Cyrus Malachi : Expressions

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“My easel open’s vortexes, in cerebral cortex’s”

From the first look at the cover for the London MC’s new EP, it’s evident that Cyrus Malachi is approaching his music from a different direction. His choice to hit up Chicago-based abstract artist Marcellous Lovelace to create the vibrant, socially relevant cover art should come as no surprise given his previous lyrical allusions to the admiration of artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and writers like Chancellor Williams. Sonically he has expanded his palette to include new rhyme schemes and flow patterns, which at times border on the politically charged spoken word of originators like Gil-Scott Heron, who incidentally, is sampled on the EP’s inaugural track Melanite Children. 

There aren’t many rappers who can start rhyming remedial with congenial as casually and unpretentiously as Cyrus Malachi.  The simple piano loop and boom bap drums set the mood excellently, his bars delivered calmly against a more relaxed beat make for much easier listening than tracks like Brave New World or Contraband have in the past. On his last release Black Athena, he balanced the dense weight of his content with some slightly lighter beats, finding a formula that works well for both the casual and involved listener, and it’s one that pays off from it’s continuation on Melanite Children. Evil Ed’s cuts are well put together and add to the narrative well, his vocal chops drawing from the Premier school of chorus structure in a way that contributes towards the man’s legacy rather than being derivative of it.  Lyrically Cyrus Malachi is as articulate and thematically diverse as ever, paraphrasing Black Star’s classic Respiration, painting vivid pictures of life in Britain’s inner cities, and expounding upon every aspect of the repressive society we live in; while keeping his roots firmly planted in the pre- eurocentric dynasties he draws inspiration from.

“To MC’s my verses are unretrievable, lost in the memory bank, the threat of an enemy shank, moving through the hood, paranoia. Zombie workforce, the beast is your employer. Non affordable housing, millionares browsing, while blacks are packed into tenements and derelict housing, poverty we drown in”.

From there the EP doesn’t stay in any one place for too long, Astro Blacksmith‘s production takes you through the different mental dwellings the Triple Darkness general resides in and writes from. Root Of Evil employs contrasting sounds to create a divergent sound. Earthy, wooden pipes linger over harsh, futuristic beats that crank and whir like cogs in the machine Cyrus Malachi’s venomous darts are aimed against. It’s a harsh slap back to reality after the misleadingly calm beginning, but one that isn’t without purpose; deriding obsession with money and the constant clamor for material wealth with clever wordplay and pertinent observations. “Paper idols, financial deities keep us stifled”.

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The Reckoning continues the bleak barrage; and finds the self-styled street griot writing again from an unblinkered, prescient perspective that touches on the side of society that is most frequently mis-represented by the media.  “Single parents in hysterics, cuz their child’s letting off pellets across the terrace, shred ya cabbage like lettuceA Colonial collage of custodial bollards, burners turn your brain to fromage, to dead soldiers I pay homage.” In a minute and a half he drops more knowledge on a track than a lot of rappers do in a career; then without pausing for breath kicks into the Second half of the song, berating weak MC’s on a stripped back, echoing drum break; his tone resonating a far cry from the sombre lines he conveyed on the EP’s intro. When he says ‘I’m Mike Tyson at 19‘, you believe him, he sounds hungry, and at his best.

The overt seriousness and go-for-your-throat approach of the last two songs again mislead the listener into believing they can anticipate the direction Expressions will move next.  Papaya flips things 180 as the EP turns another corner. Despite the change in mood offering a break from the verbal assault and dark subject matter; after mentally occupying yourself with societal ills for the previous three tracks it is difficult to fully get into the ‘life’s a carousel‘ refrain of the chorus and the glitzy, sunshine vibes that the beat brings, but it’s still exciting in it’s bold difference. The experimentation is taken back to a murkier place through jazzy cymbal swells and spacious musical landscapes on the EP’s epilogue Solomon’s Temple 2. The original provided the swan song on his classic Ancient Future album, and was a head-mangling concoction of esoteric ideas that I am still yet to fully digest. The sequel is as arcane; and without a basic grasp of the content, is hard to decipher. If you were inclined to take the last minute of the song, and after each subject or name he mentions, pause it, and go and look up the ideas being put forth; I guarantee you’d lose a month. His critical eye moves though centuries, discussing global politics, astrological alignment, the underbelly of the music industry, and the diasporic status of a people that once ruled continents. His words are important in their scope and message, whether to serve as an introduction to critical thinking or as an accompaniment to someone already delving into any of the topics being discussed.

