Jimblah is the voice of a new generation of MCs that, given the right audience, could genuinely make a difference.

It begins with the crackling of an ember, an SOS call from afar and the succinct, simple warning: “Wake up… I think your fire’s going out”. If this alone doesn’t stop you dead in your tracks, then the 40 minutes that follow certainly will. On Phoenix, Adelaide-via-Broome triple-threat (singer, rapper, producer) Jimblah has gone above and beyond the call of duty to battle Second Album Syndrome. Not only does the album far surpass his already-excellent 2011 debut, Face The Fire, it makes a mark as one of the most resoundingly powerful Australian albums to emerge in the last 15 years.

The man born James Alberts takes his struggles, reflections and quest for identity and delivers it in a soulful, thought-provoking package. Songs like ‘TV’ and ‘March’ present a disgust at the state of affairs he has found his nation and his people in, but he also goes to great lengths to make sure that there is a point to be made, as well as – perhaps most importantly – an answer and a solution.

Elsewhere, Kev Carmody’s classic ‘Cannot Take My Soul’ is given a modern update, its legacy extended by Jimblah’s pensive and emotive verses; while Jethro Tull’s classic ‘Aqualung’ is switched up on ‘Park Bench’ to contemplate Aboriginal stereotypes. Like nothing before it and potentially nothing that will come after it, Phoenix deserves every accolade that is bound to come its way.

The next time someone tells you there is nothing of worth in Australian hip hop, introduce that person to Jimblah.

5/5 stars


Phoenixis out now through Elefant Traks/Intertia

Tell Us What You Think