Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lord Mustafa and DJ KIng Born, United

Movement Ex really kinda reminds me of an East coast Low Profile, where you've got a solid, lyrically conscious MC paired up with an incredible DJ - King Born - who fills their entire album with a ton of hype scratching. The MC, Lord Mustafa, is the weaker link of the pair, though. He's pretty adept and clearly focused on intellectual and socially relevant content, but he just doesn't have the voice or style that'd threaten to knock another politically radical MC like Brother J or Wise Intelligent out of position... which is probably why they (again like Low Profile*) never made it to a second album. And that's a shame, 'cause this is some quality hip-hop right here.

So they only had the one self-titled album in 1990, but fortunately their catalog doesn't quite stop there. They released two tight 12" singles, including this one, "United Snakes of America." Just look at that picture cover. You've got a good shot of them, and their logo, in front of the pentagon, with a giant blue snake wrapped around it! And look at that little blurb promising an exclusive Marley Marl remix... that's the kind of cover that when you see it in a shop, you buy it even if you don't know who the artists are.

So "United Snakes of America" is in many ways what you'd expect, but you'd probably find it surprisingly up-tempo, which really works in its favor. It gives a lot of energy to Mustafa's rhymes, and sets King Born up perfectly to cut the shit out of the hook. The beat, produced by Sir Randall Scott, who made all of Movement Ex's beats (and as far as I know, nobody else's), has some nice change-ups and layers. By the third verse, new sample elements are still being introduced. But it doesn't sound cluttered at all. The instrumental's also included, so you can take the time to appreciate it.

Then, on the B-side of course, we come to that Marley Marl remix. The drums and hardcore horn-stab definitely sound more Marley Marlish, but it doesn't feel like a signature MM track. It's damn good, though, and has a sick horn sample on the hook. The scratching's a little muted on this version, which is the only disappointment. This isn't so much as an ideal replacement of the original so much as a nice companion piece. And considering the severe shortage of Movement Ex songs, it's a very welcome addition to your collection.

Finally, it wraps up with another album cut, "Zig Zag Zig." The beat is the great, funky soul break from Rose Royce's "Zig Zag" (you probably remember it making a stand-out cut called "Buggin' On the Line" on Tony D's debut album). Again it's full of rapier-like cuts by DJ King Born. And again Mustafa is kicking some slick, fast-paced knowledge on the track. Granted, it gets a bit immaturely mired in confrontational white vs. black stuff, and some of the lines don't seem too well thought out ("no caves in Africa, so who you callin' a caveman" is a nice, anti-stereotype sentiment... but, you know, there are plenty of caves in Africa - like a lot - so you kinda feel a little embarrassed for him there). But they were young and sincere, and they brought a lot of dope music to the table; so you've gotta work with 'em here and cut them a little slack.

It's sad that Movement Ex never returned, but I say it's a credit to Columbia Records that they put these guys out at all. Let's just enjoy what we've got, 'eh?

*WC and the Maad Circle don't count. :P


  1. To Werner or anyone else interested: I did an in depth interview with Born Allah last year:

    There are also interviews on beetbak with Shamen 12 of Masters of the Universe, Jahli of Darkleaf, Syndrome228 & Gel of EX2, Zagu Brown, Sach of The Nonce and a bunch more, plus some cool ones coming soon

    1. No doubt; I already follow BTBB. Anybody reading this should definitely check it out. Looking forward to new ones. 8)

    2. Thanks, Werner! I appreciate that