Thursday, 14 January 2010

Mwalim - The Liberation Sessions - Soul Of The City - 2010 - Midnight Groove Records

If you are restless, bored or indifferent to today's music scene and you're thinking of something slightly different then here's a suggestion for you. "The Liberation Sessions" by Mwalim is one such suggestion. I have sat and listened to this CD a number of times and on each play I have gotten deeper into what the gentleman is about, his psyche and what he is trying to do. What he is trying to do, actually, is something very important indeed for our beloved music in the soul-starved US of A, and big applause for the gent for doing what he is doing. To be honest, it took a while for the set to grab me. Then the penny dropped! What this is is a very clever, astute and important concept album. If I dare call it that. It works from various levels, angles and emotions and should have some impact on the listenership he is aiming at. Set on a fictional Black Urban radio station WBAR FM - Black Ass Radio, Mwalib is our Disc Jockey, our narrator if you will on a hustle and bustle aural journey through contemporary US black American Urban music. There are bass-drenched numbers, soulful sounds, Hip Hop, raggamuffin freestyle and even a weak shot of blues thrown in the mix. The concept is hip; a step to the left and very much outside the box.

It's fun, yet serious at the same time. Our tongue-in-cheek narrator literally acts as a DJ and even offers tickets to a soul night. The confused chap who phones in requesting food adds some real humour into the mix, and Mwalib, undeterred carries onto his 21st caller! This is all fine, you're thinking but what about the music?! OK. It's a celebration or Urban style, and I have to pinpoint female vocalist Amaris as someone who is very competant, strong and, I am sure, able to deliver a very strong Urban soul album in her own right. There are many new artists on here - all unknown to me but all able to stand their ground and make a mark in their own fields I am sure. I am not a huge rap fan - only that from the 80's and very early '90s and a few tracks by Marley Marl and Craig G a few years ago! However, track 15 "Miraculous Apertures (Camera)" by Tem Blessed is a great example of message-driven commentary and I particularly like the sentiments about not all white folks are devils! I certainly hope I'm not at any rate! The serious, and shocking point made on this CD though is when Mwalib make a statement about the loss of black music stations throughout the US, especially in the North East of the country. Some only exist as shows on college radio! These stations, he states, are disappearing at an alarming rate and without warning. No surprises, then, that quality soul and jazz seems to be non-existent in the US. This CD, fun and oddball as it is, is doing a grand job in making a stand and drawing a line in the musical sand. Much respect to mwalim and all the artists and rappers involved in raising the profile of soul music in the Us and the fact that radio - free radio - is dying. More power to 'em I say.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe