UK rappers desperate to incorporate a 90s boom bap sound of the 'golden era' often fall into a presumptuous hole of clichéd mannerisms and style that comes across forced and ultimately un-British. For every sound and sub-genre that becomes swamped and contrived, every once in a while an artist approaches a project, conjures it up organically and delivers an honest and knowledgeable CD. “Magna Carta”, the debut LP from Melanin 9 appears to be just that.
If not made obvious from his moniker, within minutes of listening to his material its clear M9 is heavily informed by supreme mathematics, righteous teachings and the general imparting of knowledge using hip-hop as his medium. Regardless of this, the music above all is what truly separates one MC from another and whilst being a very capable lyricist, M9 has wisely aligned himself with some of the premier beat makers this country has to offer to sculpt his sound. This is evident from the intro, “Gene of Isis”, a slow jazzy piano laden instrumental crafted by Anatomy, who handled the majority of production here. Jehst, Tony Mahoney and Parental also lend their talents behind the boards on the project.
The dusty boom bap throwback sounds continue on the title track as we’re finally treated to the incisive lyricism of M9 as he rips through lines from the off “I pose for cameras with ex-felons using hands as weapons, tatted emblems, pictures, their fleshes is a street canvas for scriptures, crucifixes”.
The big draw and highlight of ‘Magna Carta’ is the eagerly anticipated collaboration with US wordsmith Roc Marciano. Undergoing a renaissance of sorts in recent years, the New Yorkers stream of consciousness style actively aligns with M9’s and the pair go off on “White Russian”.
At this point, it's worth mentioning I’m not a fan of the term ‘real hip-hop’ and annoyingly it seems any producer or artist that draws inspiration from the perceived golden era of rap, be it stateside or UK, gets needlessly thrown into this box. This removes a chunk of the relatable personal element of their music, and at times works opposite to the intended compliment.
While ‘Magna Carta’ does offer a quantifiable style of rap, it’s most remarkable for it’s in-depth exploration into the many facets of a man’s mind, beliefs and ideas.
Magna Carta is out now on Red Snow Records
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