Released a few days ago, The Year Of Zuby is the fourth album from Zuby, the England born, Saudi Arabia-bred and Oxford University educated rapper. To that list we can add ‘world-travelling entrepreneur’, as he’s spent the past few years on a personal mission that’s included playing across the UK, Europe and the US, selling thousands of CDs along the way.
Much hip-hop tends towards self-aggrandising, an attempt at a self-fulfilling prophecy – ‘if I continually say that I’m great and better than everybody else, perhaps I will become so’. It’s at least impressive that Zuby has followed this through with an unending self-belief and energy, and convenient for that backstory that The Year Of Zuby contains sixteen commercially-aware and carefully assembled tracks.
Overall it tends towards a mid-paced lope, with a relaxed, smooth vocal delivery that sees lyrics rolling gently around simple, but effective, beats’n’samples backdrops. On a couple of tracks (‘How To Kill A Man’, also featuring fellow Oxford rapper ShaoDow, and ‘Rock Star’, with its thrash guitar echoing early Rick Rubin metal+rap productions) the tension is hyped up a little; overall this is a pretty good-natured and confident collection of accessible tracks. Get beyond the confusing first track ‘Intro (The Year Of Zuby)’, which opens the album with a ‘BBC Radio Oxford’ jingle and snippets of Zuby interviewed by the BBC’s David Gilyeat – creating an “am I playing the right album here?” moment – and as a statement of the continuing personal growth and determination of Zuby, The Year Of Zuby is solid stuff.
The Year Of Zuby is available through iTunes and Amazon, and on CD from the Zuby merchandise store.