For those of you who don’t know, Congo Natty (aka Rebel MC aka Michael West) is an English producer/musician whose self-proclaimed “Jungle Music” frenetically dances among the genres of reggae, dub, ska, hip hop, drum and bass, house, dubstep, trance, soul, and Rastafarian gospel, all to praise the word and world of Jah. On his newest release, Jungle Revolution, Congo Natty’s mixture of various vocalists, rappers, sound clips, and production techniques is fluid and fresh, but at the expense of the ingenuity and widespread appeal of his lyricism.
Congo Natty has been in the game since the early 1980s, and it shows. He is a skilled producer with experimental tendencies that bode well for his specialty blend of dub-inspired Rasta neo-soul hip hop. He has the ability to seamlessly integrate sound clips of TV shows and movies into tracks and have them become the main refrain, and he has the power to gradually manipulate and distort the timbres of hand drums until they easily transition into the dazzling tambourine that is the soundtrack of every coke-fueled club scene from the show Skins. On top of all of this, there is variety amongst the overall sound and pace of the tracks on Jungle Revolution that is obtained without losing the sense of cohesiveness that defines an album. Mr. Natty brings his listeners from the dance floor to the chill-out room and back without creating a sense of forced variance.
The only downfall of this album is the general monotony of the lyricism and themes. An album should reflect the artists behind it and therefore explore many realms of thought, both musical and lyrical (a musician’s state of mind is never singular). Unfortunately, the majority of Jungle Revolution’s lyrics have to do the reiteration of the tenants of Rastafarianism and the unification of all of Jah’s warriors. There are a few deviations into the political- racial discrimination in the UK on “London Dungeons,” as well as the culturally humorous–the true meaning of the word “bumbaclot” on “Rebel.” The remaining moments of lyricism that do not fall into either of these two categories, I’m afraid, are too entrenched in either patois or English accents for me to completely understand.
Now, this is not to say that Jungle Revolution is a bad or boring record; musically, it is just the opposite. Simply, it might bore or alienate its audience members who focus too intensely on the lyrics. Other than that, prepare your ears for the entrance of Jah!