by Jenny Stark
A long, long time ago when I was but a young teen, before I was introduced to my true love (hip-hop), I thought I knew what I wanted. I sported marker stained converse, those terrible multi-colored stretchy beaded bracelets, black fingernails, black clothes, black hair; all black everything. I sat alone under the second floor staircase at lunch time eating one sad excuse for a turkey sandwich after another with my headphones on, always searching for some meaning to life through rock music.
Now in my twenties, having grown immensely in my understanding of both music and myself, I find myself gravitating towards hip-hop’s meaningful lyrics and masterful rhythms. I kept my Chucks, of course, but ditched the emotionally driven rock for a more meaningful slam poetic sound. Though I still go back through my Sad Songs of ‘05 file for my rock fix from time to time, I find myself in a unbreakable love affair with hip hop’s all encompassing nature, those luminous and ever-lasting lyrics combined perfectly with heart-pumping beats.
Seasoned battle rapper and slam poet Zeale, Esquire Magazine’s and The New York Times Magazine’s Artist of Interest for 2014, shows us what it would sound like if Weezer and Dre had a baby by releasing his new mega-alternative album FRNZ & FNGZ. Combining the essence of emotionally driven rock and lyrically luscious hip-hop, Zeale stays true to his poetic core, creating deeply meaningful lyrics to contrast the uppity beats by riffing off the poetic styles of legends like Tupac and Talib Kweli. The new alternative album utilizes influences ranging from the stylistic sounds of System Of A Down to Green Day, Nirvana to The Doors, The Clash with a bit of Cool Kids, all punched up with a catchy pop-like essence.
The FRNZ & FNGZ EP is an impressively eclectic six track compilation of lyric-heavy hip-hop and passionate punk rock backed by pop-a-licious beats. It showcases a boastable list of featured artists including Del the Funky Homosapien, Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October, Chris No.2 of Anti-Flag, Spencer Ludwig, and Kenny Carkeet on behalf of AWOLNATION. Kicking off the EP is Zeale accompanied by local funk-master Del the Funky Homosapien putting things in perspective with their NY high speed spit-ability in “Unnecessary Things.” That track is followed by “Radio,” which ably displays Zeale’s lickity-split lyricism, with the added decoration of a yeah-yeah-yeah clap heavy beat that’s sure to put some pep in your step. Zeale follows that up with a hard hitting Manson-esque track, complete with heavy handed raps, in “Marilyn Monroe.”
Later, Zeale shows us his “blue-er” side in track “Invisible Prisons” by teaming up with Blue October’s Justin Furstenfeld to produce an acoustic ode to his softer self. “City Lights” (with support by Spencer Ludwig), on the other hand, showcases the saxier end of Zeale’s sound, with all the heavy horns and soulful jazz action that entails. Rounding out the EP is Zeale’s track “Spin,” where the local lyricist lets us explore the carousel of his mind over a rocking solid beat. The end result is an EP that encapsulates the carousel of Zeale’s mind, allowing the audience VIP access to all facets of the artist, that also does double duty as a mixtape of my life– and I’m willing to bet a few of you have gone through a similar evolution.