Friday, October 28, 2016

'Identification': A review of "Livicated" by Akae Beka

Levels. When it comes to listening to music, a 'gift' of sorts that reviewing so much of it has given me over the years is the seemingly unyielding desire to qualify and quantify it in some way. I rarely ever hear anything without somewhat immediately casting it in some type of category in regards to exactly how much I enjoy it at the time. It almost gives me some kind of reference point should I need to go back to it and, even if I am wrong and change my mind (which does tend to happen, although less and less as I get older) at some point in the future, calling it something, whatever it may be, has given me a platform and a foundation to examine that shift - which is always very fascinating (more on that later) (…if I write this correctly) (…and I might not) (…and if I didn't I probably took this part out). And if you read my material to any degree you are certainly familiar with the fine dust and powder that I attempt to grind things down to, so if I am really tuned into something I can go on and on about how I LOVED a certain tune, besides the second verse or the intro or something obscure like that and because I am a giant nerd, I find experiences such as that to be infinitely exciting. Obviously at the head of something like that is when you find an artist, or an album, or a song, or a verse, or a performance which registers with you as something which you hold in the absolute highest esteem for one reason or another. It becomes a favourite of yours and, though it may sound strange, you essentially fall in love and it is a beautiful, beautiful thing. So with that being said, I can fully declare myself to be in a musical love with the work of Vaughn Benjamin/Akae Beka/Midnite - another gift given to me likely primarily by aging. In the context of what I am writing about today, Benjamin's work is basically flawless. Because of the way in which I receive his music, he always gives me something which rates highly and, as I have said in the past, it is the journey to comprehension. I LOVE to listen to his music and, whether I find myself initially amazed by what I hear is of less importance than for most others because I know that when I begin to take a deeper listen, I may hear something totally different. The result of that, because of his prolificacy, is this winding memory I have of songs and full albums in some cases (one in particular recently) which're either fully fantastic or have enough lyrical 'flares' of brilliance that they stand out, in sections, as just as strong. And, like I said, sometimes those sections begin to merge and what happens is that my "desire to qualify and quantify" gets a rewind of a significant degree and I reach this moment of wondering "… wait, was it THIS good all of the time?!!".

"Beauty For Ashes" [2014]
The prevailing allusion here is to an album which may just be my favourite album Vaughn Benjamin has ever done and is one which went through this same process, 2014's pretty much perfect "Beauty For Ashes". I don't know if I've ever heard an album so lyrically PROFICIENT. It sits at the same table as "Black Woman & Child" and maybe one or two others (that would be a fun list to do at some point). It was without worded flaw and it took me months to see it and I'm still working on it and likely will be, in some way, for the rest of my life. Now, "Beauty For Ashes" was one side of that phenomenon where something just continued to pick up steam and pick up steam to the point where it has risen so highly that I have to say that I've changed my mind on it so thoroughly - having gone from 'good' or 'very good' to some type of 'great'. What we have today, on the other hand, is something which I'd be absolutely shocked to see go through a similar process because it simply doesn't have the same 'starting line'… at least I don't think it does. 

It just so happens that helming the mighty "Beauty For Ashes" set was I Grade Records along with the Zion I Kings. If I've fallen in love with the music of Akae Beka, I've managed to do so on an even higher scale when it comes channeled through the ZIK. Their albums tend to be able to consistently locate and identify this wonderful groove where Benjamin's towering WORD is presented with a just as powerful and attractive melody. They're also very well presented, in general and it is always clear that someone has taken their time to ensure that the work is received by fans as best as it possibly can be. THANKS! The same could be said for both Midnite/Akae Beka sets since "Beauty For Ashes", 2014's instant chaser "Ride Tru" and "Portals" from earlier this year - AND now the all kinds of curious "Livicated". Unlike both "Ride Tru" and "Portals", "Livicated" comes to us via the 'Z' of the ZIK, Zion High Productions. I was actually surprised to read on the release that this album was the debut of Akae Beka/Midnite on ZHP. It seems like something that would have happened throughout the years at some point before 2016. There have been a steady stream of releases through IGR and even a pair for 'K', the Lustre Kings Productions (biggup LKP), "Infinite Quality" and its dubbed out counterpart, but "Livicated" marks the very first union of Akae Beka and Zion High Productions. It, of course, isn't the very first piece of work AT ALL yielded by the pair as Vaughn Benjamin has appeared on previous ZHP official releases. Most recently was just a few months ago as 'Described Peculiar' (which is peculiarly absent from this album) appeared on the Marketplace Riddim (which you already own), there was also 'This World Happened' from the Jah Warriah Riddim in 2014 and Benjamin also blessed the wonderful "Therapeutic" from Ziggi Recado (also known as Ivan The Terrible these days) that same year. And, again, having been prevalent and ultra-present in the run of the Zion I Kings, it seems like this had already happened, but surely has come in its proper time when you listen to the full album. I also feel inclined to mention that, over the past few years, whether you've realized it or not (and if you're reading this far into a review (which technically hasn't even begun yet -- that's the next paragraph -- ) you probably have) Zion High Productions has been on a TEAR in recent years. Works like "Livicated" and "Therapeutic" and the riddim albums and others coming from the likes of General Jah Mikey, Glen Washington ["Let your blessings fall on me"] [WHAT!} [BOOM!], Cornel Campbell, Mr. Lloyd Brown and who knows what I am forgetting -- I DO! -- "Jah Golden Throne"! All of that, for me, stands out as one of the most reliable outfits in the entire genre and, even on paper, combining that with Akae Beka is potentially special. So therefore, perhaps it shouldn't be very surprising to me at all that when I dug into "Livicated", I walked away with one dominant question, "is this album really THIS good?"

