"This system does not work for us, so we must take this system over." The statement of intent that opens Zion I's new album rings true both politically and musically. Since their 2000 debut, producer AmpLive and MC Zumbi have never quite fit into the matrix of Bay Area hip-hop. AmpLive's beats are laced with the sounds of drum and bass, house, and ambient downtempo, while Zumbi's lyrics are more concerned with conscience than with cash and cars. But make no mistake: This album isn't stale in its seriousness. From the swirling synth flourishes of the electronic album highlight "Antenna" to Brother Ali's guest verse over the sweeping strings of "Caged Bird," The Takeover is sprightly and banging. Zion I continues to shrug off hip-hop's clichés, infusing the genre with creativity and energy.