Energy –  Prince Ngu (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Despite current divisions which may suggest otherwise, The USA has always been a land of cultural cross-pollination. A place where different cultures creatively crash together to create the sights and sounds of the future. Prince Ngu, a Cameroonian artist who now calls Boston home, is the perfect example of this process.

Energy is the sound of his West African roots being infused with the urban sounds of his current surroundings, a set of songs which blend the echoes of one continent’s long musical traditions with another’s search for its modern sound. The beats are western but the grooves are very much from an older place. Romance opens the record, probably the most conventionally mainstream track of the set, before American Queen adds spaciousness and atmosphere to the proceedings, a minimalist anthem and an interesting cultural role reversal.

Dreaming is a slow and soothing meander through hip-hop beats and skittering trap percussive energy and the title track rounds things off nicely, again the space between the beats feeling otherworldly and languid. And it is this approach which makes things all the more interesting.

Many artists in a similar field tend to throw too much into their songs, confusing and over playing them. Prince Ngu is smarter than that though, instead he explores the spaces between the beats, the echoes that hang between the words and it is this negative space turned into a positive force which really makes him stand out in a very crowded musical genre.

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