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Atomic Clock

Zion I

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Album Review

Not content with producing a singular sound, Zion I have dabbled in numerous sounds throughout their career. On Atomic Clock, producer Amp Live assembles a few songs with reggae undertones. His beats are complemented — and some were completely reworked — with live musicians to create a more organic feel. However, there are still hints of electronic forces at work. The results create a party atmosphere with jittery beats and on-point lyrics. On "Many Stylez," a classic Rasta riddim powers the beat and MC Zion adjusts his flow to suit the ebb and flow. It's still hip-hop in nature due to Zion's raps, but if you were to put a singer on with even a small amount of patois-laced vocals you couldn't be faulted for calling it a reggae record. Toward the end of the song, it breaks form for a spaced-out instrumental bridge that runs in place before a second, albeit shorter, bridge leads you back to the hook. With a more traditional hip-hop beat at hand, Zion recounts the group's journey in "The History." As he tells it, "Fast forward now to a point critical/When me and Amp Live met in college down south/In the same dorm/It was called Dubois Hall/Rhymin' in a cipher 'til my voice got raw." From there he talks about his beatmaking partner's club origins where, appropriately, Amp Live injects some club-like bass that jars your speakers. Keeping the track lengths short, and in fact several songs fall below the three-minute mark, Zion I are able to keep their focus on keeping the party moving. The beats may not be as catchy as other artists who get more radio play, but they still have an undeniable presence, showing that party music can be laid down by underground acts, too. Anyone who enjoys crisp beats will be able to find at least a few songs to nod their heads to.

Biography

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

This trio of genre-bender pride has made a name for itself on the Bay Area scene by successfully mixing spiritualism and hip-hop. Oakland's MC Zumbi and DJ/producer Amp Live blend hip-hop and trip-hop beats with lyrics focused on a message of unity, hope, and spiritual awareness. After a couple of indie hits, the trio slowly made inroads while opening for rap royalty like De La Soul, Rakim, and Run-D.M.C. Their debut album, Mind Over Matter, was released in May of 2000 and features collaborations...
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Atomic Clock, Zion I
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