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Out of the Shadows: Zonnique

Reality TV gives us insight into the lives of those we watch. Some of us watch to proclaim that “at least my life isn’t THAT bad” others watch for inspiration in certain areas of our lives. Then you have those who love to see people win. They attach themselves to a person and invest in them in some kind of way. Whatever your reason is, Reality TV has played a part in our lives for a few decades. On the flip side, we never really think about what reality tv does to the people on the side of the viewfinder of the camera.

Zonnique is the daughter of Tameka “Tiny” Harris and rapper T.I. She spent her teenage years with her family in VH1’s hit show “T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle”, currently in its 9th season. Growing up as a singer with the young girl group OMG Girlz, Zonnique’s shyness was put on display along with her singing abilities. However, the princess of the King of the South has not only found her voice but also at the young age of 24, she has finally found herself.

Putting out her first singles entitled #FTCU and Winner, the young star is pulling from her life experiences and showing the world just who she is. And trust me, it’s not the daughter of Tiny and T.I. She has a name, and before this article is over, you will know it.

SUAVV: I know that for most of us, we were introduced to you from the TV show ‘The Family Hustle’. With that, we’ve kind of watched you grow up. What was that like for you? Was it challenging growing up in that spotlight? How was it developing into where you’re at now?

Zonnique: You know, there, there are pros and cons to being on a reality TV show all your life. I would say when it comes to my career, the pros would be, definitely just getting that spotlight like, you know? When I was in the OMG Girlz, ‘Family Hustle’ definitely helped us in a major way and got people to see us worldwide. So, it was definitely a blessing in that way. But I just think that growing like it, at first I didn’t feel like this was a problem. Like, like it’s so normal. But now that I’m older, I feel like the thing that I hate the most from it is being in your parents’ shadow. People come up to me all the time (and have all my life) and just went, “Oh, aren’t you like T.I. and Tiny’s daughter?” and “Oh wait, who’s your daddy?” And weird questions like that. And now I’m like “I have a name” and I don’t want to only be known as TI and Tiny’s daughter my whole life. So that would be my biggest struggle from being on the show. But other than that, it’s very fun dealing with my family and having the memories and just working with my family…overall is fun.

SUAVV: Yeah. I can see how that would be challenging on one side. Definitely the ‘who’s your daddy’ part. That’s… that’s. Yeah. Really crazy. So as far as your singing career, what made you want to get into singing? Where did your passion for music come from?

Zonnique: Well, most of my family is in the music business. I was raised by my grandparents and my grandpa has a music group called The Tans and my uncle is in it. I used to be able to go out every weekend with them to shows and just be there firsthand. I really fell in love with it. Being able to watch my grandpa and my uncle perform and knowing what my mom had going on, and then my grandparents glorified my mom. Like, you know, we’ve never missed a beat when it came to Xscape and what Xscape was doing? And it really just made me fall in love and want to do the same thing at a young, very young age.

SUAVV: And then when you did get started, was kind of Rocky for you just to kind of get that edge? Would you say that?

Zonnique: Definitely for me because I’ve always been a shy person. On the show, my mom was like, “you have to talk more.” (laughing) So it took me a while to find myself, especially with cameras being in your face. At first, I’m like, Oh no, I’m not about to just be myself. It was so awkward to just being myself at first, but I definitely had to find myself in my edge is if you would say,

SUAVV: Do you think that that translates back into your music? Just your, your own personality and being able to find yourself that way?

Zonnique: Yeah, definitely. I think my music was a big way of helping me find myself and being able to express myself in a way that I would never really show anyone.

SUAVV: All right. So now, coming in your full-fledged adulthood at 24 years old, being in that area now, what are the things that you pull from and put into your music?

