Ah, back when I started this break I had to review this album in the wake of the British election and it was just politics everywhere – fun to chat about but looking at constant political under currents certainly had something about it that put me on the back foot. Generally, there seems to be something about the left wing protest theme that seems somewhat timeless; like Bragg, arguing against Thatcher’s Britain, you also see the same themes cropping up against a right wing government.
So this is the debut album for the Disposable Heroes, released in 1992 and its messages still hold true; the only thing that dates this album is its musical style. Admittedly this is hip hop you would more expect to hear in the late 80’s but it’s nonetheless catchy stuff and heavily lyric based.
The opener Satanic Reverses, of course, takes its name from Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses”. It’s not an attack, but more a statement on religious intolerance. It’s the way the album is themed, with a view to looking at the problems with organisations in society; it makes for interesting listening.
Fine And Dandy follows with an intriguing message:
We learn to like to be the heroes
We learn to lie to the brand name Negroes
We learn to laugh to avoid being angry
We learn to kill and learn to go hungry
We learn not to feel, for protection
And we learn to flaunt when we get an erection
So in a nutshell, has hip hop gone from a form of expression reacting against the mainstream, to joining it? A deep area of personal representation can be branded, sold and warped and all of a sudden the art form becomes a parody of its history. I don’t feel qualified to comment fully, but it is interesting that perhaps listening to repeated messages about material possessions does not represent the origins of the genre. This is also tied together with the featuring of Amos N’ Andy, portrayed by two white actors in a black minstrel style. I’ll just let the comparisons be drawn for yourself and apologise to my GCSE English teachers for not actually comparing the work.
As you progress through the album you realise that it’s full of word play and clever English devices. It’s poetic and will throw out a good simile, which aid the tracks messages. They’re perhaps slightly overdone, leaving you listening to messages that go for the surface snap of approval rather than too much depth, but in a 5 minute lyrical message, you hardly expect Tolstoy.
During the course of writing this review, it became quite apparent that if I went track by track, I’d be writing a commentary; this should be a compliment! There is a lot of material in here and it’s not up to me to preach its messages or arrogantly tell you I can explain them for you, however much I might side with them. Television, The Drug of the Nation is seemingly the most lauded of the tracks and really does cast the spotlight on modern day attitudes with the media even though its message may seem a little dated. I say this but it’s truly a great fun listen for anyone remotely critical of the media, even those who aren’t.
The styles in this album are fairly flexible too, and I don’t think I got that across. Hell, holy crap, just listen to Music And Politics; it’s self critical, insightful and set a fantastic jazz backing, which just lulled me into a pleasant thought-space that has one sitting there, drifting and lost in the poetry. My god I’m a ponse…
Is this album for you?
I feel a little uneasy when I write this section if I don’t think I’ve got my thoughts fully across. This album is razor sharp with wit and really indulgent with style. If you don’t like political music, this may just be about enough to change your mind because you get so much entertainment and discussion from it! The general music bumbler wouldn’t get on with it, but it’s a good album that can take you if you like anything that’s slightly off-beat. It’s actually incredibly good for those on the fringes of rap or political pieces.
- Writing: 8.5/10
- Performance: 7/10
- Style: 8.5/10