Ultimately Expressions is an insight into global politics and world history that other MC’s are incapable of delivering. Once again the new Cyrus Malachi is akin to being presented with a well written, comprehensive lecture on the state of the world from an alternative perspective; but in under 20 minutes, with some seriously accomplished rhyming, ill beats, and enjoyable songs.

Buy it for just £3 here.

4/5.

Peace.

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Don’t Sleep On Phoenix Da Icefire.

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 It’s called ‘don’t sleep’ cuz you’re guna have to be awake to feel this guys words to their full affect. Fuck a coffee and a wedge of Noam Chomsky, start here:

I don’t know about you, but that’s everything I want lyrically from an MC; social commentary, history, positivity, overstanding, economics, culture, it’s all there. The 26 year old London rapper goes hard on every single track I’ve heard, he’s killing tracks in batches as quick as producers are cookin em up. His 2012 LP The Quantum Leap is Phoenix and Chemo dropping intelligent, deep Hip Hop with that dark, grimy sound that you’d hope for from any member of Triple Darkness. After hearing Back To The Essence earlier this week I went from casual fan to full on backin this guy 100%. As always, we need more guidance from mentally strong, educated male role models to combat the youth slipping into that radio rap coma; and to open minds using a medium the whole world embraces. That’s what true underground Hip Hop has always been used for, it’s always provided that platform. But it’s a lot more seldom that people recognise it, or use it for what’s it’s original purpose was. The draw of guns, drugs and objectification is strong, plus you got Politricks trance-forming the 85% daily:

This one finds Beat Butcha at the helm, slamming out another eerily beautiful composition with ease. It’s a strong example of the album’s important messages delivered with a sharp tongue, and the chorus comes especially poignant; “the media aint pushing nothing positive for the kids of today man, legalising the drink an the cigarettes like weed is the biggest threat, fightin in a war but they’re not telling you the true cause, where’s the respect?” Important words when the general consensus is the opposite.

His guest on Haan’s Bless The Dead track was another pivotal building block in the kingdom Phoenix has crafted for himself over the last few years. Pro P’s ill beat backing lines like; “The sword of Damacles, this hell I see is bright, the inferno, turn you on a spit while you burn slow, masonically I build pyramids of black gold encoded by Lucifer to captivate the soul”

In fact, all the guest verses he spits on other people’s tracks are highly reflective of the thought that he puts into his craft. To fathom an overstanding of the universe this complete, not to mention complex at his age only happens through dedication. And that time spent doing the knowledge reveals itself on tracks like the  Sword Of The Scribethe Melanin 9 collab Spiritual Scrolls. Tricksta’s ‘UK Runnings’ mixtape banger Walking With Angelsand the laid back vibes of Herbivore’s Ascension To Nirvana

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But back to the album; One Step From Damnation features a verse from Cyrus Malachi that’s above even his skyscraper-high standard for bars. If you don’t know anything about Cyrus this is an excellent place to begin. He fires a dizzying mix of intricate speech patterns discussing sub atomic particles, Kemetic history, the lesser-known books of the bible, and political conspiracy; that’s all backed by a wealth of knowledge from sources like Malachi Z York, Dr Booker T Coleman and The Black Dot. Phoenix’s verse is similarly comprehensive and he holds his own on a track with any comrade in TD.

Just the guests on The Point Of No Return  should spark your interest, Klashnekoff and Keith Murray are both heavyweights in their own lane; and over a laid back guitar loop combined with a catchy chorus and some nice sample selections that Chemo cuts up, it’s a sureshot that all the MC’s shine. I’m feelin Mental Prisoners Pt. 2 hard right now, if you recognise the truth in the man’s words it’s another portal to that righteousness that’s so deeply embedded in real MC’s work. “It’s how were living, locked down in prisons, triple six is the digits, it’s much more than just figures, global control, they want your soul, it’s a mental prison, as I watch the time tickin”.

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Before he was bringing the heat on The Quantum Leap, he was making conscious street anthems and burnin up the underground on Baptism Under Fire. The Dj Roast hosted mixtape allowed him to vent his frustrations at the world and make sense of it all through rhymes. It’s an unsurprisingly deep listen, with a lot of knowledge to learn from his words. His content is still more relevant than most MC’s now, and the tape came out in 2009. Every time I get into a new member of TD I think ‘this is what Hip Hop should sound like’. Check out tracks like 5 Jewels , Hells Fire, and Eargasm for more proof that this guy’s one of the UK’s best and as been for time.

You can cop the album now at his site for a criminally cheap price! He’s guna be dropping more music soon under the new name Solar Black so keep your ear to the pavement, cuz for real lyricism that brings Hip Hop back to that powerful place it began; the man is a shining beacon in these treacherous times.

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Peace.