“The intent on this record was to really spread love
on some black community, black folks, Asian folks, Latino folks, white folks.
This album is definitely about spreading love to everybody.”-Zumbi
to HipHopDX [click to read]
It’s easy to see the intent on Zion I’s latest effort, The Takeover. With this LP, the underground duo
attempt to carve out another release worth the critical praise they’ve
consistently earned throughout the years. But, does that actually happen? Naturally,
with the applause comes a bit of skepticism from critics who may have a phobia
of the term “underground.” But, this album could draw criticism from
others, as well. While the emcee/deejay tandem may be known as strictly an indie
team, Zion I try to get out of their comfort zone with this album.
From the outset of Amp’s hard hitting drums on “Geek to the
Beat,” to the hopping “Takeover,” there is a concerted effort to
make music for everyone. From the Latin-infused and Afrika Bambaataa inspired
“DJ DJ” to the more classic samples in the catchy
“Antenna,” Amp doesn’t miss a mark. Even in the middle of
beats, the very soulful “Caged Bird” becomes a hard hitting banger,
in part due to a Brother Ali [click to read] sighting. A-Live’s risk taking
allows him to thrive on “Gumbo,” “Legacy” and “Bring In The Light,” blending sounds rarely heard in rap to create a more
refreshing backdrop for Zumbi. The main gripe with the duo’s production
is a severe lack of cohesion. Although Amp
gives a valiant effort to branch out and explore different sounds, the overall
mood of the album suffers with no real theme to hold on to.
For all of the masterful instrumentation on the album, Zumbi still has
to flow. With assistance given by Devin the Dude [click to view],
Ty, and the aforementioned Ali, Zumbi struggles to keep
up. Often times, Zumbiu’s rhymes are
overshadowed by Amp’s beats. It’s
understandable to hear an emcee go with an old-school flow on ’80s-inspired
tracks, but his lyrics can be too simplistic at times. He does well when
maintaining a level of consciousness (“Never been afraid, ain’t scared
to make a change“). These miscues are emphasized by the forgettable
“Juicy Juice.” Overall, it’s safe to
say that some of the mediocrity of the album falls behind the mic.
In the end, The Takeover fails to take over the listener’s
attention. There is no defined sound or
theme on the album. The production, albeit solid, is all over the place
throughout the LP. With various styles, genre mixing and sounds, it’s easy to
get lost in the transitions. Although they should be applauded for
experimentation with different styles, their eagerness to please everyone inevitably
took over the album in a negative way.