Are You Bothic ‘Bout It? A Conversation With ZelooperZ
The Bruiser Brigade artist is so much more than off kilter flows and beats
ZelooperZ is an artist’s artist: In every face of his creative expression, he holds himself to his own standard, making him deaf to critics. Accordingly, his unfiltered personality doesn’t come as a surprise, although it evokes a range of responses—hate, confusion, joy. From art to music, the Bruiser Brigade member’s creative approach is uniform in its erraticism.
About a month ago, the 22-year-old Detroit native put out his second project, Bothic, and it’s not only earned him new fans, but also new customers for his art. We had the opportunity to speak with him on the phone, as he was painting a new piece, to talk about the composition of Bothic, his family, and his favorite artist.
Mass Appeal: There’s a lot of raw energy on Bothic. And an interesting way to start the tape was the intro skit with the little child talking with an adult. Why did you choose to do that?
ZelooperZ: That’s my mom talking with my nephew. My nephew be calling me and leaving voicemails. One time I didn’t pick up the phone. It was so funny. I was like, “Fuck this. Let me just put him on the voicemail.” He wanna talk to me all the time.
So then I can tell that your family is very important to you.
I just came from my momma house. I was just over at 10 o’clock in the morning. I just got my nephew this gift. I found him some Paw Patrol shit that he’s really into. He geeked over it. He’s three years old.
That’s great to see you as such a family man.
Yeah, my mom got lupus. Like, what if she’s not here tomorrow. I think about that. So I try to see her a lot. That’s serious. She stays with my sister and nephew. I try to see her once a week, only because after that one time she gets all into that mom shit. If I tell her I’m about to go to L.A. or New York, she’s like, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” I get into trouble. I’m about to be 23 years old, you know what I’m saying?
You’re right, but we’ll always be babies in our parents’ eyes.
But we are! Everybody likes to act that they’re adults and they got it all figured out. We all babies that teach each other.
You captured low lows and high highs on this album. How did you go about capturing the extremes of good and bad?
I could have taken it a lot of ways, but I took it to both extremes and try to make a balance out of it. I’m content with how I’ve expressed myself to the fullest capabilities. Maybe people don’t really get how I’m living my life or what I’m going through, and they fail to see part of the situation. It’s not no regular rappity rap shit.
You’re giving a part of yourself through your music.
Yeah, because it’s my art. I don’t care what people decide to call it. It’s my art. I love when people love it.
Obviously, you’ll have haters and fans.
They’re not even haters. That’s your fans. If I didn’t have the haters, I would not be popping out here right now. “What the fuck is this? I can’t understand this.” Yeah, you can’t understand it now but wait, till later. You just can’t understand it. It’s show and tell. I’ve been showing them and I’m going to show them some more.
Regarding the title of the project, I saw that you retweeted someone trying to explain it in a text conversation. I take it that Bothic is supposed to mean something along the lines of a deep sadness?
Not so much sadness. That’s the joke part about it. They’re happy so they can tweet shit like that. They can take joy out of sad moments. You can see the light in the dark situations. That’s Bothic. Say you got lost. Ain’t nobody wanna get lost. But you made it through and it’s funny then. That’s something you learn from.
So it’s being able to see the bad and good of a situation?
It’s the shit you make it through. My uncle taught me that before he passed away. He laughed about so much shit that was fucked up. He couldn’t do anything but smile. He was grateful for what he had. I’m trying to learn to be grateful for what I have.
10 tracks is on the line between an EP and an LP. Did you record 10 songs just for this project and call it a day, or are there several other songs that didn’t make this project?
I made 300 songs. I wanted to take a small amount and the ugliest ones I had. I wanted to see what it do. I love my music and I’m confident that it’s real. I just wanted to throw out the 10 ugly babies. I just want people to understand where I’m coming from. I’m a weird trap artist that’s with the paintings. I’m whipping up a masterpiece as we speak. I spent half a rack at the art store. It’s going to be marvelous. My shit is going to sound different because I come from a different background. It’s not like I ain’t grow up in the hood, sold pounds, and all that. I did that when I was 14, 16 years old. That’s mediocre to me. My momma don’t want me to do that. She wants me to follow my dreams, so I’m going to make my moms proud. I’m trying to get that bread and that PayPal. I’m gonna keep stunting on niggas. That’s my favorite part of music. I’m gonna keep stuntin’ on them with my unorthodox lyrics, and they’re gonna keep getting mad and wondering why I won’t do nothing conventional.
Getting into specific songs off the album, “I Should Be Dead” addresses all of the times you’ve come close to death with drugs. Was this song inspired by one incident or multiple ones with drugs?
It was a bunch of incidents at one time. But it brought back all the other memories from my past. I put it all together. I was off shrooms, Xanax, addies, lean. But I was still normal. I could’ve been fucked up. That’s an upper and a downer. You’re not supposed to do that. Your heart will bust. That’s stupid. I’m trying to tell the kids…I’m not promoting drugs. I’m telling you that I should be dead and you should be dead if you’re doing this shit. If some kids think it’s cool, I’ve been near [death] and back. And the shit that I’ve been through, like being shot at, at parties. And you ain’t even getting shot at, but just bullets flying past your face at the party.
And what about “Automatic”? That sounded like you were conflicted about a girl who you were into and pissed at, at the same time.
Wow, you got it. Yeah, but at the same time, I was working really hard at the same time. I had bitches and was so twisted, I fucked up something I was trying to put in play on my power plays. At the same time, the song represented working so hard and not having time for love. I know I fucked up. I’m working. That’s all that matters. It’s automatically in my brain to do this. I can’t change. It captured a moment of my life everyday. Work…fuck…work, fuck, work, fuck.
Then on “Heart,” you included a voicemail from some girls. Why did you decide to include them?
Bro, you want to know about that shit? It’s one voicemail. It had three girls on it. They passed the phone around and telling me how much they love me. This one girl started getting on this Black Power type shit like she had to do this. “I don’t say that word because I respect Black people. I’m not illiterate.” I thought it was cool because she was drunk and she didn’t say n*gga. At least she’s trying to be cool, but at the same time, they were all trying to hate. I couldn’t hit them up after that. I needed that voicemail. It was late at night. I was off the shit and was like, “What the fuck is this?” I sent it to Black Noi$e and them, and they said they loved it.
How’d they get your number?
My girl was asking me that. I sell paintings and shit though. She wanted a painting at first, but I guess she hit me up on some other shit. You know how that goes. She was trying to get jiggy with it.
Since we got into your paintings, who would you say is your favorite artist?
I don’t got a favorite artist. God is my favorite artist. I don’t know how the fuck he did this shit. You know what I’m saying? If you look at everything in front of you, God is your favorite artist. I trip out. I go ham and thank God. And I paint. I thank God that he’s my artist that created everything and me. That’s my favorite artist.