Zonnique: Hmm. I would say now that I am a grown woman, I had to go through a lot of things that I never experienced in life. I feel like when I was younger there wasn’t really much I could write about, you know? Living with my parents and letting the days go by. It was like, there was nothing really to talk about. Now that I live on my own, with my boyfriend, I’ve been through some things that I can pull from. I have my own personal experiences instead of back in the day I when would pull from my mom’s experiences. It was like “this is what my mom is going through so I can talk about it”. Now, I have what I’m going through that I can speak on through my music.

SUAVV: Okay, nice. Life will definitely give you those experiences as you grow up. What’s your writing process like? Do you have a notebook that you scribble in? Do you write out inspirations or a whole song? How does that work?

Zonnique: You know what? I’ve literally written in a diary or journal since I was a kid. So, I still have lots of journals and stuff that I do just write in randomly when I’m feeling like that. And I write poems. I’ve always written my poems. But, with having this phone, it’s an iPhone, I can just go into my notes and write all the time, randomly, because I have a bad memory (laughing). So, now I randomly am like “okay, I’m gonna write it out in my little notebook so I don’t forget,” or “Okay, this is how I was feeling on this day,” and that’s what I really get my contexts from, how I stay personal to myself, and talking about things that I really go through. Then, I just go into the studio, I go through my notes, think about what I want to talk about today with I was going through. That’s where I kind of get my inspiration from. I don’t like a lot of people in the studio. I like a nice little candle, dim light, a little drink on the side. It’s really nice and cozy in my sessions.

SUAVV: Nice. Do you ever look into those notes and try to figure out what the hell you wrote? Like “What? This doesn’t make sense whatsoever?

Zonnique: (Laughing) Definitely do that all the time. I look at some stuff and I’m like, “Oh my God, it was so childish. Why was I even feeling like this about this certain situation?” I’m a Pisces, so I feel everything. I fantasize all the time. I’m always in my head. So sometimes I’m looking at my notes and I’m dramatic. Then, I say to myself, “I’m not singing about that!”

SUAVV: (Laughing) It’s bad because with having a magazine, I use my voice memos a lot and I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll make a voice memo, go back to sleep and I’ll wake up and think, “what the hell are you talking about?” (Laughing) And I leave it there for a couple of days just in case something sparks later. But I have no idea what half of the memos in my phone mean. So, I feel that. (both laughing in agreement) You went from OMG Girlz to a solo career. Do you miss the group aspect or do you enjoy the solo aspect a little bit more?

Zonnique: Yeah, for me, it’s a little bit of both. I really enjoy being in a group. I was always the quiet and one shy one. I was the worst in interviews. If you go back and look at a lot of OMG Girlz interviews, I’m saying nothing or I’ll tap my friend, like ‘you say it,’ ‘it’s your turn,’ and they knew. That was a really great part of being in the group, also just having people with you all the time. And it was just very fun for me. But, I think that being a solo artist helped me a lot and it wasn’t something that I really wanted to do at first. After the omg girls breaking up, I still had this passion for music. I just didn’t see myself doing anything else. It grew me not only as an artist but as a person. I’ve matured so much as a person.

SUAVV: The comfort of a group can allow you to sit back a bit. So, I can understand that if you are a shy person. So now tell me about your first song Winner.

Zonnique: This is definitely one of those songs where I had some old notes, the old old notes (laughing) because there was my ex and all this stuff happened a long time ago, but I felt like I never expressed myself. It just happened, I wrote something about it in my notes, and I just let it pass by. And at the time, people were around that I felt like didn’t fit in my circles. So, when I saw these notes, I was like, let me speak on this. And it took me literally 10 minutes to write this song. I wrote it so fast, just getting all my old feelings out.

SUAVV: When you get it out that fast, do you go back and change it up? Do you have somebody look at it and change certain things about it or you really firm on your words?

