Saturday, December 6, 2014

'To The Table': A review of "Ride Tru" by Midnite

Upon a throne. In the world village that is Reggae music, if you notice it correctly, as in any fully functioning community, we have people serving in every necessary capacity. Whatever emotion you may want to tap into and whatever corner of your mind you may need to access in order to reach it, somewhere someone is making a vibe directly for you in that moment. And one of the many positives of the music covering the entire world is that, with virtually no exception, this true regardless your background and walk of life. Someone is singing your song ["Someone can relate, bring an instant healing"]. If you're in love and you're wonderfully lost in the moment, Beres Hammond has an entire catalogue of music and something in there perfectly captures what you feel and even if it doesn't or you're loving in HD these days, Alaine can take care of that for you. If you're angry and you want to let off some steam, the downright sweltering recent assault Mad Cobra has been laying on the Dancehall, even after all of these years, can help you with that as you musically hear him commit every known crime in existence - so you don't have to. If you need a boost in your mood, if you are feeling bad, check Jah Cure and listen to the greatest voice ever given to a human being and if that doesn't work, Etana, Duane Stephenson, Tarrus Riley, Sara Lugo [!] and a line of others can definitely put you on the proper path to happiness. Any complexion of any emotion that you want to keep or change, there is something for you. Even if you don't rightly know how you feel [!], choose from any Busy Signal tune you can find or allow Perfect Giddimani to YELL at you for a little while, then maybe you can figure it out. Reggae music has what you need. It always does. It is in that same context that you might find yourself drawing for a piece of the music to challenge you and to provoke some thought or help to ignite some different point of view on an opinion that you may have which might lead you to some of the most DETERMINED writers in the genre. I can mention the likes of Sizzla Kalonji and Lutan Fyah and Jah9 and some of my other favourite wordsmiths in Reggae and, normally, I'd make the connection to the artist we deal with today… but I'm beginning to think that placing him in that scope is a little limiting. When virtually EVERY LINE he utters, at his best or somewhere else, challenges the listener to pay a full attention. 
"Beauty For Ashes" [2014]
And this is why we give so much concentration to the releases of Vaughn Benjamin and Midnite. Although I still maintain that I am not amongst 'their' most fervent of supporters and certainly am no expert (Midnite, EASILY, has some of the most passionate fans that you'll find in all of music, regardless of genre), I probably have written more about their music than anyone because, again, I think there is a point to be made in everything that they do. And while I do not love it all, I do love the journey to comprehension which is always a healthy voyage when it comes to Midnite. And if that is the case (and it is), then perhaps we'll go on to look back at 2014 as one of the greatest years that the Virgin Islands Reggae pillar has ever put together. 
At the head of that will surely be "Beauty For Ashes" which, likewise, may someday be regarded as one of the finest Midnite albums that there is (a distinction it already owns from me) by the masses. That set was done by the already but increasingly esteemed I Grade Records alongside the Zion I Kings collective and… that was great. A big album from anyone else means a great year but despite that, this is still Midnite that we are talking about and 'they' don't tend to do things in singles. There was also "Stand The Test", a very solid piece from Iaahden Sounds which arrived back in August and, again, that would have been a damn strong year from anyone with a flattening album and another one to keep things boiling eight months on - but like I said, this is Midnite and not even two would be enough to stand through December. So what would be next? Maybe a new album would come from Rastar who formerly was responsible for at least one Midnite album in a year (and technically released another in 2014 with the dub for "Better World Rasta"). No? Maybe Fifth Son, who helmed such sublime sets as "In Awe" ["I hold his Majesty in awe"] ["…in awe"] ["… in awe"] and "Be Strong" recently, would return with a brand new album late in the year. Not them? Well, Benjamin does get around to various producers and maybe one of them might return and there is always the possibility that an actual Ronnie Benjamin produced Midnite album (check out Dezarie's new album "Love In Your Meditation") might emerge but absolutely none of that happened. Instead, Vaughn Benjamin returned to I Grade Records and the ZIK for their second collaboration in about ten months for the direct follow-up to "Beauty For Ashes", the very surprising "Ride Tru". It has been a very active year for both IGR and the ZIK with the former dealing with not only "Beauty For Ashes"  but also the all-conquering "The Sound" from Pressure Busspipe and, for their part, both Zion High Productions and even Lustre Kings Productions have experienced activity with ZHP going high with "Therapeutic" from Ziggi Recado and most recently with "Redemption" by Jah Bless and the LKP, whom we hadn't heard from in awhile, dealing the outstanding Junction Riddim, their contribution to the ZIK's Riddim Album series. It has become one of the most interesting aspects of any year to see what the ZIK might be working on (apparently next is a Sabbattical Ahdah album, according to Bredz, which is all shades of fantastic!) and while we were anticipating a rumoured release from Lutan Fyah, "Ride Tru" comes as a GREAT surprise. It is my opinion that Laurent 'Tippy I' Alfred and company at IGR get the best out of Midnite and - why not make two in one year! I'm not complaining at all and after you hear it, you won't be either.  
The thing which most stands out in regards to I Grade produced Midnite albums generally is how easy they are to listen to. If you've followed Midnite to any close degree, surely you've sat through some albums which didn't have much in the way of sonic appeal - if anything at all. That is never the case with IGR's Midnite album and, in their history together, they have worked on some of the most easily digested albums to come down from Midnite - projects which are melodic and entertaining music. You can well place in that same category their latest link, "Ride Tru" which is a little heavier than their most recent journey, but by it is end proves to be a RIDE to prosperity for both artist and label. Definitely one of the nicest sounds on the entire album gets us started in 'Calm The Day'. For me, this is a composition about finding some peace and serenity in a hectic world. In typical Vaughn Benjamin fashion, he manages to make you WORK to find your calm in the tune ["A CACOPHONY OF A BARRAGE OF WORDS OF A SIDETRACK OF A DEVIATE"] but it is well worth it ultimately and I have to say that I love the riddim behind this song. It builds in intensity throughout and it is amazing. Speaking of amazing, the first of a pair of heads of MONSTROUS songs on this album, 'To Them' is the second song on "Ride Tru" and it is SPECTACULAR! 

