Hip Hop's multitude of styles are usually broken down by locations, whether it being East Coast, West Coast or dirty South. Most artists are defined and characterized through their location, however, Houston native V-Zilla is here to break down those barriers and prove he knows no such boundaries.
VG Skillz maybe from Houston, the home of chopped & screwed and crunk music, but his sound is a representation of anything but those styles. In fact, if one wasn't aware of his history, the South is the last place you would assume VG is from. The self proclaimed blue collar artist is a product of Hip Hop's golden era in the 80's, where artists such as Eric B & Rakim, Krs-One & Big Daddy Kane ruled. This is where VG draws his inspiration, sound and styles from, not his location or southern environment.
"The Lockdown Sessions" is VG's third release and is a testament to all the pain, sweat and tears put into a long career. The album features a variety of sounds and concepts, but VG's main wrath is focused against the music industry that has kept him back all these years. This anger and intensity is brought out full throttle on tracks such as "Lockdown Pt. 1", where VG discusses the hardships coming up in this perilous industry. Or on the beautifully laced "All I Know" where Zilla proclaims "Hip Hop is no longer a street thing, its all white shirts and dark ties. Smiling faces, brief cases and contracts". On "The Next Move" Zilla rips the vicious Moonshine produced track to shreds with a confident swagger that immediately draws you in. Zilla's aggressive delivery and unique flow are definitely his strong points, which is never more evident than on "The Next Move", which is devoted to VG's future goals and plans. "I wanna exploit the game for what it done to me, I'm challenging every label and A&R for ducking me. They heard I'm from Houston, they overlooked my mic skills".
But don't get the misconception that Zilla is just another angry underground artist mad because he hasn't made it. "The Lockdown Sessions" is consumed with a vast amount of variety in song making, proving that VG can produce great conceptual matter as well. One of the standout tracks is "The Almighty", a heartfelt and soulful spiritual offering that features a remarkable vocal sample. On the flip side of things "Under The Arm" featuring Stress, is a politically charged track that shows another side of VG. "Leave You" is another creative gem, as Zilla offers his own "I Used To Love H.E.R." type track.
One of "The Lockdown Sessions" strongest features is it's production, which is handled by Stockholm's very own Moonshine. While not a recognizable face in the production world, Moonshine offers one of the most surprising efforts on the album, as his beautifully crafted production solidifies "The Lockdown Sessions" as a success. Moonshine shows a lot of promise with his effort on the album, as he provides VG with a wonderful assortment of sounds and styles. However, there are a few times when Moon's production sways a little too much to the left, offering a sound that doesn't quite fit the VG Skillz mold. The erratic bounce sounds of "Imagine That" goes a little overboard, as the production fails to stay consistent and seems to go all over the place. The keyboard sounds of "My Own" also seem misplaced with VG's usual style, making the track one of the few disappointing efforts.
Nevertheless, "The Lockdown Sessions" is sure to catch every Hip Hop head off guard upon first listen. The fact that VG is from the south, yet he sounds like a perfect incarnation of an east coast emcee is only part of the amazement. The second is how a talented emcee like this can go unnoticed for so long. VG is what this Hip Hop game needs, brutally honest emcees who pour their heart and soul into every track. So throw your misconceptions and pre fixed notions away, V-Zilla's "The Lockdown Sessions" is one of the most consistent and fulfilling underground CD's released in a minute. And while he may stick out like a sore thumb in Houston's Hip Hop scene, Zilla is certain to receive some love from all over the Hip Hop globe if he keeps producing albums like "The Lockdown Sessions".