Coming out of the Bay Area, you would expect the duo of Zumbi and AmpLive to represent the Hyphy movement more than the Golden Age of Hip Hop. Although you can certainly hear the hyphy influence in some of their songs, Zion I (pronounced “Zion Eye”) blends deep soulful production with socially relevant rhetoric and sounds more like Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest than Mac Dre.
I was first introduced to Zion I through the song “Silly Puddy” off of their debut LP Mind Over Matter. The song itself, had a trippy futuristic beat set to equally trippy lyrics. It was like nothing I had ever heard and I quickly went through their discography.
“Bird’s Eye View” is off of the duo’s 2005 LP True and Livin’. The song is reminiscent of Common’s classic “I Used to Love H.E.R.” and refers to a women as an extended metaphor to hip hop. It is an unadulterated expression of MC Zumbi’s love of hip hop and is one of my favorite songs of any genre. Likewise, the Brother Ali-assisted track “Caged Bird Part 1” comes off of their latest effort The Take Over, and is one of my favorite collabs (Every day that you hold me in bars is another day I can’t teach your soul to soar).
Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
"Bird's Eye View"
"Caged Bird Part 1" (feat. Brother Ali)