"The Lamb that return yah with The Lion head
ONLY THIS TIME UPON A THRONE SEATED
Humble and perfected inna righteousness
All di like-minded know they needed strength
When goals line up along allegiances
That's when realizations overtake them when -
Di magnitude and scope of what they stand against
Turned into entire, whole world events" 

When I first heard this song, what stuck with me was how easy and effortless it came through. I don’t know how much of it was actually written down versus coming from a place of spontaneity (I would assume Benjamin is someone who writes down EVERYTHING) but it sounds like he just began to talk across a track. And that track is a special one. There is a saxophone playing throughout which is candy for the ears and we are treated to an extended instrumental after the vocals which wholly delights. Benjamin uses it all to put together a majestic song of praise to His Majesty and, probably, my favourite song on "Ride Tru". 'To Ge Da' is a fascinating song as well because, on the surface, it almost seems like a love song which isn't something that you will find in abundance in Vaughn Benjamin's reserve. I had to listen to this one a few times but I do actually think that it was the intent with 'To Ge Da' to make it a song about being in love. Of course it does have a spiritual connotation to it -- he is ultimately speaking on being 'together' with The Almighty but I think that he is talking about moving in that direction as a pair and not just as one person -- and it makes for such a noted song on this album. Also, check the horn that chimes in during the late portions of the song - not to be missed. And I'll also include here the LUSH 'Restore' which is definitely one of my favourites here and I think will be regarded as a big highlight from "Ride Tru". 

"When times are hard with sinisterisms all around
People like to say, 'don't trust no one'
But on every situation - closer introspection
Rasta get to see it's not as simple as it sound
DO YOU KNOW THE PILOT AND THE RUNWAY TOUCH DOWN?

STILL YOU HAVE TO TRUST YOU WILL REACH SAFE AND SOUND
ALREADY WE ARE DOING WHAT WE CLAIM CAN'T BE DONE"

BOOM! 'Restore' is glorious! A tune about infusing more of the presence of His Majesty into the world in order to restore and re-establish the belief and faith and LOVE of mankind in itself ["when The Principal restore, the people restore"], 'Restore' hits all kinds of lyrical highpoints and does so on yet another might riddim behind it.

