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Zion I 

When: Sun., Nov. 21, 8 p.m. 2010
Price: $20, $23

Emcee Zumbiand DJ AmpLivemay have started as a pair of Jah-worshipping earth-huggers, but over time they evolved into a very respectable hip-hop duo. Zumbi has learned to rap quickly and precisely, with playful intonation. But it's Amp who really shines here, mixing genre in ruthless, unorthodox ways. On recent albums The Takeover and Atomic Clock, he ventured away from the traditional snare and high hat, making beats with polyrhythmic drum patterns, minimalist 808 synths, and baile funk influences. These albums were closer to electronica than hip-hop. Occasionally, Amp got ahead of himself, making the tracks too busy. Fans ate it up anyway. It's refreshing to find a group that still privileges imagination over commercial success. Zion I performs at Slim's(333 11th St., San Francisco) Saturday, Nov. 20 at 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. Locksmith and Hold Up open on Saturday; Latin band Bang Data opens Sunday, along with Living Legends emcees Eligh and Scarub. $20, $23 Slims-SF.com

— Rachel Swan

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