Lionheart: Tussle with the Beast

Artist: Joe Buddha Presents: KlashnekoffTitle: Lionheart: Tussle with the BeastRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Anna NathansonKlashnekoff is widely regarded as one of England’s most talented lyricists, and this, his second album to date, has a long time in the making, coming three years after his debut. Originally scheduled for 2006 release, the agonising wait for UK Hip-Hop heads has only made the anticipation stronger, but luckily it does live up to the hype.

Known for his conscious subject matter, Mr. K-lash takes us on a musical journey through his experiences, thoughts and frustrations with inner city living, documenting his life as a young Black man growing up in modern day London.

The MC otherwise known as The Black Russian has a remarkable way of putting his razor sharp observations into skilfully constructed rhymes, drawing the listener in and forcing them to sit up and take notice to what’s being said. The first track “Revolution” calls for societal change “F**k the waiting, it’s a today ting” setting the tone for the entire album, which is largely political in content.

Klashnekoff fires out watertight lyrics with ease, confronting the listener with reality and inviting us to challenge everyday perceptions. His lyrics are always provocative, urgent and fiercely honest, and his authentic East London tones are pleasing on the ear.

The stories told here have the power to touch you on a deeply personal level, such as the introspective “Rest of Our Lives,” where he talks of waking up one night to find his mother’s then-boyfriend holding a knife to her throat. The relationship between himself and his mother is constructed in such a way that the listener understands (or in the words of Klash, “overstands”) immediately where he is coming from, and as such, connects you to his pain at a gut level. Although the picture he paints of London living is far from rosy, there is an underlying message of hope and strength in the face of adversity.

The production here, courtesy of Nottingham based Joe Buddha, is faultless. Energy fuelled joints such as “Two Guns Blazing,” “Syonara” and the Kool G Rap assisted “Terrorise the City,” make this an album of club bangers as well as conscious subject matter. The casual listener may be taken by some of the hard-hitting imagery depicted, but far from glamorising violence, the modern day philosopher’s words do what revolutionary rap is supposed to do- inspire thought, stimulate debate and hopefully incite change.

If you’re new to the UK scene, give this a listen- it may well be considered a classic not too long from now.