Zonnique: I definitely like for my mom to listen to it. I love when there are people in a studio with me at times, it gives me people that I can create with. I love feedback. I’m, I’m not opposed to changes or anything else. I feel like the people who I’m always with, who I’m very comfortable with, tell me the truth, like “this line isn’t it.” or “we could change this and make it a little stronger.” And then, I’m like, yeah, okay, let’s do it. But my mom is always the first person I share stuff with when I leave the studio because she’s going to give her honest opinion. You know, me being her daughter, she’s not going to sugar coat anything. She’s going to tell me if something sounds flat, if I didn’t give it my all, and not just ‘the words aren’t good’. So my mom is always that person. It’s like ‘go back in there and do something else’, (laughing)I can always count on it.

SUAVV: People don’t realize like your mom is also a major player in the writing game as well. There are a few people who we have interviewed that are considered entertainment/celebrity legacy kids. With your parents being stars or megastars, even, do you find yourself making the mistake of comparing yourself or your journey to your parents? Or, have they really like instilled in you not to do that?

Zonnique: Hmm. You know what, I don’t really find myself comparing myself to my parents, but my stepdad, I think because when it comes to them and asking for their advice, I always go to my mom and I feel like he feels left out sometimes. So, I think he feels like I may do a lot of things, compare myself, or in a way do stuff exactly like my mom, which in my case I don’t really feel like it’s that way. Me and my mom are a lot alike, but in ways, when it comes to creating, I feel that we are very different. So, I wouldn’t say that I compare myself to them or, you know, try to be like them at all.

SUAVV: That makes sense. We are men, we like to feel included. So, I can see how you would think he feels that way. What do you feel is next for you with the music, where do you want that to take you?

Zonnique: Right now, I’m definitely really focused on getting music done. I haven’t put out a whole project since 2017. So, I feel like I took a long enough break. Definitely much-needed break for me as well. I’ve been doing music since I was eight before OMG Girlz. I was in a whole other group when I was eight years old. I’ve done a lot of things in my young years. Being able to go to a lot of places and see a lot of things. Some of those places, music has taken me, and some were just the name. But I feel like now, I want to go back to some of these places, but I want music to be the reason. Like when it comes to award shows and OMG Girlz, we got to perform for the pre-show for the BET awards and stuff like that. But, after that, I kind of just got “invited” to award shows and stuff like that. And I felt like, why am I going? I don’t have anything to really promote. I hadn’t put out any music as a solo artist. So now I want to go back and I want to have a reason to sit in the crowd with people who have done such amazing things. Things like that make me happy. I just want my music to take me all over, to be honest.

SUAVV: I completely understand. I mean, it’s a vessel, so if you use it right, there’s no limit to where it will take you. And to wrap this up and talking about where music may take you, you’ve been on camera for, almost half your life. Are there any aspirations of going into any kind of film industry or any kind of television, anything like that along with your music?

Zonnique: You know, I definitely think about adding other things to my music career. Reality TV was one thing. Acting… now acting as a whole different ballgame for me. My mom was really like, ‘Oh like you need to get into it… you need to try it.’ So I do try out for things, but baaaaaaaaby acting is not easy. (laughing) I am literally telling my mom after an audition, “I’m not doing it no more.” Like she’s like, you got to keep trying. And I’ve gotten callbacks for projects, I’ve gotten to do one movie and my part, literally, it was so small. But just that moment, I got to experience how it is being on a movie set. And that’s not easy at all. You take, what feels like a million frames to do one part. (laughing) I mean I would love to have an acting career as well as my music career. I feel like I just have to get better when it comes to actually “acting”. I’m a little nervous getting into that. But what I think would be great is a spinoff TV show from my family’s TV show. Something with me and Reginae (Lil Wayne’s daughter), I really like our vibes together.  Because I still want to do TV, but I don’t want to be on my family show forever. Because like I was saying, it just really puts you in a box that’s kind of very hard to get out of.

SUAVV: Like how Angela and Vanessa Simmons spun off of Run’s House. I think that would be really dope. And just the fact that both of your personalities are very magnetic, that might be something in the making. In a few years, I’ll be able to say that it was spoken here first. (laughing).

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