Joseph Wayne McVey (born January 19, 1977), better known by his stage name Z-Ro, is rapper and producer from Houston, Texas. He was named one of America’s most underrated rappers by the New York Times.
Z-Ro was born Joseph Wayne McVey in Houston’s notorious South Park neighborhood. At age six his mother died, and he was shuttled from household to household in search of stability, eventually settling in the Ridegmont area of Missouri City, Texas. When Z-Ro reached his late teens he was unemployed and resorted to drug dealing and hustling on the streets. It was at this point that he discovered rap music. According to Z-Ro, listening to the music of 2Pac, Geto Boys, Street Military, K-Rino and T-Rent Money inspired him to work harder for his goal of leaving the streets. Z-Ro discovered his talent of freestyle rapping and after going through a couple of recording studios to make a demo. The CEO of a local label discovered and signed him.
In 1998, Z-Ro released his debut album, Look What You Did To Me. Z-Ro is also a member of the original Screwed Up Click, an assortment of rappers from Houston. All of these things helped to escalate Z-Ro’s popularity throughout the South and by 2002 his talent and hard work caught the attention of Rap-a-Lot’s founder and CEO James Prince, who offered him a deal.
In 2004, Z-Ro released his critically acclaimed Rap-a-Lot debut titled The Life of Joseph W. McVey. The record was a huge success and helped expand Z-Ro’s fan base beyond the South. In 2005, Z-Ro released Let the Truth Be Told, which was well received. Z-Ro’s 2006 album I’m Still Livin’ was released while he was imprisoned for drug possession, to positive reviews. It was called “a great album… powerful” but “relentlessly bleak” by The Village Voice and “one of the best rap albums to come out of Houston” by the Houston Chronicle. In 2010 he released his next album titled Heroin, which was followed by another new album titled Meth in 2011 and then Angel Dust in 2012.
In 2013, Z-Ro changed his stage name to The Mo City Don. He released his first EP under The Mo City Don titled Tripolar on August 25, 2013 via One Deep Ent.