Basquiat Cover

A Review of Basquiat by Mangoseed

By Kevin Tshiamala

To say that I’m a sucker for anything to do with reggae music and culture is an understatement. Though this is, the musical talent in this genre pool is severely lacking. Unsure whether it is due to its on the surface simplicity or lack of authenticity, but other than The Hip Abduction and Natty there are maybe a handful of new bands in the last year that have made worthy, respectful reggae music. Therefore, you can imagine our excitement when receiving an album with comparisons to RHCP, RATM and Robert Nesta.

Mangoseed are a South London world fusion band. This four piece band of Trinidadian, Jamaican, Australian and Irish decent formed in 2008 by front man Nicholai La Barrie and guitarist Karlos Coleman. The band developed organically, from jam sessions to live gigs. Their new CD Basquiat is inspired by the work and spirit of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The fifteen track album is broadly creative composed of a mirage of genres, emotions, perspective and influence. The opening song, “Lioness,” is rock all the way through and most definitely not the highlight, but it displays their energy, potential, and diversity. “Brix-tone” is dub heavy, which projects their Jamaican roots and influence. Not to mention the powerful lyrics.

“I Shoot My Friends” is a blues jam wallowed in whiskey, demons, and guns. It reminds me when Bradley Nowell would break down into an emotional acoustic jam break – heartfelt and real. Gaining this feeling through an album is a testament to the reputation gained by Mangoseed of putting on wildly energetic and original live shows.

The album continues genre hopping between reggae, rock, hip hop, blues, jam, and sometimes songs with all of these attributes jumbled together. With funky guitar riffs, pulsating rock bass and swinging drums, Mangoseed has strong, lyrical and masterful tunes. From the angst-driven punk/funk protest of “Standing on a High” to an epic reggae, jungle, break-beat journey of “Devil in the Road,” Mangoseed’s sound is funky, poetic and infectious.

Though this is, where Basquiat fails, like most, is the length. Sometimes less is more and more is too much. As Orwell taught us, never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” As Jefferson stated, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” Although this is tough to accomplish when modeling your work after a sporadic, zero filter person such as Basquiat, trimming the fat always makes for a better meal.

Regardless, without cornering them into a “type,” Mangoseed’s Basquiat is a delightful change of pace in the over saturation of poor new talent in the umbrella genre that is Reggae. As lead vocalist Nicholai La Barrie stated, “You take one look at us and expect a reggae band and not for our songs to have the size of the sound or the colors that they do. We like to party on stage and people just come with us.” We’re on the bandwagon, are you?

Basquiat will be available for purchase on May 22nd.

For more information please visit Mangoseed’s official website:

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