Today in Hip Hop History: May 30, 2000
Situated perfectly in between the disastrous Y2K and Stanley Kubrick’s classic foretelling 2001: A Space Odyssey, the midpoint of the year 2000 featured more than existential human crises and dystopian future visions. Somewhere betwixt the two, both literally and figuratively, was the phenomenal debut of an underground hip hop duo that weaved the best of both technology and The Final Frontier into an instant classic album.
Seventeen years ago today, Oakland based Zion I launched their career with Mind Over Matter, an independent hip hop album showcasing producer Amplive’s ability to create futuristic sounding beats while emcee Zumbi drops socially conscious and spiritual rhymes. Recorded and produced over the course of four years, Mind Over Matter displayed Bay Area creativity and “Oaklandish” spirit to its finest. During an era of hip hop many consider to be somewhat a “purgatory” – still fresh off the death of East Coast vs. West Coast, yet before the revival of gangsta rap – Zion I brought a fresh aura to the culture.
Mind Over Matter mixed several elements of electronic, hip hop, spoken word, and other types of music into one conceptual project. However, diverse tracks like “Silly Puddy,” “Oh Lawd,” and “Trippin'” refrained listeners from limiting Zion I to one lane. Despite this, one trope remained constant throughout Mind Over Matter; the duo’s innate ability to recognize their predecessors and also contribute originality to the genre of hip hop. The album unquestionably sounded like nothing else before it, or anything after it for that matter. And equally important, Zumbi’s rhymes have both dope flow and thought-provoking lyrics coupled with Amplive’s experimental success with the beats.
Despite never developing into mainstream success, both Mind Over Matter and Zion I have legitimate respect among the underground hip hop scene. Zumbi and Amplive created an instant classic piece of musical art.