This duo of genre-bender pride has made a name for itself on the Bay Area scene by successfully mixing spiritualism and hip-hop. Oakland's MC Zumbi and DJ/producer Amp Live blend hip-hop and trip-hop beats with lyrics focused on a message of unity, hope, and spiritual awareness. After a couple of indie hits, the duo slowly made inroads while opening for rap royalty like De La Soul, Rakim, and Run-D.M.C. Their debut album, Mind Over Matter, was released in May of 2000 and features collaborations with fellow Bay Area rappers Rasco, Planet Asia, and the Grouch. Although Zion I operates out of Berkeley, the group was originally formed in Atlanta, making their music difficult to classify as strictly West Coast hip-hop. Their musical style makes them even harder to define. With a style that borrows from hip-hop, trance, drum'n'bass, and reggae, Zion I's style is equally mystical and mystifying.
1-O.A.K. (Honor Roll)
Known by many for his collaborations with Teedra Moses, Too $hort and fellow HNRL member Trackademicks, to his remixes of Little Dragon and Penguin Prison, 1-O.A.K. finally presents his debut offering. Thirteen songs, entirely self-produced, Special Request couples 1-O.A.K.'s years of extensive vocal experience with personal musical ambition. Rooted in Oakland Soul and Funk, 1-O.A.K. manages to present a project that represents civic pride as well as his ability to transcend those roots, fusing everything from Hip-Hop, Samba to UK Funky. As R&B and Soul music are increasingly influenced by other genre's sensibilities, 1-O.A.K.'s sound will continue to nourish those with broad musical appetites.