Album Reviews

Danger Mouse & Jemini The Gifted One – Born Again

(Lex) UK release date: 25 August 2023


Do we have a long-lost classic here? A shelved second album collaboration finally sees the light of day

Danger Mouse & Jemini - Born Again Not many people will remember the 2003 song What U Sittin On? by the producer Danger Mouse and rapper Jemini The Gifted One, but it was their biggest commercial hit, a fun, bass-heavy tune with contributions by Cee Lo Green and Tha Alkaholiks. The subsequent years were extremely successful for Danger Mouse, which goes some way to explain why Born Again, his and Jemini’s shelved second album, is finally seeing the light of day.

Opening track All I features a contemplative guitar loop and mid-tempo break accompanying solemn vocal harmonies, while Knuckle Sandwich II’s splashing hi-hats and re-triggered ostinato are a perfect foil for Jemini’s rapid-fire bars. The lyrics themselves are perfectly functional, and work particularly well when the track allows for some backpack rap comfort food (“We gon’ take a ride to the other side / Free your mind, come with us to where we reside / Funk, soul is the order of the day / You ought to stop listening to pop, put it all away”).

The title track is more than a little prophetic, as Jemini calls out the music industry over a shimmying beat and lush electric piano flourishes, giving a sly nod to A Tribe Called Quest in the process (“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know / More about how you look than how you blow / Industry rule #2004 / Record label niggas is slow”). If one is to imagine an A&R listening to this record at the time, the song Me could have made a dent in the indie circuit with its vibraphone/piano interplay and club-friendly flows, a head-bobbing album highlight.

Some tracks wear their age very obviously, and they straddle the fine line between endearing and cringe-inducing. Lead single Brooklyn Bazquiat had a nice vibe going until a very British woman drops the same La Di Da Di reference that The Notorious B.I.G. used for Hypnotize, and Where You From sticks out as a fascinating experiment. Did the ill-fated duo briefly think aping No Limit was going to reap dividends, despite the clunky, brutish sound doing neither of them any favours?

It’s unquestionably a good thing that Born Again is being released, as cold-blooded financial decisions play such an oppressive role in the creative scene generally, but it would be best to treat the record as a curio: hear some indie rap produced by a modern-day legend and performed by one of the scene’s forgotten voices.


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