Slatt Zy is the new hottest artist on the scene, and his music speaks for itself. Arriving with his own style of melodic hip-hop, the Chattanooga, Tennessee native is already living out his dreams at the young age of 18. Born in 2002 and only getting into music 2 years ago, he humbly describes himself as “a kid trying to make it out.”

Growing up in a musical family with 11 siblings and his father even singing in a boy band alongside Usher, Slatt’s talents and versatility allowed him to quit his fast food restaurant job—taking the leap of faith to pursue music full-time. His debut mixtape Zy Story followed suit, contributing to the current 10 million streams to his name.

Slatt Zy embodies the definition of Southern swag, finding his niche in heartfelt anthems for the streets, spitting about real-life experiences and struggles. On “Drama,” he croons, “I remember them cold nights in East Lake, say thеy showing real love but the shit it bе fake. Growing up eating noodles, I ain't never had steak / Now a bitch wanna eat, tryna eat off my plate.”

Now, he returns with his new body of work titled East Lake Projects, his neighborhood that turned him into a man. The 13-track project hails standout features from Pooh Shiesty and Hotboii. Flaunt caught up with Slatt via Zoom, who was located back home in the small town of Chattanooga. When describing the project Slatt Zy says “East Lake Projects is where I became a man. It was tough to value life there, and getting over that made me a man. To me it’s more than projects—it’s my family, and we got through together. 17 people in 2 rooms, 12 people sleeping on one floor—granny, 11 siblings, auntie. We been through struggles together. We been through everything—shoot outs, hungriness, shoeless, people dying. East Lake Projects is where all my problems came from and made me grown early, but my happy times came from there too. I couldn’t imagine any other way to be. The projects may have given me scars and bruises, but also motivated me to be the n*gga I am today.” Read below as we discuss his upbringing, his name, the reality of the projects, opening for Rod Wave, what family means to him, best fan encounter, and more!

How was it growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee? It’s different, everybody got their own look on it. Growing up for me was hard, but back then we didn't know it was hard. It was violent. We had good times, we had bad times. A big family trying to make it out. What’s the inspiration behind your name? My nickname was Zy, that's a name my family gave me. Slatt is a slang we’d recently started using in Tennessee. I did say Slatt a lot, people started calling me Slatt Zy. I ended up changing all my social media names to it. It’s crazy to think a year ago, you’re working at fast food restaurant Hardees. What made you take that leap of faith? I was working there, I made one song and the song went viral. That's when my team came along, they said they wanted to fly me to Miami. I said “I gotta go to work the next day.” He laughed and my manager said “you can quit your job.” I trusted him, quit my job and came to Miami. How’d that feel? In the heat of the time, I knew I was coming to Miami to do a whole lot more work. It don’t get easier from here, so it was really a stage. Miami’s great, I love Miami. It's my work spot.

You just released your project East Lake Projects, how are you feeling? I’m feeling great man, we put a lot of time and effort into this. The fans lit right now, it's going crazy. East Lake Projects, I was going through some things around the time I was making them songs. I love that project, it defines who I am as a person. In what way? Oh, it defines who Taizion is. My fans know Slatt Zy but before Slatt Zy, I’m Taizion. East Lake Projects defines Taizion, what he‘s been through, how was it growing up with him. Growing up with 11 siblings all up in one household, staying in the East Projects. Quitting my 9 to 5 and trying to take care of my whole family, it defines who I am.

“Straight Out Them Projects” is so heartwarming, what were you going through recording this one? Just reminiscing. When I get in the studio, for some reason I can get in my feelings sometimes. A whole lot of Eastlake memories will pop up: growing up in poverty, trying to find a way as I mentioned in them songs. The shit that I’ve been through, it makes me feel so powerful that when I go into the studio, I'm not calm in my songs. I go straight out. What’s the reality of the projects where you grew up? Everybody got their own look on it. You got killing, actually you got families out there. You’ll find some of the best people, you meet some of the best people in the projects. You meet families who still eat at the table together, you see a whole lot of stuff you don't see. People staying in the projects are actually happier than the people that got out. How does music help you cope? Music’s like a getaway. When I’m listening to music, it’s a certain feeling. When I listen to my music, it helps me escape. You can't vent to everybody. If I can't vent to everybody else, I can at least vent in music. They’ll hear me through my lyrics.

How does it feel to be the first rapper from Chattanooga to hit Apple Music Top 200?

It feels good. The way that I'm set up, I never really know what all that was. When I figured out what it was, I was proud, but I had bigger things I wanted to do too. Okay I did this, that’s a checkpoint I completed. There’s more stuff I gotta get to.

What other stuff you want to do?

I want a #1 Rap/Hip Hop album. I want to win a Grammy, an Oscar, perform at BET awards. Travel all around the world.

An Oscar, meaning you want to act?

Yeah, I want to act too. Once I get to where I want to be with my rapping career, I want to start acting.

You have 11 other brothers and sisters, how proud is your family of the music?

They real proud, because nobody in my family ever made it either. When someone does, they hard on it. They want me to make sure my head straight all the time because where I'm from, it’s easy to get distracted. You gotta keep going, you can’t focus on what's going on out here. Somebody got a problem, I'm tryna get in the car—you can't be doing that. You’re bigger than that now.

I love Pooh Shiesty, just interviewed him. How’d that collab come about on “First Year”?

I had made the song, I've been recorded the song. I had an open second verse that I was going to finish, but ended up not finishing. It got sent to my team, my label. They heard it. Pooh Shiesty had just gotten out of jail and he’s doing features. My label asked me, “you got something Pooh Sheisty can get on?” They’re asking me if I have something on his type of style, because we got 2 whole different styles. I still got something up my sleeve, I said “yeah I got something he could get on.” I sent it to him, they sent it right back to me 4 or 5 days later.

What was your reaction when you heard his verse?

I was asleep and my manager had sent me the audio through iMessage. Oh they got Pooh Shiesty on that now, that bitch hard! The next day, they called me to shoot the video in Atlanta. It was good, they good people man. They was chillin’, we’re vibing out.

How’s it feel to have such a big first year in your career?

I have to go harder. It’s a big accomplishment but the thing is, when you have a year like I did my first good year, I knew I came out the gate hard. You’re still pushing, your music has to go 10 times harder. You shock the world one time, it's hard to keep that. Keep doing what I'm doing.

How was touring with Rod Wave?

It was pretty fun, we did a whole lot of shit. We met a lot of people, met fans. I gained new fans. It was me, him, and another rapper from Dallas. Shit, we’re really vibing out. On stage traveling from city to city, meeting new people all over the country, it was fun.

What’d you learn from opening for him?

Shit, this is what I’ma be doing next. You see what he’s doing, you could be doing this next. You gotta work hard, I’ma be the next one doing it. It’s gon’ be my own tour then.

Being only 18, what do you like to do for fun?

I like to chill with my family man. I be trying to stay out of the way. I easily get distracted. I can be in a whole lot of mess and get caught up, so I’d try to stay out of the way. Chill with my family, that's what I do for fun.

What inspires you the most?

My family. If they not in the studio, I be thinking “what if they’re right here and I’m trying to impress them?” They keep me going the most.

Best encounter you had with a fan?

I remember when I’d first started rapping, my little cousin’s having a little party in a skating rink. I ended up going, I walked in and there’s a girl standing right there. She instantly put her hand on mine and started crying. That’s the craziest thing ever because I never met no fan in person, she started crying in front of me.

Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?

I want a Grammy, to go #1 on Billboard, #1 hip-hop album. Break a whole lot of records and try to make history. When I finish music, I want to be a legend. That's what I’m working towards, I want to get my hands in everything.