Song of the Sovereign


This is one of those CDs where, once you hear it, you become immediately pissed off at corporate radio (urban, pop, “alternative,” it doesn’t matter). Here’s a talented artist who has self-produced eight albums in nine years in relative obscurity while much lesser acts have reaped millions for their mediocrity. Of course, in the corporate musical world, image and marketability are so much more important than talent, to the point of making the last almost irrelevant. And, I guess, someone has decided that the faux gangsta with his hos and guns and drugs and death is more marketable than a really talented, Afrocentric dread with a Motherland message.

(Inhale… Exhale… OK, I’m better now.)

Song of the Sovereign is a sort-of greatest hits compilation of Labtekwon’s previous eight albums in an attempt to introduce his impressive work to a broader audience. And all lovers of hip-hop should be grateful to Mush Records for the courtesy. Labtekwon is an artist who really puts it down with strong beats and Kushite-spiritual vibes. This disc opens with “Aten (The God is Love),” an Afro-jazz funk dedication to the original woman, which is a bit reminiscent of Common. “My Crew” is a fun shout-out that would make Marley Marl proud. There are songs like “Big Kid,” where his fluid freestyle flow weaves in and out of song. And he graces us with his bizarre vocal stylings (think Aceyalone) on the brooding “Bubble Bath” and deep-smile groove, “Perversion.”

While the production value can be a bit rough at times, Labtekwon’s talent beams through. If only the Great Wall of Music Conglomerates could be shattered, so we can see his light shine.

Mush Records:

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