By Bobby McCarty
Clunk has had it’s eye on Jman for a while now, ever since we saw him perform at the Plymouth University student union as undergrads. His energy was as real then as it is now and what we saw must have left an impression because I’ve been following him ever since. I kept up with his social media seeing him find success on the festival circuits and continuing to adapt his music over the years.
Jman‘s rise seemed rapid and I stroked my ego feeling like I had predicted it, but I am now humbled having fallen far short of predicting this latest installment. In fact, I was completely unprepared.
For ‘2000 BD’ Jman has teamed up with well established UK hip-hop producer Illinformed who has earned his stripes working with a diverse host of UK rappers prior to this, to now form Babylon Dead. The self admitted ‘anti-establishment ragga rap’ they have produced in this joint venture pulls no punches and arrives at a time when political tensions are high throughout the country, not to mention the rest of the world.
Prepare for dancehall baselines in a minor key and some serious rhythms from Illinformed, coupled with an intense flow from the hugely adaptable J Man.
The album opens with ‘Enter’, a skit which sets the scene in the year 2000 BD and in ‘the realm of the dead’. Haunting and surreal from the outset, it’s as if Jman is speaking from a time and place apart from our own. The tracks which follow seem to come from a parallel universe where the 1% are literally being eaten by the rest of us, instead of what we have now where people gladly swallow one scandal after another.
The pair send for the EDL and Britain First to name a few and are completely unapologetic with their message, just take a look at the cover art and you will see what I mean. Babylon Dead clearly have no love for the cops or the fearful and perhaps go a little further than a call for justice in this album, it’s more like a call to arms.
Now, obviously we aren’t going to sit here and condone violence against anyone, we are pacifists here right? And besides, that may well conflict with journalistic responsibility in a number of ways, however, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. What I’m saying is, albums like this don’t emerge for no reason and in any case, they are just lyrics at the end of the day… but on a personal note, fuck the EDL and Britain First.
But let’s get back to the music. Dark beats and heavy baselines underpin the punchy vocals throughout, and do a good job of supporting continuous themes of an impending ruin awaiting the powers that be.
Notable track ‘ACAB’ borrows more from old school hip-hop than the preceding tracks and is followed by ‘Enemy’ which at just a minute long is essentially another skit to give a short respite before the dooming tone returns for the rest of the album.
Listen ‘ACAB’ here:
To get a full view of both artist’s versatility you would have to delve into their previous work, but this new project is definitely promising. Here is a group who have developed their craft and aren’t afraid to address harsh realities, we will certainly be keeping tabs on J Man and Illinformed to see if they continue to surpass themselves with the next chapter of Babylon Dead.