The Sagas of Klashnekoff


ike permanently confused looking Olympic boxing hopeful Amir Khan, Hackney based MC Klashnekoff (or K-Lash-Nek-Off, if you must) is a young man with a lot of expectations surrounding him. Fittingly, whilst he doesn’t bring home gold on his first attempt, he impresses enough with his punches to make you think that you could be watching a genuine contender.

Capitalising on the heavy rotation of cuts like “It’s Murda” over both pirate radio and 1Xtra this past year (it says in the inlay that he’s also had an “inescapable presence on digital TV”, but I only watch chase-it.tv so I can’t verify this. Remember: the thrill is in the chase), the buzz is such that instead of going and actually recording a studio album proper, the Black Russian has instead bandied together the tracks from the four 12”s he’s previously released, alongside some newly recorded, more “albumy” sounding joints. The former are preferable to the latter.

As a result of this stopgap approach to delivering a long-player, The Sagas of Klashnekoff does not sit well as a coherent article. Over the first few listens, your mind begins to wander, and when it stops wandering it usually comes to rest on “It’s Murda”. Put quite simply, “It’s Murda” is as big as a single can get whilst still selling precisely dick all copies. Single of the year in the national press, a ubiquity on certain city centre car stereos not seen since the days of “Brown Paper Bag”, and perhaps the only time ever that both the backpackers and grimeists fell into line with the bulk of the UKHH corps in saluting a tune. Based around an uber-insistent piano loop, Klashnekoff delivers a career performance. If Mobb Deep, in their prime, had the same hometown as Ray Winstone, they could well have released “It’s Murda”. However, the tendency to ignore the rest of this album, intended as an introduction to his works, is because “It’s Murda” is as good a bluffer’s guide to Klashnekoff as you could want.

Firstly, it shows his West Indian roots. The entire album is laced up with reggae, incoherent samples of Jamaican men complaining that there’s too many love songs on the radio and namechecks of Sizzla. So thick is the accent he lays on at times that it may take a week of listening before you realise the opening lines of “It’s Murda” are “K-lash-ya-raas-claat-nek-off”. Secondly, it’s definitely not a barrel of laughs. Unlike certain other notables on the UKHH scene, Klashnekoff has no desire to bring the funny at any point, the closest to a smile the album raises is “Get dropped on the doorstep like Dando” (which may explain why BBC Radio 1 didn’t give it the A-listing it so thoroughly deserved).

Keep listening beyond the big single though and it becomes apparent that Klashnekoff has more than one bullet in the chamber. “Zero” and “B 4 U Die” revolves around bouncy ragga, “Jankrowville” and “Parrowdice” are pure urban reportage, and even when he puts down the artillery for a while to give us worthy tracks like “All I Got” and “Son of Niah” he still licks off enough shots for you to refrain from hitting the “skip” button.

Inevitably, the studio album will come along one day, and considering how these more (cough, spit) “conscious” tracks tend to be the newer ones on the album, you get the feeling that this may be the direction he fancies taking himself in for the future. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t forget to include some street theatre on there as well. As well a man that praises “Jack Dan and Malibu” should know, violently opposing spirits sometimes mix mighty well.

Reviewed by: Dom Passantino

Reviewed on: 2004-09-15

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