On a warm night in Vancouver, Phayde and Hugo (close friends with sharp tongues) sat with Amp Live (Zion I's Producer) and Zion (the emcee) for a little interview. Zion I are a well respected and established group from California. For more info. on the duo, check out Zionicrew.com
Hugo: You have good sales, but you're not on a level which everyone seems to look at. What is it about the continuation and striving that appeals to you? Why do you continue to create?
Amp Live: The more product you put out, the more you chances of being successful. You gotta keep on moving if you want to do music. It's just an ongoing process. It's natural. With anything, you always want to improve, you always want to come out with newer stuff, you always want to stay current. So it's just natural, you know.
Phayde: Tell me something I don't know about Zion I.
Zion: He (Amp Live) wanted to be a doctor before he started making beats.
Amp Live: People know that.
Zion: I don't know, maybe man! Maybe not.
Amp Live: Okay. I wanted to be a doctor. He wanted to be a psychiatrist.
Zion: Not really. I mean, I studied psychology but that don't mean I want to be a psychologist. The degree didn't entitle me to a job, you know what I'm saying? That's why the music is such a blessing.
Phayde: You ever thought about giving up?
Zion: Oh yeah. For sure. I mean when we first started, our first group - which were some cats we ran around with at the time. When we got dropped from our label after having a bad experience with a major - that was when we thought about stopping. We were so juiced to be coming out finally. We went out and told everybody and our heads got big, and for us not to come out, it was just so humbling, man. Me personally, I was like "Why am I doing this shit?" And then to feel that introspection of asking myself that question, it made me - like I said - reaffirm. It made me go deeper into why I am doing it.
Amp Live: We think about it often though man cuz it's not like we're rich. It's not like we're on the tip of everybody's tongue.
Hugo: So what's more important to you, if you were to separate the two: On one hand you got creativity, and on the other hand you got personal integrity.
Zion: I think they go hand in hand, man. I think the most profound creativity brings truth, even if it's humorous or whatever. You gotta have something for people to grab on to, to relate to, and usually that's the truth. Somebody else may be able to look at it like, "Ha, that's funny. Damn, that's fucked up. I feel you." You see what I'm saying? So they go hand in hand.
Hugo: If you had one track that you had to choose from your albums to refer to as being "This is what Zion I is," or if you stopped making music and there's one joint that you want to be known for, what is it?
Zion: I would say the song "Silly Puddy" off of the first album, the reason being the subject matter is personal, and it's like, to be humble, it's basically just about God. That basically explains everything. I mean, there are other songs too with overall messages.
Phayde: Both of you, tell me what hip hop would look like if it were a woman.
Amp Live: She'd be old! [laughs]
Zion: She'd be thick, like 5'6-5'7, black hair, brown skin, smooth, elegant... this is how I want to see it. It's not necessarily how she looks, she's probably cracked out...
Phayde: How would she act?
Zion: She'd have attitude. A little bit too much attitude.
Amp Live: I think that's how she should look, but if you look at now... she'd probably be like... if you look at hip hop now... she'd probably be white. Probably in her mid-30s. Sort of hip but sort of not. Not really uh... funky.
Zion: It's interesting though, because you can take the moment of hip hop and you can take hip hop, you know what I'm saying? Like you can take the culture of hip hop or you can take mass culture hip hop. I think the hip hop we work on is the fly ass one.
Phayde: Based on the person you said, would you date her?
Zion: Hell yeah. We'd have babies.
Amp Live: Long-term relationship.
Hugo: Could you die today saying you'd lived?
Phayde: [muttering] Too many Hallmark cards for you.
Hugo: Ah fuck you Phayde.
Amp Live: I think I could accept it but you know, there's a lot I want to do. Things I haven't seen. I definitely want to have kids one day and get married. I definitely want to just do certain things in my life, but you never know when you're gonna go, so...
Phayde: Okay this doesn't have to be music related, but tell me three things you love and hate.
Zion: I love God, I love my family, I love my friends. I hate the mass media, the exploitation of people. I hate the way money is used to hold down and enslave peoples' minds and spirits. And I hate the fact that people can't just get together around the world and realize that it's all love.
