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Zacari Talks ‘Love,’ His Debut Album ‘Bliss,’ & More

Fil-Am artist Zacari talks about his music background, PH homecoming, and working with renowned acts like Kendrick Lamar.
James Francisco

“Give me a run for my money/There is nobody, no one to outrun me..” is the start of one of the most beloved songs in Kendrick Lamar’s deep catalog of classics. “LOVE.”, which has over 1 billion Spotify streams, also served as an introduction to Filipino-American singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Zacari Pacaldo

Better known as Zacari, the Top Dawg Entertainment artist has collaborated with not only K. Dot — but other top artists such as Isaiah Rashad, Sir, Larry June, Ab-Soul, Blxst, Ty Dolla $ign, and more. While the 2017 cult classic from Kendrick Lamar’s critically-acclaimed album DAMN. has grown to be one of the most recognized rap songs in the past decade, the Filipino-American artist has been working hard behind the scenes working on his debut album.

With “Bliss” set to release this January, Zacari recently visited the Philippines to reconnect with his Filipino roots and fellow artists, while headlining his first show in the motherland. Complex Philippines caught up with Zacari for a talk on his music background, upcoming collaborations with local artists, and working with world-renowned acts like Kendrick Lamar.


Zacari – @extraicey

Not many people know that you’re Filipino-American. Can you break down your background and how Filipino culture influenced your musical career? 

My great-grandfather migrated from Mindanao to Hawaii and my grandfather migrated from Hawaii to California. There are a lot of Filipinos in my hometown of Bakersfield because of all the agriculture here.  Growing up around my Filipino family was a blessing; food laughs and KARAOKE. I think the earliest musical influence I can remember is my dad buying a karaoke machine and loading it up at the family parties to do his go-to song “Feelings by Morris Albert” and never missing a note.

We saw you were in the studio with Filipino artists like Jess Connelly, FELIP, Midnasty, and more. How was your experience working with them and what can we expect? 

That was the highlight of my trip!  Loved working with everyone — you can definitely expect some collabs! FELIP already has been previewing our track together and the fans seem excited. As a writer/producer, I love the art of bringing the best out of other artists as well. 

You have worked with some of the biggest artists in the world, let alone one of the best rappers of all time in Kendrick Lamar. What are some things that you learned from working with them?

I think the biggest thing I’ve picked up from some of the greats is intention.  Why are you making the music?  Who is it for? What do you expect from it? I think once you set your intention all you need is your work ethic to follow.


Zacari – @extraicey

“LOVE.” is one of the top five most streamed songs in Kendrick Lamar’s deep discography. How did this collaboration happen what does it mean to have contributed to one of the biggest songs in his catalog? 

The song started with me alone in a basement chopping up an old cartoon sample and recording the hook over it.  Then I brought it to Teddy Walton and he finished the beat and made it knock.  A lot of people think Love was my first song with Kendrick but it was actually “Wats Wrong” on Isaiah Rashad’s Suns Tirade Album. 

So once Kendrick heard me on that, he hit my manager to bring me and Teddy to the studio.  At that point, me and Teddy had the whole “LOVE.” song done. Once Kendrick heard it, he asked us for the stems the next day, replaced my verse sections and that was wrapped. Kendrick and TDE changed my life! Forever grateful.  

Q: You shared that your debut album “Bliss” is finally dropping in January. With your album being 5-6 years in the making, what does it mean for you to finally deliver your solo project? I'm excited and nervous at the same time.  Put real blood sweat and tears into this album and I hope people can resonate with it.


Zacari – @extraicey

There was once a time when there was a lack of Filipino representation in mainstream music and entertainment. How does it feel to be part of this new wave of Filipino artists inspiring the new generation of musicians worldwide?

Yes! I feel like Filipinos have been overlooked in the art space.  We’ve been talented and creative with a fresh perspective.  It’s empowering to see us being recognized. I'm just proud to represent.

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