NMS Imperial Letters of Protection LP
'If I hear one more person relegating our music to experimental rap... it's called originality and it was one of the main tenets of the culture.' This quote from the liner notes of 'Imperial Letters of Protection' is a perfect embodiment of the music delivered on this second LP by NMS, aka Big Juss (from Company Flow) and Orko Elohiem.
Following from their first opus under the name, 'Woe to Thee O Land Whose King is a Child’, NMS stay firmly in the category of artists who defy the boundaries, rules and boxes constantly imposed on the public and music consumers at large.
Having moved from New York to an old abandoned cotton mill outside of Atlanta 2 years ago, Big Juss holed up in his new abode with Orko to produce what would become the Nephilim Modulation Sessions, an entity whose music and existence was highly influenced by the events following 9/11 (which was the reason for Juss' move) and the subsequent march to war spearheaded by Bush and the neo-cons. This second installment of NMS is soaked in the socio-political turmoil of the time, finding inspiration in the actions (both public and private) of the world's last superpower for lyrics, beats and more. As an interesting side note, this new album is still only a small part of the work that came out of Juss and Orko's sessions, as apparently Orko showed up at Juss' new house with over 200 beats, leaving them with enough material to make another 2 albums once the sessions were finished. Thus 'Imperial Letters of Protection', is just a new page in the NMS book, not the final one.
Overall 'Imperial Letters...' stands as possibly the most overtly potent and powerful political record of 2005. As we continue each year to suffer under the increasingly demented actions of our 'leaders', the amount of music that challenges the current status of things, and tries to make us think outside of what we're fed by the media, shrinks while the madness grows. With this new album NMS deliver a much needed breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale hip hop culture. A culture that was once the proud bearer of artists who said what they thought and put it on record for all to hear and think about. The beats bang as hard as the mind twisting lyrics, while the pictures the music and vocals depict enter your brain and give the whole thing an added dimension that is so often missing from music today.
The beats are crafted with great precision, providing the perfect backdrop for the lyrics and ensuring that one would not work the same without the other. Beastly cries abound on 'Beast Vision', with its tormented hooks and sirens while blistering vocal bombs are dropped. Take this line for example: 'So every nuclear winter Bin Laden and George exchange Xmas cards, why do you think Saddam's most trusted warring regiment is called the republican guard?' Elsewhere mentions of neo-con actions, both covert and overt, Halliburton, globalisation, religion, corporate interests, social apathy, holy war and more all co-exist in the musical mine field NMS conjure. 'Electric Seizure' twists up the tempos to jungle speed for a short and inspired detour. 'Strike Back' is another blistering bomb, spearheaded by another powerful beat on which Orko and Juss deliver thoughts about freedom and conditioning... 'Simple industry MCs sound the same nigga'.
'Seraphim Revolver' is another inspired moment, though softer musically than most of the album. On a backdrop of rolling drums and languorous pianos Orko exclaims 'is my music really on some apocalyptic, dark and gloomy shit or am I part of some now freedom music?' I sincerely hope it's the latter, and that more people come to realise that.
Big Dada, and Ninja Tune, round off 2005 with yet another indispensable LP, and Big Juss and Orko continue to show that their artistic vision and integrity is one of the most precious resources left to this culture, and unfortunately one which is just so damn hard to find today. I will finish this review with another quote from the liner notes, and urge you all to check the album even if you think it's for you. Change is the greatest catalyst. 'This is an overview of life's cycle, the ending isn't the message. A new beginning is the outcome. Ask yourself why there aren't more artists like this...'
Stands as possibly the most overtly potent and powerful political record of 2005... a much needed breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale hip hop culture
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