Apache B2 Stealth F117 with a jackass and giant elephant in the cockpit
dropping daisy cutters on kiddy targets
ready to vaporize the mythical bogey-man to ashes in orbit
blindly trying to set a simulated democracy free
with a schizophrenic eagle mascot with a broken left and an extremely retarded white wing
in reality 360 equates to the same thing
while in the DCI executive suite sits Supreme Commander-In-Chief,
talons submerged in the murk and murks of petroleum ink
butt naked clutching a dildo ghosting through the hallways on phantom puppet strings"
NMS - the Nephlim Modulation Systems are made up of Big Jus of Company Flow & Orko Elohiem a West coast underground legend. This is a 10 track mini LP and is a very cerebral record which pulls no punches and from the first track right through to the end smacks logical thinking and knowledge into your heads remorselessly. Rhyming rarely falls below double speed and if you are going to take in all the things Big Jus is telling us you are going to have to sit down and concentrate very hard. I hope that the full release version comes with the lyrics to study because it is all too easy to miss key phrases within the MCs verbal torrent.
Apparently this collaboration took five years of planning, and the pair have now recorded two blistering LPs after being holed up in a rural cotton mill loft in deep South Georgia. Originally envisaged as a futuristic journey into abstraction, the actions of the Bush administration began to impinge. "After two months of waking up every morning to a blitzkrieg of right wing media innuendo and the most nauseating, ridiculous sabre-rattling paranoia since the McCarthy witch hunts we had no choice but to produce this record," Jus explains.
At a time when every celebrity finds it de rigeur to voice their opposition to war without actually having anything to say about it, it's refreshing to hear a genuine anger, and one whose target is much broader than just what happens in Iraq over the next month or so. With a track dedicated to the salty biscuit that nearly choked Bush to death (' Super Pretzel') and an analysis of the malaises in American and Western society that goes way beyond just blaming the Bush Dynasty, the spirit of the Last Poets and the Watts Prophets has been reborn with a new urgency. Add to this a musical palette which harks back not just to CoFlow's groundbreaking fractured soundscapes, but the Black Liberation music of the sixties and seventies and this is one of the most distinctive records you'll hear this year.
For all the thought and anti-establishment rhetoric that pervades throughout the record, something that I have been yearning for, I do have a few reservations. Much of the music seems to play second fiddle often being reduced to a rhythm track and lowered in the mix to such an extent that tracks like Fendi Shoe Bomber take on a spoken word feel. This feeling is perpetuated on other tracks when it can seem as though the vocal delivery is not totally integrated with the music and it can seem as though the MCs are frequently showing off their skills, possibly to the detriment of the overall aesthetic of the track. The other problem is being from the UK where we know about Drum and Bass a couple of the beats just sound like second rate attempts to copy this style. For me this is very much a sit down and contemplate record, rather than the rowdy danceable offering other listeners may hear.
One of the few breaks in the onslaught comes with the instrumental Bullets R Ejected, which if it wasn't for the Super Pretzel remix would be the last track. It is the most 'normal' Hip Hop beat on here and only needs a couple of samples to keep it moving. What I'd prefer more of is beats like this one with the MCs not trying to rap as fast as they can the whole time, but slowing down so that they can weave more intricate patterns and make it easier for an older guy like me to capture all their output. Overall the record feels very experimental to me, like there are loads of ideas and new directions to travel, but it hasn't been formed into a very polished and musically friendly offering. It is harsh, rough round the edges and within each track there are many competing elements, the beats are more stuttery and with the different patterns have a completely different flow to what I'm used to.
Take this in small doses and you'll learn a lot and get inspired, but try to ingest it all in one go and you'll probably suffer from brain ache. As you can tell I tried to get it all in one go and probably over dosed. Hip Hop really needs MCs who are prepared to be political, something that has been lost recently and it also needs labels to not run scared of putting this material out and giving it the attention it deserves.
Hip Hop is still expanding, incorporating new styles and trying to move on and develop. These guys are at the forefront of one of these such developments and so should be commended for being so radical. The press says this is, 'the most vitriolic, vicious attack on George W. Bush you're ever going to hear. Angry, funny and crazed, the kind of audio-sedition you thought Hip Hop had forgotten how to make…' This is so true. Being only a short LP there is room on the CD for the inclusion of the instrumentals. This is a nice touch and gives you full value as Big Dada use up all the available space.
With the second installment, 'Imperial Letters Of Protection', due this autumn and set to offer solutions to some of the problems set out on "Woe To Thee….," NMS are ready to batter your cortex for a few months yet. Prepare - this is no quiet storm…