Music Reviews

ZelooperZ Keeps Coming Into His Own On MIGHT NOT MAKE IT

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Genre: Experimental Hip Hop

Favorite Tracks: “Whitney Hueston,” “Okay lil Walter”

Danny Brown is one of the most unique voices in rap, but he’s raising a whole new generation in his image (it’s nice to see he got his wish). With his Bruiser Brigade collective, Brown has been working with some of the most interesting figures in Detroit rap, including Fat Ray, J.U.S., and Bruiser Wolf. But the breakout star of Bruiser Brigade is ZelooperZ, who’s already racked up features on projects from Earl Sweatshirt, The Alchemist, RXKNephew, Piink Sifu, Kool Keith, Tony Shhnow, and Injury Reserve, among others. Like Brown, he’s an eccentric; where other rappers are putting out bloated, feature-length albums in order to game streaming numbers, ZelooperZ is dropping bite-sized Bandcamp exclusives. The latest of these is MIGHT NOT MAKE IT, his first project of 2023 (of three so far).

On earlier ZelooperZ projects, his voice often mimicked Brown’s pinched, nasal croak; on MIGHT NOT MAKE IT, his voice is wholly his own. He employs a variety of flows even over the EP’s sub-15-minute runtime; on the opening “Backtobacktobacktoback,” he sounds limber and energized; “Telling U” immediately follows and he adopts a laid-back flow. His most impressive performance comes on closer “Okay Lil Walter,” as he switches up his flow three times over the course of the track, his verve and dexterity on full display the whole time.

The whole tape is self-produced, a first for ZelooperZ, and the beats are as erratic as his vocal performances: space-age synth (and Gotye sample!) on “Telling U,” looped chanting on “Harickjuku Barbie,” a fire alarm on “Whitney Hueston.” He splices in a split second of gunfire on the relatively conventional “Backtobacktobacktoback,” along with TV studio bleeps, but the track never feels over-the-top. 

Impressively, not only is there a cohesion to the project, but ZelooperZ also sounds completely at home on every second of the tape; his sluggish flows ground the project’s eclectic, often alien-sounding beats, ensuring that it never breaks immersion, and at no point does he struggle to keep up. ZelooperZ isn’t coming into his own, he’s creating sounds of his own.

Zac Djamoos
Zac Djamoos is an Editor for The Alternative whose work you've also read on Chorus.fm and Treble Zine!

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