Most popular music North Americans hear is created by people who live and work in the USA. This cultural bubble prevents excellent music that is made elsewhere in the world from reaching our ears. Similar to how travel can open our eyes to a variety of cultures, finding music outside of the North American bubble will help the listener understand the wonderfully complex and beautiful world in which we live.
More Fyah is a great album for North American listeners to begin their exploration. It is made by the Scottish reggae sound system Mungo’s Hi-Fi, partnering with Eva Lazarus, a multi-genre vocalist. (A sound system is a group of DJ’s, producers, and sound engineers who maintain a set of speakers and amplifiers that travel to various festivals and venues. Over time the sound system develops a unique sound and the producers will create an album for those who are not able to hear the sound system live.) These albums typically feature a variety of vocalists but More Fyah is an album showcasing Eva Lazarus which is a testament to her singing and MC skills.
Mungo’s Hi-Fi is known for their crisp sounds, staccato snares, and crushing bass. There is little emphasis on creating commercial music that will sound good on the radio. In contrast, the music is crafted to evoke emotion and movement at a dance. The phrase “More Fyah” means raising the energy level of the music at the dance. Mungo’s Hi-Fi expands their musical sound of reggae and dub on the album to include many current sounds from the underground UK festival scene.
The sound system also has developed a reputation to create music with an inclusive message of positivity. More Fyah provides Eva Lazarus a platform to explore a wide variety of topics close to her heart, including her experience of being a woman. Many listeners will find it inspiring and empowering. Though not directly Christian, the music of Mungo’s Hi-Fi often aligns with biblical ideas and morals. For example, Eva Lazarus sings that “we were made for bigger things” on “We Weren’t Made For This.” She recognizes the incredible potential each human has as well as the sense that something is preventing humans from reaching this potential. Other songs from previous Mungo’s Hi-Fi albums that align well with Biblical themes include “God Bless Pickney [child]” featuring YT and “Slavery” featuring Marina P.
Unfortunately, the idolization of marijuana prevalent in reggae music seeps into various tracks on More Fyah. However, the lead single “Amsterdam” takes a more muted view of marijuana’s power to heal the pain of a broken relationship. When asked about their view of marijuana in reggae culture, the members of Mungo’s Hi-Fi said they are getting “bored of every second song banging [singing] on about it.” They hope their music continues to promote love and avoids promoting behaviors that could be harmful.
If we believe God created the whole world and each human is made in the image of God, maybe we can listen to the excellent music being created by image-bearers who are outside of North America. More Fyah will open the listener’s ears to a whole new set of musical sounds and cultural ideas. It delivers musically and has a positive message that can be enjoyed by listeners across this planet. (Scotch Bonnet Records)