Gorilla Zoe: Welcome To The Zoo

The commercial success of Yung Joc and his debut, New Joc City, made Block Entertainment a household name, but for how long? Based off of the current underwhelming album sales of Joc’s sophomore effort, Hustlenomics as well as the much delayed re-up from Boyz in the Hood, the label is quickly losing momentum and we all know how Diddy deals with unprofitable situations. If you don’t, reference the dismemberment of Da Band and various other acts that stayed in the red for too long. Fortunately for Block Ent., they scored a mildly successful hit this summer with the bass heavy “Hood Figga” that introduced the snarling, baritone of newcomer, Gorilla Zoe. The Atlanta native, on his album Welcome to the Zoo (Bad Boy), plans on staking his claim as king of the jungle while simultaneously pumping the brakes on any talk of his label’s demise. Rookie Gorilla Zoe cooks up a solid effort that dwells mainly in the trap but also reaches beyond it. The trap suite of this album takes place on the first five tracks. On “Money Man,” Zoe makes allusions to white celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Fergie and Paris Hilton to describe his cooking, distributing and trafficking of work. “Money Man” gives a brief display of Zoe’s jocose wordplay with “keep that white girl Hilary and pounds of Bill Clinton/getting Monica Lewinsky, she’s tryna drink my chil’en’” as well as a few other quips along the way. Mid-way through the LP, on “Battle Field,” Gorilla Zoe distinguishes himself from those who fabricate Scarface or Pablo Escobar-esque fantasies based upon movies they’ve watched. He also, vividly and compellingly, narrates the listener through a sequence of events in which the police followed him while he was in a whip loaded with bricks preparing to make a drop off. Gorilla Zoe shows decent story-telling skills on “Battle Field” but shows versatility by switching gears and taking the listener from the block to the club on “Take Ya Shoes Off” featuring Yung Joc. Dee Jay Dana (producer of “Hood Figga”) manages to put together another high energy, heavy 808, club-pleasing beat on this one. Gorilla Zoe uses his verse to rhyme about candy paint dunks, pounding 15s and a car so clean that it would make you do the title of the track; nothing ground-breaking but certainly worthy of a few club spins. Who would’ve thought a guy named Gorilla Zoe would have tracks for the ladies. On the downtempo “You Don’t Know Me” featuring D. Woods (of Danity Kane fame), Gorilla Zoe eases off the gangster bravado briefly to invite women to look past his gruff exterior and to see the “other side” of him; a nice change-up from the usual tough talk that’s present on this album. Welcome to the Zoo is a surprisingly good showing from the ATL newcomer. He’s able to balance his street tracks with club and radio-friendly tracks without it seeming forced or corny; something not many artists can pull off. He also has a discernible comfort on slow or fast tempo tracks. A big part of this album’s success is the production as the line-up of producers compliment Gorilla Zoe instead of outshining him, which is usually the case with in-house production as opposed to tapping into solely big names. But, the album is not without its missteps. For instance, the ridiculous track named “Juice Box” where Yung Joc and Gorilla Zoe attempt to coin new slang for a woman’s privacy comes off as pure coonery and could have definitely been nixed. Despite a few hiccups here and there, Gorilla Zoe puts together a quality compilation of tracks and forges a name for himself amongst up and comers in the South. SOUNDCHECK:Gorilla Zoe “Money Man”Gorilla Zoe f/ Block & Big Gee “Battle Field”