Yeah. Yeah I think it might be. First of all (all of that I've just written and I'm saying stuff like "first of all"} [HUH?!], I absolutely must mention what is going on with this album musically. There is something truly special going on with the sonics of "Livicated". It sounds fantastic from beginning to end and a major credited goes to the players of instruments who helped make it so (which includes, if I read correctly, Yami Bolo, who has clearly stuck around ZHP and I'm still hoping that someday artist and label can come back together and provide the world with a follow-up to their dominant "Rebelution" set, one of my personal favourite albums of all time). Strictly in that regards, it is certainly one of the finest Akae Beka/Midnite albums to date in my opinion and that is the case even before we get to the worded-work of Vaughn Benjamin. That work begins on the new album from Akae Beka, "Livicated", through the apparently already very well received 'Firmness'. The best way for me to describe the opener here is to call it COMPELLING. There is so much going on here in terms of the mood of the song -- where we have this seemingly ultra-focused and tuned in Benjamin -- across this SWEET composition. The result is a lyrical tirade which borders at times on the levels of infamous SCORCHERS such as 'The Gad' and 'Sha-Tee' in my opinion. What I ultimately take from 'Firmness' is that it is a composition regarding the indomitable will of [some] men and everything that we have been through, collectively, and the FORCE which has enabled us to remain so durable. This song, again, is aided in being so damn convincing because of its vibes - it literally stands up and glows on an album which eventually shows that it shines brightly in any way you look at it. We can also say the same of the second track on the album, the all kinds of curious 'Usward'. This one was SO much fun to work through from the direction of attempting to get to its meaning. Where I am with it now is that Benjamin is saying how important it is for us to do things and to live lives which are favourable and appeasing to His Majesty. He goes on to outline how easy and commonplace it is for us to be able to lose this route ["They saw confusion reign. Incomprehension, rule and shame. They saw anger, pride - and flame"] and, by extension, he also deals with the relationship between The Almighty and man. It is a fascinating tune and I'll be very interested to see how the masses react to it. ALSO, be very observant here of the music, which BEAUTIFULLY continues more than half a minute after the song's final lyrics (and biggup a Andrew "Drew Keys" Stoch for a scintillating horn there, if I read correctly) (…and I usually don't) (but big him up anyway because he HAS done a great deal of work throughout "Livicated"). Rounding out the first quarter of the album is another of its definitive highlights to my ears, 'Discreet'. Despite being the shortest offering you'll find here by nearly a minute, 'Discreet' is definitely a FULL musical experience.

"The Little Bo Peep -
Has kept her sheep
And she knows where to find them

To my (surely incorrect) ears, this is a tune about enlistment and positivity. I can say that about songs from just about any artist and you can, essentially, fill in the lyrics (even if the song is really good), but when you place such a moment in the hands of Vaughn Benjamin, what you end up with is a composition which flows in so many different powerful and colourful directions, that is certain to draw so many different listeners in each one of them. And though you'll get tired of me saying if you aren't already (get over it) (or don't, I don't care, it's not like I'm going to stop doing it) the music on 'Discreet' is exquisite!

The effort "Livicated" is named after is another one which has delightfully occupied quite a bit of my time in listening to this album. First of all is the music (I told you I didn't care) (AT ALL!): The merging of vocals and riddim here works surprisingly well and not just because of what is being said. It actually has a good pacing and melody to it which aren't things that normally jump out at me when it comes to the music of Vaughn Benjamin, who may be LESS dependent on actual music than any musician I've ever heard in my entire life: He pretty much just does whatever he wants. As for what he does actually say on the piece, 'Livicated' is a glorious tribute to His Majesty. I would think that the idea would be to hold the entire album as such a tribute and Benjamin does, subsequently, go on to identify his music, in the broad sense, as being just that: He makes music to glorify The Most High - but you didn't need me to tell you that. And then there's the BOOM! 

"Something to walk with inna di new generation
To help stay aware our focus needs to be strong
Haile Selassie I, The Conquering Lion 
Make the prophecy come to realization"

The finest piece of music I've found on this album was and remains the simply MASSIVE 'Daughtaz & Sunz' which, to my opinion, is a call of unity and to unify followers of Rastafari throughout the world ["Out of every nationality they come. Every foreign language, every denomination. Every background, creed, every occupation"] and just how important he feels it is that all stands up and are present and accounted for. 

"All who have and who no have no transportation
Friends moving together and inna caravan
Who inna sports car, who inna minivan
Some look well sci-fi wid dem innovation
Haile Selassie, The Conquering Lion
The wholly precious anointed the Christ-head one

Got the devil on the run and umm
Got the Satan on the run and umm"

Furthermore (and again), Benjamin goes on to make the connection that this is pleasing to The Almighty ["Treasured by The Lord is daughters and sons"]. The vibes on this one are just so powerfully SIMPLE that it is infectious as well. There's nothing which is going to leap out at listeners here, alone, but when you put everything together and pack it in front of a riddim which is a serene piece of brilliance, what you have is likely one of the best Akae Beka/Midnite songs that I have ever heard. I should also mention that this musical bit of candy also extends pass the final spoken words on the tune and down that stretch, which represents the album's longest track, it dazzles and is not to be missed (there is an ever-present sound on this riddim, I don't know what instrument makes it, maybe a guitar, but it is SOOOOOOOOOO NICE to hear!). You'll also be making a giant mistake should you not keep an eye and an ear on the next selection on "Livicated", 'Loose The Gates'. This golden drop takes a technological view of the world and isn't entirely dissimilar from routes traveled by Akae Beka in the past (most memorably would probably be 'All I's On You' from the aforementioned "Beauty For Ashes" set). I don't come away from ideas like this one thinking that it is the intent or attempt of Vaughn Benjamin to entirely eschew or usurp technology and the furthering of technology as a whole, but I think what he is saying is that it is VERY easy to lose oneself down that road and that there're many negative aspects of technology, and those commanding it, continuing to grow its seemingly never ending reach. Ultimately I think he speaks of caution and to be careful on yet another standout on this project. 

