Zeebra

World of Music

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Imagine DMX speaking Japanese. Imagine a little more of a groove underlying his rhymes. Imagine just a touch of slicker urban and global riffs surrounding his deliveries. Suddenly you've got Zeebra. In fact, on World of Music, his sixth album, Zeebra works in English more often than not, and along the way lays some compelling arguments for his self-proclaimed "King of Hip Hop" title. Working since the early '90s (originally with rap supergroup King Giddra), he's had plenty of time to refine his skills and delivery, developing complex rhythms and backing tracks to both complement his gruff, often barking delivery, and to work seemingly against the direct nature of his delivery, slinking around the rhythm instead. Either way, the piece often becomes worthwhile, showcasing angles that you wouldn't expect. On the hit "Not Your Boyfriend," Zeebra combines with rocker "Jesse" for a rap-rock coalition in the realm of a Linkin Park chorus when they touch styles from time to time, code-mixing languages all the way. "We Leanin'" provides a higher-energy version of lounge music with Zeebra's personal twist. "Lyrical Gunman" slows the beat down but adds something of a reggae influence to the proceedings. Throughout the stylistic changes, Zeebra remains consistent and provides solid rhyming. Newcomers to Japanese rap should be looking at Zeebra as a worthwhile introduction on the solo end (and King Giddra, Nitro Microphone Underground for groups), and World of Music isn't a bad album to start out with.

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