Brooklyn-born rapper Zel Monstrous is pushing the envelope with his brand of experimental and alternative hip-hop music. His latest release Well That Was Interesting is a 5 track body of work that takes elements from dubstep/punk rock/hip-hop and dark pop underpinned by energetic and off-kilter rapping from the rising rapper.

The project starts off with “ILLITERATE”, an upbeat and experimental track made up of dynamic synths, plucks, dark textures, off-kilter drum arrangements and vocal effects that sound like something from a sci-fi movie. From the jump, Zel Monstrous lets us know that he is straying from the norm while adding a touch of his own reality into the mix. Lines like Cops see a melanin kid, they wanna search me/luckily I never did time in a cell/If I did, my peeps couldn’t afford bail/Hope this record sells and I know they will/I be out there working and grinding with no-wheels” sees him dwelling on racial profiling, disenfranchisement and aspirational dreams that may or not come true. This totally reflects the life of the average young black man in America. Overall, it’s a solid opener and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the project. “SCREAM” takes the energy levels to a higher plateau with its sparse but hard-hitting drums and ominous synths weaved together with subtle scenic sound design. Here, Zel embodies the spirit of a humanoid creature who brings fear into the heart of anyone who dares to stand in his way. Lines like “Cause I’m just being nice/I told him once or twice and now your time is up/we meeting at the lights/ and here’s some quick advice- don’t you fall asleep” put the scary element in perspective as well. His staggered choppy flow and extensive use of adlibs and screams also add to the off-kilter vibe of the song. The follow-up “ITCH” is another energetic track that bends elements of dubstep/punk/rock with hip-hop aesthetics. Here, Zel is in full bravado mode and reminds us that he could have given up a long time ago but he is still here doing what he is meant to be doing. The production here is quite dynamic and hard to categorize as the different genres used are intertwined and well-crafted together.


The project closes out with “BURN” and “SILENCE”, two rousing tracks that raise the ante with their distinct and experimental vibes. “BURN” starts off with a vibrant and hard-hitting drum groove and sizzling electric guitar riff that comes straight out of the mosh pit. Zel sure knows the assignment and delivers his bars with emotion and stylish cadence that weaves mellow with energetic projection as he raps “NYU just put me on their waitlist/I know a younger me is probably geeking/but catch me on a party on the weekend/I’m in the lab with some Marvin Gaye shit”.  The final track “SILENCE” is made up of a glitchy drum groove, a moody and warm sample with an edgy sound design that sounds like something out of a retro action flick. The chorus I have been silent but I have been working/putting that time in/pressure make diamonds” sums up the theme as we hear Zel detailing his alien work ethic and even though people might not be aware but he is always on the grind and nothing can stop him.

In just 11 minutes, Zel Monstrous packs a punch with this hard-hitting project and gives lovers of alternative hip-hop something new, refreshing and invigorating.



Keep up with  Zel Monstrous | SoundCloud: Spotify: Instagram

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