Review Date: 02/10/14
Review By: Christopher Johnson
Release Date: 11/30/13
Za Ya, (real name Isaiah Moreno), is a nineteen year old rapper from California with the type of presence typically only found in musicians with several years in the industry. “Za” has clearly capitalized on having a father who makes a living as an audio engineer and recently released his Broadcast EP. Za Ya has already been featured in multiple music festivals and even joined Hard Rock veterans Seventh Day Slumber on a recent tour.
Tour mates Seventh Day Slumber back Za Ya up on “Outcast Academy,” the album’s first full length track, and the combination of Za’s delivery and Slumber’s driving pulse is a perfect match. The difficulty in merging rock and rap is in ensuring the lyricist can match the energy of the music without losing control of their delivery and Za Ya performs quite well in this respect. Defenders of the downtrodden, rappers Social Club would surely put their stamp of approval on the theme of the track. On the surface, “Outcast Academy” comes off as defending those that get ostracized for openly displaying their faith in a world that pushes against them. While that subject matter is discussed, it actually goes much deeper in addressing the judgment that can take place even within the Christian community, both towards those who do not know God, as well as fellow men and women of faith who don’t pass muster with the “better” Christians of the world. With an explanation far exceeding the typical maturity of someone his age, Za Ya sums up the song by stating “I don’t judge people because they sin differently than I do.”
“Love in Rotation” is the first of the two tracks that feature back up vocals by former Gotee Records recording artist Liquid. Za takes the listener from the mosh pit to the jazz club with the second track. The song plays as if Za Ya showed up to a four piece jazz band’s gig and asked if he could lace some lyrics over their instrumentals. Fans of the Digable Planets will love this track. Thematically, the lyrics are a clever look into someone struggling through a rough patch in life wondering what the point of it all is. The second part of the song shifts to someone swooping in, dusting the sullen one off and filling him with words of encouragement. Sharing a quote from his father, Za Ya closes the track with “Tomorrow it will be better, but thank God for today, because this lesson is forever.”
Liquid returns on the final track “Just Like You” showing his own versatility by adding his vocals to a dynamically different flow. This time around, Za Ya utilizes a more traditional west coast hip hop beat and Za takes the opportunity to reach out to anyone feeling discouraged and alone. Sharing the same trait found in most successful emcees of faith, Za Ya shares that he too struggles and fails at things. Stating “I can’t hear the judgment because I keep on walking” Za encourages the listener to keep their head up, as he can attest to things getting better when you put your faith in the right place.
Releasing an album with only three tracks opens each of them to heightened scrutiny (at least musically) but they all are more than worthy of their spot on Broadcast. While three tracks doesn’t allow Za Ya much of an opportunity to display a huge range in lyrical delivery, he displays an impressive grasp of what types of beats his chosen delivery work with. Za Ya’s Soundcloud page is a highly recommended visit, where his other available tracks will go further to display his range of lyricism, as well as his impressive ability to couple his lyrics with homages to multiple genres of music.
Za Ya shows a spiritual maturity that is rare in someone at his age. Being able to combine his mic skills with such a firm foundation of faith at 19 years old foretells of a bright future for Za Ya. Broadcast is a great start.