Zion I “The Take Over” Album Review

•February 12, 2009 • 1 Comment

Originality is something bay area duo Zion-I (Amp Live, MC Zumbi), has never struggled with. For a decade this producer/MC team of Atlanta-transplants has been putting together funky tracks with little regard for the latest trends. Aside from collaborations with other artists, the two have mostly stayed on the sideline as the Hyphy movement swept Oakland. 

“The Takeover” marks a break with the old Zion-I. It’s the first full-length Zion I album on which MC Zion has fully committed to his alter ego, Zumbi. After nearly a decade of non-explicit lyrics, the artist formerly known as Zion drops an f-bomb just a few bars into his new album.

“Burnin incense, yeah they use to call us yoga, a couple years set to take this thing over”—Takeover. How are they going to take over? With pop (Antenna, Radio, Country Baked Yams dt. Devin The Dude, Coastin’) and catchy tracks doused in 808 kicks (Geek To The Beat, Juicy Juice) .

Zion-I albums have always turned out a cornucopia of sounds and “The Takeover” is no exception. At times it sounds like a Lil’ Wayne album of late produced by Kanye West—only Kanye also dipped into whatever Lil’ Wayne was taking before studio sessions. It’s tripped out thanks to Amp Live.

Amp Live outshines Zumbi on this album. With most songs sampling tons of sounds it’s obvious he’s been busy putting together remix tapes. Zumbi might as well have not even got out of bed to record “DJ DJ,” which Amp Live treats like a DJ session at your local nightclub.

If you’re expecting a focused indie album, forget it.  If you’re ok with 15 tracks of experimental, heavily produced party music, layered with revolutionary lyrics (“This system does not work for us.  So we must take this system over and make it work for us–Taking”) this album is going to Take Over your I-pod until spring break.

Bottom Line: Amp Live fans will love it.

Best Track: Geek To The Beat (honorable mention: Caged Bird pt. 1 ft. Brother Ali)

Due: It’s OUT! (originally scheduled for Feb. 17 release). Get It

Reviews: Pop Matters “That has been true of Zion I in the past, but Take Over finds them at their most emptily hyphy, far more style than substance…”

Vibe: “Musically, Amp draws from everywhere—merging Afrika Bamabaataa-esque, electro-rap break beats (“DJ DJ”) and pounding afro-rhythms with steel drums (“Geek To The Beat”). Zumbi’s rhymes are equally diverse.”

This Is Hip Hop: With their first release since HeroesThe Take Over sees Amp Live branch out to a variety of sounds, which turns out to be a double-edged sword.

 

Spin.

The Weekly Hot Bar

•February 10, 2009 • 2 Comments

Every week I’d like to bring my reader(s???) my favorite article or blog entry from around the web.  Sometimes, if you waft aside the witty one liners, the angry rants, and the bong smoke there are some interesting points being made out there.  I’d like to find those gems, those Hot Bars, and bring them to you.

If you haven’t checked out B-Real’s B-Double’s blog, Your Favorite White Boy, do it!

On Monday he did a pretty good job summing up why only the poppiest hip hop songs win at the Grammys.

Lil’ Boosie Presents Da Click Review

•February 5, 2009 • 1 Comment

 

 

Lil’ Boosie Presents Da Click (pt 2) is more of Lil Boosie than Da Click (Bleek, Hatchboy, Quick, Locco). This 19-song album (a follow up to a mix tape by the same name) has a vintage Lil Boosie feel to it. As always, he aggressively represents the south, street life, and his introspective musings. And of course, on a couple tracks the focus of Lil Boosie’s flow is women. Despite quality production, Webbie stays away from this album and so does the club vibe his tracks often aim for (“Independent”, “Wipe Me Down”, etc.).  Instead we get classic southern beats with rolling organs, fast-moving snare, heavy bass–you get the point.  There are some interesting and original sounds however… oil drums even find their way into this album.

 

From the “Intro” this album is a solid Lil Boosie performance.  If you’re a Lil’ Boosie fan, there will be little to be disappointed about—pick it up.

 

Although this is way more of Lil’ Boosie than Da Click, the best collaborative moments on this album include: “We Retarded”, “Sho No Love”, “You Better Ask Somebody”, “Hustle”, “Complex Problem”, and “If You Knew What Love Is”.

Bottom Line: My favorite Lil’ Boosie product since “Bow Ya Head

Due: Feb. 3

Best track: Hustle

Reviews: Coming once some reviews drop.

2008 Picks

•January 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

At the beginning of every year we take a look back at all our new albums and ask ourselves which ones will stick with us.  Here I have gathered what some others are saying about 2008 but I am also offering my own picks—with a twist.

 

For most of 2008 I was on the move in South America, where quality hip hop and the internet weren’t readily available.  Trust me, I didn’t mind it a bit.  As a result though, I didn’t pick up a lot of new albums until the end of 2008.  Some good came of this.  I was forced to listen to my Ipod a lot.  I mean a lot! It burned out just as I returned home.

