Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Jungle Brothers 'Done by the Forces of Nature' (1989)

To this day unfairly overshadowed by 1989's other alt. hip-hop/Zulu Nation milestone - 3 Feet High and Rising. The Jungle Brothers trumped their debut (Straight Out the Jungle) here and built the ark from that original Native Tongues blueprint. This is a fact acknowledged by the album's placing in the Source's top 100 hip-hop LPs of all time, but still the debut is all anybody seems to talk about. The astounding diversity of the sampling represented here is more than a match for De La Soul, the pacifist politics relayed with all the articulacy of A Tribe Called Quest and the production as densely layered as anything the Bomb Squad were producing at the time.

Musically it will just leave your head spinning. If Straight Out the Jungle was the funk album, this is the all-encompassing Afro pop album, and to my mind a definitive jazz-hop manifesto. It's a much more well-rounded affair than the (still excellent) debut, sampling everything from African trad to R&B on up, often within a single song.
Lyrically the album is as positive and (anti?)intellectual as you might expect, what with Jungle Brothers being the vanguard for the movement. They preach self-realization, address black identity with dexterity, delivering a few expertly-crafted party jams along the way; as well as a vastly superior sequel to the seminal (but dated) 'I'll House You' with 'What U Waitin 4?'.
Apparently, such conscious themes have long since passed into Afro-centric cliché within the mainstream hip-hop 'community'... so what? Black culture has always been homogenized and sold back, gutless and lobotomised, to a latent consumer herd, now more than ever. But there's always a dissenting alternative that is not for profit or ignorance. Plenty of people know it's records like this that count and provide armour for future generations... Don't miss out!

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