Benjamin Zephaniah - Naked / Naked & Mixed Up

A brave, bold, and timely release from a genuine living legend

Album Review by Bram Gieben | 16 Apr 2006
Album title: Naked / Naked & Mixed Up
Artist: Benjamin Zephaniah
Label: One Little Indian
Benjamin Zephaniah is no stranger to the genre known as 'dub poetry,' having recorded with Mad Professor. However, Trevor Morais's polished, modern productions and Zephaniah's direct engagement with the zeitgeist of 'fear politics' sets 'Naked' apart. The beats on the powerhouse Rong Radio are like a static-filtered version of DnB classic Terrorist, as Zephaniah plays devil's advocate, describing the point of view of someone who has believed the government hype on the war on terror. In Superstar, Morais' beats are synthetic, polished two-step, as Zephaniah satirises the tribulations of a pointless celebrity lifestyle. There are moments of intense personal reflection, such as Fathers, set to a more familiar reggae riddim, but the album's centrepoint is the title track, Naked, an uplifting roar of patois-inflected defiance that deserves to be heard by the new generation of listeners Zephaniah seems to want to address. The accompanying remix EP by Rodney P does little to improve on the originals, but does take the focus away from Zephaniah enough to make the tunes club-worthy. A brave, bold, and timely release from a genuine living legend. [Bram Gieben]

Released April 20.