“I Don’t Care What Nobody’s Got to Say”: An Interview with ZelooperZ

Paley Martin speaks with ZelooperZ about Bruiser Brigade, the Bothic way, and his relationship with Odd Future.
By    April 13, 2016



Paley Martin is ridin’ dirty on 85, slow taking it easy. 

ZelooperZ wants to rub you the wrong way. On his second album, Bothic, the Detroit-based MC makes it clear that he really doesn’t give a fuck.

“My mama told me not to hold my tongue,” he says. “I don’t give a fuck about what people think…That shit just dumb to me.” On Bothic, ZelooperZ covers the dark side of pussy, money, weed, and work ethic. In style and content, Bothic is as raw as the rapper behind it—both products of a city’s underbelly often overlooked.

The youngest member of Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade, ZelooperZ, 22, has a reputation for upping the ante. On his 2011 mixtape Coon in the Room: Eating Ramen Noodles While Watching Roots on Bootleg and his 2014 debut album Help, he dropped jaws with angst-inducing wrathful rhymes. It’s unsurprising that his unapologetic attitude has drawn comparisons to acts like Death Grips and Odd Future, but ZelooperZ stays in a singular lane.

For every twist, turn, and crash, Bothic lives to tell the story. Broken down, the word itself is a combination of Bruiser and gothic. For ZelooperZ, who is also a dedicated painter (his work can be seen on the album’s cover), and the Bruiser Brigade, Bothic is a way of life, a state of mind.

On tracks like the Bulletproof Dolphin-produced single “ISBD,” ZelooperZ rips through bouncing production suffused with dolphin squeaks, as he screams the song’s acronym, “I should be dead!!” There’s catharsis amidst the squeaks and screams, success in the pure act of survival. On other songs like “Bothic Bout It,” ZelooperZ traipses through a murky soundscape and bars spit in an exhaustingly breathless cadence. It’s his way of letting us know that, for him, sleep isn’t in the cards, and if it is, only one eye is shut.

Awake or not, ZelooperZ is making sure he stays true to his Bothic word. In those pre-morning hours when night isn’t quite separated from day, he’s paving his path for whatever fuckery lay ahead. With a tour on the horizon and his next project in the works, ZelooperZ clues me in on all things Bothic—its winter conception, the pizza and weed diet that helped it grow, and the brigade that made sure it turned out as ruthless as the place from which it came. —Paley Martin

How does it feel having Bothic out there for the world to hear?

ZelooperZ: Well, I’m just sitting back, chilling. It feels good to finally let everybody in on the music I’ve been creating. Right now, I’m just ready to work some more, ready to tour.

What sort of responses have you been getting so far?

ZelooperZ: All fire responses. Everybody seems like they like it a lot. We’ve been getting great feedback.

 What did you bring on this album that built on what you had going on in Coon in the Room and Help?

ZelooperZ: I’ve built on showcasing my life more in a better light. I built honesty and truth. I feel like this album is one of my best albums because I’ve said what I wanted to say in the way that I wanted to say it in the way that I want people to understand it.

What song do you think best expresses that?

ZelooperZ: “Bothic Bout It” is the song that can connect them the most to what’s going on.

When did the whole Bothic thing occur to you?

ZelooperZ: A couple winters ago with the homies getting super duper high, getting extra blowed, and it just got real bothic, it just got real dark and at one point, just not being able to remember shit, just fuckin’ basically tripping balls. That’s the time it came around. It’s like our way of expressing things, because of all the shit we were going through being so fucked up. One of my homies almost lost his life over some stupid high shit, but it was the way of expressing it, it was like a light in a dark situation, basically shining a light on the situation.

Tell me a little bit about piecing the project together.

ZelooperZ: Those are all my brothers, and we were just trapped in my homie’s basement for weeks, just buying weed and pizza basically, just trapped in the studio vibe, getting super duper high creating, making all these beats, and they were making, like, hundreds and hundreds of beats. They were making all these beats, and I would just be there everyday to rap on each one of them. I made, like, three hundred songs in the basement.

When do your best lyrics come to you?

ZelooperZ: My best lyrics come to me when God gave em to me ‘cause I don’t know where that shit come from. It come out of the air when I’m freestyling and then I’ll be like, oh, yeah, that is true, though.

Is it easy for you to be so unapologetic in your songs?

ZelooperZ: I’ve been like that. I don’t give a fuck. My mama told me not to hold my tongue, so I don’t give a fuck about what people think I said or all that bullshit. That shit’s just dumb to me. I don’t care what nobody’s got to say. I’m going to die on my own. Nobody’s going to die with me. I’m going to say what I feel when I feel it.

Why be a fuckin bitch? That’s what you’re doing.

I saw you were friends with some of the Odd Future guys. How did you link with them?

ZelooperZ: Nakel…That’s like my homie. Earl, I guess Danny put Earl on my music a while back. I didn’t even know that Earl fucked with me until one day he just tweeted me out of the blue, but I knew that Danny had come to do it because he once told me that he was with Earl playing my music for him. He said that Earl fucked with me and next thing I know, Earl tweeted me and then, next thing I know, I’m doing a show with him in the Grand Rapids. And he bought a painting from me too.

Do you think you guys would ever collaborate in the future?

ZelooperZ: Yeah, of course, but there’s not even a rush or none of that because they was like my friends, they already made friendships with me. That was some shit in my life that I always wanted to happen. That was cool as fuck…Earl even bought a painting from me. Something that even he cared about. I felt like that was the future for me, but I know that we’re going to do songs because we free-styled on the bus when he came and we went crazy.

You put out a tweet recently telling your followers to look out for some classical influences on the album. What songs were you talking about?

ZelooperZ: “Scale” is like a classical ass instrumental and also on “Ocean,” I feel like the sound from that—classical and that’s what I mean by that, sample-wise.

 What are you working on right now?

ZelooperZ: I’m working on this project with my homie Shigeto, and we’re touring, getting out there more with this next project.

Who do you like to listen to when you paint?

ZelooperZ: I listen to Future, Bjork, FKA Twigs…I listen to everything. I listen to Shigeto, I listen to Danny Brown when I paint, I listen to everything.

Who’s an artist that people might be surprised to know that you’re into?

ZelooperZ: Spooky Black’s cool. People probably don’t think I listen to Spooky Black. Spooky Black be swagging.

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