“Gangster Blues” – Mattafix
Mattafix, a band composed of two Britons from different backgrounds, is one of the most genre bending hip-hop groups I have ever listened to.
Marlon Roudette was born in London and is the son of Cameron McVey, a British music producer, and Vonnie Roudette, a designer and artist from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. As a young child he moved with his mother and sister to St. Vincent, where he began his music career, and returned to London when he was 18. Preetesh Hirji was born in London of dual-Indian parentage and grew up in the heart of West London, where he started at Eastcote Studios on Kensal Road.
Clearly their upbringings are extremely different., and explain some of the bands eclectic style. The reggae and R&B background of Roudette is fairly easy to pick up on, but clearly these roots have been diluted by something. That something is Hirji’s self proclaimed “computer geek” electronica background. Add Preetesh’s haunting falsetto voice and Roudette’s slick reggae vocals and the effect is stunning and emotionally vibrant.
Side note: the name Mattafix come from the St. Vincent saying “matter fixed,” which when spoken with a West Indian accent sound like mattafix. Fun fact for the day!
Using this unique and fantastic style, Mattafix is able to showcase great lyrics in a way that most bands cannot. Their dark sound can bring powerful emotion to subjects that can be difficult to tackle such as the crisis in Darfur (“Living Darfur”) and the realities of life in the city (“Big City Life”).
“Gangster Blues,” (Signs of a Struggle) is about a young mans decision to live a life of crime. The narrator (Hirji) explains that this life will eventually, and inevitably, lead to this young mans death, and that he should stop. The song seems to be set immediately before this young man goes out to commit a crime, as the refrain poignantly states:
Now time will prove
Now you have to choose
If life’s the game you lose
By taking one last chance and falling to the gangsta blues…
Life is one hell of a game to lose, and this songs feel makes you very aware of that. The combination of emotional sound and powerful lyrics made me fall in love with “Gangster Blues”, I hope you do the same!