Are you down with Zuby?

Meet the consultant and rapper who runs on four hours sleep a night and "pure motivation". Katie Morley enters into the crazy world of Zuby Udezue
Doing the job

Wearing a camel coat with a silk scarf, I timidly enter a small dark club to the booming of Rick Ross's "Everyday I'm Hustlin". I ask two friendly-looking girls wearing "Are you down with Zuby?" - T-shirts, whether they've seen him. The girls - one a teacher, the other a charity worker, explain that they're his flatmates, and are here to support him. "He's lovely - but he's obsessed with the gym! He's a management consultant by day, but he's a rapper at heart." When Zuby finally makes an appearance, he invites me backstage for a chat as he's psyching himself up for his live performance.

"I first got into hip hop when I went to school in Bristol, aged 14. My idol was, and still is, Jay-Z. Anyone who knows Zuby knows that he's my hero in the music world."- His best subjects at school were chemistry, biology, maths and economics which, he tells me, is quite unusual for a rapper. "My least favourite subject was English - for some reason I couldn't seem to express myself in the way I wanted to."

This seems a little odd for someone who is now a rapper, so I ask Zuby how he found the inspiration to produce his killer lyrics. "The world, man", he says. "There's so much stuff going on every day that you experience, that you see, that you hear about. I'm one of those people that goes into quiet modes. I'm very much an observer who takes in everything around me, and then later on, it'll come out in a rap."

Zuby has put out two albums and performs in live shows, as well as holding down a full-time job at a leading consultancy firm. He sleeps four hours a night and claims to run off "pure motivation". "When I graduated from Oxford, I took a year and a half out to concentrate on my music, but I felt like half of my brain was rotting. That's why I decided to become a management consultant, and now I feel more rounded, because I'm actually using that part of myself!"

But I'm struggling to see how one man could cram so much into his day without malfunctioning. Zuby explains: "I give 100 per cent to everything I do. I'm a very binary individual. If I do something, I frickin' do it. I'm not just "dabbling" in rapping. When I set out to be a rapper, I knew I wanted to do shows and put CDs out." He's clearly very serious about his music - but where exactly does his day job fit in?

"My music and my consultancy marry better than you'd expect - in fact, they kind of help each other. My day job gives me superior organisational skills - I'd like to think I'm one of the most efficient and organised rappers around. It's also nice at the firm when people know who I am because of my music, so in that respect, my music positively infiltrates my office life."

I'm interested to know what kinds of circles Zuby mixes in - does he like hanging with his hip-hop homies, or does he prefer to chill with his consulting chums? It would appear that he's "down" with them both. "I've got a very wide range of people I associate with. Take tonight for example - I've got friends from work coming down, friends from the rap scene, my brother and sister - and then uni friends, most of whom are actually bankers now!"

The message in Zuby's music is one of positivity and achievement, which isn't a surprise when you consider that he has been surrounded by overachievers since he was a child (his father is a doctor). "The underlying vibe in my songs is striving to achieve your goals. That has kind of evolved as my music career has gone further. This will change as I develop as an artist, but my work will probably stay in the same vein, as I'm telling my story."

When he's not formulating business strategies in the office or penning rhymes for his latest track, Zuby regularly frequents the gym. "Sometimes it feels like I live there. I enjoy improving myself - mentally and physically. Everyday, I want to be better than I was yesterday." Zuby is currently single. He says: "I like girls. I'm not a player, I'm a free man."

It's clear that while Zuby enjoys the stimulation he gets from his career in consulting, his ultimate ambition is to be an international rap star. "If Jay-Z walked up to me tonight and said "Zuby, here's your deal", I'd grab it with both hands. In ten years time I'd like to be touring internationally, selling hundreds of thousands of albums, and having millions of people loving my music. "So not management consulting?" I ask. "That's not my dream", he replies.

If there's one thing we can learn from Zuby, it's that, "I haven't got time", isn't really a legitimate excuse. "I think a lot of people set false limits on what they can do", he says. "Easy for someone who can function on four hours sleep to say", you might think. But he admits: "When this tour is over, I'll probably collapse and curl up in a ball somewhere." With his insatiable drive, hunger for success and abs of steel, The Gateway can't help but be down with Zuby. The question is - are you?

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