Throughout "Ride Tru" there're several moments which are likely to standout to listeners for various reasons, even just on paper. It is somewhat rare that a tracklist for a Midnite album looks so attractive on the surface (and if you don't know, Vaughn Benjamin is very fond of doing things like 'To Ge Da' in naming a track or you'll see an entire album with nearly every song having a one worded title) but it is a quality which does usually reach the I Grade releases - check "Beauty For Ashes" and "Kings Bell". As is always the case, the title track will likely generate a whole heap of buzz and, in this case, with great reason. 'Ride Tru', the song, is more than seven minutes long [!] and it is a powerful destination on this ride on every level. Musically, the riddim on the song is about as BIG and complex as you'll find on the album and, as you would expect at such a length, it is given its time to shine and when it is that thing EXPLODES! There are so many wonderful and subtle sounds that you will hear making up this composition that it is almost overwhelming at times and you really get the feeling that the musicians just had a really good time in time in bring it all together. Lyrically, this one is also in the stars! What I would take away from it is that 'Ride Tru' is a celebration of life. Benjamin speaks on so many beautiful things which may not be very well known, respected or appreciated, but are capable of bringing JOY to anyone who is willing to pay attention to them (he even references Jacques Cousteau at one point). This is a very ripe song and I'm tempted to go on about it… and I will (who cares, if this thing is four thousand words long, then it just is). You can take ideas like these and apply them so vividly and perfectly to Midnite's music, in general. Sit down and REALLY listen to what this man says in his music and you will inherit the ability of appreciating such a CAVERNOUS talent ["MR. COUSTEAU SAY, DEEPEST IN THE WORLD. AND IF YOU CAN'T FIND THE DEPTHS, HOW HIGH IS THE HIGH?!!"], put on display through now more than fifty albums [WHAT!] [BOOM!]. And I think so many people listen to this music and they enjoy it or they don't but they don't take the time to comb through what is actually being discussed and formulate an opinion based on that - for me, that's the real joy here. 

A digression in the name of passion you'll forgive (or you won't, I don't care). Also sure to grab your attention is the plea for help 'I Beseech Jah', the one combination from "Ride Tru", this one shockingly (not really) featuring the inescapable Pressure Busspipe. Having also featured on the signature tune from "Beauty For Ashes", ‘Same I Ah One’, Pressure is also back for the new album and, once again, turns in a might effort alongside Vaughn Benjamin (who made an appearance on "The Sound" as well). 

"Teach us how to magnify our true ability
Government ah crash the economical stability
The Rastaman say what is to be will have to be
WE HAVE TO FACE THE CHALLENGE FOR THE SWEETEST VICTORY
Even when the people dot their i's and cross their t's
Government no think twice fi seize the opportunities"

You might also be drawn in the direction of 'Credited' which I believe is the first single from the new album and, though it requires a lot of love and care, is another big, big song. For me, this selection goes in the route that I've taken this review in. It is about everyone bringing something to the 'table' of life and sharing with one another what we can do. This one can make music, that one can cook ["Everything was a work of art from the food to the music - it was a work of art"], you can do something and so can I - everyone brings something. It is a very deep song and one I'm still well working on and am appreciating every step along the way. On 'Voices of The Remnancy' Benjamin pays a significant tribute to the likes of Bunny Rugs, Bob Marley and others who have helped to not only bring the music and life to where it is now (including indirectly, not to be overlooked, Marcus who is responsible for so many dazzling Midnite album covers which has surely brought much to enhancing their legend over the years whether we realize it or not. We are visual creatures and what we see can be just as important as what we here, even pertaining to music). I thought that this was just a fantastic idea from him to put things together in such a way. Particularly because he gives quite a bit of the early portion of the song to Rugs and I can envision an idea evolving from something which was specifically meant to say THANK YOU to one of the greatest voices that Reggae music has ever produced. And the sound of this song, although almost entirely subtle, is DIVINE! You have to pay as much attention to the riddim as you do to the lyrics but you'll hear one of the finest musical demonstrations of the year. And I'll also mention here the blistering 'Haile Selassie I The First Time'. BOOM! This one is a cannon of a song which finds Benjamin a bit more enthused and agitated than he was when 'Calm The Day' rolled through. It pinnacles on the  final two verses which have to be considered amongst his finest in recent times as he pulls knowledge from everywhere he can find it and launches it at the listener ["Which one want the foundation fi move inna di mansion right-wing? THERE IS A SINKHOLE OF ERRORS INNA FASCIST REASONING. Any colour inna di spectrum a miscalculated. Any how dem ahgo move is the same misstep"]. 

