Zion I & The Grouch Heroes In The City Of Dope

Oakland-based underground warriors Zion I and Living Legends front-man the Grouch unite for an ambitious exercise in sonic experimentation on their continued quest to tackle the world’s ills through an undeniably grounded Bay Area mentality. Producer Amp Live’s diverse and unpredictable style is what makes this record, as the man bounces from soulful, sample-based grooves to grimy, chopped and screwed club rockers then back to dutty dancehall-tinged vibes with equal fluidity, lacing it all together with stoic, atmospheric interludes like record opener "Noon Time.” MCs Zion and Grouch keep the subject matter true to everyday life, trading verses on everything from the travails of being homesick on the road to front-page issues like deceptive Homeland Security measures, providing ample food for thought in the name of progress. Wikked lil’ grrl Esthero turns up for hook duty on the female celebrating "Make U Fly,” setting up a theme continued on "10 Finger, 10 toes, 10 lbs, 10 oz,” a tale of a newborn and new life. With no shortness of inspiration, Zion I and the Grouch ensure that not a minute of this record goes to waste, matching engaging auditory pleasure with words that actually amount to something. (Independent)