The trio of Zion I is an interesting one no doubt, utilizing rich synths and electronic tid-bits to create an almost technotronic soundscape while remaining rooted deeply in their East Oakland conventions. Last year’s “Inner Light” catapulted the group known for their electric stage presence to nationwide recognition. Interestingly enough it was the drum-n-bass remix that drew in the most attention. So with a hefty 21 track long player, the 3 expand from the roots of their first 12″ to form a fully-grown Hip-Hop tree, flourishing in some spots and weaker in others, it proves to have the potential to elevate amongst many of it’s peers.
While 21 tracks might be a touch ambitious for their seminal release, Zion I undoubtedly pack heat behind some of their jammies. “How Many” is a touching head bobber bound for heavy rotation while the closing “One” is vibed out to full capacity. The electronic push is prevalent throughout as well, but the brothers approach the swift BPM’s in more of a Hip-Hop aesthetic that Techno. “Metropolis” featuring the keyboards of The Coup’s Micheal Aaberg is a tasty instrumental and emcee Zion melds in perfect harmony with the swiftly paced drums on tracks “Elevation” and the classic “Inner Light”. The lead single, “Revolution (B-Boy Anthem)”, ingeniously meshes Southern bounce, with mystical vibes. Also standing out is the middle-eastern flavored tale, “Mysterious Wayz”, with it’s hypnotic groove and storytelling.
While Planet Asia steps in the arena for their second single “Critical”; it’s The Grouch’s collaboration on “Silly Puddy” that makes for the doper team-up. The spastic posse cut “All The Way Live” with 427 , Rasco and Knowmatic gets the nod as well.
Their willingness to experiment with an electronic Hip-Hop foundation is enough to warrant checking out this album. While the trio have masterfully laid down several choice cuts, the overall bulkiness might lose a few heads interest, as the monotony sets in after a while. With almost 20 tracks in length, the quality control isn’t here, which might have been present if slimmed down to half the original length. But overall, Zion, Amp Live & DJ Khalid have set out on the right direction to what is hopefully a lengthy catalog of releases.
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