Driven by the beat of the drum, This Poem is a warriors dance. Music aligned with the late 80s, early 90s stripped back tribal of Tony Addis, Lawrence “Kid” Batchelor, No Smoke, and Bang The Party – the “house division” of Soul II Soul. The soundtrack of Confusion at Shaftsburys on a Sunday night. There’s also a huge nod of course to Bobby Konders` Massive Sounds – who explored similar musical ground for NYC`s Nu Groove – with Black Rox “utilizing” the same iconic piece of dub poetry, as Konders did back in 1990. Here placing it over a Roots Unit original, which peaks with a euphoric, sunrise, synth-line. A flashback to `89. A reminder of when those warriors were dancing for unity, and an end to apartheid everywhere.
The poem itself is a work of genius – concerned with the power of words. How they are our agency to transmit ideas and bring about change. A force, a weapon at our disposal. As its lyrics move backwards and forwards through history – listing ancestors, activists, kings and prophets – themes of slavery and race – it makes clear that the words themselves need to change, evolve, that they, and the ideas they contain, cannot remain static. That these words which bring about change must be influenced by all experience, life, not just books of learning.
On the flip, Trenchtown Double Down, takes a “stepping” razor to some old rocksteady tunes, rips `em up and rearranges them to a shuffling mid-tempo beat. Its cool groove maybe a bit “asymmetric” for the masses, but really pays off for the patient. The Black Rox boys throw in snatches of contemporary Jamdown dialogue, guitar snippets, and whisk the track back to its roots with African outbursts. The resulting collage coalescing to create a a kind of deconstructed jazz.