Video: Student rappers balance school and music

Student rap group 'Zero Degrees' brings music to life in between their classes

Student rap group 'Zero Degrees' juggles performing their music in the Phoenix area while maintaining their school work. Rappers Amontá Jones, Zach Lewis (Z. Lew), and Jonathan Akpede (Yuhng Haze) speak about their experiences scheduling creating music around classes. Having met their freshman year, they became close friends as they began to take their interest in music seriously. Now, they are performing at various music venues in Phoenix. Sophomores Payton Watts, a journalism major, and Kenny Golder Jr., a criminal justice major, are also members of the group, which collaborates with student producers to help make their music.

Music: "Mission (Prod. by Ghost V)" by Amontá Jones

Amontá Jones (Sports Journalism, sophomore): I see music as a hobby, you know it is a passion. But I also want to be well-rounded in life, and I want to try different things.

Zach Lewis (Exercise and Wellness, sophomore): What made me dive deep into it is when I met Jonathan actually, in the Sheraton, of move-in day. We started talking and he went ‘Oh! You make music!’ and I was like ‘Yeah!’

Jonathan Akpede (Health Sciences, sophomore): I ended up meeting Zach, who became my best friend. We were always talking all the time, so I showed him something I was playing around with, a song, and he said, ‘Yo, this is really good. You should actually do this.’ That inspired me to actually start making music.

Zach Lewis: That’s how the whole group thing came together really. We were like ‘Hey, let's get everyone together we know to make music—that makes music—and let's make something with it.'

Amontá Jones: Sports journalism is my major. I plan on those being separated: music and my major.

Jonathan Akpede: There’s a way to balance both. You don’t have to have just one or the other because if you find a good balance, you can excel in both of them and put your all into both.

Zach Lewis: I write stuff down. I write out when I’m doing my homework, the time slot I’m going to be doing it in, and then I write down “writing music” and let's say for example, '5 to 7 (o'clock).' I write stuff down so I can see it visually, stay on task, and be on time with it.

Amontá Jones: Everybody has a chance at this. You just have to put in the work, and eventually it's going to come to you.

Reach the reporter at or follow @majapeirce on Twitter. 

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