M9 aka Melanin is one half of the Heresy and one third of Triple Darkness. Two of the most renounced conscious British hip hop crews. Strange Fruit is redemonstrating, reamplifying, and just plain reminding us that what makes these crews so strong and sure is that as individuals, each of them excel to another level. And they can all do their own thing and still carry it equally as strong.
The Jon Phonics produced Strange Fruit has been juiced to flow. The lyrical and beat fruit has been blended, smoothed out and mixed together. There are no sharp corners, intimidating switches or clashing elements. Apples and orange. Recoloured, redefined. Individualised in a way that is as organic as the title would suggest. Phonics is yet again favouring the double bass drum and steady hi hats; which are minimal yet original enough to let M9's words themselves stand up and holla.
It's taking us back to the Talib Kweli, Black Thought era… Where we had to listen to a track fifty times over before we got any real understanding, and every new listen brought a new meaning to the lines and a new reason to respect and support the artist. M9 and crew are setting standards that should keep the rest of the British scene on their toes.
Strange Fruit, on this particular listen is talking about the strange mistakes of human nature, in particular those on our streets and with our youth. The kind we have no root cause for, and achieve nothing from. It's that whole Shakespeare idea of knowing the fault but just waving at it and keeping on doing your thing.
"What does it take for you realise we're killing each other, my black brother from another mother… how strong is the purpose if you live another man's word".
But, as M9 points out – "why live like a servant in hell when I can live like a king in heaven". If I'm completely honest though. I actually prefer the bonus track Paintbrush featuring Cyrus Malachi and Masikah. No it's not just because Malachi is still one of my favourite British MCs. It's more to do with the fact that this track is way more mysterious. The beats, the lines, the attitudes with which they're presented with. You can close your eyes and see the guys spitting in a dark tunnel as the eerie background chorals flicker orange light across their moving lips every few bars.
Chemo's production is hooking. Probably some of his best work to date. The ideas behind this track are as timeless and textured as the National British Art Gallery. The idea of how we as listeners approach the track is raised again – "I paint the fucking picture you just walk through the gallery".