While the second half of "Livicated" may well offer a slightly more diverse and 'curious' sound than its first, it instantly proves itself to be on the same level and, perhaps at times, even higher. A nice example would be the lullaby-like 'Lifetime'. I don't know this for sure, I have no inside information (and I'm probably wrong anyway) but, as a father of two, my ears have identified this song as one inspired by the blessing of having children. Maybe it is just for me, but Benjamin appears to deal with the JOY and the proverbial ups and downs of parenthood and how it is the most imperfect of all world practices and the grandest of responsibility at the same time. It is a lovely sound as well and I have to give a credit to Jah Bless (who also had an album through Zion High Productions in recent times, the very impressive "Redemption") (I knew I forgot someone) who plays a very subtle and infrequent yet STUNNING trombone on this song. If you listen for it, you'll notice that it comes in at precisely the perfect moment and adds so much to things, again, at least for me. The biblical 'Have Heard' is another tune giving praises to His Imperial Majesty and is probably about as straightforward as you'll get on the whole of "Livicated" as, essentially, the chanter gives a giant THANK YOU to HIM on behalf of himself and all of mankind. This is actually just as much a showcase of the actual music as it is for the work of Vaughn Benjamin. Compared to… pretty much everything else he does, 'Have Heard' is very airy and light and because of that not only are we particularly treated to the artist's typical genius, but the work of his fellow masterminds on the instruments who stand up with one of the most powerful compositions on the album. Because of that, it actually goes quite well with the song which comes in next, 'Faith'. I have had SO MUCH fun with 'Faith' and will continue to do so long after this review. By his standards, 'Faith' is another kind of 'open' tune from Benjamin, but this is one is… completely saturated in… something very, very special for me. TEARS! And, somewhat in retrospect, I don't know its equal. This is an artist who clearly makes his way with words, when he gets to the point when he can kind of back off of that aspect and STILL have a similar impact -- what happens there? Like I said, I'm still working on 'Faith' and I expect to be doing so for quite some time, but where it stands now represents, potentially, the greatest form of growth on the "Livicated" album, as it may go from being a great song into being a possible all-time personal classic for me. 

Winding down, "Livicated" continues to churn out legitimate winners beginning with 'Handle Sumptin', where Benjamin begins to wonder if you have your priorities in order.

"Some of the costliest things -
It was not tangible, it's how you handle something
For what they can do
For all they can work"

There is yet another precious gem of a SMOOTH track supporting 'Handle Sumptin' and it clearly is not wasted in this moment as listeners are treated to a lyrical experience which, in full, rivals anything you'll find on this release. And, I should also say, that like the pair of tunes preceding it (and 'Daughtaz & Sunz') and, this one comes off effortlessly! A beautiful song! The emotional 'Eyelidz' is another one I had a great deal of fun with for several reasons - not the least of which is just how normal and relatable it is. If you live long enough and do it well enough, you'll encounter some difficult times that you must go through and things which're sure to have a significant impact on you, this a song about those things and how you react to them. Secondly, the mood of what is going on here, lyrically, melds so harmoniously with the music on the song, so what we get is this instance, so late on in the album and definitely not for the first time, where I'm still wondering if I just heard one of the best recent compositions from Akae Beka. 'Eyelidz' is magical. "Livicated" reaches its end with what has to be regarded as its changeup, 'Over Antichrist', a song I was well looking forward to hearing as soon as we saw the tracklist. What is different here is that should you go through most of the selections on this project, even some of the more enthused ones such as 'Firmness', the sound is very easy and immediately digestible, even in during complicated moments where you get these glowing combinations of smaller sounds. 'Over Antichrist' changes that with its large (by comparison) sound and dramatic piano (again, biggup Andrew Stoch) and it is a very welcomed and admirable change of pacing in my opinion. As you might expect, for his part Vaughn Benjamin produces a biblical master class, which is something he has been doing in different ways throughout his entire sterling career and this is probably one of the better pieces of its kind in that regard. And I'll also say that 'Over Antichrist', despite its immediacy, is still the type which requires a bit of time to grow, at least it did for me, but maybe I'm just not that bright. 

Overall, while you can question my own mental luster, I'm having a really difficult time doing it in reference to this set. When it comes to individual artists, I'd like to think that I judge them fairly, but do so in a category which is uniquely their own, which is obviously the case when it comes to artists I'm  more familiar with. I say that to say: AFTER WRITING THREE OR FOUR DOZEN OF THESE THINGS, I THINK I MIGHT KNOW A GOOD AKAE BEKA/MIDNITE ALBUM WHEN I HEAR IT. Whether or not "Livicated" is any 'good' is not up for question, but I am thinking that it may be several levels ahead of that - right now. What's missing? I don't know. The argument could be made (and I'm going to make it right now), that it ranks, rather easily, as one of the best sounding albums from that vault. As I've said several times, a major credit goes to Zion High Productions, the Zion I Kings, all players of instruments and company because the music here is sensational throughout. I also want to mention that, despite featuring twelve selections (which is a pretty good number these days), "Livicated" is FULL. During nearly an hour's worth of music, it seems as if someone was of the same opinion as I am and made a point to allow the music the opportunity to shine as well as the vocal artist and after recently having albums which seemed to come and go too quickly for my tastes, that is not an issue here at all. Lyrically, the album also glows with the central theme rotating (as it always does) around His Imperial Majesty. Specifically, however, in this case many of the songs tend to deal with issues which are within the behaviour of people and how our actions and feelings can bring us closer to HIM. So, as I continue to attempt to qualify and quantify "Livicated", the latest from Akae Beka, I have to say that if there is something truly wrong with this album after more than 3800 words, I'm having a really hard time finding it. Excellent.

