Understand What Black Is (Mala instrumental mix) (4:38)
Understand What Black Is (Dego & Kaidi remix) (3:56)
Understand What Black Is (Dego & Kaidi instrumental mix) (3:58)
Review: Anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of hip-hop history will tell you that the roots of rapping can be traced back to the early '70s spoken word albums of The Last Poets. It's because of this that the collective's recent album, Understand What Black Is (their first for nearly two decades), was such a big deal. Here the title track is given the remix treatment. Mala handles the A-side, delivering vocal and instrumental passes that re-cast the track as a skanking, dub-wise excursion full of ricocheting electric piano notes and suitably heavy bass. 2000 Black main men Dego and Kaidi Tatham take a more up-tempo approach on the flip, wrapping the Poets conscious vocals and instrumentation around their own fizzing broken beat rhythms, jazz-funk chords and darting electronics.
Review: Roots, reggae and dub all permeate this silky suite of cuts from Digital English, which look as far back as they gaze into the future for their inspirations. There are digi-vibes on Lin Strong's "Valley Of Elah" before the clean and crisp riddims of Chazbo's "Over The Mountain" are lit up by harmonic chords from the heavens. An echo-drenched dub version then leads into the bumping "Running Away" which implores you to confront your fears, while Kniox's "Chatty Mount" has a meandering lead synth that drifts in the distance. Arguably best of all though, is Digital English's closing cut "Chatty Dub" - a real killer with crisp hits and endless bass ripples.