Review Summary: The Ziggurat is a rich concept album featuring some of the best beats to come out of South Africa, and a lush overarching storyline that showcases Waddy Jones at his creative paramount.
The Constructus Corporation was a trip-hop project featuring current members of Die Antwoord alongside DJ Sibot and electronic producers Felix Laband and Markus Wormstorm. While The Constructus Corporation may have featured members of Die Antwoord, it was hardly similar to the polarizing rave group. The Ziggurat
is a rich concept album featuring some of the best beats to come out of South Africa, and a lush overarching storyline that showcases Waddy Jones at his creative paramount.
The album begins with a narrator doing his best Mr. Miyagi-meets-Yoda vocal caricature, and explains that The Ziggurat is a massive floating structure housing a self-sufficient society. The intro is one of several skits that, while skippable, are important for setting the overall tone and understanding the album's concepts. The Ziggurat
follows two kids -- Random Boy and Kid Tronic -- living in the futuristic society, the former of which strives to become The Ziggurat's biggest MC, while the latter serves as his cyborg companion. The album also features "Rick Flare", ahem, 'self-made millionaire' who, despite his eccentric investments, has found the time to enlighten the people of The Ziggurat with tips on "How to Become a Better Person". Waddy Jones voices all the male characters on the album, and there are quite a few. All of the characters are planned out carefully, featuring unique flows and their own idiosyncratic lyrics.
is one of few hip-hop albums I've heard that manages to be consistently tight, both in lyrics and production, yet still manage to suffer under the weight of its own creativity. It's as though Waddy Jones & co. knew their project was doomed to be short-lived, and saw fit to cram The Ziggurat
with every idea they could muster. The upside is an album that boasts interesting lyricism, unique beats and varied themes. The downside is an album that often strays to far from its intended concept, slightly dampening the impact. There are several tracks that are presented under the guise of Random Boy and Kid Tronic's 'virtual reality', but are really just filler tracks, though I am using the term 'filler' a bit indiscriminately. Some of the tracks that have no apparent connection to the storyline happen to be the most infectious tracks on the entire album, boasting the most creative beats and memorable hooks. "Jellyfish" falls close to the midpoint of the album and, while not possessing any relation to the story, at least by a surface level interpretation, shows Jones inserting his own personalized underlying messages. Jones mocks blind consumerism, and pokes fun at how a society living in the year 2200, despite considerable advancement in technology, has the majority of the population 'walking around without a clue'. "Invisible Sentinels" includes a verse where Jones states '[modern hip-hop's] hard-core tactics are out-dated and jaded'. In fact, given the number of Jones's cynical quips, The Ziggurat
could be considered allegorical, as though members of The Constructus Corporation saw the album as an opportunity to denounce various things they consider ultimately harmful to the world. Despite some of Waddy's lyrics bordering on pseudo-intellectual territory, they never prevent the album being fun at its core, and are consistently imaginative.
While The Ziggurat
isn't the first hip-hop album to include themes of science fiction, I find myself at a loss thinking of a trip-hop album that predates this containing sci-fi story elements. By that definition, The Ziggurat
is truly an interesting piece, and an essential listen for fans of trip-hop and conceptual hip-hop alike.