Melanin 9 – Magna Carta
Magna Carta is the debut album from Melanin 9, although he has already gained a great deal of acclaim and recognition for his three mixtapes, Orion's Stencil (2010), 144,000 (2008) and the blisteringly-intense rhymes and pitch-black production of his Beat Butcha-assisted first appearance, High Fidelity (2008). His contributions to the Triple Darkness album Anathema were the standout tracks, leaving hip-hop fans in the UK and worldwide in no doubt of his talents.
Magna Carta shows a development in his lyrics – his uncompromising, philosophical street poetry ranges farther and cuts deeper than it ever has before, with M9 taking on topics from politics, philosophy and theology without ever sounding academic. Production-wise, the tough, cold-edged, Silver Age-influenced styles of Beat Butcha are missed; but solid, well-produced boom-bap from the likes of Jehst, Anatomy, Parental and others adequately fills the gap. This is an assured, well-produced collection, and hopefully it will see M9 gain recognition well beyond the hip-hop scene. [Bram E. Gieben]