And if you're still standing after all of that, what you'll find remaining on "Ride Tru" are four more outstanding pieces including at least one MAMMOTH moment. Along with that is a pair of songs which I hope people really tune in because they are both excellent, 'Conquering Lion' and 'Arise Again'. The former, in a bit of a darker way, echoes the graceful style shown during 'To Them'. I also link it to 'Haile Selassie I The First Time' which is the full boil. 'Conquering Lion' is the heating up and the simmer and on a similar level of quality. 'Arise Again', with its familiar sound, is a difficult one and because of that, it is damn easy to get the lyrics of this one lost because its sound is so captivating (I do not know how to describe that thing properly but it is lovely to listen to and if ever the Zion I Kings release an album of their instrumentals, it should be included). What I get from the song is that it is a piece aimed at the younger generations of the world to inspire them to take their place at the head and to build upon what was done ahead of them. They'll need help to do this and Benjamin surely has an idea where they can find all they need and more and I really think that, going further, it is a song about encouraging people in what they do and to be supportive and reinforcing as best as you can for their positive works. And then there is the sweetness which you'll find at #12 on "Ride Tru", the simply SHATTERING 'Worry Free'.

"Unto The Emperor's magnanimity -
Earth have a climatic energy
Right inna di presence of dem material technology
See dem gone round ya inna hurt and brutality
Til dem no see it as nuttin again, dem see it as normality
Rasta give I & I musicality and it hold some solidarity
TO PURIFY YOUR MENTALITY, STRESS FREE, HEAL DI WOUNDED PERSONALITY
In heart of technocratic city to inna yard and shanty
Iniversal world vibes, Rasta musicality
St. Croix feel it fi real
No matter how dem tell wi bout world disband economy
Di morning mist yah in the ambient of di oceanic beauty
LETS TRY TO TRANSFER IT INTO OUR INTERACTION PURITY
NATURE PRISTINE LAWS INNA YUH EYESIGHT FOR FREE"

There is no song on this album, not one, which is better than 'Worry Free' in my opinion. It is every bit as good as 'To Them' and the title track and one or two others on that level and is a special song. I don't expect the wide reaction to be like that, however, but the first time I heard this song fully, I heard that straight forward and relentless lyrical tirade that you often get from Vaughn Benjamin but it was wrapped up in a tranquil and old school package. The contrast presented is a remarkable one and one which, at least for me, is a standing highlight on "Ride Tru". Finally, do check 'How I & I Carry On', another exquisite piece. This song may not feature Benjamin's greatest vocal performance (it doesn't) but what it does have going for it is a beautiful vibes which shine throughout (I swear I can hear someone chanting in the background through almost the entire song). I also link it to both 'Ride Tru' and 'Worry Free' as 'How I & I Carry On' is a song about appreciating the small things in life, including the company of good people ["So just keep good relations!"] and you can also appreciate something simple, like a really, really good album.
Overall, I'm trying to avoid drawing direct comparisons between "Ride Tru" and "Beauty For Ashes" but I think that I will be one of the only people attempting to do that. It's very hard to ignore the fact that we now have to Midnite/IGR albums in one calendar year but I think that making that move was a calculated one and one which not only allowed for the comparison but WELCOMED it. "Beauty For Ashes" is an album I'll likely always recall, most, for its lyrical prowess which is amazing for a Midnite album. Benjamin took one idea, unity, and split it into thirteen different directions and it took as all months to realize what he had done. "Ride Tru" may just do a similar thing as well as so many of the songs seem to revolve around the notion of slowing down and not overlooking things which are beautiful and beneficial to us all. Which is why I'm hoping, again, that the giant contribution made by both Midnite and I Grade Records is not overlooked, particularly in 2014. I think that the world is realizing that such a pairing always produces big results and "Ride Tru" is not the exception. From beginning to end it shows itself to be on the level as and, in some cases above, previous collaborations and, though it does feature a different sound - that is a good thing and we aren't dealing with tracks #13-26 of the same album. Instead, "Ride Tru" proves to be yet another unique demonstration of the crucial material brought to the table in a one of a kind way by Midnite and I Grade Records. Unsurprisingly, one of the year's best… again.

