Monday, January 26, 2009

Zion I Takes Over

For those of you not yet familiar with them, Zion I (pronounced Zion Eye), are a hip hop duo from Oakland California composed of producer and DJ AmpLive and emcee Zumbi. The pair have been laying down beats and rhymes since 2000 and are set to release their latest album, The TakeOver, tomorrow. I've literally been sitting on this album for close to two months now and am wired for its release this week. As I mentioned before when I posted up their Search and Seizure Mixtape, if this album had come out a month earlier it would have been on my favorites of 2008 list.

In some ways, the album feels like a mixtape of its own. There are so many flavors here to sample that it's an audio-rich experience. While the first few tracks are enjoyable, things really heat up around track four, DJ DJ (which you can check out below). It opens up with a Brazilian club drum beat and then slides into an old skool electro-hip hop feel to it that will take you back to the days of one of the most supreme DJs ever, Afrika Bambaataa, or even better, Egyptian Lover (think it's a coincidence that his big hit is Egypt Egypt, a double title just like DJ DJ? - and speaking of Egyptian Lover, there's a fabulous article involving him and Arabian Prince in the last issue of Wax Poetics).

From there Zion I heads into Antenna, a number that samples some smooth soul grooves that for the life of me I can't place (if anyone knows or figures out the source, please share). Then they head into Caged Bird Pt. 1, a track that shifts baack and forth between some fast and furious rhymes (including a guest showing from Brother Ali) and some soaring singing from an unnamed sister. It smoothly shifts into In the Mornin' (Caged Bird Pt. 2), which takes the previous track to a more urgent and intense level.

The music lightens back up with Radio (which feels like an Outkast song) and the Cajun spiced instrumental Gumbo. The pair goes electro again with Country Baked Yams, possibly my favorite track on the album in its own electro-poppy top 40 dance club beat kind of way.

Anyway, I've enjoyed listening to this album for a while now and finally get to share it with you. Here are a couple cuts to wet your whistle, then get the entire album this week when it comes out. Seriously, it's worth it.

and a non-album cut from the album's first single for Juicy Juice:

Visit their website, their label Gold Dust Media, and become their friend on MySpace.


Afrika Bambaataa - Funk You : Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere)

Egyptian Lover - Egypt Egypt : Hip Hop Essentials 1979-1991 Volume 1

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