The album is a unique state-of-the-nation commentary on multi-cultural Britain that combines astute storytelling with a joyful and visceral musical experience. Words and song are underscored by Drew’s beats to create a unique genre-bending musical tornado that demonstrates the breadth of the scene that Apples & Snakes has nurtured. twofive brandishes top names, and showcases the stars of tomorrow, demonstrating how far Apples & Snakes have come from the back room of a Fitzrovia pub in the early ’80s.
Album highlights include the incredible The Scheme of Things by Ty, his characteristic smooth tones address inner city racism and deprivation over a melancholic track with more than a touch of soul; Prayers for Angry Young Men by Roger Robinson and Charlie Dark, dreamy down-beat soulful samples, modern, low-fi beats and Roger’s dulcet Trinidadian patter telling a modern folk story; Caribbean Woman by ‘dub poet’ Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze and reggae maestro Dennis Bovell – a Calypso hymn to the Caribbean Woman; Stand Alone by El Crisis, John Hegley and Francesca Beard, an unlikely yet magical folk ballad about a potato – a perfect example of Apples & Snakes bringing diverse artists together to create something totally original; In Other Words by Zena Edwards and Jamie Woon, a sparkling vocal blend celebrating the beauty of words over Woon’s sharp multi tracking and arrangement; Inspire me, which blends the heavy UK hip-hop of Midlands trio Ital Source with the honeyed tones of the soulful blues vocals of Kim Trusty; transmission 2032 by Sampson, Rhymie & Kenny Baraka, the Hackney boys – discovered during Apples & Snakes outreach work – give impassioned and accomplished grime-hop alongside old-school NYC MC Kenny that’s evocative, soulful and emotional; and lastly Served Raw by Kayo Chingonyi – spoken word in its purest form from up-and-coming Sheffield student.
There’s also UK Slam Champion John Berkavitch’s bleak paean to urban youth, the children’s poet laureate Michael Rosen’s cheeky chappy persona in full evidence on I can’t stand it anymore, the up-beat jazz/hip-hop Front to Back by Polarbear and highly-rated Salena Godden (of Saltpeter) with a guitar-heavy workout. It’s all rounded-up by Sophie Woolley’s tongue-in-cheek summary of the last 25 years – a suitable tribute to an album and organisation that always defies artificial boundaries.
1. Ital Source featuring Kim Trusty Inspire Me
2. John Berkavitch Noise String
3. Polarbear Front to Back
4. Word on the Street Collective I don’t know what it is but…
5. Malika Booker It’s
6. Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze and Dennis Bovell Caribbean Woman
7. Valerie Bloom Market Song
8. Sally Pomme Clayton Whole Brain
9. Byron Vincent Bob
10. Zena Edwards & Jamie Woon In Other Words
11. Jay Bernard, Yemisi Blake, Joseph Coelho & Inua Ellams Ashes & Dust
12. Michael Rosen I can’t stand it anymore
13. El Crisis, John Hegley & Francesca Beard Stand Alone
14. Ty The Scheme of Things
15. Roger Robinson & Charlie Dark Prayers for Angry Young Men
16. Sampson, Rhymie & Kenny Baraka transmission 2032
17. Kayo Chingonyi Served Raw
18. frisko Christmas with pooks
19. Inna Voice Sunshine kisses
20. Salena Godden & BREIS The Promise of Gold
21. Sophie Woolley A Speech