Atomic Clock, Zion I's seventh album, sees the group exploring more cosmic and introspective territory than it's predecessor The TakeOver. The Oakland duo's message of self-actualization, focus, and spirituality however has remained a constant throughout the group's carreer. On "Always," Atomic Clock's first song, the refrain of "Love conquers always, gotta keep your head up" sums up Zion I's aesthetic nicely. Paul Bradley and Robyn Twomey's video, below, projects Amp Live and Zumbi into the astral plane for a visually striking interpretation of the track.
After delving into upbeat, electronic music on 2009's The Takeover, Oakland hip-hop stalwarts Zion I enter a new phase of their chameleonic career with Atomic Clock (November 9th, Gold Dust), a moody, emotional record inspired by the group's longtime admiration for reggae and dub.
While the group's roots are still firmly planted in hip-hop, Atomic Clock’s cavernous, atmospheric vibe recalls both the classic roots reggae of Max Romeo and The Congos and forward-thinking dub mixing of UK artists such as Adrian Sherwood. "The Takeover was a very external record and we wanted to focus on fun, party music," says emcee Zumbi AKA Zion. "This one is much more reflective and internal. We didn't want to just recreate what we did last album. Art is not about living in the past."
For Atomic Clock, the duo employed live musicians to flesh out producer Amp Live's original beats and thicken the overall sound. For many of Atomic Clock's tracks, Amp would create the skeleton of the beat himself for the initial direction before collaborating with the group's live musicians to complement the sound and, in certain cases, redo the track live. In stark contrast to The Takeover, which saw Amp and Zumbi e-mail verses and beats to each other to constantly tweak each song, the group and their collaborators engaged in days-long jam sessions, for the first time in their career, to best enunciate Amp's initial idea.
For Zumbi, the writing style on Atomic Clock was much more instinctive than on past albums, and the result is a litany of emotionally introspective, brutally honest songs that both relay the emcee's personal experience and delve into weighty topics including the transient nature of time.
This extends to the title. "The Atomic Clock is the most precise timing device on the planet and I thought that applied to the immaculate timing and rhythm it takes between musicians in one room to make good music," says Zumbi. "But also, I feel that time is speeding up on the planet and it seems like it's dilating and contracting really quickly. We're living in such an interesting time and I think time is on everyone's mind in one way or another. Everything is exponential now."
On Atomic Clock, the group employs their usual mix of sonic exploration and unbridled creativity. "4U," with its choir vocals, soulful keyboards, and rock guitars, could be a lost Sly and the Family Stone track, while the horn blasts and heavy, electric guitars of "Always" supplement Zumbi's optimistic hook of "Love conquers always/Gotta keep your head up." "Many Styles," featuring reggae band Rebelution (the album also features guest spots by emcees Locksmith and Macklemore and vocalists Courtney Holiday and Crystal Monee Hall), deftly defers to the genre's roots, and the atmospheric beat of "North Star" complements the central idea of being open to guidance in one's life.
On "History," the group's most insightful and candid track, Zumbi recalls the duo's autobiography from prior to the group's formation until now. "We've been doing music a long time and sometimes you forget how long you’ve been at and how many places you've been," admits the emcee. "I think it's good to look back for a second before keeping it moving." Keeping it moving is something Zumbi and Amp Live have never had problems doing and Atomic Clock stands as another engaging expression of the group's mind, heart and soul.
Cali Swag District's "Teach Me How to Dougie" Certified Platinum
DEBUT ALBUM 'THE KICKBACK' SET FOR RELEASE FEBRUARY 15
Cali Swag District's massive single "Teach Me How To Dougie" was just certified platinum this week hitting over 1 million digital downloads to date. The four members, Smoove Da General, Yung, JayAre and M-Bone who are all long-time friends from Inglewood, CA have just released their follow-up single "KickBack." Cali Swag District will drop their highly anticipated debut album 'The KickBack' on February 15, 2011.
"Going platinum is definitely a highlight of our career and we appreciate all the love from our fans. We're excited to keep the Cali Swag party going with "Kickback," states Smoove Da General.
Cali Swag District exploded onto the music scene and the radio airways this past summer with the Top 5 infectious hit "Teach Me How To Dougie" that pays homage to a dance created by legendary rapper Doug E. Fresh. Cali Swag District turned the song and dance into a pop culture phenomenon with everyone including Ellen DeGeneres, CNN 'Situation Room' host Wolf Blitzer, Wendy Williams, Monique, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, and Kim Kardashian getting their Dougie on.
