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Black Britanyaa The Windrush Vol.2 Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

The Windrush 2 does justice to its concept in fine style.

Angus Taylor 2008

The phrase ''conscious hip hop concept album'' reeks of overblown conceits and college rehearsal room poetry. But there's no need to run to the hills just yet. For Black Britanyaa's The Windrush Volume 2 is the real thing: a celebration of sixty years of Black British endeavour and culture whose ambitions are matched by its execution.

Like Roots Manuva and other exemplars of the UK craft, East Londoners Segge Dan and Daddy Ash acknowledge and exploit its Caribbean dimension to the fullest. Opener Windrush (The Excursion) sets the tone - with a poignant snatch from Lord Kitchener's London Is The Place For Me, a hip hop drum pattern and reggae's signature offbeat guitar.

BB's notion of 'consciousness' ignores the rigid conscious/slack dichotomy presented by the music media – hence the repeated use of reggae that many perceive to be anything but. During the short interlude Ragga Moment we hear Pinchers riding Jammys Storm rhythm for Bandelero; while the vocal delivery on holiday romance tale Lonely Roads is very like that of Vybz Kartel. Dem Man's Illin gives the Stalag rhythm a thumping reggaeton beat plus a lyric, ''look at me look at you. You're bras, me too. Why you wanna steal my food?'' which skewers the Crab-In-A-Barrel mentality of people feeling the pinch.

And the magpie tendencies in this record's production cast their scope wider than Jamaican and Trinidadian forms. Lonely Roads is heavy on the flamenco guitar; My Life is a disjointed, speeded-up waltz with a flute; and like Shinehead, K Salaam and Beatnick before them, there is a Sting do-over - Aliens - the album's one shameless piece of radio courtship.

Even the skits (or 'Moments') are worth listening to every time they come around. The Lovers Rock Moment pays tribute to a music shunned by the mainstream, whereas the Chat Bout Moment is a raucous discussion of what it feels like to be British, too fast paced and passionate to be rehearsed. It takes a little while to get going, but, overall, the Windrush 2 does justice to its concept in fine style.

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