“Now hear this mixture.
Where Hip Hop meets scripture.
Develop a negative.
Into a positive picture”. (Lauryn Hill)
Phoenix Da Ice Fire is an artist I have followed for a number of years now. Thanks to buying a chance CD in the bustle of Camden High Street, I was both blown away and hooked at the same time. Since then I have heard most of his releases and have yet to be disappointed, even more so when I had the privilege of spending time with him and his family when he welcomed me into his home for an interview. I had pieced together in my mind a man of disparate roles, from those musical ones in Black Chronicle, Triple Darkness, as a solo artist, and as a writer of graphic novels, a dedicated family man and a provider. Rather than all these roles representing a chameleon, a fragmented puzzle, he proved himself as a human man with natural facets whose pieces fit together as a perfect whole.
His latest release, with producer Husky Brown, Dark Rainbow Light, along with another track, Sins of Gaia, just furthers his progression, passion, and promise. The immediacy of being drawn in by the track is nothing short of amazing. Dark Rainbow Light uses the lyricism of contrasts and differences in order to promote unity, hence the correlation with the Lauryn Hill quote above. The lyrics have a depth that requires repeated listens, each time the listener picks up something new in the words and the meanings.
The start immediately dives into unexpected contrasts: “Whatever you do alone, it gives height. Whatever you do together, it gives depth.” Straight away you become part of the song, taking on the role of being our own interpreter.
Despite the different situations he tackles, such as crime, violence, mental health, poverty, either up or down, rich or poor, we share one planet. “We’re all here as one, share one breathe. The truth we can’t accept”. It’s only the mixtures of extreme Dark and Light that bring out a beautiful rainbow. There are no highs possible without the lows.
Phoenix is an artist with drive, belief, and commitment. “I’ve got conviction, not the sort they give in court”. Hip Hop is not a thing Phoenix physically does, it’s a way of life. The lyrics over a soundtrack from producer Husky Brown with hip hop beats, soul, and drum and bass gives a special song, from the rawness of reality to the beauty of a rainbow.
Sins of Gaia, the second song on the double release is a slower more stripped down affair. Low-fi beats with some electronica back a track that tackles the day to day struggle living in areas governed by deprivation.
While the focus is on the inner cities and pockets of poverty, these are used as a microcosm for a wider picture on a giant scale. The translation of ‘Gaia’ is ‘World’ and this is how the song starts. “It’s a crazy world’ and “it’s a mad world’ are repeated numerously. Phoenix speaks of danger on the streets, people dying in their teens, being judged at first sight often due to the colour of your skin, problem based on your genes. Multiply these problems from just one area and we see that these issues manifest themselves on a global level.
The lyrics flow amazingly, they feel innate, organic, almost spontaneous. They come from a special inner world: “I’ve seen many things you see in your dreams”. Dreams too, are important. This notion resonates with a quote from Wale, “Life without dreaming is a life without meaning”. Finally one lyric from the track says it all: “Love, peace, and harmony, that’s a beautiful recipe”. And that, succinctly, is what we need for the Gaia.
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