It maybe a bit unorthodox, but these West Coast vibes bring somewhat of a reminiscence of early 90’s hip-hop and the carefree attitude behind it.
Johnny Zuko, a hip-hop artist out of Watsonville, CA, may approach the music scene a little differently than other artists, but for this effort it seems to work for his benefit.
The Essence is a collection of songs that Zuko released as a street album. The album itself has 20 tracks all together (which is a reminder of the early days of hip-hop when it was common to have that many tracks), and even though there are a few filler spots with recorded monologues and such, the rest is full of different styles of songs featuring a large amount of different artists, assuming to be from the West Coast as well.
It’s actually quite impressive to see that this album has so many different collaborations, all with different tones and flows that make it exciting to hear what each track sounds like. Verses and breakdowns are provided by a large number of artists such as Giant, Echo Torres, Dennis Martinez, Richie The Real, and honestly SO many more. Probably the most ambitious track and fun to listen to is “Zuko & The Raiders of A Lost Art”, which features six different artists on the epic 7-minute song.
One of the favorite aesthetics on this album for us has to be the synchronization between 90’s genre and the low-fi modern hip-hop. Low-fi hip-hop is a very soothing and relaxing instrumental combinations of beats and repeated loops, and with Zuko using a lot of these techniques in the background and opening of his songs, it actually sounds really great to listen to. It’s a nice change of pace than a modern hip-hop song that strictly relies on blast beats and hard no thought chorus drops; Zuko has the thought, drive, and passion into each and every one of his tracks.
Zuko speaks to his listeners through The Essence, not only through his songs that he craftily put together, but through messages about “being honest with yourself, letting your art shine through, and that real music and hip-hop does exist out there”. It’s something we all can be reminded of, and it’s surely something that speaks in volumes if you take the time to listen to. If you’re searching for something new and maybe something a bit more raw, personal, and somewhat familiar with tone and structure, you might find yourself really enjoying The Essence and all that it brings to the table.
Currently you can find this album on Bandcamp, claiming the entire album by naming your price. Seriously, go ahead and follow the link to take a listen at least.
Zuko also has a horror podcast that he frequently works on called, Bump In The Night, where they talk about both old and new horror movies and genres. Check out the show below!