Oakland's Zion-I (Amp Live and MC Zion) has few peers when it comes to skillfully integrating samples, original instrumentation, and substantive lyrical content. Unlike others, Amp preserves the essence of his sampled source material, using it to make effective points (as on "Luv"). He's also known by his fans for his accessible experiments with rhythm and tempo, and True & Livin' is no exception, particularly with the two-step time signatures of "Soo Tall." Meanwhile the guest stars on this third studio album, including Talib Kweli, Aesop Rock, Del, and Gift of Gab, should give those unfamiliar to the duo several entry points, and garner the well-deserved national attention that has so far eluded them.

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Tamara Palmer