|Afrosaxon - New England CD [Natural Selection]
The tracks fade into one another and the following Give U What U Want continues on the same slow tempo, but is a dirty tale of what the MCs would like to do with any girls they can pick up and just like any modern man they make sure that their partner is also satisfied. Well it is not quite like that, but there could be some kids reading this. Additionally the guest on this is G'Lena who I guess is providing the sung elements. Smoke 'Till You Choke both opens and closes with some political George Bush samples which don't really fit with the rest of the track which continues on the same chilled vibe as the LP started off with, this track featuring guest Montel, some sitar type backing with some extra percussive sounds, but with some impressive tongue twisting rhymes. Ghost Town (Crystal City) utilises the music from Special AKA's track of the same name, but with additional drum programming it is a dark story of how Bristol is over run with drugs and how this is having an impact on the residents. Distinctions are made between the different problems created by different drugs and is quite an impressive re-working of an absolute classic.
100 Reasons flips a lovely acoustic guitar for the backing which is mixed up with what sounds like it could be the accordion off the Stella adverts. Gruff vocals flex over the bumping beat and explain how the MC used to look out for his younger brother and goes on to express how he is given strength by his siblings and this is amongst the 100 Reasons he has to succeed in the game.
The R'n'B flex is introduced for Playin Me which featuring some R-Kelly type vocals from DT. Playin Me as the title suggests is about a girl who is taking the piss out of her man. Spike Foxx gets a short one and a half minutes for his own track to give us his life story. His harsh tomes contrast with a gentle piano backing for a quick message of bettering ones self. The Answer? featuring LD is nice enough, and the music is really gentle with its music box type loop and strings in the chorus, but does in a soppy LL Cool J way kinda works. It's a love story of two people who fit together, but ultimately the story ends in disaster, but the thought we are left with s that you have to endure shit in order to learn. The Disaster, another sad love story segue ways smoothly in from the former track. It is a bit more on the harsher side of a familiar break up situation which goes badly wrong when the bloke can't take being dumped and takes a knife to his former wife. Pianos which represent the goodness of love are this time interspersed with distorted guitars which represent the anger welling within. Spike Foxx is definitely able to hold a story and can make you feel it from the heart which is a skill which many so called MCs lack.
Powers Of Persuasion flips up the vibe for a more bouncy track with a bit more of a bumping bass line with an acid twist and generally swinging groove. One Law starts off with some more George W Bush samples and a statement against the war in Iraq, but with the help of G'Lena Afrosaxon go on to talk about bitches and blowing holes in peoples chests if you mess with them, so I'm not sure where the connection is unless it is that Afrosaxon are offering you war if you mess with them, but the analogy doesn't work for me. Political Asylum is another track which you would think would have some deep statements, but the up-tempo track goes of on another brag rap type vibe. Maybe it is the case that Afrosaxon don't believe their audience are ready for a full on political assault, but it would appear that they are itching to let off some more educational raps, but just can't quite do it. Overstand is the big rousing final cut for which Afrosaxon bring in Montel, Booinsang, Nuba and Celena. Again the overstanding is that Afrosaxon understand their place and what their plans are for he future. The track takes the form of Spike talking to some kids and educating them and the sentiments in here are vaild for all youth who could be going off the rails. After a couple of minutes of silence there is a bonus track included on the CD which again features G'Lena. The final cut You'll Never Know was well worth adding to the playlist and delivers more of, what has become a distinctive Afrosaxon sound which I have warmed to after listening to the CD.
The packaging design is tasty and features a CD sleeve which folds out to form a three panel roofscape of the Afrosaxon manor. While their image of dreads and a Union Jack which is remixed with Jamaican colours or maye blended with the South African flag gives this an air of intelligence and the possibility that it will speak more knowledgeably on many subjects. Whilst there are elements of this I have to say that a bit of the lyrical content is standard fodder, but some of it is also really enthralling. Not to disparage it at all, just to observe that it doesn't always quite reflect the conscious image projected, but regardless there is a great deal more sense on this than many other acts putting out wax. Afrosaxon are speaking on what they know and telling stories with a hard edge.
Across the whole set N. Robinson handles the production and does a tasty job. Overall then this is yet another quality long player in an expanding market, but which should also shine forth.
2000 & Beyond