NINJAH: Keep Britain Lively (Tantrum Records 2018)


New album from one of Cardiff’s most eccentric artists, on Tantrum Records

It’s quite possible that many of you will have seen Ninjah perform live and not have realised it. He is the dude with the white dread locks often seen around Cardiff city centre playing random objects, such as bins or benches, with his ever present drum sticks.

Everyone that matters on the Cardiff scene will know him for a different reason though. As well as random drumming he is an accomplished singer, video maker and just all round creative type.

For this album he has gathered together the cream of Cardiff’s like-minded artists to put together twelve funky grooves. (Well, eleven and a radio edit).

The album kicks off with ‘Lightbeam’, a stripped down bass heavy floor filler. We soon find out that Ninjah can sing tongue-twisters better than most people can speak them. If ya head don’t bounce to this, you need to check your pulse.

‘Ninjah Elvis’ is the first of several tracks that ‘borrows’ from the pool of rock and roll history. Jail house rock riffs are over laid with lyrics that bear no resemblance to the original. ‘Raining’ then nicks a riff from the Doors (Although not Riders on the Storm – that would be too predictable)

‘Holiday’ sees a complete change of mood, getting all funky with a brass section and our man adopting a more soulful style to tell everyone that our city is a fun place where everyone sings and dances every day.

And so we go, dipping in and out of styles, sometimes funky, sometimes techno, sometime hip hop, but always smiley. Tracks like ‘Zupte’ don’t appear to have any meaning, they are just for you to dance to, whilst tracks like ‘Gadaffi’ are a little bit deeper, but without getting too heavy.

‘Shaky Hand Man’ name checks some of the other characters seen on the streets of Cardiff, such as the late Toy Mike Trev, Dan Green and Shaky Hand Man. If you are not local it might sound odd, but if you knows it – it brings a smile to your face.

It’s a very Cardiff album, but will appeal to all. It is an advert for the creativity that is constantly there in the background, and far more interesting than the images that are beamed around the world when the Six Nations circus or Robbie Williams roll into town. Scratch beneath the surface of Cardiff and you will find experimentation and you will find originality. You will find Ninjah.