Rated: 4.50/5
I Grade Records
2014
CD + Digital
Releases on December 9th

{Note: Taking a little break, wanted to review this one before it}

Review #534

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sara Lugo & Protoje 'Really Like You'!


Check the video for the latest and second single from Sara Lugo's wonderful new album, "Hit Me With Music", 'Really Like You' featuring Protoje. The Silly Walks produced track follows 'Play With Fire' and was filmed in Jamaica and directed by the great Jay Will. I love the video with several things popping up and if you pay very close attention, you'll even see Lugo giving a chunk of love to Cali P and his EP, "Healing Of The Nation". Also, Oneness Records recently released a digital single of 'Really Like You', which also features a dubbed out version of the song done by the venerable Umberto Echo. BOOM!






And if you have not already, stop being stupid and show a little brainpower and pick up "Hit Me With Music" by Sara Lugo which is in stores now!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

'Ebola' by Matthew Greenidge!

'Ebola' by Matthew Greenidge [JahLight Records]
We were going to save this one until the next edition of 'Coming Soon' but because I don't know when that will be, and it surely won't be ahead of the release date of this one, I thought that we'd wrap up 2014 from one of our favourite and most active labels, JahLight Records from out of Trinidad. Having been very busy, particularly recently, JLR closes the year tapping a very familiar source as the label's own star, Matthew Greenidge, brings forth his brand new big tune, ‘Ebola'. 

"Another outbreak in Africa!
It is more worst than dem AIDS and cancer!"

I don't particularly know if I know it from anywhere but I do have to mention that I LOVE the riddim on this track and for his part, Greenidge puts forth an excellent effort, giving his opinion on the current tragic outbreak in the world in a big way. And we have been assured that this is the final move for JahLight Records this year but all the work that they have laid this year definitely sets them up nicely for a giant 2015. So biggup JLR, congratulations on an outstanding year, and biggup Matthew Greenidge whose new tune, 'Ebola', arrives in digital stores on December 9th






Also be sure to to check out Greenidge's 2013 debut album, "Jah Rules Over All" from JahLight Records.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Most Wanted: 2015

When it comes to albums, 2015 will have some serious work to do if it is at all to serve as a proper chaser to the monster that has been 2014. Along with the overall quality of the releases we have seen, we also have had a downright staggering range of variety and levels of names as well. In simple terms: In any given year where we can get three albums from Sizzla Kalonji, at least three from Midnite and a major release from Bunji Garlin (…and two from Pressure Busspipe) (…and an Etana album) (…and one from Tarrus Riley) (…and Bugle's debut album) (…and I-Octane returned too) (…and I think there was someone named Sara Lugo!) there exists the high potential for something very special which is EXACTLY what we saw this year and are still seeing. So, although it will be a massive act to follow, we still look ahead to what next year will bring and, obviously, we have a few ideas as to what might make it another tremendously impressive run. Thus, we submit for your approval (or disapproval - I don't care) ten people who we'd really like to hear from next year. Most Wanted: 2015

{Note: Intentionally excluded were everyone from last year's list and anyone already scheduled or 'tentatively' scheduled to have albums}

#10. Reemah

Though she appears at #10 on this list, if ALL of these albums were actually to arrive in 2015 (and they all won't, 2-3 of them will), I wouldn't at all be surprised if Reemah's was of the highest quality. She actually appears here more as a precaution as I'm still finding new and interesting things about her MAMMOTH debut, 2012's "Check Your Words" to enjoy, so I have not begun to experience a Reemah- withdrawal. HOWEVER, if you look at some her peers - female artists from out of the VI - the track-record of inactivity is distressing. Names such as Dezarie, Mada Nile, Nubian Natty, Lady Passion and so many others, while they may remain active performing, do not seem to release very much in the way of new music consistently and I would HATE such a fate to await Reemah. 2015 might not be the year for a new album (though it may) but, in any case, I'm hoping that she is more present and continues to display what may just be, already, one of the sharpest pens in all of Reggae music. 
#9. Ras Attitude

