With an innovative mind like Diddy‘s at the helm, Bad Boy Records has always been a hot bed for artists who can continually reinvent their sound for the better. This is strikingly apparent on Gorilla Zoe‘s [click to read] sophomore disc, Don’t Feed Da Animals. While his debut album, Welcome to the Zoo, was characterized by high-energy tracks such as “Crack Muzik,” “Do Something” [click to read], and the Billboard-charting success “Hood Nigga” [click to read] Zoe approaches Don’t Feed Da Animals with a slightly different objective.
Eliciting the auto-tune effect on a handful of tracks, including “Dope Boy” and “I Got It,” Gorilla Zoe waxes poetics about his successful rap career thus far. On the latter song, a woman in the club is Zoe‘s center of attention as he fills her imagination with fancy clothes and luxurious trips to places around the world, all expenses paid by Mr. Mathis.
Defecting from the usual demeanor of money, women, and jewelry, “Lost” [click to listen] reveals Gorilla Zoe‘s deepest insecurities, complimented by a hypnotizing beat from Drumma Boy [click to read]. Searching for an answer to problems plaguing his life, a paranoid Zoe raps, “I’m making this money, just to go spend it/Living the good life, hope nobody ends it/But who are you kidding, and who are you lying to?/You know if they want you, best believe they gonna find you.”
With a convincing performance on “Lost,” it should be stated that Gorilla Zoe can still play the rapper-on-the-block role. Over blaring horns and a booming bass beat, Zoe matches rhymes with Miami kingpin Rick Ross [click to read] and Kollosus on “What It Is,” a record meant for the finest car stereo system. Also, with lines like, “I’m A-town’s Hannibal, mother fuckin’ cannibal” and “Black jeans, black hat, black shoes to match/Try me and get splat by a Teflon gat,” “Untamed Gorilla” could be considered Gorilla Zoe‘s own personal anthem.
Of course, Don’t Feed Da Animals, just like its predecessor, is not without its mishaps. Attempting to cook up a pop-friendly record, “Hand Clap” suffers from poor lyricism and an uncreative beat. Then there’s the raunchy content on “Talk Back,” featuring porn star Roxy Reynolds. Rather than making a record for the ladies, Zoe becomes unapologetic as he vehemently describes his performance in the sack. However, the low point of the album comes with the eye-brow raising track “Shit On ‘Em.” Comparing his status to feces and singing a chorus that references all known terms for the word “shit,” Zoe takes the analogy too far as he raps, “All you gotta do nigga is watch me ball/Diarrhea on you nigga’s like Niagara Falls.” When it’s all said and done, “Shit On ‘Em” is arguably at best an awkward take on his cockiness, at worst a record ready for your desktop’s recycle bin.
With a myriad collage of tracks, capped off by a crooning performance on “Echo,” Don’t Feed Da Animals takes a significant step in proving the south should not be confined to just one way of making records. True, the new sounds will inevitably cast doubt from some of his regular listeners. However, at least in Gorilla Zoe‘s kingdom, he can do no wrong.