This trio of genre-bender pride has made a name for itself on the Bay Area scene by successfully mixing spiritualism and hip-hop. Oakland's MC Zumbi and DJ/producer Amp Live blend hip-hop and trip-hop beats with lyrics focused on a message of unity, hope, and spiritual awareness. After a couple of indie hits, the trio slowly made inroads while opening for rap royalty like De La Soul
, and Run-D.M.C. Their debut album, Mind Over Matter
, was released in May of 2000 and features collaborations with fellow Bay Area rappers Rasco, Planet Asia
, and the Grouch. Although Zion I
operates out of Berkeley, the group was originally formed in Atlanta, making their music difficult to classify as strictly West Coast hip-hop. Their musical style makes them even harder to define. With a style that borrows from hip-hop, trance, drum'n'bass, and reggae, Zion I
's style is equally mystical and mystifying.