Rated: 4.80/5
Zion High Productions
CD + Digital

Review #538

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

'Soul-full. Passion-full': A review of "Soul Rasta" by Fantan Mojah

To change. Everyone needs something to differentiate themselves from everyone else. Diversity is definitely one of the most wonderful aspects of the world and is exhibited in virtually every single facet of life and, when it comes to music and other forms of entertainment it becomes most apparent. No one wants to see hear the same song every time (no matter how much you may enjoy 'Jah Reveal It' by Ras Army) (VERY MUCH), in the same way that no one wants to see the same film or watch the same game or… do whatever else you like to do. You want some variety! For myself, I can lift up and look through a list of my favourite artists, current and past, and get certain things from all of them which satisfies particular parts of my personality. If I'm trying to relax, for instance, I'm probably not trying to hear Mad Cobra absolutely destroy EVERYTHING he can get his hands on and probably a few things that he can't. But if I'm looking to blow off some steam and frustration, the world's angriest serpent might be the first name on my mind. Similarly, if I'm lost in thought and would like to remain there, there's an essentially endless line of Vaughn Benjamin/Midnite/Akae Beka tunes for the occasion. And when I don't feel like kick-starting the brain, I can lose what remains of my mind with Fay-Ann Lyons and Skinny Fabulous and behave as poorly as I want and there's nothing wrong with that. They're all examples of favourites of mine (and yours) who have risen to the point of not only involving themselves in my DAILY existence, but have also done so in a way which is unique to them. Furthermore, these artists have managed to distinguish themselves, not only from one another, but from even more closely related peers and done so in genres of music which don't necessarily have the reputation, amongst more casual observers, as being pillars of musical multiplicity. But every time you turn up a Soca tune, it isn't only a "jump and wave" and every time you start Roots Reggae, it isn't just "praise Jah", there's a scope and certain people make discovering that range SO MUCH fun. Today we take a looooooooooong awaited and overdue next look at such an individual who, by virtue of a searing quality of his own, has managed to grow himself into such a respected name of his era and in 2016 he returns with a big new project for the masses. 
Fantan Mojah
Where Vaughn Benjamin has his legendary lyrics and the inimitable kind of deadpan delivery of his genius and where Jah Cure has what is seemingly the greatest voice ever squeezed into a human being, Fantan Mojah has PASSION. He probably has more of it than what he needs to get through his daily life and could probably lend trucks full of it to You and I and be just fine. But he has made a mighty career out of practically perfecting the usage of his zeal musically and grown a very nice audience as well -- if you've ever been fortunate enough to see him perform, you can even FEEL it. It has, however, been quite a while from the last time that the strongest branch of the Macka Tree has put this on display in an album form, but he's set things right on that front in early 2016. You'll recall it was now a disturbingly long ELEVEN years ago that he blessed us with his debut album, the monstrous "Hail The King". That album featured the all-conquering title song as well as fantastic others such as 'Corruption', 'Search', 'Thanks & Praise', 'Nuh Build Great Man' alongside the previously mentioned Jah Cure and others still (like 'Authentic Love' with Mr. Flash [BOOM!]) (that album had FIRST BORN on it!) (biggup First Born). That release detailed many of the tracks on which Mojah rode to prominence initially and, in retrospect, can probably be looked upon as a bit of a borderline classic. It was one of the best debut albums of the modern era. Three years later, 2008, he followed up on "Hail The King" with "Stronger" and you could make the case (though I'd disagree with you), that the album was exactly what its title suggested. There, you'd find standouts such as the title track, 'Tell Lie Pon Rasta' ["CONSPIRACY!"] [WHAT!] [BOOM!], 'No Ordinary Herb' and 'Most High Jah' - probably my favourite Fantan Mojah song ever. Both of those albums came via Greensleeves Records (when the label made a WONDERFUL turn from releasing virtually nothing but riddim albums and added some Fantan Mojah, Natural Black, Nasio Fontaine, Lutan Fyah and even Ras Shiloh to its constant rotation of… nothing else but Sizzla Kalonji) which isn't what it was back then, having been inhaled by VP Records, but FINALLY, Fantan Mojah has managed to deliver a severely overdue, third album, "Soul Rasta"

"Hail The King" [2005] & "Stronger" [2008]
The new set comes via Young Veterans and Warriors Musick Productions and is brought to actuality by (GUESS!) the amazingly inescapable wizards at Zojak Worldwide. We've also seen Mojah's own Mojah Music credited here as well but all of that is technical stuff you don't (and probably shouldn't) care about very much - because it's a new Fantan Mojah album! Based on the title of the album (more on that in just a second) and a few other things, I would even think that not only is it overdue from a common sense point of view but maybe something happened more recently than the last eight years to delay "Soul Rasta"  in coming to fruition. Thankfully, however, it was apparently obvious to all who had the power to make it happen that album #3 from Fantan Mojah was a necessity and, as they say, it is 'better late than never' (I've also heard 'it's greater later'). The most fittingly titled "Soul Rasta" album does continue to show what was done throughout not only both of its predecessors but the myriad of dependably tough singles Mojah has done over the course of the last decade or so as well and, despite its brevity, proves to be another thriller. Let's discuss it!

'Rasta Got Soul'

When it comes to the actual music, Fantan Mojah's aforementioned passion is shown in a tremendously captivating and often addictive style. The best compliment I can most likely give to him is to say that, when he makes his songs, Mojah gets the absolute most out of them that he possibly can. I won't name names (I don't need to), but certain artists (most of them, actually) have moments which aren't their best and that's forgivable (you don't do the best at your job everyday either). With Mojah, however, even if you don't like every song, you come away thinking that he has pulled it together and given it everything that he possibly can - it is 100% full effort all of the time. It is a quality which has made its way to "Soul Rasta", the third studio album release from Fantan Mojah which gets us moving with the recognizable 'Never Give Up'. This tune came from a few years back and it shares its origins, Warriors Musick Productions, with more songs from the album. As its title would suggest the opener for this album is all about perseverance and maintaining oneself through the challenging times of life. This piece, in particular, has a subtly INFECTIOUS vibe about it. Underpinned by WM's solid Fresh Medz Riddim, Mojah makes the most of the moment (DUH!) and not only blesses this album with a genuine highlight, but probably also gave the riddim its single finest drop as well, in retrospect (Jah Penco also had a really nice song on the Fresh Medz). Things go even higher with the next one up, 'Jah Give Us Life' which, WONDERFULLY, is exactly what you think it is as Fantan Mojah invokes the Wailing Souls' classic for a splendid remake. I guess I'm feeling nostalgic because this is THE best moment on "Soul Rasta" to my opinion -- an absolutely indomitable song and I probably couldn't think of anyone to better handle such an update. 'Roots & Culture', Mojah's well traveled cut of the Herb Family Riddim courtesy of More Life Productions. This song is a very nice and durable one (what I mean is that, in the way that it is done, it is kind of difficult to shake. It didn't turn into some giant hit, but this is easily the type of song that will be as good at any point in the future as it is right now) which really speaks on seeking pride in the things that you have and being, in general, very proud of yourself and who you are. I also really enjoy the pacing of it. 'Roots & Culture' is very slow and deliberate, but Mojah doesn't turn down and we get this compelling contrast and a nice level of energy with this very heavy riddim.

