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Mental Combat 916

Author: Blaze
Friday, 8 August 2008
Stupidly I’ve had this album sitting on my desk getting ignored due to catching up on other stuff. What a drongo I am. Well here it is. Mark Rae of Rae & Christian fame has been flying solo for a while now, but has teamed up with some fella named Rhys Adams for a new project named Yes King. Named after the Jamaican version of ‘g’day’ their debut album entitled Rock This World via NZ label Loop (Stomp distro), has its feet firmly entrenched in the island nation’s main genre of music. The reggae vibe is evident on virtually every track. Could it get better than the first song though- The dancehall vibed hip hop tune Champion Sound has Kenny Knotts on the intro, with some excellent chatting/rapping/singing from female Baby Chann (member of UK Bashment crew Suncycle) and of course Mystro filling in the gaps with his typically solid effort. Superb! Mystro also appears on the violin punctuated James Barry sounding One Of Those Days. Two of Mark’s colleagues who appeared on his album from 2004 Into the Depths, Veba and Pete Simpson, feature on the brilliantly soulful 40 Days. So damn good. The 2004 Prince’s Trust Urban Music Award Winner Ayak serves up her sweet RNB vocals for Circles and Love Revolution; Prezident Brown gets into Kingston mode for Tomorrow Is Another Day, while Kenny Knotts gets his solo on the Mexican trumpeted War, Knotts joins Mystro and the irrepressible Dawn Penn for the title cut. Seems as though a lot of the pre-production might have been recorded in Jamaica, but then completed back home in Ladbroke Grove giving it that special sounds like a million dollars. Sweetie Irie turns it out for the club DJ favourite Style Come Different. The CD features three bonus tracks. A remix from Neon Heights, MR Benn and a Yes King remix of Empty Heads with Dynamite MC. I’m also glad that they included the 6:35min instrumental track Claude’s Theme. Especially love the last few minutes Bondish breakdown. Excellent work yet again.

I can’t seem to find out much information on Rhys Adams, except that he seems responsible for most of the instrumentation on the album. Thankfully Mark keeps his combination of samples and effervescent programming intact. Love his style of really warm, yet fattened up basslines. He’s lost none of his touch. Word is that not only has Mark relocated to Venice Beach, California, but that he will be re-recording with his previous Steve Christian for an upcoming project as well as working with Adams for a double CD back catalogue release of Rae & Christian material. Seems like Yes King and Mystro just toured New Zealand last month. Damn! We lucked out.

Sudanese lad Emmanuel Jal escaped his early life of being unfairly conscripted into the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) fighting in Ethiopia and was helped out into Kenya by a British aid worker when he was 11. He’s 28 now and has just released his third album War Child (Sonic360/Stomp). It was also the same title adopted for a documentary film that was shown at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. He also appeared at Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday concert recently. As someone who has really been through some serious shit in his life, with more diabolical circumstance than any inner-city wannabe thug, he’s more than qualified to express his opinion on the stupidity of most commercial/gangsta lyrics in the USA, as best depicted on his clever take directed at Curtis Jackson’s poor excuse for a role model via 50 Cent. And yes, it all sounds comical in comparison to Emmanuel’s experience. Of course the majority of lyrics are commentary on the state of warfare on the African continent. After listening to his lyrics you’d wonder how many of these studio gangstas would survive in the worlds he’s describing. Truly horrific. Emmanuel doesn’t hold back in his lyrics and leaves no stone unturned. He’s a very poetic lyricist with an excellent command of English that thankfully he’s able to use to inform his listeners of the atrocities that some children still face in Sudan. Sometimes it almost feels more like ‘spoken word’ than actual MCing. What he lacks in technique he more than makes up in content, And according to Wikipedia, he’s also the spokesman for the Make Poverty History campaign, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and the Control Arms campaign. If you liked the Somalian/Canidian material from K’Naan then this’ll be perfect for you. British author Deborah Scroggins wrote a controversial book about the now tragically killed aid worker who helped Emmanuel called Emma’s War. Apparently it’s rumoured to be made into a film by Tony Scott starring Nicole Kidman and will touch upon Emmanuel’s situation, but Emma McClune’s family isn’t happy about it.
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