(Vaulted re-release; no rating given)
Digging in the vaults of defunct or negligent record labels is becoming an increasingly popular and wise decision on the part of independents. While the early-90s was undoubtedly a high point for hip-hop, even then, labels were more often concerned about capital than creativity. But thanks to labels like Stones Throw, abandoned projects now have a new home and new shelf life. Taking note of this development, Glow In The Dark Records aptly presents the Afrocentric sounds of Zimbabwe Legit with their impressive 1992 full-length debut, Brothers From The Mother.
As the title alludes, MCs Akim and Dumi are natives of Africa, who were already established hip-hoppers by the time they touched American soil (New York) in 1990. But by no means is their heritage a gimmick. It’s their foundation; it’s the way they “rock to the drums” with a rich effortlessness. As this duo displays on the refined opening cut, “Basically Speaking,” just because they’re not American-born doesn’t mean they’re not well aware of slavery and racial injustice. All throughout this compact, 41-minute effort, they make it evident how well read they are without going over anyone’s head in the process. And as songs like “To Bead or Not to Bead” prove, Akim and Dumi are also well aware of culture counterfeits as they cunningly examine the authenticity and commercialization of Afrocentricity in America. On a lighter note, Zimbabwe Legit can drop straightforward golden era hip-hop (see the up-tempo Black Sheep-esque “Straight from the Mothership”) just as convincingly.
Zimbabwe Legit arguably would have had an edge up on other Afrocentric acts of the early-90s because of their experience of living in both Africa and America and their ability to so eloquently relay this. Yet the industry didn’t see it that way. Nonetheless Zimbabwe Legit’s magnetic debut is aptly getting a second chance. While Akim and Dumi carry a sound all their own, fans of X-Clan, Poor Righteous Teachers, Das Efx and Black Sheep are all likely to find solace in this rock solid, golden era composition.
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