Zion I & the Grouch | Heroes In the Healing of the Nation

Z&G Music (2011)
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  May 6, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars

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The only category Bay Area MCs Zumbi (of Zion I) and the Grouch (of Living Legends) squeeze neatly into is "Decisively West Coast," what with their nonchalant pre-swagger and hella dope lingo. Outside that pigeonhole, these two — particularly with Zion I producer AmpLive dropping bass lines off rooftops — are in their own ballpark, league, and battleground, not so much fighting for hip-hop as struggling to resonate beyond the genre, and to dent a larger consciousness with their casual anti-establishmentarianism. Following a sermon by Brother Ali, the gang launch their second Heroes outing with the poignant, minimalist drum-spun track "Leader," which sets the stylistic course for the pillage. From there, Grouch and Zumbi march over naked nuggets to extoll the bittersweet beauty in both underground rap and general mundanity, and to illustrate struggles with everything from fame and hypocrisy to veganism. This album absolutely trumps their 2006 tandem project, Heroes in the City of Dope; now that they're nation-building, the Grouch and Zion I have reached beyond their home region to recruit cats like Freeway and Fashawn in the good effort. When they return next time, no doubt on an international mission, I suspect that an even larger purpose — even more connected to reality (rather than just hip-hop) — will be served. Which works out well, since so much more will be at stake.
Related: Pharoahe Monch | W.A.R., Beastie Boys | Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, Shabazz Palaces | Black Up, More more >
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