Song of the Day: Zion I - Caged Bird Part 1 (featuring Brother Ali)

Ron Henry

Ron Henry

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole, is “Caged Bird Part 1 (featuring Brother Ali)” by Zion I from the 2009 album The Take Over on Gold Dust Media.

Zion I – Caged Bird Part 1 (MP3)

One of the strongest images captured in an album cover happens to be the contrast between the dark and light of Miles Davis’ pivotal album, Bitches Brew. Mati Klerwein’s depiction of African folklore, hope, and harmony was as radical as the music within, generating a buzz and backlash that only Davis was capable of cultivating in jazz’s wheelhouse.

You can’t help but note the similarities between Klerwein’s imagery and the art for Zion I’s The Take Over. The album depicts a shaman summoning the power of storm to bring a cityscape to its knees. Zion I, with the help of Brother Ali, hopes to do the same to oppression through the course of “Caged Bird Part 1.” Both preach of a day when their voices -- the voices of all who have been shut up by injustice -- can be heard. Zion and Ali dream of a time when they can change the world for the better with the power of their individuality. The duo is quick to strike down those who wish to cage those who are push the envelope. Its then when you grasp the real story behind The Take Over‘s artistic statement: it’s not about bringing down the people, it’s about bringing down the establishment. It’s about giving the power back to the people.

Zion I’s MySpace page gives us the dirt on his latest tour, which finds the MC dotting much of North America. Sadly, there is no push pin currently situated in the Seattle metropolitan area -- after all, he did just come through town last week. What do we do when the pall of sadness is about to cloud us over? We watch the video for “Geek to the Beat” and remember the good times:

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