'Roots & Culture'

The DELIGHTFUL Mightiest Riddim courtesy of Frenchie and co. at Maximum Sound backs another of the heaviest pieces of arsenal (biggup Arsenal) to be found on "Soul Rasta", 'Out Of Many'

"So many people fight for it
Don't come tell me you're an activist
So many innocent die for it
Blood, sweat and tears inna di soil for this
United we stand
Divided we fall
Rastafari love us

If you go through this album looking for that one major captivating and infectious moment, you're likely to have found it in 'Out Of Many', though you'll have to find it and 're-find' several times because, for some reason, that song comes in seeming SO short (by my count it is the album's third shortest offering) - but enjoy it still. Essentially the title song here, 'Rasta Got Soul' also lays a weighty claim on being the most 'attractive' on the album [basically] named after it as well as being the single most well known selection here. This one is probably best emblematic of my idea for this review in looking, principally, at Fantan Mojah's PASSION for what he does. 'Rasta Got Soul' literally DRIPS in excitement but it does it in a way which isn't this type of overpowering vibes and while I'd not call it 'subtle' (it isn't) (not at all), what we have is this brilliant, predominately (but not fully) lyrical display of zeal and an infatuation which Mojah has clearly enjoyed for his entire life -- like You and I -- for Reggae music. The highlight comes later when he invokes some of the names of the icons of the music as well as some of his peers (and, BEAUTIFULLY, even makes and allowance for some others "If mi no call yuh name, please catch mi inna di next song - cah di list of di name too long"). You've surely already dealt with this song if you're reading this far into a review like this, but there's no reason at all not to revisit what is definitely one of the best songs here and one of the finest that Fantan Mojah has ever given us. Not much of a deviation from the title track is 'Cool & Irie', which chases it here. This song was fresh to my ears on this album as it was featured on Young Veterans' relatively recent Soul Hearts and it just expands on 'Rasta Got Soul' in adding to the love of Reggae music to the love of Reggae music and Jamaica. Mojah goes to celebrate both simultaneously while presenting and positioning, fittingly in my opinion, as Reggae music being Jamaica's WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL gift to the planet. The obligatory herbalist tune on the album, 'Hydro', is a pounding changeup which is CANDY to my ears. Again, one of the biggest sets you'll here and one whose sound has no equal here - it is definitely one of a kind. 

"Mi tell dem from Amsterdam to California to Westmoreland
Tell di farmer dem to plant acre pon di land
Di kush good fi nerves a coulda neva something wrong

Capleton and Turbulence (both of whom are mentioned during 'Rasta Got Soul') join Fantan Mojah for a meeting in 'Kingston Town'. This tune attracted a whole heap of attention around the release of "Soul Rasta" and, clearly, justly so. A trio like such not only would garner that type of notoriety just on paper, but in the actualization of the music, you would have hefty expectations and they did not disappoint. I do have to say that, at least for me (and maybe only me) (I don't care), Turbulence steals the proverbial show. To this day I'll maintain that, when properly motivated (and when you can keep him from making CONSTANT love songs), Turbulence remains undeniably one of the genre's most talented figures, capable of doing… pretty much anything including downright spectacular results. Flying solo again, Fantan Mojah wraps up the album in fine fashion with three at least firm efforts. The first of them, 'Heavenly Throne', may also be the oldest as well the strongest of them all (it's actually clearly the strongest in my opinion). Another track from the vault of Warrior's Musick -- this time across the golden simple guitar highlighted Duplicity Riddim -- 'Heavenly Throne' stands out as a very cool, but involved type of praising piece. It is "involved" but somewhat broad at the same time and the result, as expected, is a thrilling effort which, as expected, is made the most of by Mojah. The chanter then calls for a big STOP of the highest order from The Most High on the all kinds of interesting 'Red Light'

"Life is a two-way street before us
Only the right light can keep me focused
Got to move on, can't sit down
Standing firm, I hold my ground
Dem sacrificing and despising all di youths in di city
Meditation in di east keep mi away from di wicked
Heavenly glory in my soul, so they can't turn mi into ashes
Fire come to Babylon weh waan give wi lashes"

I have so many thoughts about this tune, not the least of which center around one of the largest compositions on the whole of the "Soul Rasta" album, the Homewrecker Riddim via Frankie Music, and just the general organization of it as well. Still, I definitely have to mention the lyrical direction of 'Red Light' where Fantan Mojah really just calls for a slowing down of things because the behaviour of certain individuals has just gotten out of hand. Finally, bringing the album to its conclusion [ALREADY???] is its only love song, 'Travel So Far'. This isn't the type of selection which I normally associate with Fantan Mojah and it isn't a glaring favourite of mine from the album, but it isn't a BAD song either. 'Travel So Far' surely isn't a stereotypical love song, it is rather complicated, but give it a few chances just before you go on to the end of the album. 

Overall, though I find myself saying it more and more often these days, I will say it again in reference to this release: I wish we had more of it! "Soul Rasta" registers at just a blip over forty minutes between eleven tracks and, after waiting so long for it, I could have gone for something more in the range of an hour, but I think that may be more of a sign of the times type of quality for these days. Still, judging it based on what it is and based on what is present, it is a nice release and one which continues the run initiated by its absolutely thunderous predecessors in Fantan Mojah's catalogue. So, while in 2016 it may be just a little dated and definitely on the short side, ultimately Fantan Mojah works his typically atypical magic and delivers a satisfying set with "Soul Rasta".

