It's easy to see the intent on Zion I's latest effort, The Takeover. With this LP, the underground duo attempt to carve out another release worth the critical praise they've consistently earned throughout the years. But, does that actually happen? Naturally, with the applause comes a bit of skepticism from critics who may have a phobia of the term "underground." But, this album could draw criticism from others, as well. While the emcee/deejay tandem may be known as strictly an indie team, Zion I try to get out of their comfort zone with this album.
From the outset of Amp's hard hitting drums on "Geek to the Beat," to the hopping "Takeover," there is a concerted effort to make music for everyone. From the Latin-infused and Afrika Bambaataa inspired "DJ DJ" to the more classic samples in the catchy "Antenna," Amp doesn't miss a mark. Even in the middle of beats, the very soulful "Caged Bird" becomes a hard hitting banger, in part due to a Brother Ali [click to read] sighting. A-Live's risk taking allows him to thrive on "Gumbo," "Legacy" and "Bring In The Light," blending sounds rarely heard in rap to create a more refreshing backdrop for Zumbi. The main gripe with the duo's production is a severe lack of cohesion. Although Amp gives a valiant effort to branch out and explore different sounds, the overall mood of the album suffers with no real theme to hold on to.
For all of the masterful instrumentation on the album, Zumbi still has to flow. With assistance given by Devin the Dude [click to view], Ty, and the aforementioned Ali, Zumbi struggles to keep up. Often times, Zumbiu's rhymes are overshadowed by Amp's beats. It's understandable to hear an emcee go with an old-school flow on '80s-inspired tracks, but his lyrics can be too simplistic at times. He does well when maintaining a level of consciousness ("Never been afraid, ain't scared to make a change"). These miscues are emphasized by the forgettable "Juicy Juice." Overall, it's safe to say that some of the mediocrity of the album falls behind the mic.
In the end, The Takeover fails to take over the listener's attention. There is no defined sound or theme on the album. The production, albeit solid, is all over the place throughout the LP. With various styles, genre mixing and sounds, it's easy to get lost in the transitions. Although they should be applauded for experimentation with different styles, their eagerness to please everyone inevitably took over the album in a negative way.