K-HIPHOP / REVIEWS

[Review] [Album] Zion.T – ‘Red Light’

2013_zion t_red light

written by: drowningn00b
Artist/Album: Zion. T – ‘Red Light’
Genre: Hip-Hop
Release Date: April 09, 2013

Zion.T, K-Pop’s R&B prince, has been featured on many projects. From Primary & The Messengers, Verbal Jint, the guys from 1llionaire and others, it was about time the featured guest had his own party.

Bringing his nasal voice and vocal tricks, he goes into synthesizer land for ‘Red Light‘, which is anything but raunchy, but certainly quite a debut.


I have to start with the obvious; Zion.T is not a vocalist. He will never be on “I Am A Singer”, neither will he do OST work for romantic dramas. That said, he is an interesting singer. With his nasal delivery, Zion.T’s voice lends well to manipulation, like on the track “Neon”. In it, he’s put through different effects to create different vocal personas, like the smooth bass singer to the falsetto background section. The album opener, “O”, and its follow-up, “Doop” with Verbal Jint, show his skill in scat, adding a bit of improvisation to those mid-tempo tracks. It all comes to a head on the reggae bump and grind, “Global Warming”, with vocalizations and double-time phrasing. He may not be the best, but Zion.T plays up those limitations so well you don’t notice them.

Musically, ‘Red Light’ is synth heavy, with drums for accents and bass for groove-setting. There are no ballads or baby makers, but the low-tempos that are here, like “Two Melodies” with Crush and “Click Me (2013)” with Dok2, are relaxed head-boppers with enough drums to keep from getting boring. The dance numbers “She” and the lead single “Babay”, begin well enough, but both have too many layers and effects going on at once; you can bypass them at a party, but for solo listening, these two songs jam too much in your ears.


Where things are done right, ironically enough, is on the Zion.T-less extended cut of “Neon”. With three movements at around five minutes long, this addition feels like a new track altogether. Similar to SNSD‘s “I Got A Boy”, the song shifts between a calmer intro and a big beat section. Unlike the SNSD track, however, the transitions aren’t abrupt, feeling more like a DJ on a turntable than an amateur splicing songs together. The last movement then melds together both feelings for a nice finish. Because the shorter version had the various Zion.T’s, “Neon (Director’s Cut)” feels right included in ‘Red Light’ and is one of the best tracks on the LP.

==

For his first full-length album, Zion.T went full-on synth pop and R&B. He sings about girls and keeping girlfriends over calm mid-tempo tracks and good dance numbers, without going X-rated as the album’s name suggests. On tracks like “Doop” and “Dodo“, the mid-tempo pacing brings out his best singing, with “Neon” and “Global Warming” putting interesting twists to the singer’s unique voice. The up-tempo numbers, “Babay” and “She” are okay, but bogged with clashing elements. With a resurging of Korean R&B, Zion.T’s ‘Red Light’, with its flaws, shows how modern R&B is done, and done well.

==

Scorecard

O
.5
Doop feat. Verbal Jint
.75
Dodo
.75
She feat. Beenzino
.5
Neon
.75
Babay feat. Gaeko of Dynamic Duo
.5
Global Warming feat. YDG
1
Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
Two Melodies feat. Crush
.75
Neon (Director’s Cut)
1
Click Me (2013) feat. Dok2
.75
Total Points
7.25

Points to stars conversion: [(7.25/10) x 5] + 0.25*

3.9/5


*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.

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3 thoughts on “[Review] [Album] Zion.T – ‘Red Light’

  1. I was actually really disappointed with this album. I was SOOOO looking forward to it, and I really wanted to buy the album. But I usually listen to the album online first (that way I know that I will enjoy what I am getting), and I was shocked that I didn’t really like it. For me, the only really great songs were “Click Me”, “Two Melodies”, and “Babay”, which are his only three songs with music videos. I found everything else to be really irritating to listen to. :/ I don’t know, I was just really bummed with this. I’d agree with the rating, but I probably still won’t buy it.

  2. I completely disagree with the fact that you call “Babay” and “She” songs with ”too many layers and effects” and not suitable for solo listening. If you think these good songs aren’t suitable for solo listening, then what about 99% of mainstream kpop music nowadays? all heavy produced music with tons of layers & effects.

    Nevertheless, decent review and a suitable score. At first I was a tiny bit disappointed with the album because the songs didn’t really get to me like his contributions on the Primary album.. But I’m glad that the songs grew to me, especially ”Dodo”, ”Babay” and ”Global Warming” are definitely on repeat everyday.

    Zion.T is really one of a kind in the Korean music scene, even though he isn’t the best singer around, he sings with such a feel what makes his voice beautiful en more interesting to listen to then those top-notch singers. He definitely is the Korean R&B prince and I can’t wait for his future work! :)

    Zion.T Fighting!

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