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Mental Combat 918

Author: Blaze
Friday, 8 August 2008
Every once in a while an album comes along that should shake up the complacent sleepy heads and stick a grenade up their collective arses. Not just for those who think hip hop has gone to the dogs, but for those who think that lyrically it’s all a bit arse in the air as well. Sure there are heaps of good albums still sprouting from the fruitful underground, but usually they are unable to crawl out of their usual listener base. Nothing wrong with that, but every once in a while the world needs an album that can wave a flag for something more than just its own sake. So along comes the Rhymesayers DJ/producer associate K-Salaam with yet another album that follows up from his 2006 release The World is Ours, but this is more like a re-release under the title Who’s World Is This- The original had 16 tracks, with five of them replaced and two more songs added for this 18-track version. This time around the engineer and instrumentalist Beatnick also gets a headlining that was missing from the previous. So what’s going on here- The original was available through the very indie label Rex, but now this new version available in Australia is from Jamaica’s VP Records, distributed through Grindin and looks and sounds superb.

The Iranian-American K-Salaam brings his obviously different worldview to collaborate with some varied talent, except there’s no Middle East type MCs on here, instead it’s mostly US MCs and some exceptional Jamaican artists. You can’t go wrong with Capleton’s Let Us Down, Luciano’s What Are We Waiting For- and Buju Banton and Trey Songz’s Street Life. And someone I hadn’t heard of before Jamelody with his spiritual tune Mission Complete. All these songs are more in a contemporary Jamaican style than a hip-hop one, but there’s also a couple of crossover hip hop collabs with Papoose/Busy Signal and Young Buck/Sizzla. The unknown K-Salaam even went to Jamaica to hook up with the artists and amazingly returned with success. Rap dudes include Dilated Peoples’ Rakaa Iriscience, Canada’s Kardinal Offishall and Solitair, Dead Prez, Saigon and the Outlawz, but its Talib Kweli’s tune What I Feel that sparks up over an already flammable collection. Apart from the background vocalist Charley Paige, the only other female is the political activist cum poet Suheir Hammad. This Palestinian-American has the confronting spoken word piece Refugees as the closing track and it’s a nice bookend to remind us that K-Salaam has kept hip hop’s relevance, in regards to using words as weapons, at the forefront.

Certainly I felt that some of the songs had a very tenuous grip on the theme and only squeezing by through the odd cursory line, but on the whole the sentiment is pretty much about the crappy state of the world and how we need to uplift not only people’s lives, but communities as well. From the ghetto-infested inner city to the oppressed parts of religious or racially divided areas of political hotspots, the scenario is always the same.  The only people missing from this project were Wise Intelligent and Promoe. They would’ve fit in quite well, but the artists selected were K-Salaam’s dream, so I’d hate to criticise him for whom he hasn’t included and will instead praise him for who he has.

The Look Records label released the satisfying A.G album Get Dirty Radio a few years back and also have a new DJ Design (from Foreign Legion) album out in September, but something that might’ve been looked overlooked (excuse the pun) would be Grip Grand’s excellent Brokelore (Look/Creative Vibes) album. He gets a few mates like MF Shalem, DJ Flip and Richie Cunning to help out for some beats, but the majority are provided by the MC himself and he makes a good fist of it. I especially like the simplicity of the up-tempo track Paper Cup, which features the legendary Percee P. Straight rhyme linoleum material. A.G. also pops in for the Poppin’ Pockets remix while obscure ‘70s soul cat Darondo gets sampled from his Ubiquity re-release for the almost spoken word Dedication. Grip is an intelligent dude with plenty of depth and clever phrasing who should be shown more love, but it’s hard these days to get noticed. I choose Love/Drama as the best evidence for not only his wittiness, but for his creative lyrics that examine his own faults. Go to Amazon and you’ll even see Grip has turned up to thank those who bought his album with some rather passionate and lengthy comments. Dude has his head on straight and you would too if you purchased this gem.