Amp Live
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Amp Live

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE
Band EDM Hip Hop


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Eligh and AmpLive"

A shrewd hip-hop fan might have foreseen the Eligh-AmpLive collaboration ten years ago. After all, the two of them make perfect sense together. Eligh is easily the most elegant and creative rapper to emerge from Oakland crew Living Legends, while AmpLive is an underground producer whose increasingly weird tastes became grist for an ever-changing production style. Ten years ago, they stood on different sides of the underground hip-hop spectrum: AmpLive was more of an earthbound, classical type; Eligh was a total iconoclast. Now, by virtue of Amp's experimentation with dubstep and Eligh's staying on the fringe, they've found a point of intersection that, admittedly, is pretty far from their shared backpacker origins. But their talents are about commensurate.

And the result is fantastic. Amp's clever, jagged beats are a perfect complement for the sine-wave curve of Eligh's voice, which, in this case, is the rough equivalent of a musical instrument. In fact, he's such an interesting rap vocalist that his lyrics often seem inconsequential. Perhaps Eligh knows this, because he free associates on some tracks — were it not for the rhyme schemes, you'd think he was just improvising. Take "Stop Running," in which he chants the name "Forrest Gump" over and over again. That sounds like the kind of joke you'd make up after smoking too much weed in a rap studio. But other songs are narrative-driven and incredibly focused. "Metronome," for instance, is about his problems with authority and his occasional bouts of depression (something he also alludes to on "Stethoscope," in which AmpLive manipulates drum samples to sound like a heartbeat). Desperation and anxiety lurk just below the surface of Eligh's raps, so that each one has its own violence, regardless of the subject matter. ("Ms. Meteor" is a love ballad, but it's also about being alone.) That's a rather unconventional form of therapy, but it's definitely cathartic. (Legendary Music/Live Up)
- East Bay Express


You must know who Amp Live is, right? He’s the other half of Zion I; the California duo who’ve been putting out killer music since 1997. Or, maybe you know him as a producer who has worked with Del tha Funkee Homosapien on “Video Tapez“. If you’ve somehow never encountered an Amp Live beat, prepare for a wonderful introduction to his sound. If you have, welcome back, I think you’ll enjoy You Are Not Human (The Love EP). “Playing With My Tremelo” is a startling jazzy production. It glitches, it’s lost in another world where jazz and meteorites collide. What a beautiful track, seriously. From the synths that seem to power up, clink on, to the electro piano that calms before going into hyper-speed, it’s truly gorgeous. It’s so easy for writers like me to compare music to other-worldly phenomenons, because it’s hard to explain the uncatagorizable, blurred genre. It’s not meant to be explained, just experienced. Experience this beat tape for yourself. It’s definitely worth it. - Pot Holes in My Blog

"Amp Live – You Are Not Human (The Love EP) Review"

First impressions on the new Amp Live that came out today: You Are Not Human (The Love EP) is the sheer product of musical curiosity.

Amp Live’s high-profile work with ZION I represents a fraction of the musical world he’s sunk his hooks into – count remix work for Radiohead, MGMT and Tokyo Police Club among the credentials that prove Amp’s more than just a beat factory on permagrind. Though he’s seen his name in 8 point font in a fair share of liner notes, his lush aesthetic and affinity for exploration have always framed him as a man worthy of top billing. You Are Not Human seems to house an overflow of ideas and motifs from his collaborative work, and although these tracks are still borne of hip hop, they mesh into anything but. Sans vocalist, Amp takes more hands-on command of his arrangements, never abandoning his propensity to fiddle, and almost never ending a song in the same place it started. This record will jar you out of vibe every so often, but only to bring you into another one.

