By KAHLE KENYATTE
Bay Area Hip Hop legends Zion I controlled the Catalyst stage and perpetually coasted alongside the energy of the crowd last night.
Zion I, based out of Oakland and consisting of dj and eccentric producing-pioneer Amp Live and life-loving mc Zumbi, has been on the hip hop music scene since 1997 and chose to make Santa Cruz a tour destination in their long-lasting career.
Before Zion I took to the stage, the crowd was amused by San Francisco producing and rapping veteran Equipto. Equipto bumped his classic beats and verses while dispersing messages of being true to oneself and paying homage to the influential hip hop marvels, something respectable and rare in modern live performances.
Zion I’s presentation exhibited the energy, the emotion, and the raw skill that the hip-hop duo has collected over the years. Amp Live guided Zumbi with an original dj set, not by using the classic wheels-o-steel turntables but by manipulating two different electronic sampling and drum machines. Amp Live also had a solo where he played a drum sampling machine combined with a modulating guitar neck, an instrument that I’ve never witnessed at any other show but Zion I’s. Zumbi personally connected with the audience as he spit his powerful and enlightening lyrics while giving back respect, and daps and pounds to the crowd.
After Zion finished their set list, they brought out performers Duckwrth, RGLND, and Queens D. Light and concluded with a lengthy but entertaining freestyle rap session. Amp Live improvised on his sampling machine while reading and feeding off of Zumbi and the family of rapping artists spreading the fun, knowledge, and love of pure hip hop to the many who attended the Santa Cruz show.
When all was said and done, Zumbi descended from the stage to greet and share words with the fans at an eye-to-eye level to let the fans know that though he’s the one they came to see, he’s also a real person and appreciates the love and respect the fans have given Zion I.
Zion I is one of my personal favorites and I recommend their music and shows to anyone who is seeking something that is truthful, or new and classic at the same time.