The Take Over
Zion I's language arts
By Chase Hoffberger,
1:09PM, Tue. Mar. 17, 2009
The MIMS-evoking hooks following Zumbi’s hostile declaration of The Take Over(Gold Dust Media) appear courtesy of Zion I’s immaculate DJ AmpLive, whose mission to jack up the industry on the duo’s sixth LP starts with the ringtone rappers. Filtering Roland TR-808 synth beats into a rhythmic jungle complete with a chanting choir, MC Zumbi laments on unofficial opener “Geek to the Beat,” “You way too watered down, I need it uncut. Don’t play it flaccid, Babylon will have you fucked up.”
Play the analogy as though Zion I is Babylon, working its way towards solving the confusion behind the language of hip-hop. That helps explain why the Bay Area duo can’t sit still, why they choose to – most of the time successfully – one-up each particular subgenre’s supposed leaders. The tracks play out abstractly, working Damian Marley’s Kingston slum on third track “Take Over” and the emotronic crowd on follow-up lesson “Antenna.” Devin the Dude exhales over the laid-back Southern playfulness of “Country Backyard Yams”; “Gumbo” follows up the dirtiest brass section with 45 seconds of stone-cold NOLA bounce.
AmpLive dices up each style in tandem with Zumbi, his sparring partner since 1997. The kinky-afroed rapper jumps on Brother Ali’s ideal “Caged Bird Part 1” and the appropriately named Black Eyed Peas knock “Radio.” Genuine affection beats on “DJ DJ,” homage to Kool Herc, Kid Capri, Afrika Bambaataa, and their 1970s revolution. Over the Zulu Nation’s futurism, Zumbi professes, “Gratefully, now pump your fist. If it wasn’t for the DJ, we couldn’t exist.”
Zion I rolls through Back Alley Social, Wednesday, March 18, 9:10pm.