King me! Because their work has been so damn impressive, it is beginning to become one of my most anticipated occurrences in Reggae music to see just who, exactly, the Zion I Kings collective might turn their attention to next and, as always I have a favourite of who I'd like to see that be (along with Jahdan Blakkamoore, NiyoRah, of course Lutan Fyah and a female artist). This time I'm going with Ras Attitude with good reason. Though it hasn't been a very long time from last we heard from the ridiculously gifted Cruzan chanter - it does kind of seem like it has. His last album was 2012's solid "Hold The Vibes" which, predictably, has vanished (because… no one really knew it existed) and it seems like a perfect time for a next BIG project to emerge from Attitude. In 2014, I Grade Records (the "I" in Zion I Kings) fulfilled what seemed to be a most obvious link in the making when they released the DEVASTATING "The Sound" from Pressure Busspipe another one would surely be the first full Ras Attitude/IGR project. I'm almost certain that it will happen at some point but damn it would look SO nice in 2015!
#8. Skinny Fabulous

If there were any chance -- any at all -- that Skinny Fabulous might release an album next year (or the one after that or the one after that or the one after that) he would surely be considerably higher on a list like this, much like who is likely to be the next entrant here. But we all know that the chances of him doing that are virtually non-existent. And that's too bad for a project which was rumoured (if I recall correctly) (and I never do) way back as early as 2009-10. Since then, Skinny's star has not only gotten brighter but, in my opinion, so have his skills and today the Vincy star exists as one of the most talented and CONSISTENT figures in all of Soca music. He scored mightily in 2014 with 'Behaving The Worst [BTW]' which was a little different from his previous destructive hits (so is 'Like No Tomorrow', check it out), but regardless of the style, he does that every year. You would assume that EVENTUALLY he would release an album and, should he wait just a few more years, you may end up with a project brimming with Soca Monarch and Road March winning tunes. Until then (and even after then), Skinny Fabulous remains someone who you cannot afford to NOT pay attention to.  
#7. Lady Sweety

I know what you're thinking and you're right to think it. In regards to the amount of music that she does, I probably pay too much attention to Lady Sweety and you're probably right but, like I said, I don't care! To my opinion, Sweety's voice is the feminine side to blindingly talented stars such as Tiwony and Admiral T and Saïk, to whom she is every bit as talented. And, year after year, despite the fact that she named her next album, years ago, and released a single for it, we're still waiting and we'll keep waiting if we have to (and we will). It is worth mentioning, however, that the Gwada ace did give us a taste earlier this year when she did a big tune, the heavy 'Parle Moi' (which might be a good picture to go here for her) (biggup Bredz). No, it's not an album and, yes, it was back in April or so but as a STARVING fan of Lady Sweety's it's been significantly more than we've usually gotten for the last few years. 
#6. Patrice Roberts

If you haven't been paying attention (shame on you), long-time Achis Reggae favourite, Trini Soca highlight Patrice Roberts has gotten REALLY good over the last few years and the ever-present eventuality of a new album from her (which would be her third to date) is something I also very much look forward to every year. Currently riding high with 'Soca Wedding' alongside Zan, Roberts has, perhaps quietly, become someone making some of the best music in the genre and this is past the days where she was boosted every year by virtue of having a guaranteed hit with Machel Montano. She's certainly had help, but she's done it largely on her own as her abilities have progressed. And this is also worth mentioning because we have eyes, but Patrice Roberts has put on a little VERY FITTING weight and, these days, she looks incredible… almost as good as she sounds and hearing it on another full album, stocked with GIANT songs, would be a joy!  
#5. Damian Marley

A few years ago, Damian Marley's name topped an edition of this list and, again, he's another person who would be higher here if I thought the likelihood of an album manifesting was higher - but I do not. 2015 will make it a DECADE from Mr. Marley's most recent solo album, "Welcome To Jamrock", which is an astonishing fact! Still, the youngest Marley brother remains, arguably, the most popular living Reggae artist and a new Reggae album from him would be so nice for so many reasons. Will it happen in 2015??? Probably not but I'm usually wrong and I hope I am here.  
#4. Fay-Ann Lyons

Though I am slightly more sure about #2 on this list, I am rather confident that, at some point during the twelve months of 2015, we will FINALLY have a new album from long time Soca superstar Fay-Ann Lyons. Earlier in 2014 the newly branded 'Azu Sefu', followed her husband, Bunji Garlin, in signing with VP Records and, as the label figures to continue to focus on Soca music in the new year, Lyons' name should be a pillar within that push. Also, I recently read that in the works was not only ONE album but a pair which would feature the Silver Surfer within both Soca and Pop platforms. She can do either without a problem but a Soca album from, easily, one of the genre's most successful and vivid practitioners EVER should be golden! I think we'll get it in 2015 and I cannot wait! BOOM!  
#3. Busy Signal

