Back in July I interviewed Zion I for Culture Magazine. I always like talking to artists, but at the same time I can tell when you call at a bad time. They were dead tired and in the process of checking into a hotel from being on the road, but the group was heroic when it came to giving me great answers to work with despite their fatigue.
I found out later that the article got republished in the pages of CityBeat Long Beach. Well, that's just cool.
Hip-hop duo Zion I is ready to uplift the country
Zion I isn’t afraid to shake up the expectations of their fans while rocking the industry with something powerful and yet positive. 2000’s Mind Over Matter blew the scene away by offering an uplifting message fused with futuristic beats and socially conscious lyrics that earned them a nomination by The Source for Independent Album of The Year.
A decade later, they are going to wake up the scene all over again with 2011’s Heroes in Healing of the Nation, featuring The Grouch from underground hip-hop collective Living Legends. DJ Amp Live and MC Zumbi recently told CityBeat about the bright future their fans can expect.
Heroes in Healing of the Nation is your latest LP. What was it like finishing this album, compared to your first album, 2000’s Mind Over Matter?
DJ Amp Live: To knock this one out was pretty easy because we already knew the process. With the first one we were rolling the dice. We didn’t know what we were really doing. With this particular album we were able to put it out on our own label. It was very smooth because we called most of the shots. We knew we had a fan base with this one, so it was more exciting.
Let’s talk about the title of your next album. What needs healing in this nation?
DJ Amp Live: We wanted to make a positive album, and we wanted to show how we were feeling about the world, the nation and everything else that is happening right now.
Is the title both a wakeup call and a message of hope for people living in the United States?
DJ Amp Live: With a title like that, it means something positive. We want to encourage people, but we want everyone to feel like heroes. All of us working together can do something good, that’s the message of the album. It’s not just us; it’s all of us.
When you finished Heroes in Healing of the Nation, were the results different from what you expected?
MC Zumbi: Certainly not. It was very true to what we wanted. The idea was to address the crazy times we live in, to create a movement, but at the same time create a positive, uplifting album.
Can you tell us any lessons you’ve learned over the course of your career?
MC Zumbi: To be an artist you have to know how to grind, make your own graphics, put it up on YouTube, etc. The people who are most successful wear a lot of hats, recording the rhymes, making their own videos, designing beats, whatever it takes. It’s a very punk rock sort of thing: do it yourself.