Even more widespread is the sports worlds' celebration of the Dougie movement. NBA Washington Wizard's rookie sensation John Wall did the Dougie during the starting line up this season that has received almost 2 million YouTube streams. In addition to Wall, athletes from Cleveland Cavaliers, NY Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors and Portland Trailblazers all have been seen doing the Dougie celebration. College teams are also embracing the dance as seen by the Oregon State Duck mascot doing the Dougie on a nationally televised game this season. All in all, The Wall Street Journal has declared 2010 "the year of the Dougie."
The "Teach Me How To Dougie" official music video has generated over 20 million YouTube streams.
Paul Wall & Diego Cash Use Freeload App to Go Viral
In order to feed fans' ever-growing demand for digital content, artists find themselves forced to source tech-savvy individuals creative enough to devise ways to keep the supply flowing in a way that is user-friendly and best utilizes the already-existing captive audiences that social media sites like Facebook have created. Toward this end, Colorado's Digi Jeff has created the Freeload app for just such a purpose. Its flagship artists are Paul Wall, who is readying the 12/14 drop of his new mixtape, "Politics As Usual" and Diego Cash, Carmelo Anthony's up-and-comer on his Krossover label, whose "Honorable Mention" mixtape is also dropping next week.
Paul Wall will be dropping 10 songs; 5 at regular speed and 5 Michael "5,000" Watts remixes, from his mixtape early, provided he gets 200 fans via http://facebook.com/paulwall by clicking on his Freeload tab. The tape, which will also include a DVD features Slim Thug, BIG K.R.I.T., Yo Gotti, Baby Bash, Ali, Yung Chill and more. Paul's single, "Still On ft. Yung Chill" has a video that has enjoyed being BET's "New Joint of the Day" on 106 & Park as well as being in rotation on MTV2/Jams.
Atlanta native Diego Cash's mixtape features offerings from Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Juicy J, Gorilla Zoe, Joel Ortiz, Cool & Dre and of course, Carmelo Anthony and can be accessed by downloading Freeload via http://facebook.com/thisisdiegocash and clicking on his Freeload tab.
"What I would really love to see is an artist use my Freeload app to premier a new music video or as a way to leak a new album cover." says Digi Jeff, the apps creator. " I think it would be exciting to hear an artist say 'Once I get X amount of people to unlock my Freeload, I will premier my new music video.' This will help create hype and make a Freeload go viral."
Kokayi Explores The Lack Of Originality In Art With The Latest Single From Robots & Dinosaurs
Coming off the success of his sophomore album, Robots & Dinosaurs, Grammy nominated jack-of-all-trades Kokayi is proud to release the latest track from the album "Chanticleer." The self-produced song – Kokayi produced all of Robots & Dinosaurs, save "Autumn Rules," produced by Oddisee – again shows off Kokayi's ability to blend a variety of musical styles to create a unique and infectious beat. Breaking away from the norm, Kokayi's main inspiration for "Chanticleer" derives from the lack of originality in art. "Be original and break out of the boxes; stay way from the margins and labels that people try to apply to you or your art," says Kokayi, and while it's a topic that's been explored before, Kokayi's original approach, both lyrically and musically, breathes life into the topic. Enlisting his own children for the chorus, Kokayi gives the song a touch of Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life, while using the verses to spit witticisms, with lines like, "You try to box me Rocky/ I May Weather storms, golden boy cocky."
Kokayi's new album, Robots & Dinosaurs, is available now via QN5.
Kokayi (Carl Walker) is a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, emcee, producer and educator. Koyaki (pronounced "Ko-Kah-Yee") has already independently released his debut album Mass Instructions (2007), toured the world and snagged the 2009 Grammy-nod for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for his work as a vocalist and co-producer on "Lovin' You (Music)" by Ethiopian singer Wayna. He also produced Wayna's "Moonlight Rendezvous" which spent 7 consecutive weeks on Billboard's Top 10 R&B/ Hip Hop Singles and 100 Hot Singles Sales charts. Kokayi keeps busy on multiple fronts with several side-projects - as one half of the electro-hop duo, Dastardly (with DJ/Producer Sharkey), and his long-time Afropunk outfit, TheCaesarz. In 2009, Kokayi signed to NYC's independent hip-hop beacon, QN5 Music as an in-house artist and producer.