Underground hip hop often receives an unfair reputation for solely relying on minimalist beats and choppy battle rhymes. While that element exists, people should NOT underestimate the prevalance of dope ass party/have a good time tracks that can get the crowd moving with lyrical content ranging from intricate stories to abstract battle raps. Enter 4-Zone.
The first track, "Don't Waste Your Breath," is an extremely ill cut... the beat is a straight up banger and it truly starts off the album with a bang. The MCs come on spitting some rough shit: "As soon as the beat drops, I develop like wind underneath your wings / While you think you can fly nigga / I'ma be the first to infiltrate your defense / When I sense your foul movements."
The second cut, "Let It Bump," really knocked me off my feet. The production is off the fuckin hook, I would not have been surprised to learn that the Beatnuts produced this shit. The MCs come on once again spitting some very nice lyrics, This is one of those aforementioned tracks: it could get the party moving, it's catchy, and the lyrics are there.
It's not as though this whole album is on the party tip; "Sophisticated Atmosphere" is a little more "hardcore," with more battle oriented rhymes, attacking the current glut of Cristal popping thugs trying to rap about the same garbage over and over: "I put some, maybe most, of you MCs to shame / Cuz you all correspond to the same page / I'm flawless / Leaving niggas jawless from the swing that I bring / It might wake you up, before your deal was you ballin?"
"B-Boy/Cowboy" is a more subdued in terms of the beat, and it is a cool story track about what it's like being a B-Boy and a desperado. The production fits the track well, and the flow is very nice. At the end, 4-Zone proclaims his love for hip hop: "I rhyme for life, but there's a MCs that just play the mic / Round em up, round em up put a noose around they neck / Cuz it's all about respect, one love"
Track #8 is another banger, with 4-Zone attacking the track with authority. Here's a sample of the typically sick rhymes on the song: "I'm a soloist rhyming with a selected few / I'm a street dweller, meditating over a view / Sipping triple ginseng to keep me turning about... no doubt / To motivate, chew em up like gum, but you know it don't last." The Big Daddy Kane voice sample in the hook is a nice touch as well.
For what is essentially a demo/EP, this product is fairly well rounded, with a nice variety in track sound/feel and subject matter. 4-Zone comes with tight flows throughout, and the production is nice on every track. His voice and cadence remind of something like a smooth RBX, and his lyrics are on point throughout, if not stunning. After hearing "Let It Bump," I was thinking that this album might be on some next shit, but unfortunately it didn't maintain that level throughout. This however was a pretty impressive EP and will leave listeners checking for a full length effort.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: October 14, 2001