Michigan rapper ZelooperZ has been one of the key members of Danny Brown's Bruiser Brigade who helped the collective embark on a run of truly excellent full-length releases over the past couple of years. For his part, ZelooperZ dropped three projects in 2020, Gremlin, Moszel Offline, and Valley of Life, shared his most acclaimed project to date, Van Gogh's Left Ear, in 2021, and released the Bandcamp-exclusive mixtape Get WeT.Radio the following year. On Sunday, ZelooperZ shared another tape on Bandcamp. it's called Might Not Make It, and the five-track EP is ZelooperZ's first self-produced project ever.
ZelooperZ brings similar qualities to his productions as he does his lyrics. In both cases, his overarching zaniness gives his intense study of hip-hop a remarkable shot in the arm. On the EP opener "BacktoBacktobacktoback," an underwater air raid siren leads over skittering bass thumps, something you could imagine coming out of The Neptunes camp, while "Whitney Hueston" is a reinterpretation of Pharrell's iconic "Mr. Me Too" beat. My favorite moments aren't the most immediately referential, though—for example, the vocal chops on "Telling U," sludgy moans that make you wonder if ZelooperZ's MPC pads weren't infused with phycobilin when he made it. All told, Might Not Make It offers deep new insight into the creative horizons of its composer, as rejuvenating for the longtime listener as it must have been for the music's creator.