Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is a Reptile (Impulse!) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Sons of Kemet

Your Queen Is a Reptile


May 10, 2018 Sons of Kemet Bookmark and Share

If you spend enough time in London, avoiding the overtly upper-class locations and just take in the atmosphere and culture of the city at large, you can begin to understand the inspiration behind its music scene. Sure, every now and then it throws out generic, mostly white, indie-electronic bands worth some notorietyooking at you The xxbut largely, it’s the bands/acts/singers who’ve made their name in the deep underground, or who are at least inspired by it, that become the most interesting. The grime revolution that has hit in the last couple of years, thanks to flagship bearers in the genre such as Skepta, Wiley, and Stormzy all of whom have released their best work to date over the last 24 months, is a perfect embodiment of this and, just as with hip-hop in the U.S. recently, this kind of sound is being used as a vehicle for other, less mainstream genres to make a bid for a wider audience.

The most marginalized genre this side of country, for a current millennial generation, is undoubtedly jazz. Drop that term into a conversation at a party and you’re undoubtedly going to be hit by raised eyebrows and unimpressed glances before finding yourself surrounded by considerably less people than before you brought it up. But, as with grime over the last few years, jazz has enjoyed a significant overhaul in public image, to the point where (whisper it), it may even be considered “cool.” Kamasi Washington’s exploits on albums with Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, and Thundercat can be to thank for this from an American standpoint, but for British listeners, it’s pretty much been GoGo Penguin and a great album from The Comet Is Cominganother band lead by Shabaka Hutchings, the principle force behind Sons of Kemetto shout about for a while now. Thankfully, with the release of Your Queen Is a Reptile, Sons of Kemet can now be considered in similar breathes to all of these artists, having released the best British jazz album for a considerable amount of time.

Every track here is named after an inspirational women of color, from Harriet Tubman to Angela Davis, Doreen Lawrence to Hutchings’ own grandmother Ada Eastman and, in all honesty, it becomes really hard to pick a favoritebecause they are all so damn good. The fluidity of jazz is one of the genre’s key motifs. Get this wrong and it can cripple an entire album/project. Here, it is so seamless that, halfway through, you find yourself taking it for granted. You get to mid-album tracks like “My Queen Is Angela Davis” or “My Queen Is Nanny of the Marroons,” and it’s just accepted that you are in for a thrilling five or so minutes of captivating, unrelenting, intelligent jazz that doesn’t alienate in it’s intellect.

Rather it inspires and brings its audience along with it, providing a vessel for all who are willing to listen to combat the obvious societal injustices that are so prevalent nowadays. It’s no mistake that the closing track, “My Queen Is Doreen Lawrence,” has been written on an album that marks 25 years since the high-profile murder of Lawrence’s son Stephen, a case that shames every facet of British society to this day and one which, sadly, we appear not to be learning from as institutional racism still appears to be so obvious in our law enforcement agencies.

It may seem from what has just been discussed that Your Queen Is a Reptile is political to an extent that will turn some people off, but this is not the case. Its politics are fundamental to its composition and orchestration, the two things go hand in hand and never allow the statements that it is making feel forced or preachy. An immaculately conceived record, the latest from Sons of Kemet is proof that British jazz is alive and well and, even beyond that, may be one of the best cultural tools we have in fighting the oppressive and deeply troubling political landscape that appears to be forming in the west, of late. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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May 10th 2018

Nice and interesting info

May 10th 2018


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