Album Reviews

Klashnekoff – Lionheart: Tussle With The Beast

(Riddim Killa) UK release date: 26 February 2007

British news bulletins are currently full of stories and references to gun crime in England, and in particular South London. So it feels faintly irresponsible to be listening to Klashnekoff on the number 176 bus through Elephant & Castle, as he talks about automatic weapons.

But while this ‘face-off’ with Joe Buhdha seems to be an attempt to address gun possession as a problem with teenagers, it also brings an uncomfortable juxtaposition of posturing and soapbox-standing to the listener.

A bigger crime, however, is found in the music itself. Even though this copy was peppered with tedious ‘promotional copy’ reminders they actually emerged as the album’s most memorable soundbite. That’s because musically this is about as predictable and wearisome as hip hop gets, with any brave attempt to try something a little different – like the steel pans on Bun Dem – smothered by vacuous rapping.

Lyrical depth would help but that also seems to be in short supply. When Klashnekoff starts to rap about his family (presumably) on Rest Of Our Lives an emotive discourse about his mum and dad pricks up the ears – but is quickly removed by a poorly placed promotional reminder and never recovers. Perhaps the unspoilt copy will do his sentiments better justice, but I rather doubt it.

The album passes with little incident of note. Some of the samples are of brief interest, but too often the tired old pattern of hip hop verse and chorus asserts itself with depressing reality. And this means that if Klashnekoff’s lyrical fire wants to be heard, it’s immediately pitched into a losing battle.

British hip hop can boast a wealth of talent like never before, but albums like this do it no favours. While its intentions seem to be laudable – giving young black people a voice and expelling violence for the sake of free speech – the delivery of these sentiments is pedestrian. Roots Manuva, Sway, Plan B and Dizzee Rascal can all sleep like babies if this is their competition.

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Klashnekoff – Lionheart: Tussle With The Beast