Zion-I, 'The TakeOver (Gold Dust Media)

7
The TakeOver
Critical Mass
Label: Gold Dust Media

by Mosi Reeves

On their sixth album, this Oakland duo (plus guests Devin the Dude and Brother Ali) explicitly address an urban audience unbowed by class warfare and street crime. Unabashedly upbeat, MC Zumbi compares ghetto life to being a "caged bird," but even when he dismisses haters ("Burning incense, yeah, they tried to call us yoga"), he sounds optimistic. Mad-scientist producer Amplive -- whose Radiohead and MGMT remixes created a buzz last year -- blends jazz-influenced, melodic orchestrations with stark electro-bass rhythms, and on "Country Baked Yams," devises a unique Southern sci-fi vibe, mixing eight-bit blips with psychedelic soul.

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