Congo Natty Talks


Congo Natty at Carnival

Congo Natty often known as Rebel MC but also referred to as the Conquering Lion and X Project but also Mikail Tafari or Michael West by the birth certificaters returns with a new album, Jungle Revolution. The new album, his fifth studio recording features work from the whole clan including Nanci, YT, Yosief & Congo Dubz.

Kim met Congo at the Ninja Tune x Big Dada Carnival party to find out about his journey to Carnival as well as his roots into becoming an MC.

So, youre a fan of Carnival Rebel?

Well I am a fan of the people, Carnival itself is something else Because we have such a hard time 365 days of the year, they give us a few days to make us feel more irie but I feel a little duped, we need more of the Carnival spirit all the year: people coming together and living as one. Carnival means so many different things for so many different people, for I, I just see Carnival as a meeting place.

Do you remember the first time you played Carnival?

Hm, I cant even remember that because I was going Carnival since I was a yout. Carnival was the one time of the year when man could bun a spliff freely, manly could just do their ting, listen to music on the road. When I was younger I had been doing warehouse sessions, shubs and house parties in Tottenham thats how we started.

What were you inspirations?

Well, I feel that its something thats inside of you when we were growing up music was a big part of life even though we were doing other stuff, we were all either DJing or MCing, we were all doing something in music.

I run a label called Congo Natty, the whole ethic of the label is based on Tuff Gong, Bob Marleys label. It was set-up as one of the first independent, ghetto mans music label where it made its own music, had its own studio and distributed its own music, the jungle was getting inspiration from the reggae revolution.

In 1991, I started X Project, it was an artist name and label. It was a movement away from the tag of Rebel MC, you get a lot of stigma and I wanted my music to be freer. Big Dada is a real 360 degrees, as the brothers behind Big Dada also own Ninja Tune but if you go to the roots of it, its Coldcut and we were around at the same time on a label called Big Life run by Jazz Summers and all these years later weve linked up again, it all sort of happened organically.

Who features on the new album?

On the latest works, some of the original foundation artists like Tennah Fly, Top Cat, Daddy Freddy, Sweety Irie, Tippa Irie, Daddy Kerno and we were worked together on a tune called UK All Stars. We have also worked with some of the newer generation Jungle/ Hip Hop like Nanci & Pheobe . Martha from Bradford, up north. Also Sister Mary from the Roots scene, I have been working with some special artists.

How long did it take to record?

The album really took about three years! During that time I had to move and a lot of things were going on in the life, when youre going through certain thing you cant really be productive but its all been recorded in London, in Brixton and in my yard as well.

Did you play any of the new material tonight?

Yeah, Jo Warriors and a tune featuring Whitey, hes a heavy artist, a reggae artist. A track featuring Nanci Correci, a special vocalist and I also played UK All Stars.

What plans for the future do you have?

I wanna go Africa again.


Yes and Gambia and Ghana. We would love to do a Jungle album with the original Junglist in Africa. I have done tracks that havent come out yet with Ethopian musicians, hopefully they will come out soon.

How has Jungle evolved?

Jungle is like that tree when we first came it was a little sprout, sprouting up now its grown and the branches came and then the fruits. Jungle is blessed my Haille Salise, he blessed reggae music and the prophets. Bob Marley, Dennis Brown.

When I used to hear the stories of Haille Salise as a child I didnt know what they were talking about but through my love of reggae music, not through my parents or through school I found the truth, it was a real spiritual awakening.

What musical ambitions do you have?

Id love to work with Lauryn Hill, shes living who she is thats why they put her in jail, thats up to ja. Thats in jas hands.

Kim Wilson