And clearly, Amp Live’s interest in his contemporaries has served him well. It’s hard not to associate “6/8” – a track named for a time signature it then subverts – with Radiohead’s “15 Step,” which he must know intimately after reworking it for Rainy Dayz, his reinvisioning of great chunks of In Rainbows . And the snappy, subtle warmth of “Differ.e.n.t.” instantly recalled everything I liked about Nosaj Thing’s debut LP, Drift. But let’s be clear: Amp deals in hat tips, not in biting. You Are Not Human belongs to the same soulful source as his past work: clean jazz piano, near-saccharine strings and airy drums lend this album satisfying spaciousness (though they’re all prime candidates for crunchy deconstruction). All in all, this release positions him as an artist who becomes harder, not easier, to pin down as his discography expands – which is a high compliment, especially in an age where neurotic hyper-categorization keeps our editorials moving down the assembly line.

There’s no damn reason not to pick up You Are Not Human, which is free, and way the fuck more satisfying than most any other free thing you’ll have access to this year. You can grab your copy on Amp Live’s website. - Thrill Call

"Amp Live Murder at the Discotech"

Once upon a time, Amp Live was the DJ for hip-hop duo Zion-I, a groove-driven outfit that paired uplifting lyrics with melodic backing tracks. Over the years, Zion-I evolved to keep pace with the times — emcee Zion rechristened himself "Zumbi" and cultivated a new persona. Amp Live, meanwhile, reinvented himself as a electronic solo artist. By the time Zion-I released its 2009 album, The Take Over, it had completely transformed. The material hewed a lot closer to electrofunk than hip-hop, and the producer quite obviously outstripped the emcee in talent. Now, Amp Live has consolidated his career with an album of original material, and almost none of it fits in the purview of traditional rap music.

Blame it on a market that favors Ke$ha and B.O.B. as the new "urban" alternative. But Amp Live seems to enjoy this turn of events, and, if anything, the shift away from blues and soul samples has helped stimulate his imagination. Murder at the Discotech is structured like a mix tape, but each track bears Amp Live's personal stamp. It's not hip-hop. Rather, it's a weird mélange of new-wave dance music, dubstep, studio effects, chicks with British accents, drum machine patterns, Afrofuturism, and indie rock.

The opening song "Blast Off" could have hit the rave scene twenty years ago, and "Dropp," with local girl-group Hot Tub, is a little too redolent of J.J. Fad. But there are gems here, too. Amp Live does a couple imaginative collaborations with backpacker emcees Mickey Factz and Yak Ballz, but he sounds best working with female vocalists. His duets with Golda Supernova and Rebecca Bortman (of the indie pop band My First Earthquake) are undoubtedly the highlights of Murder. They're also a sure sign of treason: Clearly, Amp has split away from his backpacker antecedents, and he'll get dissed for the impropriety. But ultimately, it's a smart move. - East Bay Express

"Amp Live: Murder at the Discotech"

California’s Bay Area, which includes the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, is hopping with musical activity, but when it comes to hip-hop, the area doesn’t always get its due. The Bay Area has been home to prominent talents such as E-40, Digital Underground, Too Short, Zeph & Azeem, but when we’re talking about United States hip-hop geography, the spotlight goes elsewhere: New York, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles. Sometimes Texas gets a nod. Sometimes New Orleans and Chicago are mentioned. Big things have been brewing in Detroit lately. There’s California love in hip-hop, true enough, but there ought to be more discussion about the Bay.

Since we’re talking about things that are underrated, we should include the production work of one DJ Amp Live, perhaps best known in underground rap circles as the man behind the boards for Zion I, the duo of Amp Live and rapper Zumbi. Together, they’ve carved a niche for themselves, skillfully wielding what might appear, on the surface, to be a carefree aesthetic—but is actually a slick brand of thoughtful lyricism and futuristic production. Albums like 2005’s True & Livin’, 2006’s Heroes in the City of Dope (a collaboration with fellow Bay Area wordsmith The Grouch), and 2009’ The Take Over provide the proof of Amp Live’s creativity. The Take Over, in particular, was a solid example of the Oakland, California DJ’s knack for fusing disparate musical elements into something cohesive and greater than even the technique that makes it all work together. Not only does he do this within individual tracks, he can make it happen over the course of an album, which is difficult to plan and tougher to bring to fruition.