Rated: 3.85/5
Mojah Music & Zojak Worldwide
CD + Digital

Review #537

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Livicated" by Akae Beka

"Livicated" by Akae Beka [Zion High Productions]
1. 'Firmness'
2. 'Usward'
3. 'Discreet'
4. 'Livicated'
5. 'Daughtaz and Sunz'
6. 'Loose The Gates'
7. 'Lifetime'
8. 'Have Herd'
9. 'Faith'
10. 'Handle Sumptin'
11. 'Eyelidz'
12. 'Over Antichrist'

... and sometimes we get really good news. When last we heard from the vaunted Vaughn Benjamin (that may be the very first time I have ever used the term "vaunted" to describe Benjamin which is clearly looooong overdue) and Akae Beka, it was way, way back in April when they were delivering their jewel of an official sophomore release, "Portals", for I Grade Records. And though as the name recently changed from Midnite to Akae Beka, we have seen what can be described, at least by 'their' standards (and ONLY their standards), as a slower release schedule, apparently things are back in order and we are now looking at not only a brand new Akae Beka album, but one from a very familiar source. "Livicated" becomes the third offical set from Akae Beka and comes via a personal favourite of ours, the US based Zion High Productions and, of course, the Zion I Kings.
"Portals" [2016]
So of course I'm excited. "New Akae Beka album" is more than enough  to get my attention (and apparently there's some type of return to Rastar forthcoming) and when you place it alongside "Zion High Productions" it only adds to it for me and the initial taste has well peaked my interests. I do have to say that just from the earliest of listens (you know that, despite how ridiculous I write, I could write a review for this album right now, after listening to it for maybe 3-4 hours) (wouldn't be a problem), "Livicated" definitely has a smoother and more serene type of vibes to it, which maintain throughout the album, particularly on some of its more memorable sets.

Achis, like what???! Okay, my very fresh favourites would include pieces such as the opener, 'Firmness' ["Inna di freeiflow of the human tide. World migration is from all time. Though so many make it, many perish outright. Human cargo precious within Jah Jah sight. How you will be written when the history is RIGHT. If you have been kind, if you have been unkind. When di riddim droppin inna one drop style"], which we think may be the album's first single. I also really enjoy the title track (you listen to that song and you'll know exactly what I mean in reference to the tone of the album named after it), LOVE 'Loose The Gates' and 'Handle Sumptin', but at the top (at least for now) is a pair of downright MAMMOTH sets, the perfectly simple 'Daughtaz And Sunz' ["These are the rare and the stand-firm ones, treasured by The Lords is daughters and sons"] and 'Faith'. I've probably listened to the latter more than any other song on the album thus far (like maybe twenty, twenty-five times now), because there is SOMETHING about that tune that I'm looking for and you know I'll find it.
And you can help me look for it! The new album from Akae Beka, "Livicated" from Zion High Productions, arrives in stores on October 21st. So make sure you pick it up and I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

'Still Inspired': A review of "i Thoughts" by Cali P

In stages. There is something so immensely satisfying, regardless of the particular matter, in maintaining the proverbial course and sticking alongside something or someone for the long haul. Be it some sort of endeavour or accomplishment you have been pursuing for a period of time or even some hobby you've been up to for awhile, there [hopefully] comes a point when you're able to look back, retrospectively, and enjoy the ride that you've been on. When it comes to entertainment this act can shine even brighter as you can approach just about and hear a story about some concert or some game or event that they attended years ago which has still left some type of imprint on their life and will never be forgotten. I am exactly the same way and so are you. Further more, in specifically dealing with music, something which, for several reason, always resonates with me (especially these days) is just how long I have for myself been emotionally invested with the output of certain artists and just the amazing progression I have been through 'with' them as a fan from a distance in most cases. And if you go to the highest cases, dealing with people like Bob Marley and the likes, what happens is that you kind of have to share that ride -- the entire world has been on that journey from since it began and shows no interest in getting off at any stop -- but in other cases it gets damn personal! I point to names such as Pressure Busspipe who, a truly ridiculous eleven years ago, delivered to me one of the greatest albums that I've ever heard in his all-conquering debut set, "The Pressure Is On". That album wasn't extremely popular and if you're looking for it on a disc, good luck, but if you trace back to it now, considering who he has become, it is a mightily interesting musical expedition. And it doesn't even have to be entirely positive, I can name you several names who continue to either be active who I once enjoyed but do not any longer, at least not to the same degree, and have those moments be just as colourful and vivid as more constructive instances because, again, those are people who have made large impacts on my life and, even then, I give thanks. Today, however, we're turning up lights and tuning in SO MANY good memories as I get to declare myself a full veteran [BOOM!] of listening to someone who I am so happy has endured with his fans and developed, for people like you and I, a big career which is set to take yet another giant step forward - the indomitable and, like he told us all last time, unstoppable, Cali P

"Lyrical Faya" [2008]
At last check I had just turned thirty-five years old about a month and a half ago (so you'll forgive me for the nostalgia) (at least I hope you will), which means that I would have been twenty-six in early 2008 when I fully began to listen to and appreciate the WONDERFUL output of Cali P as he dropped his unforgettable debut set, "Lyrical Faya". These days, I always enjoy when he does just about anything because it gives me an immediate reason to dig up that album and go mining through absolute gems of tunes such as 'Redemption' ["IT'S A REDEMPTION WHEN RASTA TOUCH DI STREET! THEN MEK DEM KNOW SEH DUTTY BABYLON MUST GET DEFEAT!"] [WHAT!] [BOOM!], 'Right Time' alongside Queen Omega (biggup Queen Omega, new tune and new video from the Trini Roots Empress recently), 'Hypocrites', 'Take Care Of My Family'… and I could go on and on with that one. For me, "Lyrical Faya" has reached the proper age from since its release date and is a complete personal CLASSIC set in my catalogues and one of the best debut albums Reggae music has ever produced in its modern form. And fortunately it didn't stop there (… if it did I wouldn't be writing this). Since then, the multi-talented chanter who has called home both Switzerland and Guadeloupe, given his parentage, as well as Jamaica most recently, has been on a precise musical tear! If you've REALLY been paying attention to Cali P's music over the course of the past eight years, I don't need to tell you about the focus he's shown in not only making his music in a particular way, but also in presenting it to the masses in such a powerful digestible and relatable manner. He's dealt both extensively with Dancehall as well as Roots and has existed within both scopes in an interesting and stirring fashion. Most notably, of course, was the presence of the afore-alluded to "Unstoppable" from 2011 (it has been FIVE YEARS since that album! It seems like two!) which, at least to my opinion in retrospect, so wonderfully compliments its predecessor in showing the different sides of Cali P's style. And, not to be forgotten at all was two years ago when he told us all about the musical "Healing Of The Nation" on one of the more impressive Reggae EP releases that you'll ever hear. And I should also mention the prior set, "Like A Lion", on which he shared with various artists, but starred on the vast majority of the tracks and really just showed how much he had progressed in terms of popularity as that set showed that his work had found a seemingly unlikely home within the winter sports community and had done so without sacrificing any of its original form or quality. Cali P has also maintained his activity in releasing a steady stream of singles, including 'Work' on the recent Maad Sick Reggaeville Riddim from Oneness Records. If you enjoy Reggae music, of virtually any type, Cali P has done something for you and in 2016, he's doing something else.

