After a five-year hiatus, Zion I & The Grouch return with their new CD, Heroes in the Healing of the Nation.
Now I’ll honestly admit, when I first got this assignment, I had no idea who Zion I & the Grouch were. So first things first, I did my research. I learned that Zion I are a hip-hop duo from Oakland, CA and the Grouch is a LA based MC, producer and member of the Living Legends crew. Second, I learned that this was their second collaboration effort together and that their first, Heroes in the City of Dope was both critically acclaimed and a pretty damn big deal in West Coast hip hop. Third, I learned that I am a fan of Zion I & the Grouch, and that was just within listening to the first three songs of their new album.
From the moment that Heroes in the Healing of the Nation begins with “Invitation” featuring Brother Ali, you automatically know that this is different from the norm. This is not the fluff party trap rap that currently dominates the airwaves. What Zion I & the Grouch have put together is socially conscious music that draws you in not only with their lyrics that make you think, but also with their amazing choice of beats as well. Every single beat on this album is pleasing to the ears. It could’ve been easy for their lyrics to get overshadowed by their beat selection, but that never happened on this album. That alone is commendable in my book.
Now, did I like every song of their 14 track album? No, I didn’t. Every song off this CD did not make it onto my iPod. However, were there more standout songs on the album than not? Absolutely. “Leader,” “Victorious People” featuring Freeway and “Drop it on the 1″ were my personal favorites. Other noteworthy songs were “Be a Father” featuring Roy Ayers, “Plead the Fifth” featuring Codany Holiday, Fashawn & Casual and “Test of Time” featuring Marty James. I like the fact that Zion I & the Grouch are who they are, and in embracing that, there is an authenticity to their music that you can feel. It touches you, it leaves a mark, and keeps you thinking about them and their cd after you press the stop button in your iTunes.
This album is an appetizer, and, I can’t wait to go back into their respective catalogs and listen/discover more of their music. Zion I & the Grouch definitely made a believer out of this east coast girl and also gave me a wonderful quote to use. “Our heroes are us..the only superpower required is love.” Indeed.
Best Tracks: “Leader,” “Victorious People” (featuring Freeway), “Drop it on the 1″