Rating: 4 out of 5 Potholes
The Glass Should Be Full, the sophomore album from Boston rapper Elemental Zazen, is simply an astonishing examination of the effects of political corruption and personal turmoil. Zazen grew up in various countries across the globe, including places in Asia and the Middle East, where he was witness to the extremes of many impoverished people. With a keen understanding of such dire circumstances, Zazen uses numerous tracks on The Glass Should Be Full to lash out at the wrongdoings bestowed upon the poor by their respective governments, including America’s own Bush administration. On “Handcuffs” for example, he discusses how various governments use fear to scare people into conformity. Not only is Zazen capable of communication interesting political messages, but he does so well, with captivating (at times over-descriptive) imagery, and a catchy quick-fire flow.
The second part of Zazen’s character that one must understand has a grueling personal story. Within a short period of time, Zazen was subjected to the death of a very close companion, the loss of the majority of his possessions via a five-alarm fire, and a diagnosis of a brain tumor, for which he underwent extensive surgery. It was while recovering from this surgery that he began to pen The Glass Should Be Full, with a renewed perspective on life. Numerous tracks, most notably “Hanging By A Thread”, drag the listener to dark places, straddling the line between life and death, and Zazen delivers a touching personal look inside the psychological effects of all his struggles. What is pleasant about this album, is that buried deep within the shadows, exists a light. “Machine” is a clever, uplifting centerpiece, highlighting Zazen’s deep appreciation for life, and his desire to make life better for those in need, a message that is revisited on the closing track, “Life Is Priceless”.
The album is not without its flaws. At times Zazen will get too focused on painting such a vivid picture with his words that he actually forgets to move the song forward. Furthermore, a bit more variation in production would have been nice, although the production is without question above average on the whole. Elemental Zazen actually holds his own among seasoned producers such as Kno (CunninLynguists) and Joe Beats (Non-Prophets), who both appear multiple times here. The Glass Should Be Full is a highly recommended listen for fans of political rap, from a solid artist to look out for in the future.