Detroit rapper ZelooperZ — who was born in the 313 and still resides there — is part of Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade. Interestingly, they connected via Twitter when the 6’7″ ZelooperZ was promoting a mixtape like crazy and Brown took notice. But before Brown took him into the studio he gave him a proper initiation by bringing him up on the stage at clubs and then splitting, leaving him to satisfy the audience solo.
Interestingly, ZelooperZ does not have rap or hip-hop among the things he’s tagged himself as on Soundcloud. Instead, he’s tagged himself as “Bruiser Brigade, Detroit, Electronic, Experimental, Bulletproof Dolphin and Live.” (Blue Dolphin is one of the album’s producers.) And while I do think rap should be in there, his sound is definitely more electronica than hip-hop and experimental at that. I’d go so far as to call it avant garde. And it’s definitely an acquired taste, his new album Bothic being something you’ll probably have to listen to a few times before it starts to grow on you. Unfortunately, the first couple of times you listen to it will likely be frustrating. There’s a whiny sound about his voice much of the time that can grate on the nerves. I only stuck with it because I love Danny Brown’s work and figured that if he saw something in ZelooperZ maybe I would ultimately see it, too. Eventually, I did.
To understand Bothic, one probably needs to understand that ZelooperZ went to school for art and divides his time equally between making music and painting. To that end, he painted the Bothic album cover. Although he is always eager to promote his music, I think he approaches his music like a painting, just creating art for art’s sake and if people do or don’t like it, that’s fine. Surely, he hopes people will dig his music, but at the end of the day I think his goal is making something that he himself will be happy with. If you listen to Bothic and tell yourself that you’re not supposed to like it, that it was made to please the artist and not you, then it becomes less antagonizing. I started to appreciate it when I found myself getting into the beats. I convinced myself that the songs were paintings and his voice is just one color out of several that were used. Because it’s possible to enjoy a painting even if some of it is blue and blue is your least favorite color.
I’ll be honest — I’m still not in love with ZelooperZ voice. But I can appreciate him as an artist and I can confidently say that he’s interesting when you look at him from that perspective. So, try to look at it like that when you listen to his album on Spotify. It might make that first listen less painstaking, which will make your second listen even less painstaking. If by the third time you’re still at odds with it, it’s probably not for you and I’m not suggesting that you force yourself to keep listening to it. But I think it’s worth giving it a shot if you’re a hip-hop fan who wants to diversify your collection or simply try something new.