Scalper- Flesh & Bones
8/10

Nadeem Shafi is a well-travelled individual, born and raised in East London, he now lives on Auckland’s West Coast. Throughout the ’90s Shafi fronted the now legendary hip-hop group Fun-Da-Mental (founded by Aki Qureshi aka Propa-Gandhi), whose politicised hip-hop was pivotal in the fight against social injustice and racism in the UK. Adopting the name Scalper in 2000, Shafi has released three EPs and now Flesh & Bones is his full-length solo debut. Despite now living a more comfortable life in New Zealand his music still contains the same fire and passion, proving old wounds are hard to heal. The album is dedicated to his late father and focuses heavily on alienation, dark times and destructive behaviour, all of which have been themes throughout his musical career. Lined with psychic jams blending many elements of continental hip-hop, from the rich emotive tones of trip-hop to the slower, wavier rhythms of Polynesian hip-hop, Shafi lays down lyrics that at times confront and challenge your mindset but never become overly aggressive in presenting its themes. Perfectly broken up by an instrumental track (‘Numbers’) mid-way, the album is separated into two beautifully formed parts. Confronting and relishing in an aggressive majestic tone from the beginning via opening tracks ‘Black Glory’ and ‘Necessary Evil’, Shafi perfectly spaces the album with ‘Threepointonefour’ and ‘Shadows’ leading into ‘Abacus’, three finely tuned tracks backed by more traditional American hip-hop instrumentation with catchy hooks and gentle pulsing beats. The second half of the album is more layered, lyrically focused, and requires more concentration. ‘Treacherous Disciple’ has a sense of reggae through its sun bleached rhythms and melting guitar parts, with lyrics that journey and have a rich sentimental gaze. ‘Obsessive Idols’ then returns with a rougher approach, presenting a more hostile, fighting inclination. Flesh & Bones is without doubt a well constructed album that has taken many months, even years to complete. Shafi’s experience is a complete centrepiece and his life dedicated to music and especially politically motivated music is on grand display.
Nick

Posted by Nick Fulton under Album, Reviews
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