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Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon levels up again on new album Beautifully Black, entirely produced by fellow underground legend Navy Blue. Navy would be a premier choice for collaboration for anyone who knows their rap music, but with someone as talented as Jah-Monte on the mic the results outclass any expectations with ease. Elsesser’s production is smooth and luxurious, a perfect fit for someone of Jah-Monte’s rapping calibre. The two part ‘The Missing Link / The Sneaky link’ is exemplary of this style, the MC’ing on top form but also giving plenty of breathing space for the classically-influenced beat. Not only does Navy match his energy on each of these 11 tracks, he also creates a kind of cohesion often missing on full albums from single rapper/producer combos. It’s been a while since the last time Jah-Monte tapped in with a single artist like this, so to position himself alongside Navy like this is a move that feels as calculated as it does organic.
‘Tried Your Best’ and ‘Pray For Fame’ feature the very talented Kelly Moonstone, a rapper well worth mentioning for her contributions here because her chemistry with both Jah-Monte and Navy results in two of the best tracks on the record. There’s other features here too (including a standout contribution from Navy himself), but it’s on these tracks that the album’s strongest suite of songs emerges. The beats here really are beautiful, reminding us once again that when it comes to artists with incredible and consistent work rates Navy is right there alongside Jah-Monte himself. In many senses then, this is the perfect album for the two to release at this point in time. 2021 has well and truly belonged to the scene that the two inhabit, and as two of its most proficient members they deserve all of the acclaim that they receive. The fact the last song is titled ‘Complex & Pitchfork Opinions’ should tell listeners everything that they need to know about Jah-Monte’s place in the game, and the further greatness that is undoubtedly to follow.
A1. The Missing Link / The Sneaky Link
A2. Where Are You? Part II
A3. More Than Gold (feat. Phiik)
A4. Tried Your Best (feat. Kelly Moonstone)
A5. Telfar & Karl Kani (feat. Kelly Moonstone)
B1. I Miss You (feat. Navy Blue)
B2. We Up On This Side (feat. Messiah)
B3. We Locked Boo
B4. Forever Love
B5. Popping In The Big Apple
B6. Complex & Pitchfork Opinions
Vinyl previews are digital mock-ups, final product may differ from this preview.