Review: Amp Live – Murder At the Discotek (Om/Child’s Play)

Zion I’s Amp Live has a new album out. Read my review for Blurt.

You may have first come across producer Amp Live over a decade ago as one half of the Bay Area hip-hop duo Zion I. At the time, there were certainly indications that he wasn’t content to craft traditional hip-hop beats. Instead, at times he tricked out Zumbi’s rhymes with a smooth background of LTJ  Bukem-style drum and bass. It was clear this producer had club and dance music stylings on his mind as much as hip-hop boom-bap.

Now, on his new solo album Murder At The Dicotek, Amp Live has fully realized those leanings. Although guest MCs including Yak Ballz, Myka Nyne, and The Grouch put in appearances,  the through-line here is slinky club beats and techno and electro sequencing. Tracks like “Blast Off” and “About to Blow” are certified electro-pop anthems, while “Chick Pop” breathes life into dance music via programmed beats and chunky guitar lines. “Hot Right Now” is a classic posse cut, with rappers like Eligh,  Dude Royal, and Fashawn letting loose over a minimal electro beat that would  feel right at home on a Cool Kids record.

Even when Amp Live is staying close to his hip-hop roots, he is pushing the boundaries of the genre and forging his own path. It wouldn’t be surprising if this album causes many a forward-thinking MC to come calling for some new beats.

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