Zion I – Mind Over Matter (2000)

Sometimes when listening to an album from over a decade ago, you may feel that it has aged to some extent. The remarkable thing about this album is that it still sounds “ahead of its time” even today and probably will for the foreseeable future.

This is largely thanks to the production which is influenced by trip hop and other electronic music. The use of frantic drum ‘n’ bass style drum breaks gives it a futuristic sound, these are especially prominent on tracks like Inner Light, Metropolis and Elevation.

The album opens with Creation, this atmospheric intro features a reading from the book of genesis and sounds like something out of The Matrix which sets the mood for the following track, Revolution (B-Boy Anthem).
The lead single, Critical features Planet Asia as they trade verses over the Premo-esque beat.
Mysterious Wayz feels like an updated version of Slick Rick’s classic Indian Girl, with tales of a lady “from a land of sand where pyramids dwell and angels blow their breath through seashells”.

In my opinion Trippin’ is the best song on the album. Baba’s social commentaries serve as the best example of Zion I’s ability to combine great music with an intellectual message.

People get stuck / Following the trends
Of a TV generation / But where does it end?

Fools Gold might just be a skit but the way it samples some of the most iconic lines about money by everyone from Rakim to Wu-Tang perfectly sets up the following track, Venus, which is about a woman who exploits men for their cash.
Mind Over Matter finishes on a strong note with One, followed by a remix of Inner Light, both of which are two of the most addicting beats on the album.

Baba Zumbi presents himself as an incredibly well-rounded and versatile MC. Not only does he have some of the most poetic and though-provoking lyrics on the west coast, but he also possesses great technical ability. With his energetic flow and impressive rhyming schemes it really is criminal how underrated he is.
There are a number of standouts but every track is up to standard, resulting in a level of consistency few albums over 20 tracks have ever been able to match. This makes Mind Over Matter one of the most unique and entertaining underground hip-hop albums of the 2000’s.

Best tracks: Trippin, Critical, Koncrete Jungle, Inner Light
Overall: 95/100


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