Australian MC, L-FRESH The LION has released his debut album this week titled ‘One’. The 25 year old from South West Sydney has been creating music for a number of years now and has toured many cities in Australia with a live band, but with the birth of his first album, a coming of age is expected and I for one have been greatly anticipating the release. Does it live up to the expectations?
‘One’ is produced by L-FRESH himself along with Michael McGlynn of New South Wales’ Vienna People Recordings. There are a few tracks that also feature additional producers, but throughout the album the music retains a familiar vibe which represents the artist very well. Upbeat, clean and with a hint of soul, the music compliments the thought-provoking words of L-FRESH without overwhelming the track. Gentle piano melodies intertwine with walking bass lines and guitar riffs as hypnotic percussion brings a regularity and discipline that reminds you this is still conscious rap… don’t get lost in the music!
Lyrically is where L-FRESH The Lion stands out and has led to him being described as “a solid force in the Aussie hip hop scene“. His is that fading brand of hip hop (commercially anyway) where he narrates everyday experiences, real stories of his upbringing and most significantly, words of protest against the injustices of this World. It is his lyrical honesty which will have brought him to the attention of high profile artists such as Nas, Talib Kweli and Dead Prez for whom he has appeared as a support act at national concerts. Perhaps the most high profile endorsement has come from hiphop legend KRS One who appears in the introductory track to the album freestyling in his recognisable tones that “we need more MCs like you // to do what you do” – high praise indeed.
There are further guest appearances on the album from vocalists MIRRAH, Kimberley Aviso, Jeet Hakam, and Jess Starreveld all of which add to the wide appeal of the music. In ‘Beautiful’, a track that features the vocals of R’n’B singer Mike Champion, the album has a record that wouldn’t sound out of place in the European charts, whilst the music video to ‘Survive‘ which features cuts by international DJ MK-1 is rising high on Youtube, introducing the artist to a much wider audience but also introducing the Sikhs as a people in Australia (see the video below).
Either side of the album release, L-FRESH The Lion is performing with his live band in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, proving that he is not one to rest on his laurels and is here for the long-term. In this debut album he has achieved a great blend of sharing the way he sees the World without sounding preachy which is no mean feat. It’s a testament to his talent that there is little mention of his Sikh way of life even though it comes through in every track. ‘Close Your Eyes’, ‘Royalty’ and ‘Victory’ stand out for me as singles that I’ve already added to my daily playlist, but the album as a whole is a thought-provoking journey through 21st century life which I’ve enjoyed. ‘One’ is out now on iTunes, or for those of you looking for an exclusive copy signed CDs are available online.