Good musicians stick to the routine that made them successful. Great ones follow their artistic muse, wherever it may take them. Long heralded by critics as one of the finest home-grown products to emerge from the Bay Area's burgeoning and legendary underground hip-hop world, Zion I has always chosen the latter route and in the process, solidified their position in the eyes of their fans as one of the most creative independent groups ever to emerge from the West Coast.
Now, on the heels of two critically acclaimed albums, the group is poised to prove that not only have people been sleeping on their immense talents for far too long, but that there's no longer any other independent group out there that can make music like Zion I.
Indeed, Zion I's third release, True & Livin' is a powerful, oft serious and always soulful journey tracing the influence of hip-hop culture throughout the group's childhood and adult existence. Created in the same vein as such legendary albums like Aquemini and Things Fall Apart, True & Livin' --which features Talib Kweli, Gift of Gab, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Aesop Rock and social activist Fred Hampton Jr.--will undoubtedly become one of the most important and talked about independent releases of the year. And for good reason: Easily the group's most political and emotionally-charged work to date, True & Livin' is a musical amalgamation of rap, soul, jazz and blues, which runs the gamut from saxophone soaked reflections of life in ghetto America, to synthesized, upbeat, socially conscious anthems to acoustic guitar-driven southern blues ballads. And in a marked break from their previous two albums, True & Livin' is full of serious subject matter, tackling issues like relationships, social injustice and perhaps, most striking, whether the love of hip-hop is really worth the struggle to make music and survive doing it.
"Since this album is coming out on our label,