J. Chambers – Escape The Kingdom: Album Review

J. Chambers releases his debut album, Escape The Kingdom. It follows a string of brilliant singles and EPs.

Released: 26th February 2021

Label: Self Release (Bandcamp)

Format: Digital / Vinyl (TBC)

J. Chambers is a rapper/MC from Manchester who has seen his star rise over the past few years. Through several well received singles and EP’s, he has honed his craft and has supported The Mouse Outfit, played Beat Horizon Festival and has headlined illustrious Manchester venues like Band On The Wall and The Deaf Institute. Through his graft and voice, he made an appearance on Blue Peter as part of the Black History Month in 2020 and has been involved with Manchester artist Akse P19 in community projects; most notably highlighting Marcus Rashford and his ongoing battle with the British government over free school meals (video below).

Escape The Kingdom collates some of the aforementioned singles, but sees J. Chambers moving primarily to a more rocksteady/dub/reggae vibe in his music. Whilst J. is more than capable of bringing fire in a standard hip-hop way, Escape The Kingdom gives more credence to his messages and points made through the reggae vibe; It feels more authentic, and gives J. Chambers a link to his heritage. You can feel the passion oozing out of each word he speaks. Nothing is wasted.

The album opens with a sample from Fawlty Towers that will pin your ears back if you have never heard it before. In tackling the issues of racism, identity and being black in Britain, J. Chambers has tried to shift the focus of racism on our shores.

I really wanted to contextualise what racism and equality is in England. A lot of the time, you read editorials from an Americanised perspective. The people we talk about like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, and other civil rights leaders, makes it feel like it is pushed over to America. I wanted to be clear from the start that I am addressing an issue with a British focus and what goes on here.

J. Chambers on the samples used on Escape The Kingdom

The samples from Fawlty Towers and Love Thy Neighbour shine a light on a problem that is, and has been prevalent for a long time. There is also samples from a The Bronx Of Britain; a documentary about Moss Side, Manchester, in the 1990’s; an infamous area of Manchester notorious for violence. Freedom Aint Free has one of the most scathing lyrics on the whole album. J. Chambers uses his voice and words to great effect in the fact there is no modification of his voice; it’s raw and powerful. You can tell that this is an artist speaking his mind, and speaking from experience.

Putting a poem in the centre of your record is a bold move. My Antenna is one of many highlights in this record. It is brutally honest, wonderfully produced, and gives food for thought. It offers a history lesson as well as more personal experience. It will leave a mark.

The topics mentioned in My Antenna are prevalent throughout the whole record. Damning thoughts on the Windrush scandal, being a black man in society, the Tory government, Grenfell and media constructed hate are all touched on through tracks like Roots and Culture, the title track, and Kill The Noise. Kill The Noise features Jah Riki on vocals. It is one of several collaborations on Escape The Kingdom. 2Nice features on 2.18 and Dei.3avu features on Sirens. All of the collaborations ensure that the album is varied whilst following the common themes.

Escape The Kingdom is a brilliant album. It’s short; a real sucker punch. The words are brutal, and they’re delivered authentically and intricately with a passion and intelligence that doesn’t fail. The production is slick, and the beats are solid. I sincerely hope that Escape The Kingdom pushes J. Chambers further into the psyche of the masses. He is the kind of voice we need in society to continue the ongoing struggle to achieve equality.

Listen to My Antenna from J. Chambers, below. Read J’s guest article on At The Barrier about The New Jamaican Reggae Renaissance here.

J. Chambers: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

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