goal of allowing them to enter his mind. He hopes his music and community embody the importance of finding one’s creative niche for their own self-expression. 

Photo of Zuri Franklin courtesy of Zuri Franklin.

Growing up, Franklin was surrounded by soulful music, from R&B artists like the Delfonics, to Frankie Beverly and Maze. Being introduced to instruments at a young age, learning music was a prevalent part of his life. In addition, he emphasized how growing up in church and participating in school choir allowed him to deepen his understanding of why he wanted his music to make an impact. 

“I want to do this. I just fell in love with everything regarding music.” Franklin found himself listening to classic rappers and expressed how he wants to collaborate with some diverse, talented artists in the future. “As of right now, I have Kendrick, J.Cole, Drake, Logic, Pharell, Kanye and Jay-Z. Those are like the list of people I need to work with.” 

Franklin’s lyrical style has become a fundamental element of his work, along with the rhythmic beats. His latest song, “John Cena,” resonates with his listeners because it produces unique sounds and defines his distinctive voice, “I love to branch out…I don’t have one sound; I’m far from having one sound.” 

Micah Clark, a freshman political science major, shared her opinion on the latest song release, “the song’s base was really nice, and I would definitely listen to the song during a late-night drive. The song’s beat was also very unique, and I feel like the song’s rhythm plays a huge factor with the melody of the lyrics.” 

Franklin explained his approach to composing his sounds, adding that “it’s soulful music; that’s what I really love to enjoy and make the most. You know, every now and then I’ll make some fun stuff, some turn-up stuff, like some stuff that’s meant for parties and you know to really crank and celebrate and have fun too, but I know deep down at the core, I love making meaningful art where I’m talking about my life, my experiences, and the pain I’ve gone through.” 

Franklin’s track, “John Cena,” was inspired by the HBO Max series “Peacemaker.” 

“I made it right after I finished watching Peacemaker, so it was like late February when I made that song…this was one where I didn’t write. I freestyle the whole thing and did it in a different segment. The inspiration was John Cena because I watched a show about it!”

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Najah Brooks, a freshman biology major, expressed that people should realize that Franklin is a great artist and that his work needs to be recognized. She even highlighted her favorite part of the song. 

“Zuri’s flow has a lot of cohesion, and his ability to create a piece that vibes so well is incredible. My favorite part of the song was the transition from the normal pace to the slower pace, which made me connect to the music. The song made me feel an out-of-body experience. I can’t wait for new releases.” 

Franklin has experienced growth on music platforms such as Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple Music, as his songs have gathered over 1,000 streams. He wants to acknowledge and change areas where the music industry needs to grow with his platform.

“I would love to change the exploitation of women. I really don’t like that…I feel like it’s wrong, unfair and immoral. Women get treated horribly in the industry, and they are just exploited for their bodies, or a lot of the time, they aren’t given the same opportunity as other men in the industry, even if they may have more talent. I would also like to change people’s egos and sense of entitlement because people often have this god complex, and it gets in the way of creating beautiful art and meeting new people. People try to put money on intangible values such as the passion and the love for music but instead, it just becomes so money-driven; it is less about the actual music or the quality of art but more about the money.”

Franklin expressed that he will continue to drop new singles, be in pop-up shows and hopefully release an album in the coming months. 

Franklin’s advice to others seeking to go into music is to not be afraid to do their own thing during their process. “Stay true to yourself…believe in yourself; having self-confidence is so key because most of the time is that confidence and belief in yourself that will get you places ‘cause if you believe in yourself, who to tell you otherwise, who to stop you.” He also added how it is “extremely challenging to do, especially in this industry but in every aspect of your life.”

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The song “John Cena” is available on Apple Music, Spotify and Soundcloud.

Copy edited by: N’dia Webb


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