Like the plot of a Tony Jaa or Bruce Lee film, the concept behind Mike Ladd’s Infesticons/Majesticons project is contrived, fantastic and ultimately irrelevant. Those in the know really just want to hear Ladd breaking off some batshit crazy rhymes over equally unorthodox beats. Reciting the story of warring musical robots fighting for the future of hip-hop is likely to win you kudos within certain establishments in the east end of London, but really, each part of the Infesticons concept trilogy of albums is just an excuse for Mike Ladd to flip open his skull and commit the results to wax. Wax only in this case, actually, as the Infesticons have decided that their new album Bedford Park will not be released on CD; 'A Majesticon format originally introduced in 1982 to maximise sales of Queen’s back catalogue and ensure that the collected speeches of Thatcher and Regan would be available down the ages. Instead, the album will be released on numbered, limited edition vinyl with exclusive artwork from highly-rated photographer Scott Glushien, as well as being available for digital download.'
For the record then, Bedford Park is the musical story of the Infesticons marching band who; not being particularly into combat, hid in a bunker during the war between their comrades and the Majesticons. Finding life pretty boring in the bunker, the Infesticons marching band made some demos and mixtapes, and when they finally emerged years after the war had finished and everyone had forgotten what it was about in the first place, Bedford Park was what they were clutching in their metallic fingers.
The third and final album in the Infesticons project has the same wide array of guests as previous numbers, and a good deal of the fun on the album is matching names to the voices. Well, it is if you approach rap through the prism of a massive white nerd, like me. The promo copy of BP came with guest spots on tracks totally uncredited, not even the cute little thing of numbering the Infesticon contributors like on Gun Hill Road. I’d bet the farm though that I recognised TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe on track three, ‘Dirty Old Men Anthem’, which is like Grinderman’s ‘No Pussy Blues’ re-imagined by men more comfortable with the concept of funk. Longtime Infesticon Saul Williams is also easily recognisable on track six ‘Kick Anthem’.
For the most part though, Mike Ladd himself seems to take more of a central role on BP than previous Infesticons projects; the huge force of his personality drives the scuzzy blues and rough, rough beats through a mixture of singing, rapping, straight-up bawling, sometimes switching between the three on the same track. Having one presence step up to the plate for BP is a wise move, although it's no less ambitious and sprawling than Gun Hill Road was, the feel of a strong hand keeping it all together is definitely more noticeable this time around. Maybe a robotic civil war is what it took for Ladd to hone his astonishing talents. Even for a man who lectures in humanities and has made an album about fetishisation of black slaves in post-WW1 Paris the switch from dirty blues and electro to country for penultimate track ‘Sky’s Anthem’ indicates a talent still confident in its ability to fuck up new boundaries. Now he’s led the Infesticons to victory, I wonder if I can get odds on Mike Ladd sorting out that Middle East situation?
8Robert Ferguson's Score