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Zion I: Taking Mine

zioni-2

When

Zion I cut their debut release, Mind Over

Matter, in 2000, they garnered the respect of an underground community

looking for the next sound. Since that debut, the combination of un-earthly

production from AmpLive along with mutating lyrics from their dread-locked MC,

Zumbi, has yet to fail. 

 

Since

Mind Over Matter, Zion I has put out

five LPs marking their dominance in Hip-Hop as the advocates of spirituality

and freedom in our world of beef and violence.

 

Now,

after lending their efforts to a project with The Grouch of Living Legends

entitled Heroes of the City of Dope,

they are back to the original recipe as the group prepares to take over Hip-Hop

with the aptly titled The Take Over, dropping February 17th.

 

 

AllHipHop.com: Why The

Take Over?  What is going in

your minds at this point that you feel you need to swoop up the entire game?

 

Zumbi: It’s not so much like a military

takeover of Hip-Hop or something like that.  It’s not physical either like, “We’re gonna

take over!” It’s more us taking it on a spiritual vibe, you know? When people get possessed by the spirit it takes them over and

you got to do whatever you are given to do. We looked at it more like the

traditions through out Rap music history in terms of being in America. We are basically

paying homage to the music traditions that the ancestors layed down and that’s

why we called it The Take Over

 

We

also called it that because we feel like this is the complete and best work we

can do as Zion I.  It’s like the pinnacle

of what we are capable of because we really took our time on this record and

put the best foot forward, so to take over in that way too.  Also just to take over Hip-Hop and

bring it back to being just creative and fresh, not really chipping off

convention but just being original. 

The principles this culture was bounded on in this day and age, they are

a lot of times forgotten so we are just taking it back like that.

 Zion I “Juicy Juice” Video

AllHipHop.com: As we push farther into 2009 Hip-Hop has

been pushed in many directions, some being not appreciated as much by the

purists in our culture.  How has

this affected Zion I?

 

Zumbi: 

I feel like it’s forced us to stay on the cutting edge of what we do and

be grounded and humble in our lane that we follow in terms of the style we create.

Also, staying true to ourselves and why we even formed the

group in the first place is important. We chose the name Zion I because

we knew that it would help us maintain the focus in terms of us being uplifting

and bringing a positive message to people and being inspiring. What everybody

is really into is like escapism in the moment most of what they call

“commercial” Hip-Hop. Fans like stuff that represents the street and it’s like,

“I don’t give a f**k basically, if it’s about a woman or my money or my

lifestyle.” 

 

I’m

out of that system and that’s all cool because in this climate it kind of

reinforces what we do.  There seems

to be a lack of people trying to drop something for the head.  We want to entertain people and keep

them moving and just make stuff that hits hard but we’re also trying to sneak

some jewels in there so people can smile when they are at the show.  We don’t want people throwing up fists

the entire time because that’s not really what we are about.

 

“That’s the challenge of always being an artist, just staying hungry to the

game and not sitting back and saying, “Oh I got this.”  As soon as you say that there is a

youngster coming up that is hungry who will outshine you.” –AmpLive

 

AllHipHop.com: The Zion I sound has been ever changing

for the past decade.  What are you

trying to achieve differently that shows your fans you are on a new level of

music?

 

Zumbi: We included other aspects of our

personality in the concepts of this album. The way we come off on a record

usually is serious and there’s not too much humor.  Most of our stuff has a social political tone and all of it

is us, but I feel like this record is the most rounded

in terms of actually who we are and how we are in real life and how we get

down.  It’s not like we’re straight

hella militant all day long, we chill too and have a good time so I think this

record really represents all of those facets.

 

AmpLive: I thought it was more a combination of

all the albums.  I think we went

back to how we did Mind Over Matter

because when we did that we didn’t really care about what was going on we just

did music and brought in natural things that we listened to.

 Zion I and The Grouch are “Heroes in the City of Dope” –

AllHipHop.com: Is it easier now that you have such a

strong following to convey your strong messages and ideas?

AmpLive: I think as an artist it’s always a

challenge man.  I don’t think as an

artist you can sit back and say that it’s easy to do this.  My opinion is if you do that you might

get soft and you might not try as hard. 

And when you do that people will feel it and music is always about

energy and potential when your doing it and how much

your feeling and how emotional you are about your message.  That’s the challenge of always being an

artist, just staying hungry to the game and not sitting back and saying, “Oh I

got this.”  As soon as you say that

there is a youngster coming up that is hungry who will outshine you.  Then all of a sudden you’re second rate

and you got to make up ground.  You

always have to be on that edge of being creative and you know just being

humble.

 

AllHipHop.com: “DJ DJ” recently surfaced on the Internet.  Obviously the track has a “Planet Rock”

essence which was also conveyed by Common’s single

“Universal Mind Control.”  What do

you think of his efforts compared to your own?

 

Zumbi: We did “DJ DJ” before we had heard it [“Universal

Mind Control”].  I was on the Internet

one day and I saw “Universal Mind Control” and I heard and it is kind of in the

same direction but it’s kind of a different thing too because we are paying

homage to the DJ culture and how essential it is to Hip-Hop.  A lot of times in Hip-Hop it’s all

about the MC and the producer. 

Graffiti artists, DJs, and dancers don’t get as much recognition so it’s

paying homage to them.  Also that

song went through a lot of changes. 

It’s started out one way and then it continued to evolve and Amp kept

putting on different layers to it. 

I think Common’s joint is tight too it’s just that Hip-Hop is moving and

there are different aspects to it. 

People can be on the same wave length and they

catch that vibe and they just create.

 

“Hip-Hop is the culture we exist in but we grew up in it so it’s life.  Looking around and looking at the

world, the people I see aren’t rich and they don’t have 15 women hanging on

them and they don’t kill people everyday.” -Zumbi

 The Search & The Siezure Mixtape Side A – Zion I

AllHipHop.com: Is Afrika Bambaataa an inspiration to the music you make being that

he represented peace and all of your music has those same positive images/themes?

 

AmpLive: I mean I even went further then Bambaataa,

Kraftwerk was the real machine behind that stuff.

Like a lot of those songs were straight off of their albums.  I listened to a lot of that and I’m

really heavy into electro music so I wanted to combine all those elements.  Then when the song [“DJ DJ”] came

together I sort of saw how it was relating to what Afrika Bambaataa

was putting out.  In terms of the

inspiration, it was just electronic music and where it came from including the

Hip-Hop and the electronic Hip-Hop sound from the 80’s. 

 

AllHipHop.com: Positivity, spirituality, and freedom are

important topics that you push in your music.  Why do you feel these are so important especially when we

are in such a negative state in Hip-Hop? 

 

Zumbi: Well we make music about life.  Hip-Hop is the culture we exist in but

we grew up in it so it’s life. 

Looking around and looking at the world, the people I see aren’t rich

and they don’t have 15 women hanging on them and they don’t kill people

everyday.  Hip-Hop is very much an

extreme caricature of real life. 

People have those experiences and then Hip-Hop glorifies a certain

aspect of our reality as people of color, Black folks specifically.  I don’t necessarily have that

experience and I don’t uphold that. 

I look at life and what people are really living and that’s kind of

where the music comes from.  Just

because everybody in Hip-Hop is doing the same thing doesn’t mean I should

follow that.  I’m still Hip-Hop and

can be totally different, I can dress like a punk rock dude and still be

Hip-Hop just because it’s my culture. 

I don’t think Zion I is built on following anybody else, I feel like

we’ve always stood on our own to make good music.

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