All Eyez on the 2022 PackHowl Concert
Get to know 47 Eyez on Me, a music collective made up of several NC State students opening for headliner Waka Flocka Flame.
What do you do when you need a guitarist? You go to Guitar Center, of course!
That’s just how it happened for Jonny “Joey Zen” Zemola (Business Administration ’22) when he met Luca Moreno (Industrial Design ’23) last November. Moreno was playing a guitar in the store, and his skills caught the attention of one of his future bandmates.
“I was at a Guitar Center on a Tuesday at 11 a.m., and this dude comes up to me and says ‘I like what you’re playing. Do you want to jam?’” Moreno recalled. “I was like, ‘sure, ok.’ And the rest was history.”
The two NC State students are part of a collective of talented artists making music under their own record label called 47 Eyez on Me. Founded by Zemola, serendipitous moments like this have helped him recruit friends, friends of friends, classmates from NC State, and other talented artists over the last two years.
In that time, the group has completed individual and collaborative projects and performances, including shows at Wolfpack’s Got Talent, the student showcase at Wolfstock and multiple venues around the Triangle area. Now, the group is set for their biggest show yet: opening for Waka Flocka Flame at NC State University Activities Board’s 2022 PackHowl Concert. PackHowl is an annual hip-hop style concert that draws in over 4,000 students year after year. Previous headliners have included Yung Gravy, T-Pain, 2-Chainz, Big Sean, and TY Dolla $ign.
“It means the world for us to open for PackHowl,” Zemola said. “It means that what we’re doing is right.”
Five members of the group who will be performing at PackHowl, including Zemola and and Moreno, are current NC State students, and they shared their thoughts about opening for one of NC State’s biggest annual concerts:
Meet Jonny “Joey Zen” Zemola
Zemola started rapping at the lunch table in middle school and playfully roasting his friends through rhymes. When Soundcloud came out, he decided to start recording some of his raps over a beat on his mom’s iPad and see where it took him. Zemola started 47 Eyez on Me last year alongside two of his cousins as a platform for artists to collaborate free from the financial restrictions of industry labels. The collaboration also means the group has a wide variety of musical styles that include rap, shoegaze (experimental rock), Latin jazz and reggaeton. At PackHowl, students can expect to hear more of their rap side since it’s a hip-hop centric event.
“There’s really no way to box together a set sound for what makes 47 Eyez on me, it’s really about how we make it,” Zemola explained. “All of our songs start off freestyled or with us jamming together. They just start off in a very organic manner and nothing is forced.”
When he’s not jamming or performing at sold-out venues, Zemola has been working to earn his undergraduate degree in business administration with a marketing concentration from NC State this December. He is also minoring in arts entrepreneurship, where he has learned about the business side of a career in the arts. Recently he worked on a project to create a marketing plan for a student group at the University of Florida making an EP album. Additionally, he has been involved in NC State Student Media and worked in the digital media labs at NC State Libraries.
Rayna Phillips AKA “Castle” (Business Administration ’23), Vocalist/Lyricist
Phillips met Zemola in Spanish class during their first year, and he tried to recruit her to the record label early on — but she initially declined because of stage fright. As a classical singer for most of her life, she had always performed in group settings and never individually. At the beginning of this academic year, though, Zemola contacted her again and asked if she would be willing to fill in for one of their background vocalists for a show. She reluctantly agreed, did the show and has never looked back.
Since joining the group, Phillips has been writing and getting even more comfortable on stage as she continues to perform.
“It’s been such a great journey seeing these guys grow as artists, and having me along for the ride is something totally crazy. I never would’ve guessed that this would be my life,” she said. “I also never thought I’d be telling people ‘Hey, don’t do anything on November 10 because we’re opening for Waka Flocka.’ It’s been nothing short of a dream I didn’t even know I had.”
Outside of her personal musical pursuits, Phillips is a music minor and has been involved in several Arts NC State programs. She also took an introductory piano class and continues to teach herself piano.
Alexander Tung (Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences ’23), Multi-instrumental Artist
Tung was one of the original members of 47 Eyez on Me and helped the group make its record label. He has also performed extensively with his band, Saturnalias.
“I was completely speechless when I heard we would be opening for PackHowl,” Tung said. “We’ve had moments in the past where we’ve gotten close to opening for some very big artists, but it either wasn’t a very legitimate opportunity or things fell through. So, at first I was like ‘no way.’ But then when they rolled out the giant tapestry in the student union, I was like, well I can’t say this is fake now!
“It is really rewarding,” Tung continued. “We put a lot of work into our art, and if you put enough work into it, especially as much as Joey does, you’re going to get something out of it.”
When he’s not jamming out with the band, Tung is very passionate about his work in applied ecology and environmental science. Outside of his coursework, he is a member of the Leopold Wildlife Club on campus and has conducted research through his majors.
Luca Moreno (Industrial Design ’23), Guitarist and Drummer
Moreno and his family had recently moved to the United States from Venezuela when he met the other members of 47 Eyez on Me at Guitar Center last year. He had already been musically involved for some time as part of a duo with his cousin, Isa Pietrosemoli, called “Stan & Denghy.”
“We had our first show in November last year in Greensboro — very small show, probably like 50 people — so the fact that not even a year later we’re gonna play for 1,000 people at a sold-out event, it’s very crazy,” Moreno said.”
Abhi Chandra AKA “KATA” (Computer Engineering ’23), Rapper and Songwriter
Like Phillips, Chandra has also known Zemola and has been making music with him for a while, but he didn’t officially join 47 Eyez on Me until this year.
“To me, this collective means a lot,” he said. “I’m very passionate about my art, and the others are as well. It’s easy to go through highs and lows of being an artist when you’re feeling productive and when you’re feeling down because you don’t know where to go with your sound direction-wise, but constantly being around people who strive to be better is something I’ve always wanted to be a part of.”
Chandra was raised listening to traditional Indian music growing up, but he discovered his love for rap and hip-hop through YouTube and his friends at school. His suitemate also plays music and introduced him to the NC State Libraries studios, which has given him a place to experiment with his sound.
“NC State has given me lots of great opportunities, and I wouldn’t be where I am with my music if I didn’t come here.”