"Unstoppable" [2011] & "Healing of The Nation" [2014]
"i Thoughts" becomes the third full length set from Cali P and amongst the many things making this year yet another stellar one for Reggae music (it has been FANTASTIC, and though I'm semi-retired, I've enjoyed it all the way through), I'm certain that you'll find room for what very quickly proves itself to be a very satisfying release. The new album, once again, finds Cali P linking up with Gary 'Riga' Burke and Hemp Higher Productions from out of Switzerland. Artist and producer have shown themselves to be a powerful duo throughout the years and, though originally the two seemed to have linked to make primarily a harder form of Dancehall music, owed to their credit are both the "Unstoppable" and "Healing Of The Nation" projects which cover different ends of the spectrum. Also on board, somewhat surprisingly, is Flash Hit Records from out of France. Flash Hit is a label that we're definitely familiar with as they initially jumped on our radars through a couple of very nice entries, the Worldwide Love and Make It Gwan riddims, respectively. Since then they have also remained active, working alongside various artists -- most notably Alborosie and Derrick Parker -- as well as pushing a few more riddim projects, including the golden Redikaly (BIG tune by Exile Di Brave, 'Talk It Like' on that track). So, even on paper, Flash Hit Records placing their name alongside a new album from Cali P can only be a most welcomed addition… right? Of course, "i Thoughts" well shows itself to be of a fitting quality set by its predecessors and is a damn fine latest step in a downright mighty catalogue. Let's go!

Speaking entirely from a musical point of view, I was very interested in what this album would turn out to be. Again, when you deal with Cali P's music, he can go in virtually any direction, sometimes simultaneously and can be well unpredictable, which is a good thing. However, for its part the new album is one which I would well categorize as a very colourful modern Roots Reggae project. Another point of interest would be the lyrical/ direction of the album. With such a title, it kind of forecasts something broadly specific (if that makes any sense, any at all), and because I'm a nerd, I focus on such things. Fortunately, on the intro and very first track on his brand new album, "i Thoughts", Cali P sets the tone firmly from his own mouth.

"Consciousness comes in from you're a baby. When you drop on your head, your consciousness now tells you that next time you definitely cannot do that step again because you're gonna drop on your head."

"I love to share genuine gratitude and happiness that I get on this life's journey. And today I share some of I thoughts."

From that I took the album which was to follow to be a statement about expression of individuality and the experiences which is built upon and even if I am completely wrong about that and the inspiration is entirely abstract, you won't catch me complaining about it. The first actual bit of music to come on the album was candy to both my eyes and ears as Cali P gives an indirect (or maybe it was a direct one) to his debut album and gives us 'Lyrical Faya'! The title has kind of evolved as a nickname of sorts for the artist and it was such a nice idea to place it in some type of context with an actual song. This one in particular easily lives up to and defends the moniker as Cali P absolutely dazzles.

"Mi give thanks fi di one dem weh si through di ting
Weh memba di foundation from deep within
Di one dem weh support I through thick and thin
And di one dem weh show up when a sound system
Who just quiet, who is di liar
Who ah di warrior and who fraid a di riot
I seh link up inna Zion"

BOOM! I really like this song for several reasons and not the least of which is the fact that it serves as kind of a 'thank you' to fans who have been listening to his music for quite some time. If you are such a fan, you'll notice little things he says throughout the piece which either sound familiar fully or will lead you into remembering something that really stood out to you along the 'journey'. Another of the album's genuine highlights follows as 'Food Inna Di Yard' is simply outstanding. There're a few songs on this album which are just really difficult to get out of your head and, probably at the head of  them is this infectious release which can probably lay a major claim to be the best song here from an entirely sonic point of view. As its title would suggest, it is going to feed the ears of everyone fortunate enough to hear it. Lyrically it is as scorching as the tune it chases here as Cali P goes in on upholding and sustaining oneself and one's happiness and SANITY through difficult times and being sure not to lose those things. What I also really like about this song is just effortless it is. There is some fire here, of course, but it also has a kind of an 'un-programmed' vibes to it which adds to its effect in my opinion: It's not difficult to be yourself at all. It's the easiest thing in the world to do. A pair of love songs actually round out the early portions of  "i Thoughts" in 'Do You Love Me' and 'On My Way Home'. The former had to grow on me a bit and it's still probably working on me just a bit in some way. The latter, on the other hand, is very, very good. 'On My Home' is just a COOL song. It features Cali P alongside Randy Valentine and the two link up to deliver a song which always brings a smile to my face and when the masses get a thorough taste of it, I'm confident that I won't be the only one smiling. You will too.

'Coconut Jelly Man' featuring Shanique Marie

Speaking of guests and combinations, Randy Valentine isn't the only vocalist making an appearance on "i Thoughts" alongside Cali P. WHO ELSE IS THERE? Try the all kinds of contagious Equiknoxx steered 'Coconut Jelly Man' which features the fully delightful Shanique Marie. This tune has seemingly been crafted for years upon years to dig its claws into your brain, rendering wholly incapable of doing ANYTHING else of substance besides walking around sing "coconut jelly man, coconut jelly man" - an example would be my Wife, at this very moment. The song provides the album with a very necessary and nice, lighter moment in its relative brevity (it is the shortest actual song here by nearly a minute) and is just a good touch in my opinion (and I should also mention that you'll also find this tune on Marie's own new album, "Uno", which is also currently available). For his part, on the other hand, "lighter" moments have never been a specialty of the mighty Capleton who addresses the other end of the spectrum of vibes on the downright ROYAL 'Dem Ago Burn Up'. To my knowledge, Cali P and Capleton are friends and this is their first tune together and if you were waiting (and you know you were), it will come as a most welcomed reward, 'Dem Ago Burn Up' is MAMMOTH! From the very first note you can hear something heavy forthcoming and what does ultimately arrive does not disappoint as the pair push  a message that, for all wrongdoers, your judgment is quickly approaching.

