Zion I

Diversity is a constant running through our everyday lives. Constantly we see new people, places, and styles that are different. This everyday occurrence is not something new to music, everyday a new group comes out under the clear, yet simple, genre of experimental. Experimental, meaning leaving the limits to the end of the mind and never being afraid to touch on something unique even if it is the farthest thing from popular appeal. A clear example of this style is none other than the Cali natives Zumbi & AmpLive better known as Zion I.

When you think of musicians you think of what sound they emanate. From journalists to fans, anyone who hears the music automatically, and sometimes even subconsciously, puts artists into categories. When someone thinks of Jim Jones they feel street swagger, when someone thinks of J Dilla they feel chopped up soul cuts, when someone thinks of Lil’ Wayne they feel 808s and a southern drawl. Does this mean that everyone should be inside a box because of what their style, sound, and dare I say, swag, should be? No. The feeling of Zion I is actually the exact opposite of fitting into a box. Strings, claps, and heavy bass on “Caged Bird Part 1 & 2” to The Cool Kids vibes of “Juicy Juice” to under and over tones of Afrika Bambataa on “DJ DJ” all show that the creative minds of Zion I stretch much farther than the average creator of music. The inspiration found in their music is unique because it can be found in an infinite amount of angles, someone can find inspiration in the most random parts of a Zion I record simply because the record is just that, random (in a good way). As the aftermath of their last release, The Takeover, starts to settle down and the group starts touring, RubyHornet sat down with both members, Zumbi and AmpLive, to get the true inspiration behind the tracks, “Coastin” and “Antenna”.

[audio: http://rubyhornet.com/media/rh/music/antenna.mp3|width=180]

Zumbi on “Antenna”:

“This song started out sounding completely different than the version on the album.  Initially, it was written as a standard 16 bar verse, 8 bar hook with “Make me feel brand new” as the chorus.  However, after listening to it we thought it would sound tighter if we used the “feel brand new” as a kind of refrain.  Next, we had Codany Holiday re-sing it, and Amp effected it to sound like a sample.  I then re-wrote my verses in order to simplify and condense the message since there was less space because of the refrain every 4 bars.  The overall effect is a sincere cry for help, set to futuristic ambience.”

Amplive on “Coastin’”:

“When we created Coastin’ I knew it was something special. The way the track came together was really natural .  Zumbi’s lyrics were on point and then K. Flay wrote this big hook to the track with one try. The song felt good!”

Zumbi on “Coastin’”:

“This song actually took me awhile to write.  There seemed to be a lot of expectation for it, so I had to keep rewriting verses until it felt like it fit.  Everyone signed off on it
by the end.  Its not my favorite song on the album, but it works.”