While here at the SB headquarters we don’t always see eye-to-eye in terms of music, one thing we do agree on is that 2010 was, indeed, the year of Lorenzo Ferguson better known to all as Zo!. Many of the Detroit-bred, D.C.-based multi-instrumentalist and producer’s melodies provided the soundtrack to our 2010. Let’s face it, he seemed to be everywhere this year. Zo! managed to hit us off with stellar production work nearly every season this year, making him easily the SoulBounce Honors 2010 Producer of the Year.
Zo! kicked things off in the spring, when his fellow Foreign Exchange Music labelmate YahZarah released her highly-anticipated album, The Ballad of Purple Saint James. He lent his production talents to her single “Cry Over You” featuring Phonte. The funky, upbeat track provided the perfect backdrop for YahZarah’s sassy rebound tale.
By the time the summer release of his own full-length FE Music debut, SunStorm, we were practically foaming at the mouth with anticipation of the musical delicacies our ears were about to feast on. And boy, did he not disappoint. Drawing comparisions to Stevie Wonder‘s Songs in the Key of Life, SunStorm served up a delicious composition of musicianship and artistry. As previously stated in our review of the album, “While some producers may stumble when their musical ambitions find them dabbling in different genres, Zo! expertly navigates vast musical terrain.” Nearly six months later, this album continues to amaze with his wide-range of talents, sprinkling in a dash of jazz here, a spoonful of broken beat there and a whole lotta fun, spirited soul and hip-hop ingredients in between.
In with the cool weather of the fall, came the equally-cool third group project, Authenticity, from The Foreign Exchange. While most production was still held-down by FE co-founder Nicolay, Zo!’s fingerprints still remained all over this album. Picking up where the group’s previous project, Leave It All Behind, left all, this album was melancholy and slightly-experimental, where LIAB was hopeful and soulful. Zo! even took a turn on the mic–albeit a talkbox mic–on “Don’t Wait.” Whether he was leading us through the highs of love or guiding us through the dreary days of heartbreak, Zo! consistently used his musical prowess to help bring the vivid emotions to life. Through his fingertips, we were able to feel sentiment just as clearly as we could hear it.
And to think, Zo! managed to deliver a crop of good music all while holding down a full-time gig as a music teacher in Washington, D.C. By showcasing us such a versatile range of musical portraits in 2010, we can only imagine what Zo! has in store for us in 2011. If next year is anything like this past one has been, then you better make room on your iPods for more phenemonal music.