Sometimes the universe drops something completely unexpected in your lap. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not. I recently decided to check out all the 2010 hip hop releases that my public library had.
My intention was to get a sense of the state of hip hop today by exploring the library’s collection. I couldn’t afford to buy dozens of CDs, and I wouldn’t have known where to begin. What I got, though, was a glimpse of one of the greatest rappers I’ve ever heard, Z-Ro, a man who has released a dozen albums in as many years, but is still an underground voice outside of Houston, TX.
Heroin is the third in a trilogy of drug records, with Cocaine (2009) and Crack (2008) preceding it. I picked up Cocaine after I discovered Heroin, and it’s a great album as well. The weird thing is that they share two songs, but with different names on both albums. “We Don’t Speed” is “Tha Police” on Cocaine, and “Shotta” is “Move Ya Body” on Heroin.
“Never Let Go” kicks off Heroin with a big, dark funk. The production grabbed me right away and got me thinking of Dr. Dre. Z-Ro has a very arresting bass voice, and I love his flow. His rhymes are hard, pained, real. Depressed, not depressing.
The album features choruses you might find yourself singing. Which would be bad, because they tend to be a bit foul. “Do Bad on My Own” is a brilliant song with a poignant chorus that has Z-Ro doing the harmonies, layered one on top of the other.
“Real or Fake” announces itself big and heavy with a great synth and guitar intro. Dripping with deep, dirty southern funk. Then Mike D (not the Beastie Boy) practically steals the song from Z-Ro with his verse.
“We Don’t Speed” is a gripping rap about getting pulled over by a cop. “Man, it’s just weed, you trippin’!” This verse is worth a read:
Since Barack Obama became the first black President,
The police have been waging war against the black resident.
Racial profiling is at an all time high.
We represent 10% of the population,
But 65% of the jail population, and I can’t tell you why.
A lot of us are guilty as charged, and as much as I hate to say it,
Some brothers deserve to be behind bars –
You know the ones who beat on women, and the murderers, and the rapists,
and especially the ones that kidnap and even abandon babies.
Intense, right? An interesting angle on a fairly common topic in hip hop. When Z-Ro raps about himself, he’s starkly honest. He makes me like him, flaws and all. I’ve listened to a lot of new hip hop albums over these past few months, and Heroin is the best of the bunch. I’m going to start working through more of his back catalog next.
Video: Z-Ro – “Driving Me Wild”
7 thoughts on “Z-Ro – Heroin”
Heroin is amazing. I’m not as crazy about Cocaine, but even still, Z-Ro is a great rapper.
I agree, but the more I listen to Cocaine, the more it grows on me. But Heroin is the stronger album. I think the next one I’m going to get is Life of Joseph W Mcvey, his first record with Rap-A-Lot.
Yal needa check out his earlier shit…ZRO his self titled album at number 1 then life of joseph W Mcvey at #2 and i have a tie for #3 with Life and Let the Truth Be Told…all of his albums are sick. Plus you needa check out Trae, DJ Screw and the rest of the houston underground. Look up ABN, Guerilla Maab, Screwed up Click, and work your way through lol
Thanks, Houston. I’ve heard some stuff Trae did with Z-Ro, but not much beyond that, and definitely want to check out more. Right now I’m giving Bun B’s Trill OG a listen – also on Rap-a-Lot. Seems like the Houston hip hop scene is putting out some great stuff.
Ay you think Heroin good go get Crack and listen to #3 first… that shit wont leave your deck for months.
Thanks, Pat. I just happened to pick Crack and The Life of Joseph W. McVey up last week. Really digging both of them. Other favorites from Crack are Mo City Don and Eyes on Paper. Z-Ro has not disappointed me yet with the four albums I’ve been able to check out. Like I told Sab the other day, I’m sure I’ll get another itch in a month or so and pick up two more Z-Ro albums. Dude’s brilliant!
ya and i know you liked his 9 minute 25 lighters freestyle… Have you got it is what its is with him and trae yet cause thats a masterpiece to.