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Mortima Hardly by Natural Black

Mortima Hardly by Natural Black

Mortima Hardly by Natural Black

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Finally - Guyana's finest scales lyrical heights on arguably his most varied release to date.


Coming from what is, arguably, the most interesting set of circumstances to be found on the landscape of modern Roots Reggae music, the Guyana born Natural Black has spent the better portion of the past decade and a half or so establishing himself as one of the most dependable artists in the business. His career has been marked by outstanding stretches of not only activity, but consistency as well and his presence has become quite the fixture on the scene during this current era. Perhaps that would explain the fact that while it was only early 2009 when Black released his most recent album, 'Guardian Angel', it's seemed like ages since last the world received a full length studio album from the virtual production factory known as Natural Black. 

Well, apparently the artist himself agreed as he recently brought forth, via Rippa Blaxxx Productions and Grillaras Productions [and digitally via Zojak Worldwide], his latest creation, the pseudo eponymous 'Mortima Hardly'. Natural Black - Mortima HardlyIn 1975 Natural Black was born Mortimer Softley and the very fitting title to his new album seems to suggest a 'harder' edge to his well known style and while "harder" is debatable, one could very easily make the point that it shapes up to be his most colourful effort to date given the varied nature of the vibes on the album. Take, for example, the opener Running Away. The tune, with its nearly hypnotic and trance-like backing, borders on Jazz and the sorts, but lyrically, as he does throughout the album, Natural Black reallyturns things up.

The album's first single, Beautiful Lady, is another very differently vibed song. This one comes with a very 'large sound', before settling into a very nice sound to which Natural Black locks his words. Throughout 'Mortima Hardly' the chanter is provided with such 'genre-bending' backdrops and, for the most part, he does quite well over them. Tunes such as the Hip-Hoppish Open Your Ears, the smooth All Over You, the bouncing Distance Yourself and the final vocal track in particular, Who Selassie I Bless should find an audience with the more Reggae-centric individuals [such as those of you who frequent this site], given the proper amount of time. While some of them may not register immediately, the keenest of listener of the album may very think this album one of Natural Black's better efforts because of how different it sounds over time.

For those who have come seeking a full on Reggae album, however, don't worry - 'Mortima Hardly' has something for you as well - And has it in the form of the best material to be found on the entire album. At the absolute pinnacle of the set is the peerless Nyah drum backed Straight With.

Haile Selassie you fi straight with
Know who you fi go through di gate with
Cover yourself, no x-rated
No Queen no fi go through naked"

Along with this big tune are other scintillating numbers like the lovely early piece Ethiopia Awaits. There is also a tune in Ready Your Mind which is almost perfect lyrically, Dog Nyammings and Sunshine Glory, probably the second largest moment to be found here. Still, with all of that being said, the tune which is certain to monopolize the attentions of Reggae fans is actually a Hip-Hp tune, Sufferation, as it just so happens to feature Natural Black rhyming alongside Reggae legend Sizzla Kalonji.

What is to be stressed in the case of Natural Black's 'Mortima Hardly' album is patience. Anyone with a great interest in this album is almost certain to be a deeply involved fan of Reggae music and because of the nature of the music here, it is very tempting to just past the songs which add a bit of spice outside of the normal one-drop. Doing so, however, would mean missing what just may be not only Natural Black's most unusual release to date, but also his most lyrically impressive as well.

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