Zoocci Coke Dope takes steps towards himself on 'Anxiety'
© Larry Maleswena
It's music as therapy on the rapper/producer's debut album
Rapper/producer Zoocci Coke Dope drops his debut album after previously serving up his ‘Morning Star’ EP. ‘Anxiety’ fuses trap elements with indie sensibilities and an introspective exploration of the inner workings of Zoocci's mind.
With its visceral nature, Anxiety has an autobiographical feel and the snippets of dialogue and reflections on therapy serve well as a vivid backdrop. The filmic aspect of the record hits you with your first interaction with the album artwork. "The artwork was done by the brilliant Masonwabe Ntloko. The idea behind it is a theme I’ve been maintaining since my debut EP ‘Morning Star’ where it’s all about split personalities," Zoocci reveals. "We just always sit and see how we can convey that in the most creative and forward ways possible. The cover really needed to look like the music sounds. We were very mindful of that during the mixing and mastering of the project too."
That attentiveness to the textual value of imagery does come through strongly in the music, owing to Zoocci's love for doccies and motion pictures. "I watch a lot of films and it always feels like I went on an adventure while watching them," he says. "That's what I was going for with the project - a whole experience filled with ups and downs but through audio." Marrying the visual with the lyrical and instrumental worlds he creates is something Zoocci shares with someone he considers a great influence on him. "Kanye West is the greatest artist to ever walk the earth," Zoocci declares. "I love music you can feel in your heart and soul - it could be a piano, guitar or anything, as long as it moves the soul."
That's what I was going for with the project - a whole experience filled with ups and downs but through audio.
His own musical trajectory mirrors Ye's as well, with the transition from solely producer to also rapping inevitably influencing his creative approach. "Before it used to be about how much I show I can produce, but now everything is about making music that sounds more amazing than complicated." The Die Mondez-assisted ‘Paranoia Interlude’ fits into this mould with its infectious beat cocooning its weighty subject matter.
Similarly, the title track ‘Anxiety’ draws attention to ineffective coping mechanisms with the line "how would it be if you had to take drugs just to keep them voices out your brain?". More than expressing vulnerability, the song reveals Zoocci Coke Dope's mindstate on this album: viewing his artistic expression as cathartic. "For me, it has always been natural to express my feelings and I apply that to my music as well," he reveals. "I grew up in an environment where I was encouraged to speak about how I feel instead of lashing out and so on." Fittingly, Zoocci centers his emotions on tracks like ‘Falling In My Sleep’ and the Flame-featuring ‘Silence’. As one of several guests on the album including Nasty C, Yukio Soul, Priddy Ugly and Kwesi Arthur, Flame proves a perfect fold for Zoocci's autotuned, bass-heavy sonic palette.
Regarding his collaborations, the rapper/producer pursued artists who could both relate to and elevate the music. "Every artist that is featured is an artist I reached out to because I loved what they were doing and what their music stood for," he shares. "I’d make a song, and when I felt stagnant, I’d think of a person that could take it to the next level." For the album's most poignant moments, however, Zoocci stands firmly on his own. The ethereal production and confident rhyming on ‘Cherub’ neatly embodies ‘Anxiety's’ marriage of imagery and lyricism to a well-constructed soundscape. Zoocci's distillation of his outlook and experiences continues on tracks like ‘Insecure’ and ‘Current State Of Mind IV’ that zoom in on personal relationships. It's on these songs that Zoocci Coke Dope reveals himself to us most, hoodie removed - as he is on the album cover. "Creatively, everything is very personal to me because all I do is experience life and put those experiences into making songs," he says.
What ‘Anxiety’ represents, then, is a look into Zoocci Coke Dope living out the ethos stated on the album intro: "taking steps to find yourself".