Conquering Lion

Conquering Lion

Conquering Lion (aka Congo Natty aka Rebel MC aka Tribe Of Issachar aka X Project aka Ras Project) is the stage name of the jungle producer and toaster, Michael West (born 27 August 1965, Tottenham, London.) "Conquering Lion" is an abbreviation for "The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah". one of emperor Haile Selassie's many titles.

Biography

In the early 1980s, West formed the group Double Trouble with the now deceased Michael Menson, Karl Brown (more commonly known as the UK garage DJ Karl 'Tuff Enuff' Brown) and Leigh Guest; and released the single "Just Keep Rockin" on the Desire record label in 1989 as Double Trouble and Rebel MC. The single was a UK Top 20 hit, and the follow-up "Street Tuff" (1989) was his biggest success, reaching #3 in the UK Singles Chart.

Because of the style and content of these releases, West was often dismissed by a British hip-hop community, distrustful of pop success and "selling out". The release of his first album Rebel Music (Desire, 1990) did little to change their views. This album included the popular dance track "Better World".

This was soon to change, however, as West used the money he had made from his pop successes to record his second album. Black Meaning Good (Desire, 1991) was a complete change of style for West, mixing his former pop-rap influences with reggae, hip hop, dance and the emerging jungle styles. The album featured ragga notables like Barrington Levy, Tenor Fly and Dennis Brown crooning and toasting on top of reggae-house music rhythms.

Word, Sound and Power (1992) was a further exploration of roots electronica that mashed up techno, house, reggae, ragga and hip hop music.

Forming the Tribal Bass label, Rebel MC released "Tribal Bass" (1992) and the Demon Boyz "Dett" (1992) and "Jungle-ist" (1993) which were hip house tracks. The X Project label followed shortly with the "Old School Ting" (1993) single. As Conquering Lion, West, with help from DJ Ron and Jumping Jack Frost, released the sound system mash up "Lion of Judah/Innah Sound/Dub Plate Special" (1993). With vocals from Supercat, Conquering Lion's "Code Red/Phenomenon" (1994) caught the attention of 4th & Broadway who re-released the track along with "Rastaman/Word, Sound and Power/Code Black" (1995).

Tribal Bass gradually mutated into Congo Natty, and West himself released some material under this name, before settling on the Conquering Lion name. However, this was not the last the world heard of Rebel MC. Despite his continued success with his new style of music (West is one of the few artists from the first wave of British hip hop to continue recording throughout the years to the present day), West released the single "Junglist" (Congo Natty, 2004) under the Rebel MC name, and followed this up with a greatest hits album Born Again (Congo Natty, 2005)

New interest in the Double Trouble & Rebel MC song "Just Keep Rockin" in December 2007 saw it re-enter the UK Dance Chart at #32.

Music

Rebel MC's sound derives from his focus on blackness from various angles. Rather than solely celebrating Afrocentric motifs, his music hearkens back to the African diaspora. The lyrics embrace a wide range of approaches to blackness and black-pride, bringing a different understanding of tradition by combining the different voices, themes and styles drawn from all kinds of sources of "blackness", creating a "playful, vibrant, postracial utopia". This amalgamated version of modern thought has allowed for the emergence of a uniquely London version of politically charged hip hop. Paul Gilroy argues that Rebel MC's message prevents the existence of "the trope of race as family." Instead, Gilroy states that the London hip hop culture allows for a healthy competition between African-American and Caribbean sounds to gain exposure.

Album discography

  • Rebel Music (Desire, 1990)
  • Black Meaning Good (Desire, 1991)
  • Word Sound and Power (Big Life, 1991)
  • Born Again (Congo Natty, 2005)

References

External links

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