Clutchy Hopkins Meets Lord Kenjamin - Okayplayer

Clutchy Hopkins Meets Lord Kenjamin

by Ginger Lynn
10 years ago

The question still remains: who is Clutchy Hopkins? The answer may not be revealed on this, an alleged “lost” recording of him recorded in Barbados in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Music Is My Medicine is a medication prescribed with the help of a previously unknown musician named Lord Kenjamin, since Hopkins had been bitten by a lionfish. The bite was mere bait, and maybe the meeting between the two was inevitable, and thus music and harmony was born. Or so they want you to believe.

The vibe on this album is a mixture of Afro-funk, reggae, dub, soul, and funk, so imagine Fela Kuti if he felt a need to play songs that were less than four minutes. Then he bumps into Augustus Pablo, and somehow, in the future, they were able to pull out Keyboard Money Mark Ramos-Nishita. With that combination, what does this album sound like? A chilled out jam session where you smell nothing but Fender Rhodes plastic and bongwater spilled on the carpet. If you are a fan of Madlib’s work as Yesterdays New Quintet, you will find this album to be fascinating, at times coming off like brief excerpts of jam sessions where you want to hear what happened before the fade-in and of course wanting to know what lurked after the fade-out. Don’t expect the intensity of a Herbie Hancock or Miles Davis order. If there are more tapes, and who knows what unknown treasures may be discovered in the coming months, maybe we’ll hear that.

I tend to still think of albums in halves, as a Side 1 and Side 2, and Music Is My Medicine doesn’t pick up in intensity until the second half. Track 6, “Doty’s Leslie,” would have been the perfect uptempo way to start the album, with “Tune Traveler” being the moment where the listener would light up a fat one, kick back, and consume the psychedelic funky sounds. It’s tropical, it’s natural, and yet technology is in play here for these sounds could not be made acoustically. As for it being recorded in the late 70’s and early 80’s who knows, but it definitely was recorded in analog for the tape hiss is aplenty, coating the songs like a warm kiss from a friend.

If this was truly music made by two gentlemen, then why isn’t there any interaction between them? I don’t care what it is, you put musicians in a room and they will want to communicate with each other, what Hawaiians like to call “talk story.” There’s none of that here, so did Hopkins really meet up with Kenjamin, or are they one and the same? The answer may be known by one Logan Miles Valencia, someone who is said to represent the codes being passed out by Hopkins. Is he the tape archivist, the one who knows what else lurks in these alleged “vaults”? Regardless of the validity of these pieces to an uncertain puzzle, the Clutchy Hopkins experience has been nothing short of trippy, as if he is the world traveler a cratedigger has always dreamed of being. Music Is My Medicine is definitely a legal drug for funk fanatics, and with luck it will move other people to make their own custom prescriptions.

– John Book

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