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culture

Sound Advice: Zoo Babies by Zoo Babies

This local rap quintet is serious about cracking jokes.

One thing becomes abundantly clear after listening to the self-titled debut from local rap collective Zoo Babies: the only thing the Babies take seriously is rap itself, and that’s generally a good thing.

The five members of the group have a gift for cracking wise. They trade flows easily, and it feels like each MC is trying to top the one before—constantly reaching for the better one-liner and the weirder pop-culture reference. This makes for a fun listen, especially when they do things like, on a track called “Bullies,” compare themselves to Nelson Muntz. Equally enjoyable is “One Two,” in which they mention Jaromir Jagr’s famous fluffy mullet and reference Kevin Costner. (Listen to “One Two” by clicking on the sample above.)

The beats tend toward the mid-tempo and stripped down, which usually works, given the number of voices on every song. It’s hard to fit five MCs on every track without having things get busy, so, when it comes to production, simple is good for Zoo Babies.

As much fun as the record is, it’s by no means perfect. The Babies are great at writing lyrics. They have fantastic punchlines, and, as we mentioned earlier, a metric ton of funny pop-culture references. What they don’t do is write songs. Content-wise, there’s a lot of rapping-about-rapping and no songs with a narrative arc. That’s fine for a first album, but if they want to take things to the next level, they’ll have to find some content to go with their form.

This record may not be brilliant or groundbreaking, but it is fun, funny, and smart. It’s also a great introduction to a group that, while raw, has a ton of potential.

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