REVIEW: Zen Gnarly - 333 Dimensions

Zen Gnarly, aka Gio Simon, is no stranger to introspective, question asking, mellow music. His previous projects all touch on similar topics. Yet, on 333 Dimensions, we see a more contemporary, experimental, and cohesive take on his frequent subject matter.  

“Hello Adele” the album opener, opens with a set of bleak lyrics on the reality of life and its eternal loneliness, according to the artist. The production is wide, and spacious, possibly trying to fill a void for the artists’ lack of emotional support from others close to him. The 2nd hook sets tone of the whole album “Living, living, living, living, living, hurts, asked the sky & wonder why I feel so cursed.”

Track 2, “Suicide Leather”, continues the spacey reverb drenched production. Another song examining the depressive state of the artist's’ inner self. Although the verses are very sad, the hook reminds us not to give into these premonitions.

“I Met God/Visitor” is a stand out track. Zen plays on the idea of god and what it/they really are/stand for, critiquing and explicitly calling out instances where it almost seems like there is no “Good” intentions from a god, only to juxtapose this with “Visitor” examining the idea of the artists actually not being of this planet, similar to how some see their gods, he sees himself as his own god.

The beat on “Portals” instantly dawns a trance like state to the listener. Zen warns us, or possibly a reminder to himself, to be careful of those who will try to steal your energy, using a relationship between a man & woman as example. The track splits into part 2, “No Good”. No Good sees the protagonist giving into the woman's advances, backing vocals are reminiscent of Kid Cudi’s, the beat has a tropical flare to it, while still pertaining to the space-like, reverb aesthetic of the instrumentals on this project

“4get U” is your typical trap love song, examining the how this woman makes the artist feel, relating it to taking various drugs. A highlight of this project is just how seamless the instrumentals flow into each other.

The trap banger “Sacrifice”, deviates slightly from the spacy instrumental of earlier. Zen speaks about how he lost his innocence at a young age, thus making him the way he is. Unfortunately, this is one of the weaker tracks, not much of the idea brought about in the hook is expanded upon by Zen in the subsequent verses. A flaw that comes up again later in the project.

This leads us to “Psych Ward”, Another track that emerges above the fray, due to its direct approach both instrumentally & lyrically. The song details Zen’s current state of mind, bothered by negatives of  finances, women, and his thoughts. Here we see a more focused Zen, one who brings up topics of discussion in the hook, then expands upon them one by one in his verses.

The sad boy banger, “Schizoaffective” finds Zen asking the audience if they can still appreciate, and respect his art, despite the fact of his mental condition. A very vulnerable position to make on a song, I applaud him for doing so.

“Bring It Back Buss it Back” details Zen’s intentions in pursuing a relationship, differing from the norm of what most think rappers/performers look for. The unexpected beat switch beautifully transitions to Zen restating earlier motifs such as loneliness, his mental state, using drugs to cope, and women trying to understand him.  

It seems to me the only thing stopping Zen Gnarly from achieving greatness is himself. One of the weaker tracks, “Wrong” is carried mostly by a generic instrumental and is not as thematically coherent as the previous tracks.

Zen Gnarly fortunately closes the project on a high note, “Nothing Is Everything / Back 2 Da Future”. This track encapsulates everything said throughout album, capping the song off is a beat switch up into a very chilled trap banger. This outro sees Zen unleashing a flurry of ideas, thoughts, and speculations, leaving the listener with things to think about.

Overall, 333 Dimensions is a project in which its best tracks excel at revealing the mind of the artist. At the same time, the weaker tracks, put his flaws on full display, interestingly showing the dichotomy in Zen Gnarly mental state throughout the creative process.. There is no doubt when focused, Zen produces great work, and there is obvious talent here on this project. The downsides are, because of his talent, we are let down when he does not arise to the occasion on some tracks. Overall, this is an improvement from his previous work. A step in the right direction.

Best Track(s): “Portals/No Good”, “Psych Ward”, “Schizoaffective”

Worst Track(s): “Sacrifice”, “Wrong”  

Score: 7/10

-Sam Morgan