In 2012, Dancehall ace, Busy Signal, released an album which would prove not only to be his greatest to date, but also the greatest from anyone in the genre during what  was a sensational year. "Reggae Music Again" was somewhat unexpected in its style but not in its quality and even the fact that it was unexpected wasn't unexpected. Busy Signal has become one of the most unpredictable figures in the entire history of Dancehall music - you just never know what he is going to from track to track and, on a next album, I have no idea what would come. I would like to find out in 2015, however, and when looking around for big names who might be up to the task next year, surely Busy would make perfect sense. Coming off of what was a very impressive year, musically, from the DJ - another giant album would seem to reaching at a very appropriate time and should he reach the levels of his previous release (or somehow manage to outdo himself)… it would be the latest in a career full of surprises. Expectations be damned! 
#2. Spice

I love Busy Signal. I love Agent Sasco. I'm very fond of the music of a few other people (okay maybe not "a few", but one or two) but I have to admit that, in my opinion, NO ONE is making better Dancehall music than Spice is these days and I think that one of the greatest gifts that 2015 WILL give us is an album which will may just be one of the greatest Dancehall sets from a female that we have EVER heard. Spice has that type of potential and she has now displayed it for years. Along with her qualities, if it is possible (and obviously it is) her profile has seemingly raised throughout the years as well, including in 2014 and such a release may even attract the always coveted 'mainstream attention' (if they're smart it will). She has scored hits and hits and hits and has done so in a variety of different ways all, however, steered by a level of determination and SKILL which provides her with very little in the way of actual peers in Dancehall music. Recently (yesterday) VP Records released "So Mi Like It", Spice's debut EP and they don't tend to do such things (on VP RECORDS, NOT VPAL) without a bigger plan ahead. THAT should be a full album which we should be able to count on receiving in 2015. FINALLY! 
#1. Kabaka Pyramid

Read a couple chapters. Kabaka Pyramid beat the great Chronixx to it in releasing an expanded EP and… not actually calling it an album when, last year, he dealt "Lead The Way" which was ten tracks in length (and had a deluxe edition stretching it to 13). In 2015, what I am most looking forward to, that has a chance of happening, is for the shedding of the "EP" tag and a full-fledged album from one of the most remarkable new talents Reggae has produced in a VERY long time. If you read my work to any degree, you know just how much I respect the power of the spoken word and individuals who are capable of demonstrating that talent to music have my undying attention. Kabaka Pyramid is now one of those people and I FULLY place him in current categories alongside names such as Sizzla Kalonji, Lutan Fyah, Midnite, Jah9 and others (her name is Reemah!) who you HAVE to focus on EVERY word. And I'm not the only one, fortunately. Kabaka Pyramid's profile has also been on the rise and I think that, at some point during the next twelve months (thirteen, technically), demand will meet opportunity and Kabaka Pyramid will make a giant play for album of the year when he releases his 'official' debut set. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

What I'm Listening To: December

'Tanti Woi' by Blaxx [2011]

You won't find it on any album that I know of but, BY FAR, the song which has been the most popular around my house these days is the ridiculously infectious Hitz produced 'Tanti Woi' by Soca veteran and staple Blaxx. WHY might a several year old tune suddenly take hold like that??? Because every time I scream "tanti woi!" it mashes up my daughter and she laughs deliriously and… I just can't stop. You won't be able to either. Take a listen… but be careful

The Elastik Riddim [Purple Skunkz Entertainment - 2014]

We mentioned this one not too long ago (and if this works out correctly, that would have been just the most recent post before this one) but also definitely holding my attention is Kabaka Pyramid's monstrous contribution to the Elastik Riddim via Purple Skunkz, 'Lock Down D Place'. The song may just prove to be the greatest lyrical performance of 2014 as the Pyramid absolutely thrills and, seemingly, does so organically and effortlessly. BOOM! 

