Rebel MC

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Rebel MC/Congo Natty
Congo Natty.jpg
Background information
Birth nameMichael Alec Anthony West
Also known asConquering Lion, Congo Natty, Blackstar, Tribe of Issachar, X Project, Ras Project
Born (1964-08-27) 27 August 1964 (age 55)
Islington, London, England
GenresHip house, jungle
Occupation(s)Record producer, toaster
Years active1980s–present

Michael Alec Anthony West[1][2] (born 27 August 1964 in Islington, London, England), better known as Rebel MC, is an English jungle producer and toaster.[3] He has also used the aliases Conquering Lion, Congo Natty, Blackstar, Tribe of Issachar, Lion of Judah, X Project and Ras Project. "Conquering Lion" is an abbreviation for "The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah", one of emperor Haile Selassie's many titles.


In the late 1980s, West formed the group Double Trouble with the now deceased Michael Menson, Karl Brown (more commonly known as the UK garage DJ Karl 'Tuff Enuff' Brown) and Leigh Guest; and released the single "Just Keep Rockin'" on the Desire record label in 1989 as Double Trouble and Rebel MC.[3] The single was a UK Top 20 hit, and the follow-up "Street Tuff" (1989) was his biggest success, reaching number 3 in the UK Singles Chart.[4]

Because of the style and content of these releases, West was often dismissed by a British hip hop community, distrustful of pop success and "selling out".[citation needed] His first album was Rebel Music (Desire, 1990) which included the popular dance track "Better World".

His second album. Black Meaning Good (Desire, 1991) was a complete change of style for West, mixing his former pop-rap influences with reggae, hip hop, dance and the emerging jungle styles. The album featured ragga notables like Barrington Levy, Tenor Fly and Dennis Brown singing and toasting on top of reggae-house music rhythms.[3]

Word, Sound and Power (1992) was a further exploration of roots electronica that mashed up techno, house, reggae, ragga and hip hop music.

Forming the Tribal Bass label,[3] Rebel MC released "Tribal Bass" (1992), which was his last significant hit, reaching number 20 in the UK Singles Chart, and the hip house track Demon Boyz "Dett" (1992) and the Oldschool Jungle track "Jungle-ist" (1993). The X Project label followed shortly with the "Old School Ting" (1993) single. As Conquering Lion, West, with help from DJ Ron and Jumping Jack Frost, released the sound system mash up "Lion of Judah/Innah Sound/Dub Plate Special" (1993). With vocals from Supercat, Conquering Lion's "Code Red/Phenomenon" (1994) caught the attention of 4th & Broadway who re-released the track along with "Rastaman/Word, Sound and Power/Code Black" (1995).

Tribal Bass gradually mutated into Congo Natty, and West himself released some material under this name, before settling on the Conquering Lion name. However, this was not the last the world heard of Rebel MC. Despite his continued success with his new style of music, West released the single "Junglist" (Congo Natty, 2004) under the Rebel MC name, and followed this up with a greatest hits album Born Again (Congo Natty, 2005).

New interest in the Double Trouble & Rebel MC song, "Just Keep Rockin" in December 2007, saw it re-enter the UK Dance Chart at number 32.

In the late 2000s, Congo Natty remixed "Land of Promise", a track by Nas & Damian Marley.

In 2013, he released the album Jungle Revolution, featuring the likes of General Levy, Top Cat, Tippa Irie, Tenor Fly and Nanci Correia.


Rebel MC's sound derives from his focus on blackness from various angles. Rather than solely celebrating Afrocentric motifs, his music hearkens back to the African diaspora. The lyrics embrace a wide range of approaches to blackness and black-pride, bringing a different understanding of tradition by combining the different voices, themes and styles drawn from all kinds of sources of "blackness", creating a "playful, vibrant, postracial utopia".[5] This amalgamated version of modern thought has allowed for the emergence of a uniquely London version of politically charged hip hop. Paul Gilroy argues that Rebel MC's message prevents the existence of "the trope of race as family". Instead, Gilroy states that the London hip-hop culture allows for a healthy competition between African-American and Caribbean sounds to gain exposure.



  • Rebel Music (Desire, 1990)
  • Black Meaning Good (Desire, 1991)
  • Word Sound and Power (Big Life, 1991)
  • Tribute to Haile Selassie I (Congo Natty, 1995)
  • Born Again (Congo Natty, 2005)
  • Jungle Revolution (Congo Natty, 2013)


Year Single Peak positions Album
1988 "Cockney Rhythm" Rebel Music
1989 "Just Keep Rockin'" (with Double Trouble) 11 3 14
"Street Tuff" (with Double Trouble) 3 3 7 12 13 10 12 29
1990 "Better World" 20 21 14 22 21 4
"Rebel Music" 53 84 15
"Culture / Comin' On Strong" 90 Black Meaning Good
1991 "The Wickedest Sound" 43
"Tribal Base" 20
"Black Meaning Good" 73
1992 "Rich Ah Getting Richer" 48 Word, Sound And Power
"Humanity / I Can't Get No Sleep" 62
"The Governments Fail"


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ Wilson, Dave (21 September 2018). "Rock Formations: Categorical Answers to how Band Names Were Formed". Cidermill Books. Retrieved 21 September 2018 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1000. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 453. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ Gilroy, P. "It's a Family Affair", That's The Joint! The Global Hip-Hop Studies Reader, pp. 87-94. New York; London: Routledge, 2004.

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