Review: ASM The Jade Amulet Album

Last year I wrote about the A State of Mind's (ASM) single/music video “Masking ft. MF Doom as KingDumile”. Done as a motion comic that told a piece of the story in this Cinematic Hip Hop Odyssey. In the song, Narrated by Green, Shalim confronts the evil king Dumile. But rather than face off with the young Shalim, Dumile he flees and leaves Shalim with a warning that he may suffer the same fate as him. The music is a nice build up for this epic confrontation and the lyrics are solid.

This year I managed to get my hands on the double vinyl LP Gatefold and it is a thing of beauty. I wasn’t old enough to really appreciate vinyl, but my family has always been big into vinyl growing up. I picked up the vinyl album for the artwork of the map in the middle when you open it up. The album came with a poster, a 40pg b&w comic book, and a digital download of the album through Bandcamp. All this cost me €22/$24.69 plus $13.47 shipping which comes out to $38.16.

Released in October 2015, The Jade Amulet is described as a Cinematic Hip Hop Odyssey. Each song tells a story of the life of our hero Shalim, a chapter in his life; from his birth to his rise as a hero and to his usurping of the throne. It’s almost like a stage play how it all flows together, one I would like to see done in a kabuki style theater or as an animated feature. Narrated by Green and starring FP as Shalim with a host of other artist such as:  The Mighty Diamonds as The Elders, Laura Mayne as Ashira, Kain the Poet as The Wild One, Mattic as Rongon, Astrid as The Oracle, Liliboy Deluxe as Zenobia, and of course MF Doom as King Dumile. The score was composed and arranged by Fade and the Black Knight Orchestra.

This is an album that can be listened to on repeat nonstop. The storytelling is enthralling and the music isn’t something that you get hear or experience on a mainstream level. The music fits the setting in which the story takes place, so it just deepens the experience. The track “Childhood” is one of my absolute favorite tracks on the album. The combination of the narrator and the child rapping along with the melody of the music just brings a vision of and a sense of tranquility and innocence. It brings on the feeling one has lying in the sun on a nice summer day at the park; A real moment of Zen.

The comic book that accompanies the vinyl is another great piece to this great album. It captures key moments from each song in a well illustrated black & white comic. While it may not be a full graphic novel detailing the entire adventure it is still a great addition to the album. For fans that want a great visual to the music I do recommend this. The artwork looks and feels like it is just only pencils with not a lot of inking, but highly detailed. Comic was designed by Monkey Eggs with lead creative Neil Ruffier Meray. Storyboards by Camille Goudin and Green, character designs by Alex Sierra, and additional artwork, layout and text by Fade. 

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