In 2019, rapper and producer duo Phoenix da Icefire & Husky Brown teamed up for the the first time to record their debut album “Panacea”, and have delivered one of the most creative and relevant works for these volatile times in the process.
Formerly of the Midlands, producer and ex street artist Husky may have swapped disciplines but still conjures up vivid imagery through epic and diverse soundscapes. Fusing the sounds of the UK’s inner city through the decades, the potent cocktail of hip hop, electronica, dub, reggae, soul and r&b is reminsicent of FSOL in their prime fuelled with shades of Goldie, Vibronics, Pete Rock and Galliano.
As a member of the highly rated Triple Darkness crew, Phoenix saw his reputation as one of the most gifted lyricists from the UK hip hop scene grow exponentially both at home and abroad. With a number of solo albums, mixtapes and work with luminaries including Cormega under his belt, his supporting role for New York’s The Doppelgangaz at the Camden Assembly in 2019 spawned the new partnership with Husky in attendance.
In the new album, Phoenix sets his existential sights on the pressing issues currently facing corners of society and the global community at large. Mirroring Husky’s eclectic productions, he switches attention effortlessly to tackle recurring themes of the environment, mental health, racism, disengagement, eudaimonia and interdependence.
Amidst the frenzy of electronica, “The Humans are Coming” pens a letter of contrition to the mythological Gaia for the damage done to her realm, while the Carribean flavours of “Judgement Day” provides the heart beat behind the bars shining a light on the Windrush scandal. “Sins of Gaia” continues the theme, the inner conflict between rage and calm dignity in the face of authoritative prejudice and intolerance.
Electing higher paths while surrounded by maelstroms resonates through the hip hop of “Dark Rainbow Light” the soulful “Don’t Doubt Yourself” and the vibrancy of “Life is Magic”.
The empathy for mental health issues displayed in the poignantly infectious “Travelling Buddy” is still underpinned by the album’s narrative of hope, alternatively characterized through the slick r&b floor filler “Seasons of You”. The dexterity of wordplay, metaphors and rhyme schemes are present throughout, epitomized by the neck breaking hip hop of “Mr Shine” and “Cosmic Soul”. The ancient and futuristic symbolism gives Phoenix the latitude to drill down to the core of an existence many will recognize amplified by Husky’s cross cultural soundtrack.
An astounding and ground breaking album which breaks from formulaic convention and common held perceptions of the UK rap scene.