April 19, 2015

Zion I "True & Livin'" (April 19, 2005)

"True and Livin', Zion I's third album, is their strongest to date and stays true to the group's inherently eclectic approach. While past efforts dabbled with drum & bass and delved into melodic electronics and live instrumentation, this organic effort represents the most potent synthesis yet of their spiritually-infused hip-hop. "We wanted to make an album with a little more fire," says Zumbi. "Sometimes people hear our shit and are like, 'It's cool but it's a little abstract.' We kept elements of experimentalism but also tried to make something that hits you right away." MC Zumbi's lyrics are unwaveringly personal and political, addressing the group's Oakland surroundings more explicitly than before. "When we made [our debut] Mind over Matter, we had just moved to the Bay area," says Zumbi. "I was still soaking it up. At this point we've been here like nine years. I think we're a bit more firmly entrenched in what's cracking out here." Continue reading below...

"While Zumbi and Amp Live are in tune with Oakland's present, they are also cognizant of the past; the record connects the musical dots traversing jazz, blues and hip-hop. 'We've found this point where we're definitely not rich as hell, but we love what we're doing and we have a degree of success at it. It's an interesting place, where we are, 'cause we can say anything we want. There's no corporation around us to say anything, so it's like balancing that with being grown-ass men. We're looking at the music as mature adults, but still bringing fire and making it exciting and hype, but not frivolous'." - Exclaim! The album is embedded below, starting with my favorite track, "Bird's Eye View."