Outside of Zion I, Amp Live dedicated himself to remixing Radiohead’s In Rainbows. The resulting mix, Rainydayz, merged smart and snappy instrumentals with form fitting rhymes from Too Short, Zumbi, and Del the Funky Homosapien. One of the high points, “15 Steps”, received a drastic revamp, born again via Codany Holiday’s silky vocals and Amp Live’s intuitive watch as a bold and soulful R&B standout. He exercised similar influence over several tracks he liked from Why?‘s Eskimo Snow.

To his credit, Amp Live is more than a beat maker. He usually creates soundscapes and aural adventures. The music tells a story, capable of either standing alone or supporting lyrics. His 2010 solo release, Murder at the Discotech, contains these hallmarks, but the musical story is less cohesive, more in tune with the diversity of the producer’s palette than with the intersections. While the title suggests a wanton musical assault on the dance floor, or perhaps a funk-freaky homage to Agatha Christie, the final product ends up being fractured, at times laborious.

The premise was supposed to be simple yet effective. Take a great producer (Amp Live) and let him roam slightly outside of the zone for which he’s known (hip-hop). Here, Amp Live features into the realm of dance and electronic rhythm. Murder at the Discotech doesn’t succeed in killing Amp Live’s rivals in the competition for club supremacy, but it does offer a suitable showcase for the DJ’s forays into new wave, electroclash, and techno.

At its most reaching and extravagant, Murder at the Discotech is the music of the machine, an attempt to find soul in the robotic, to inform the present with a glimpse of the future. That means squiggly synthesizers and wormy basslines, as well as all manner of whooshing, clicking, and buzzing. The compositions are further embellished by drums that crash, clang, boom, and penetrate. It is loud and whirring, stubbornly repetitive and clamoring, but also thematically scattered in a way that undermines any sense of narrative purpose. Just because you can craft an album with electronic flourishes and spectacles, while mixing in hip-hop and new wave, doesn’t mean you should do it.

Songs like the “Auto-tune-is-activated” track “Gary is a Robot” (featuring Trackademicks and Mr. Micro), which you might recognize from the DJ Hero videogame, and the Mickey Factz-assisted “Turn It Up” make a strong case for Discotech‘s robotic sensibilities, while Hot Right Now goes far in the right direction regarding hip-hop. Hot Right Now is a grand posse cut featuring left coast heavy hitters Dude Royal, the Grouch, Fashawn, Eligh, Bambu, Zumbi, and Chris Young. For the most part, this is as good as it gets in terms of subject matter and thematic unity, as each emcee presents some variation on the concept of “hotness”. It doesn’t help, though, that the opening three tracks—the intro, “Blast Off”, and “About to Blow” (with K. Flay)—basically operate as introductions so that the album doesn’t really take off until the aforementioned “Gary is a Robot”, the fourth track.

Beyond that, the best tracks are either instrumentals from Amp Live (“Chick Pop”, “Mad Man”) or, unexpectedly, new wave concoctions. The instrumentals are sufficiently quirky, boasting guitar licks, choice snippets of vocal samp - Pop Matters


You are not human EP

Murder at the Discotech

Other collaborative projects



Amp Live is building a reputation as one of California's most talented and diverse music producer/DJs. After his dreamy, soulful beats for the hip hop group Zion I, he has been able to produce for major and independent artists such as Akon, Flipsyde, Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussy Cat Dolls, Tokyo Police Club, MGMT, Linkin Park , Goapele, and Mystic. Amp Live also produced the critically acclaimed "Rainydayz Remixes" album, which was derived from the In Rainbows LP by Radiohead.

Over the past 5 years, Amp Live has been a part of the video game industry, with his production being one of the main features for the Sony Traxxpad, as well as being heavily involved in the NBA2K video game series. Finally, Amp's beats have been featured on a number of movies, TV shows, and commercials, which include; Nestle's "Wonka Candy-Feed Your Imagination" series, "So You Think You Can Dance", "Dirt" by Courtney Cox, "Friday Night Lights", "Honey", "Big Fat Liar", "Leprechaun 4", "America's Next Top Model" by Tyra Banks, ESPN Sports Center, and the "Jamie Kennedy Show".