GNL Zamba’s New LP The Spear Is On Point

By Deuce

It’s a wonder what GNL Zamba and his producer Fly Tucker can do when they decide to let the blaring electric guitars go for a minute or two on The Spear, the most recent long player from the rapper/singer/songwriter/spoken word artist.

Sometimes the results are purely sumptuous, like on the single and video for “Energy (NRG)”. The richness of percussion, the mellifluous acoustic guitars, the pureness of the bass line, and the spontaneous chiming in of Zamba and a female vocalist or two are truly astonishing. This is one of those numbers no one won’t like, and even fewer people will dislike.

The track features intermittent outbursts of beauty in the form of synthesizers that adorn every couple bars or so. Zamba rides the rhythm with his spoken word style, switching between English and his native tongue effortlessly in an ode to the alluring prowess of some unnamed empress or queen.

But with the live bass manned by Dante Pascuzzo, live drums played by Tony Austin, and live percussion handled by Pete Korpela, even a groove this right shifts, in mid-form, to natural elevations of rhythm and sound that blend flawlessly with the vocalists and the direction of the song.

Other times the rock and roll style guitars are eschewed for some good ‘ol ghetto soul, undeniably Trap influenced, but with a musicianship that most living room or bedroom producers couldn’t match in years. Such is the case on “Zamba the Great”, which begins with a lush piano solo before erupting into 808’s and the eeriest of synth loops to keep everything together. Zamba evinces the fact that he can flow with panache on this one, morphing from a double time pattern to one closer to triplets.

While the title track brings back that “Energy” vibe, “Black Caesar” ups the anthem on “Zamba” with a hard track characterized by the four-on-the-floor drum pattern (spiced up with a few rimshots) and bass notes punctuating it on the one. The tune feels dangerous as does the vocalist chatting in some sort of patois, who very well could be Zamba himself.

Nonetheless, the positive aspirations of the cut are unmistakable with the artist indicating this one is “for the children”. Actually, there’s a sense of Nubian pride that swells throughout the majority of these numbers. That motif needs to be heard as much as Zamba proves he’s the one who needs to be kicking it.

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