"Accurate - di business dem fi stop rape
Rasta bun dem hotta than a hotplate
CAAN EVEN HOLD A KEY, HOW DEM FI LOCK PLACE?
Nah bring no bleaching ting to my Black race
Nuff a dem sing anything just fi bling out
How you fi tell di likkle daughter skin out?
Di freak inna dem, nuff a dem waan fi bring out
This is a drive-by, Kabaka nah spinout"

 "Mi go easy pon di first verse
Second a di weapon mi selectin pon di perverts
Weh tell di likkle girls words - weh inappropriate
Dem so young yet dem know fi sex
Listening with open minds and later on, dem open legs
Mussi all di ecstasy weh dem ah tek
And Hennessey weh dem ah sip
Di energy weh dem project - it devilish 
More time mi sit and reminisce - when Jamaica neva inna di precipice"

"SEH DEM BELIEVE INNA GOD, GOD NUH BELIEVE INNA YOU
Dem mixed up like di peas inna stew
Step pon dem like di cheese pon mi shoe
DANCEHALL NEED WI MORE THAN WI NEED FOOD
Dem come in like a cancer, mi cut out di meat
Health over wealth wi promote outta street
IF DEM NO CLEAN UP DEM ACT, WI AHGO WIPE DEM CLEAN OFF DI MAP WHEN MI BRUSH OUT AH SWEEP
So, pass mi di Bobo broom
Clean up di biz like it's a dutty room
Lyrics sting dem like bees weh ah pitch pon flowers like when ahgo fi bloom"

Digital
Skinny Fabulous
Biggup Vincy Soca powerhouse and role model of poor behaviour, Skinny Fabulous, for a couple of songs which I have also fond myself suddenly incapable of ignoring. One of them, 'Like No Tomorrow' from Ronin Records and featuring Leanne Thomas, is a little older but I hadn't paid it a proper attention until fairly recently and that was yet another giant mistake by me. It does have a bit of a different and more serene type of vibes that you're used to from Skinny but it also has a very hard to ignore SHINE about it which is now well evident on my radars. There's also a subtle but definite intensity to the tune on the lyrical side: Tomorrow might be absolutely terrible -- you might even be dead when it gets here -- so today we play like it doesn't even exist! BOOM! The other tune, the Precision Productions steered 'Going Off' is instant CANDY. We've also mentioned this one previously and, deservedly, we bring it back. It's almost frustratingly intoxicating but I'm not complaining very much at all. Also check Skinny's track from the Town Ting Riddim, 'No Control', and biggup Skinny Fabulous who figures to THRILL us once again in the 2015 season.

Digital
"Judgement Time""The Order of Melchezedik" by Chezidek [Not Easy At All Productions - 2010 & 2013]

Also on my radars this week is a not-too-distant trip back in time to a couple of occasions during which vocalist and label meshed perfectly and produced a 'certified' (by our standards) classic and a potential all time great as Chezidek linked with Dutch label, Not Easy At All Productions for modern Reggae mastery! Those albums, 2010's "Judgement Time" and "The Order of Melchezedik (which I was wholly convinced was released just earlier this year and was actually somewhat surprised when I realized that was last year) [WHAT!]. Both albums, alone, stand as fine projects but I like to look back at them, and I think that history will do the same, as a pair to see some of the greatest musical chemistry that we've seen in recent times. And also, we're always in the discussion of how Reggae music has spread and though these examples won't get that same type of attention, I think that Jamaican singer and Dutch label making music that sounded like this is a might point of illustration to how the music has full-on shrunk the world. These two are mandatory though, you should already have them.

"SEARCH AND YOU WILL FIND
JAH LOVE!
THERE'S NO PLACE THAT CAN HIDE FROM
JAH LOVE!
IT IS SOMEWHERE THERE INSIDE
JAH LOVE!
SO JUST PUT AWAY FALSE-PRIDE
JAH LOVE!"

CD + Digital
"Da Real Thing" by Sizzla Kalonji [VP Records - 2002]
And lastly, I have to mention one of the greatest albums of all time (an album which can well lay a significant claim to being the greatest modern Reggae album ever ("modern meaning after the turn of the century)), "Da Real Thing" by Sizzla Kalonji. This release always finds its way onto my players this time of year. Why? Because today, the first of December, we celebrate the birth of my AMAZING and WONDERFUL MOTHER [Hey Mama! Hi Mama!] who is fifty-nine years young today. BOOM! THANK YOU MAMA! 

CD + Digital