Album of the Month: Melanin 9 - Magna Carta

Wednesday 31st October 2012 | Osh

A well-read and solipsistic thinker, emcee Melanin 9’s stage name is born from the Greek ‘melas’ (black) - the number signifies his skin tone, and nods to Supreme Mathematics, “a scientific doctrine that represents black people,” he says. “If you want to go deep into it, if you look under a microscope at a black person's hair, you see the way it grows – it coils in to a 9 shape from the roots.” M9, as he’s also known, first appeared on the radar five years ago with his ‘High Fidelity’ mixtape, and a year later, in 2008, hip-hop DJ Sarah Love labelled his follow-up ‘144,000’ as “the best release” of the year. This album, released by Red Snow on December 3, is an impressive full-length bow, and leans on mid-1990s stateside rap, with a heavy influence, too, from Londoner Jehst, who helped produce this offering. There are hints of the philosophical lyricist Nas, The Pharcyde’s jazzy edge and the gore of Wu-Tang Clan. The title track begins with the late Gil Scott Heron explaining his 1970 poem-song The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. With mellow beats and forceful rapping about gritty street stories M9’s Magna Carta (which translates as ‘grand charter’) is an important release, setting out his own lofty ambitions.

Oliver Pickup