The city of Oakland, California has a lot more to offer the Hip-Hop community besides the Hyphy movement, and the tandem of Zion I can surely attest to that.
Consisting of DJ/producer AmpLive and mouthpiece Zumbi; the duo have managed to spread a hint of consciousness, solid production, and concrete lyricism through a region overrun by “gangsterism” with projects such as Mind Over Matter, True And Livin’, and Break A Dawn.
And as the 2000’s enters its first decade, the West Coast version of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth cap it off with their newest release, The TakeOver.
Remaining in the same vein as previous records, Zion I fill The TakeOver up with original concepts, soulful/quirky backdrops, and the ability to grab your ear and actually make you listen; as opposed to just listening for certain parts here and there.
They also keep the guest appearances down to a minimum, by only inviting Brother Ali and Devin The Dude to participate in the festivities.
With that said, the blue-collar Hip-Hoppers begin their take over with songs like, the heart-racing sounds of the spin doctor friendly ‘DJ DJ,’ ‘Caged Bird pt. 1’ featuring Brother Ali, ‘The Mornin’ (Caged Bird pt. 2),’ ‘Radio,’ and the soothing feel of ‘Coastin’ featuring K. Flay. One of the most standout pieces of music on the album comes in on ‘Antenna.’
During the song, Zumbi pauses just enough in between his lines so that a voice sample of man echoing his own sentiments can be heard every now and then; “Every breath is a prayer/we still livin’/world still spinin’, I’m still Thanksgivin’/tryin’ to get it right, but I’m left here trippin’—“Make me feel brand new”/Used to feel a little better bout the garden I’m tendin’/weeds in my life, enemies I befriended/feels hella heavy, please don’t get offended—“Make me feel brand new.”
The TakeOver completes itself with the organic mixture of sounds coming from ‘Gumbo,’ an ode to females that is ‘Country Baked Yams’ featuring Devin The Dude, and the DJ Screw-influenced ‘Juicy Juice.’
Zion I can be considered as a group that sticks out more than a redneck attending Howard University Homecoming due to the fact that they don’t sound like what people would assume to be “West Coast Hip-Hop.” But its that same alienation that has allowed them to be so unique in a world filled with people who have no problem falling in line, and doing exactly the same thing as their counterparts.
In this infant stage of 2009, hopefully a lot of artists declared being innovative as their resolutions, thankfully for Zion I, that’s something that they will never have to worry about.