Amp Live: I love God, I love family and friends, I love good music. I hate ignorance. I hate the fact that the majority of people are like sheep. They don't care or they're just not aware of what's going on. I hate suffering and pain.
Hugo: Have you experimented much with drugs?
Zion: Hey man, this is confidential! [laughs] A little something here and there. Let me say this: I've never done, and never will touch, anything man-made or chemical-based. Anything from Mother Earth or nature. I deal with herbs, you know what I'm saying? Ginseng, ginger, all the natural drugs of the earth.
Hugo: On the same sort of wavelength, a lot of products that you do consume have been genetically altered. How do you say that contrasts, with say, a drug?
Zion: I think that in this society a man can only use his tools. Like if I lived on an organic farm, you know, in the cuts - far away from the city. I could trust that. Where the earth isn't tainted as much, where there's not lead in the soil. I live in the city. I don't know where my food is coming from; I'm not a farmer. I just try to do the best I can, you know what I'm saying? I try to make sure with what I eat, I feel good, I got energy. I try to keep my temple up but the fact is that I'm here. I'm in Babylon. You know what I'm saying? I'm not some high toweled Rasta claiming everything I eat is... you know what I mean? I'm just trying to survive as best I can from where I'm at. That doesn't mean I'm always going to be there, but for now.
Phayde: Okay, if there was a movie about Zion I, who would play each of you and what kind of movie would it be?
Zion: I'd play me.
Phayde: You can't play you!
Zion: Somebody else? I think Mekhi Pheifer would play me.
Amp Live: Is that the guy in the Ashanti video?
Zion: No. He's the dude in Clockers, man.
Amp Live: Oh okay man.
Zion: He's a good actor. He's young, he's coming up.
Phayde: [To Amp Live] And you?
Zion: I want to hear this.
Amp Live: Denzel Washington.
Phayde: And what kind of movie would it be?
Zion: I think it would be some ill sci-fi, kung-fu... you know what I'm saying? Coming into your spirit, ancestors coming through. Like a black ghetto-ass Akira type. That type of shit. Powers and shit.
Phayde: I need to drink.
Hugo: If there was one thing you could get Phayde to stop saying, would it be "Shut the fuck up" or "I need to drink"?
Zion: "Shut the fuck up." Phayde, you got to cut that shit out. [laughs]
Zion: Positivity is loud and clear!
Hugo: Alright, we'll finish up with some generic ones.
Hugo: Shut up. What are you working, or have you got, that has yet to be released?
Zion: Curb Servin'.
Amp Live: Yeah we're dropping that in a couple months. It's gonna be a mix CD.
Zion: July 29th.
Amp Live: It's going to have D.U.S.T. on it - that's an artist we're working with on the label. Deuce Eclipse - he's another artist we're working with. Couple cats from the Bay. Remixes and stuff.
Zion: Comes with a DVD.
Hugo: What's that coming out through?
Zion: Raptivism/Live Up Records.
Amp Live: We're also going to be putting out D.U.S.T.'s album. We got all kinds of projects.
Hugo: What kind of control do you have with your Raptivism releases?
Zion: Basically we do everything creatively, you know what I mean? They critique and comment on it, but basically it's our last decision.
Phayde: Should Hugo shave his beard?
Zion: I don't know man, it's chillin.
Phayde: What about his head?
Amp Live: Yeah. You should shave your head.
Phayde: Uh, well. [laughs]
Amp Live: I could see you with the short hair.
Zion: Take your hat off!
Phayde: I actually don't have hair under my hat. It's just a mullet. I'm bald on top.
Zion: Sexy. Mullets yeeeeah!
Amp Live: Mullet?
Phayde: Party in the back?
Hugo: Are there any last words or comments you'd like to put out to your fans, or potential fans, who are going to read this?
Amp Live: Go get our album Deep Water Slang.
Zion: Study that shit.
Zion: Hit up the website www.zionicrew.com. Sign up on the e-mail list, holla at us. Visualize where you want to be at, you know. Use your creative visualization and see where you want to be. Imagine what you want to do.
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