Title: Masters of Ceremony
Artist: Zion I
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Masters of Ceremony is the first of a trio of EPs from Bay Area duo Zion I (the second installment, Libations, was released on April 22, 2014). The stated purpose of these records is to “fortify the cultural aspects of Hip Hop.” The MC serves to “energize, invigorate, and guide the listener to a higher state of mind, whether that be reflection, relaxation or enlightenment.” Over five songs, MC Zumbi and producer AmpLive flip some typical thematic tropes such as the club song in the title track:
Similarly, Zumbi also continues to make multiple drug trade references while reinforcing his position as a positive lyricist: “spit that dope without no kilo” on “Masters of Ceremony” and more blatantly, “This year I’m coming dope boy fresh, but I am not a dopeboy,” on “Fresh.” Fourteen years into their career, Zion I continue to make music relatable to those looking for conscious lyrics and diverse beats. In a short 15 minutes, Amp Live coherently serves up slabs of boom bap, dubstep wobble, and Neptunes-style minimalism. Look out for the next installments of this trilogy soon.
Reviewed by Will Chase