Music editor Dave Randall says two new productions confirm continuing local creativity
It seems fitting that in the same month Brixton hip-hop pioneer Ty was commemorated with a stunning mural in Valentia Place, projects by two other Brixton-based artists assure us that the lyrical baton has been passed and remains in motion.
Ty’s friend BREIS releases the five track EP Arise & Shine which, the rapper explains, began as a way of dealing with grief after the loss of his mother in 2017.
“Throwing myself back into music and my work helped me adjust to a new normal. One of the things mum would often say to me was: ‘Arise, shine for your light has come’, which is what inspired the title of this project.”
Grief may have been its genesis, but Arise & Shine is a defiantly upbeat, positive and occasionally playful collection. Stand-out moments include the Afrobeats and trap inspired Give Dem, the reggae infused Wahala (Trouble) featuring Nigerian soul sensation Nneka and the social commentary of Keep On featuring Joy Jones.
A darker and somewhat surreal offering comes from the political poet, writer and occasional MC Potent Whisper. Lucid Lovers is presented as a “musical audio-book” (think radio-play) with rhyming narration plus original music by 3ss3nce and Antonio Lewis (ToneO).
It begins with a compassionately rendered tale of a loving couple forced apart during Sudan’s recent state of emergency. One of them, Samer, ends up fleeing to the UK and suffers the injustices and cruelty of the asylum system.
This is the sort of morally driven political storytelling we have come to expect from Potent Whisper, but then things turn metaphysical as the poet starts to expound on the potential power of lucid dreaming.
The narrative feels closer to, say, (writer) Ben Okri than (militant rapper) Immortal Technique, with political demands subsiding in favour of magical realist reflections on the shifting nature of reality, freedom and sleep cycles.
In addition to Potent Whisper, the project features the voices of Mustafa Khogali (Samer) and Hind Swareldahab (Ahlam) both of whom were involved in the uprising in Sudan and have since experienced the British asylum system.
This columnist hopes that Lucid Lovers doesn’t represent a retreat by Potent Whisper from more materialist approaches to changing the world, but all credit to him for completing such an ambitious and beautifully produced new work.
Potent Whisper’s ‘Lucid Lovers’ will be available to stream and download for free at LucidLovers.co.uk from 25 August.
BREIS’ Arise & Shine is out now on all the usual digital platforms, and from his website on special edition blue vinyl. He is also selling a behind-the-scenes book that details the making of the project, titled Diary Of A Creative Mind.