The Catalyst

Zion I, The Grouch & Eligh

Zion I

The Grouch & Eligh

DJ Fresh, Alexander Spit

Fri, April 5, 2013

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Catalyst

Santa Cruz, CA

$19 in advance/ $24 at the door

Off Sale

This event is 16 and over

Zion I
Zion I
After delving into upbeat, electronic music on 2009′s The Takeover, Oakland hip-hop stalwarts Zion I enter a new phase of their chameleonic career with Atomic Clock (November 9th, Gold Dust), a moody, emotional record inspired by the group's longtime admiration for reggae and dub.

While the group's roots are still firmly planted in hip-hop, Atomic Clock's cavernous, atmospheric vibe recalls both the classic roots reggae of Max Romeo and The Congos and forward-thinking dub mixing of UK artists such as Adrian Sherwood. "The Takeover was a very external record and we wanted to focus on fun, party music," says emcee Zumbi AKA Zion. "This one is much more reflective and internal. We didn't want to just recreate what we did last album. Art is not about living in the past."

For Atomic Clock, the duo employed live musicians to flesh out producer Amp Live's original beats and thicken the overall sound. For many of Atomic Clock's tracks, Amp would create the skeleton of the beat himself for the initial direction before collaborating with the group's live musicians to complement the sound and, in certain cases, redo the track live. In stark contrast to The Takeover, which saw Amp and Zumbi e-mail verses and beats to each other to constantly tweak each song, the group and their collaborators engaged in days-long jam sessions, for the first time in their career, to best enunciate Amp's initial idea.

For Zumbi, the writing style on Atomic Clock was much more instinctive than on past albums, and the result is a litany of emotionally introspective, brutally honest songs that both relay the emcee's personal experience and delve into weighty topics including the transient nature of time.

This extends to the title. "The Atomic Clock is the most precise timing device on the planet and I thought that applied to the immaculate timing and rhythm it takes between musicians in one room to make good music," says Zumbi. "But also, I feel that time is speeding up on the planet and it seems like it's dilating and contracting really quickly. We're living in such an interesting time and I think time is on everyone's mind in one way or another. Everything is exponential now."

On Atomic Clock, the group employs their usual mix of sonic exploration and unbridled creativity. "4U," with its choir vocals, soulful keyboards, and rock guitars, could be a lost Sly and the Family Stone track, while the horn blasts and heavy, electric guitars of "Always" supplement Zumbi's optimistic hook of "Love conquers always/Gotta keep your head up." "Many Stylez," featuring reggae band Rebelution (the album also features guest spots by emcees Locksmith and Macklemore and vocalists Courtney Holiday and Crystal Monee Hall), deftly defers to the genre's roots, and the atmospheric beat of "North Star" complements the central idea of being open to guidance in one's life.

On "History," the group's most insightful and candid track, Zumbi recalls the duo's autobiography from prior to the group's formation until now. "We've been doing music a long time and sometimes you forget how long you've been at and how many places you've been," admits the emcee. "I think it's good to look back for a second before keeping it moving." Keeping it moving is something Zumbi and Amp Live have never had problems doing and Atomic Clock stands as another engaging expression of the group's mind, heart and soul.
The Grouch & Eligh
The Grouch & Eligh
The Grouch always wanted to make beats since he first heard about this music called hip-hop. His dad played keys and he felt music was inside him as well, but he didn't plan on being an MC. Being from Oakland, he grew up on local heroes like Digital Underground, Too Short, Toni, Tony, Tone, and many others.

Around '91/'92 Del tha Funkee Homosapien and the Hieroglyphics crew were first starting to make noise in the bay and it was then that he felt he could really make something out of this music thing. He had a friend who rapped who convinced The Grouch to start writing/rapping in '94. He met the Mystik Journeymen soon after and they schooled him on the independent hustle. It was on.

The Grouch's first show as an MC was in 1995, it was at one the Journeymen's "Broke Ass Summer Jam" shows in East Oakland. At that time he performed under his real name and the crowd showed him much love, which he says is the main reason he stuck with making music. The Grouch's music influences include all the hip-hop greats from LL Cool J to the Beastie Boys along with the Bay Area classics and jazz, rock, and soul music. The Grouch has always taken the independent route and has done everything himself along the way, a fact he takes great pride in.

Living Legends member Eligh has combined emceeing and beatmaking for over 10 years, having released a large number of regular as well as instrumental albums. His latest release was Enigma in 2005 which contained an even mix of rhyming and instrumental tracks.
Alexander Spit
Venue Information:
The Catalyst
1011 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA, 95060
http://www.catalystclub.com/