Before Zion-I became a semi-famous rap crew with ties to the bay area, and before they changed their sound to widen their fan base by adding more traditional bay area (even may I suggest, hyphy) sounds capes, they were a deeply underground set that dibble-dabbled in some drum ‘n’ bass beat patterns and had that true indie sound that was so popular around the late Nineties.
I’ve always been a massive Zion-I fan, even to this day. Their producer Amp Live is criminally underrated behind the boards, and has created some truly special music, while the emcee Zion is always on his game. I do have an album by them called ‘The Collection’ which I purchased of eBay, which came out around the same time as ‘Curb Servin’ & ‘Deep Water Slang 2.0’ early 2003. Needless to say that CD is pretty much f*cked, because I took it everywhere I went for about two years and played it to death.
But before even that, I first discovered Zion-I kind of by mistake. I hadn’t heard of them before (this was around early 2001, which makes me about 15/16 years old) and just saw the front cover of their cd in an independent record shop in the backstreets of Newcastle. It caught my eye and I looked at the back. One of the songs featured Planet Asia, and another Rasco, both of which I was a big fan of at the time due to Rasco’s ‘Time Waits For No Man’ and Cali Agents’ ‘How The West Was Won’. It only cost about 5 quid so I thought what the hell, and bought it anyway. I didn’t have much expectations for it, but what I heard really struck me as something special.
The album has a very unique sound that is rooted in underground hip-hop but contains spacey-synths and, as aforementioned, drum ‘n’ bass influences. Zion-I have gone under the radar for most of their career, because in my opinion they have never released a poor album. Yet, somehow they never get the recognition they deserve.
They aren’t the only consistently good group in hip-hop, but they have always been one that I thought deserved to get their break in the big time. Well, whether they stay underground or hit the big time, I will always be counted among their fans, and their 2000 debut full-length ‘Mind Over Matter’ is the reason why.
2. Revolution (B Boy Anthem) (feat. Vin Roc)
3. Critical (feat. Planet Asia)
4. Mysterious Wayz
5. Tha Choice
6. Concrete Jungle
8. Oh Lawd
10. How Many
12. Little Change
13. Fools Gold
15. Rap Degreez
16. Silly Puddy (feat. The Grouch)
18. Big Ups
19. All Tha Way (feat. Knowmatic, Eclipse 427 & Rasco)
21. Innerlight (Icy Remix)