Local rapper inks deal with one of biggest rappers in the business

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 8:09 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A local artist has inked a deal with one of the biggest rappers in the business proving you can make your dreams come true no matter where you live.

Michael Zender graduated from Springfield High School and his love for music started at an early age. He goes by the name of CNN Mikey and is putting Toledo on the map.

Zender just signed a contract deal with Polo G’s label called ODA, which stands for Only Dreamers Achieve. He says he saw the rap star in the airport.

“I went up to him and I was like ‘could you listen to one song please?’ and he was basically like ‘we’re running late for a flight bro. I can’t do it,’ said Zender. “I was about to turn around and I was like ‘bro can you listen to one song for me please?’ and he was like ‘yeah once we get through security.’”

It’s a day Zender says he will never forget.

“I took my shoes off right away. I took my laptop out of my book bag and I was like ‘I’m going to get ahead of him so he couldn’t runoff’,” said Zender. “He listened to my music and he loved me and wanted to sign me on the spot.”

Zender says his passion for music-making started when he was just a kid.

“I was always playing guitar as a young kid,” said Zender. “I loved making songs.”

The 21-year-old writes about the pain of growing up.

“It was rough. I’ve got two parents that struggle with drug addiction pretty heavily,” said Zender. “We had multiple house evictions and moving around. Like coming outside and seeing our stuff on the porch or on the grass and we had to move around a lot.”

Zender says he owes it all to his grandmother who he credits for saving his life.

“My grandma took me in and really gave me like a life to where I could really do well,” said Zender. “I could do good in school and she gave really like gave me good rules and help shaped me into the man I am today.”

CNN Mikey’s first single, ‘For My People,” recently dropped.

“I’m honestly just really grateful for the opportunities that I have been given like just never using the struggle that I went through as an excuse but use it as a motivation,” said Zender. “It really is true. You can do anything you want to do in life you just gotta put your mind to it and put the work in.”

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