Zion I
The Take Over
(Gold Lust)
Sick and tired of hip-hop’s status quo, the Cali underground duo Zion I aim to overthrow the corporate powers that be. Their weapon of choice? The fun, relatable music found on their latest album, The TakeOver.
With Zumbi holding down mic duties, producer AmpLive supplies a set of varied sound beds in which the only constant is quality. He implements synthy soul on the inspirational “Antenna,” while “Peppermint Patty” wins with its combo of authoritative drums and airy flutes. On the nostalgic “Radio,” Zumbi breaks down the history of Black music (“To the rock and the roll, left a hole in our soul, ’cause the White folks didn’t wanna pay/Didn’t want us no mo’, so, you know, we had to go to the disco, soul then R&B”). Another gem, the percussive “Juicy Juice,” showcases the MC’s cocky flow over an ’80s-modeled instrumental, before the duo team up with Devin the Dude on the Southern-cooked “Country Baked Yams.”
The album’s flaws are nominal. The futuristic “Bring in the Light” is ambitious but doesn’t fully paint its intended picture of a postapocalyptic society run by martial law. The album closer, “Legacy,” doesn’t exactly end on a high note, either. Still, thanks to a diversified sonic palette, Zion I manage to reclaim their art and take over, one melody at a time. —WILLIAM KETCHUM III