While reggae and hip-hop are enjoyed by many as two different genres of music, the origins of the two are hardly parallel. Chicago hip-hop group Illuminati Congo may have a strong rap exterior, especially with lead vocalist Jahn the Baptist controlling the mic, but the soul of the band is hard Rastafari steel.
Illuminati Congo's second album, "All Eye See" is an awesome arrangement of audio alchemy that combines musical elements fans across the spectrum can groove to from classic rock, sampled instrumentals, wickedly cool beats, dance-worthy synth arrangements and honest lyrics forged cold and clean from the streets of the Windy City.
"All Eye See" is an album with a huge reggae influence. One element of reggae is known as a dub, where a song is stripped of it's vocals, remixed to amplify the bass & drums, and then sampled extensively. This creates a distinctive reverb sound that inspires images of grooving dancehalls partying all night long under the sweet Jamaican moonlight.
The legendary reggae artist Lee "Scratch" Perry, who is also featured on the album, wields elements like dub with poetic finesse to emphasize his own distinctive sound. Hip-hop heavyweight Cee Knowledge Doodlebug from Diggable Planets is also part of the project, so fans are getting extra gold with "All See Eye."
Artists would play dubbed-out remixes of their favorite songs on their soundsystems at high volume, and then freestyle the lyrics, improvising to the beat, an art which later became known as "toasting."
This subgenre ended up in the United States, where it evolved into rap, giving the two genres a common heritage millions of fans across the planet appreciate.
Producer and DJ Nic the Graduate, a proven veteran of the Chicago music scene, has helped Illuminati Congo to polish a perfect gem, making "All Eye See" an LP for any fan to treasure. Illuminati Congo's second album will be available on November 8, 2011.
A very special thanks to Bay Area hip-hop artist Unity Lewis for the history lesson he gave me on Jamaican reggae and the relationship between toasting and modern American rap.