LiFT ME UP (feat. Nasty C & Blxckie)
PLUS+ (feat. Mars Baby & Lady Zamar)
iLL PRELUDE (feat. Tellaman & Stogie T)
While 2019’s ANXIETY saw him take a visceral approach towards dealing with his disorder, on ANXIETY+, Zoocci Coke Dope finds ways to handle it more strategically. As a result, the project is underscored by unflinching bravado. “A lot of what I wrote on the album is experiences that I know a lot about, and feelings that I deal with a lot,” he tells Apple Music.
The artist/producer ropes in a formidable lineup of guests: Durban rap sensations Nasty C and Blxckie drop potent verses on “LiFT ME UP” while Mars Baby and Lady Zamar assist on the key-laden ballad, “PLUS+”. Tellaman and Stogie T join in to stunt on their counterparts on “iLL PRELUDE”. The work of a true craftsman, ANXIETY+ may be only seven tracks long, but covers much ground sonically, with beat switches and meticulous transitions that chronicle the healing process.
On the production, Zoocci (Andile Sibabalwe) worked with one of his most trusted producers, Big Les For Real (BLFR). “This guy is literally the greatest,” says Zoocci. “When it comes to putting music together, no matter what it is—you could have the hardest club song to the most heartfelt ballad—he understands the niche little touches that you have to do for every genre.” Here, Zoocci breaks down the album, track by track.
“This is what I wanted the feeling of the album to be. I worked on this intro for months. We started it in 2020. On the previous project, ANXIETY, the feeling was more sentimental and more learning curve. Now, the ‘plus’ feeling, which I was feeling throughout the creation process, is more bravado and more anger. A bit aggro and touching on the stuff that would cause you to be angry, but also trying to let people know that it’s alright to fight back. You are not a bad person for standing up for yourself and you're not a bad person for saying enough is enough.”
“LiFT ME UP” (feat. Nasty C & Blxckie)
“This was the most stressful record on the whole project. It was first designed for me and Nasty, and then Blxckie was added onto the picture a bit later. The original production was by Herc Cut The Lights, but it was nothing like what it is now. We took a couple pieces from that, and I had a 30-second clip of something I had recorded. When we started [actively working on the album], it grew from the 30-second clip to this magnificent piece of art that it is now. And we designed the second part for Nasty C, but then he was busy—lots of shows, barely ever at home, at his studio. At some point, we had to make a decision to take him off the record and find a different feature. And I had a couple of sessions with Blxckie some months before that. So, just from the type of dude he is and our relationship, I figured that's the guy I'd like to have on that part. And then when that was done, Nasty hits me on the phone, and he’s like, ‘Yo, I'm working on this record, but I’m going to make it my own thing.’ We don't usually let people play with the production like that. If you feel like the production is not for you, then we just skip you. It’s only two guys that ever touch my production, and that’s me and Big Les. So, it was a little awkward when he said it—but we allowed him, and we gave it time and it actually came out amazing.”
“PLUS+” (feat. Mars Baby & Lady Zamar)
“‘PLUS+’ is the first song I ever played for my mom [since my music career began]. I’ve never gone to my mom and said, ‘Hey, I make music, listen to this’. There’s a part on the song where I say, ‘Back when you broke my heart, I never gave you a reason’. While we were driving, that part came on; she started rubbing my back, and said, ‘My child’. And that’s why it’s my favourite record, because you can actually feel everything I was talking about then. I started this record around the time of the original ANXIETY. When Les came into the picture for this project, he bought new life to everything. I’ve always wanted to challenge myself and make stuff outside what I’m used to, more acoustic and alternative stuff. I chose Lady Zamar because I really felt like she has something to say, especially when it comes to this subject matter. I’ve also been getting blasted online for having her on the project for the same reasons. I’ve always thought Mars Baby was an amazing artist, and we’ve been planning on working and that was one of the first records we actually did.”
“I’m not passive-aggressive, but I’m very calculated in how I address certain things. So, I could be angry at you, but I'm going to address it calmly. I’m not gonna flip-out and try to break stuff. So, that’s what ‘ZOOLOOS REVENGE’ is about—the things that bother me as a human being; people claiming to be your friend. Just normal subjects; little betrayals, little things like that. I'm aware of them, and I'm saying, they're not impacting me in the way you think. I feel like that's my super power, and I feel like that's my revenge, because people will do stuff to you thinking that it’s working, and thinking you consider them to be your enemy. I don't think there's a person who can qualify to be my enemy. I don't have enemies.”
“We’re artists—sometimes we’re very private about the things we do behind the music. I’m one of the guys, but we live certain type of lifestyles. When I'm really working, I hardly sleep. I sleep like four hours a day. I go through things like anxiety; I’m on all types of medication for certain things. I also smoke a lot. We do these things that're just part of our lives. As I said, even on the record, ‘Sometimes, you need to slow down or else you’re going to make your mom cry.’ It's not glorifying, or anything, but it's understanding that okay, things are for a certain purpose, but at the same time, understand the risks involved.”
“It's a play on words—instead of saying ‘toxic’. On the first line of the chorus, I say, ‘Give me all that ass/You say you love it when I talk sick’—that’s talking sick, being provocative and being sexual like that. But at the same time, talking on the phone without thinking, and just saying things, not understanding the impact the things you're saying has on someone, is also talking sick. You're talking ill. You're talking bad about people or talking badly to people. So, it's just a play on words. Essentially, all these things equate to toxicity when it comes to relationships.”
“iLL PRELUDE” (feat. Tellaman and Stogie T)
“The reason it’s called ‘iLL PRELUDE’ even though it’s at the end of the project is because that's the beginning of the next chapter. That's the end of the ANXIETY chapter, and we’re going to get into iLLUMINATED, which will be my last album ever. ‘iLL PRELUDE’ is a song that was supposed to be on iLLUMINATED, but it's okay to let it go now because the music there is just going to get too crazy anyway. So, it’s a perfect way to introduce the sound of iLLUMINATED, and it's a song that also took many, many, many changes to get to where it's at.”