The Bug, essentially the alias of Kevin Martin, is firmly rooted in London streets, Brixton soundsystems and the Notting Hill Carnival – a multicultural pick -n’ mix. Alongside the obvious Jamaican dancehall and reggae influences, he also incorporates dubstep, electro and grime. London Zoo is awash with guest collaborators, from Warrior Queen to Tippa Irie, Spaceape, Killa P and Ricky Ranking. Beginning aggressively in your face, the album settles a little over its course, leaving the listener in a slightly stand-offish position by the end.
Commencing with a furious -Anger’, Tippa Irie lists all the things that enrage him, encompassing everything from poverty to suicide bombers, to the destruction of the Ozone Layer. Unfortunately, the track never really gets going, which reduces the power of Tippa’s message. -Skeng’ suffers from banal clichÃ©d lyrics (‘Smoke Weed? Yes, indeed, that’s what we need’), delivered poorly in a yawnsome monotone. Warrior Queen puts in a superior performance, resulting in the most successful collaboration on the album, which also works as a much needed contrast to FlowDan’s pseudo-macho rantings on -Jah War’ and Spaceape’s tired complaining on -Fuckaz’.
But the problem with London Zoo does not rest solely with the vocalists. Even when The Bug presents us with an instrumental track, in the shape of -Freak Freak’, it just meanders sinisterly without doing anything constructive. These tunes may work on a massive dub soundsystem but as an armchair listening experience, London Zoo ultimately disappoints.