“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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Kate Taylor

Kate Taylor

Kate Taylor is a Lon­don based writer whose Interests are based primar­ily on music and art and also the philo­sophies and polit­ics that accom­pany them. In addi­tion she has an Msc in psy­cho­logy, has worked as a ther­ap­ist, and paints abstract art pieces.

About Kate Taylor

Kate Taylor
Kate Taylor is a London based writer whose Interests are based primarily on music and art and also the philosophies and politics that accompany them. In addition she has an Msc in psychology, has worked as a therapist, and paints abstract art pieces.