 

By the end, I couldn’t take another second of most albums.  However, some survived the hundreds of repeated plays.  Many of them had been forgotten for years but by the time I got back home they had all got hundreds of plays.  You can revisit them or check them out for the first time. Here are the survivors:

 

  1. Little Brother (& Mick Boogie) – And Justus For All

This actually got re-edited and re-released in 2008 so you can chalk it up as a new mix tape.  Although it’s a mix tape, it contains all original beats on which Phonte and Big Pooh give their poignant thoughts on the state of hip hop.  Besides Mick Boogie’s intrusive “Mick Boogie!” on every track this is one rewarded by repeat listens.  Everything LB touches right now turns to gold.

2. UGK – Too Hard To Swallow

Bun B and Pimp C…need I say more?  A must have for all UGK fans, especially since Pimp C’s death a year ago.  This is a solid album all the way through.

3. Dead Prez – Revolutionary But Gangster

I just noticed that I am all about the duos on this list.  A must have for anyone who can stand DP’s political views.  Everything is clean, even their beats which are often weak on their mix tapes.

4. RBL Posse – A Lesson To Be Learned

A classic that I had totally forgotten for years.  Simple in its melodies and lyrics, it is easy listening from plays one through 99.  At the very least check out “G’s by the 1, 2, 3’s.”

5. Devin The Dude – Just Tryin’ To Live

There are so many great guest appearances on this album that you could mistake it for a Dr. Dre CD.

6. Dr. Dre – Chronic 2001

Speak of the Devil.  I know I don’t even have to add this to anyone’s collection but it really is good on the millionth play.  Plus, when I was living in Buenos Aires, there was one club that would play hip hop one night a week.  In reality they just played Reggaetone and Electronica remixes.  Tracks off of this album were the only unmolested tunes they would play.

7. Zion I – Break A Dawn.

Amp Live does such a great job of coming up with original beats on this album.  Coupled with Zion’s lyrics it is a truly unique product in an industry where everything sounds the same.

8. Koopsta Knicca – De Inevitable

How can a man who hates Three 6 Mafia as much as the Koopsta sound so much like them?  For anyone craving Three 6 beats and lyrics of old pick this up.  Koopsta is really versatile –on this album he even sings—and this is his best work.  If you can’t stand the direction D.J. Paul and Juicy-J have taken with songs like “Shake that Lolly” get back to basics with this.

9. John Legend – Get Lifted

Stop hating John Legend and admit that you like his catchy tunes.  “Let’s Get Lifted” is as awesome as it is simple.  Before every R&B and Rap artist was “equalizing” there voice to sound like a pubescent robot, John Legend was just doing his thing.  A great CD to unwind to.

10. Project Pat – Crook By Da Book—The Fed Story

This isn’t really a classic but similar to Koopsta Knicca, Project Pat and the boys of Three 6 Mafia stay true to their old selves on this one.  Maybe it is because I waited for it for so long but I can’t stop listening to this album.

 

What The Others Are Saying:

 

From across the pond…usually Stop Me’s favorite tracks sound very, very different but they are a lot of fun.

 

7. A-Trak feat Lupe Fiasco –mastered

8. Estelle feat Kanye West – American Boy

19. FELLA VAUGHN – Sardines For Dinner

31. THE BUG (FEAT. KILLA P & FLOWDAN) – Skeng

40. K-THE-I??? – Lead The Floor

47. MR OIZO (FEAT. CARMEN CASTRO) – Two Takes It

48. MICK BOOGIE Vs ADELE (FEAT. 6TH SENSE) – Chasing 1988: The Intro

51. EAST IS EAST – Da Encore

53. ALPINEKAT – The Large Hadron Rap

65. DR. RUBBERFUNK – Dr. Rubberfunk’s Fantasy Funk Band

67. JOHN LEGEND (FEAT. ANDRE 3000) – Green Light (MSTRKRFT Remix)

80. MARVIN THE MARTIAN & DJ JACK NIMBLE (FEAT. 50 CENT) – You So Tough

83. R$STIFORM BOD1ES – Panic Shopper

91. PRODUCERS WITH COMPUTERS – Summer 98 (Remix)

96. MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD – Soundsystem

99. ROOTS MANUVA – Again & Again (Matt Helders Remix)

 

Rolling Stone’s Top 50 for 2008 (They let us preview entire albums over 20 times) 

 

3-Lil’ Wayne –The Carter III

6-Santogold –self titled

19-Erykah Badu –New Amerykah: Part 1

24-Girl Talk –Feed The Animals

28 – The Knux –Remind Me In Three Days…

33 – Ne-Yo –Year of The Gentleman

43 – Nas – Untitled

48 – Raphael Saadiq – The Way I see It

 

Stink Weed’s Hip Hop Picks

Usually very alternative but I am rarely disappointed by their end of year lists.

Find their hip hop picks on pages 12, 16, 18, 24, 41, 43.