Rouyn-Noranda rapper and founder of the Disques 7ième Ciel imprint Steve Jolin has proven that you can become established in the rap world, even outside of major urban centres. After all, Jolin oversees the destiny of such big names in Québec rap as Koriass, Alaclair Ensemble, Brown and Fouki. Still, is till comes as a surprise to see a promising new Anglophone rapper emerge from Abitibi-Témiscamingue. For a few months now, the Rouyn-Noranda-born, Montréal-based 19-year-old Zach Zoya is increasingly the name they mention mentioned when people talk about the next big Québec thing.

Signed to 7ième Ciel, Zoya has been slowly and patiently releasing singles that garner more than enthusiastic reactions from the rap fans. His first, “Superficial,” has been streamed more than 230,000 times on Spotify, and his second, “Who Dat,” reached more than 100,000 streams in a month. Zoya has opened shows for Loud, Bigflo & Oli, and Alaclair Ensemble, and High Klassified featured his vocals on “1919,” the first single from his latest EP, launched a few weeks ago on the American label Fool’s Gold Records. Zoya is turning a lot of heads.

“I always try to slip in a few references to my hometown in my songs,” says Zoya, when asked about the influence of his native, rural area on his urban output. “They’re well hidden sometimes, but very present. I have to say, being one of the only Anglo rappers from Abitibi has allowed me to develop a unique style.” Said style sees him alternate between his distinctive rap flow and singing, and he creatively impressive, writing lots of super-catchy hooks, all of which has earned him high marks from Noisey, Exclaim and Complex.

Zoya makes no bones about his strong ambition. “I’ve always said that my goal with music is to reach the largest possible audience,” he says. “That means I’ve always set my goals on making it in Québec, but internationally as well. I want my music to be heard everywhere.”

We’ll have the chance to catch Zoya on countless summer stages this year, like the Festival d’Été de Québec, the Montréal Jazz Fest and FRIMAT, and more singles will surely be released, undoubtedly adding to the glowing reviews he’s already received.