"Tough pon di battlefield, yuh cannot soft at life
Spiritually,  physically - you haffi fast and fight
Vampire hunting blood inna di darks of night
Nuh trust nothing! - anytime you walk at night
And look out fi di dogs, cah dem will bark and bite
You haffi hunt yuh food, every walks of life -
That simply mean food ah di staff of life
Babylon dem inna wrong, so dem ah wrath"

"Babylon if you no free di youth from hungry mouth you ahgo burn up
If you deceive di youth, mislead di youth, you ahgo burn up"

"Whether life bitter or sweet I and I give thanks fi it
Mi nah go let down myself cause mi response fi this
With di guidance of The King, we will govern di thing
Marcus meditation bring di vision within
So when mi step outta road, mi haffi step out fi win
Haffi talk how mi feel and bun out di shitstem
Cah fi di youth outta road, di leaders nah do a thing
Worldwide a di same cah people suffering"

BOOM! DAMN! The tune takes a specific aim and leaves DAMAGE everywhere it strikes. Of a similar level of successful objectives is the final combination on "i Thoughts", the very familiar 'Want No War'. This title features a BLAZING Yung JR on whose debut set, "Start The Movement", it appeared and reigned supreme just last year (probably the best debut album I heard in all of 2015). It occupies a comparable terrain on this album as it is as golden and exciting of a Roots Reggae song that you'll hear in recent times, which is saying a lot. Calling for peace all across the world, Cali P and Yung JR bring a heavy arsenal for the mission and I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear these two together again at some point in the future.

Back on his own, Cali P asks the question 'Why So Much Fighting' on a tune which has a very interesting vibes to it. Obviously, with such a title the song is a very insightful social commentary' but it also comes in charged with this lovely style of old school charm. And you hear it immediately with the big sounding backup singers (biggup veteran Nikki Burt who lends her vocals throughout "i Thoughts") and this very easy swinging vibe which make it a joy to listen to, but again, make sure it isn't the sole focus of your stop here because if it is, you'll surely miss what is a heavy message. Later (on the very next tune on the album) Cali P struggles with a very aggressive infatuation with 'Ease Off'. In some way a piece like this is entirely relatable whether you have been the pursued or the pursuer (or both) and it also has a very nice sound - there's almost a Marley-esque pulsing quality to the sound here. I think the underlying thought here is an examination of all the wonderfully ridiculous things that people tend to do for love or lust and… like I said, it is relatable (I could sit here and tell you about all the things I've done but you probably don't have that kind of time!). And finally, check a pair of OUTSTANDING solo efforts which rank as the highest class of the album for me, 'Revolution' and 'Guiding Shield'. For its part, 'Revolution' is another ROYAL sounding piece of expression and it is one which plays out on a couple of different platforms as Cali P sings the song and, at its end, he seems to reach into the heart of "i Thoughts" and just begins to speak freely. It is a monumental moment on the album for me as you can almost hear the spontaneity and untreated, organic sound of the moment. It comes through as he had something specific to say and just didn't feel like writing it down - he wanted to make it at that particular moment.

"First of all, one army alone a man fi serve:
The army of The Almighty One
Including every nation and every colour -
There is no more division
Wave the banner of The Conquering Lion and teach our children to be strong

Mi ready fi stand up inna this revolution
And lead out di people in di streets
I want to let the know the principles of The King-
Unity is what we need
Mi ready fi stand up inna this revolution
And lead out di people in di streets
I want o let dem know the principles of The King-
His Majesty!"

And then there is the closer, the TekaRootdown Records produced 'Guiding Shield'. TEARS! This song has no equal on this album for me. It is not only the best selection on the whole of "i Thoughts" but it's also one of my favourite from Cali P ever now ["… trod over every border and cross every water"]. Lyrically, the direction is one which goes straight to self-affirmation and confidence and knowing where and with Whom one stands in life and it is backed by this GORGEOUS composition from Rootdown: The Straight From The Fridge Riddim. It is the star attraction here and one for the time capsules of music from the obviously still inspired Cali P.

'Guiding Shield'

The only criticism I would have of "i Thoughts" would probably be a greedy one: I wish it was longer! Its two predecessors were monsters -- both checking in at over an hour long -- while the forty minutes of the new release is far closer to "Healing of The Nation". However, with that being said, I was actually under the impression that the next time we were to hear from Cali P on an album was to be a combination with legendary maestro Bobby Digital (and I think the album even had a title, "Musicali Speaking" or something like that, if I recall correctly). So hopefully, full album #4 isn't very far off for those of us who would absolutely LOVE to hear more of this.

Cali P
Until then, "i Thoughts" should be more than enough to keep fans of Cali P, both new and old, very happy. This album fits so perfectly into his catalogue and' when we are able to look back at some point' it should provide us with some type of very significant points in his catalogue. Of course there is 'Guiding Shield', but along with that is 'Dem Ago Burn Up' and 'Revolution' and 'Coconut Jelly Man' and 'Lyrical Faya' and 'Want No War'. And if you see the similarities (RIGHT NOW! THEY ARE CLEAR RIGHT NOW!), this is how I think of "Lyrical Faya" and "Unstoppable" and "Healing of The Nation": They were these projects which had their winners and their biggest moments surrounded by pieces which not only complimented them, but made them even stronger to some degree because you remember them as pairs (or at least that's how I remember them). "i Thoughts" may already be there for me and it will be damn exciting to see how it develops - almost as exciting as it has been to watch Cali P, himself, develop musically after all of these years - in stages. Well done.

Rated: 4.15/5
Hemp Higher Productions & Flash Hit Records

Review #536

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sara Lugo: Eruption

Not to bother you by telling you way too much of my ghoulish business, but as I've alluded to previously, I'm pretty much a bowl of some type of substance these days when it comes to my health and I definitely have to say thank you to all of the messages we've gotten over the past couple of years or so who have made a mention or some type of concern yeah. Even if we don't respond [LAZY!], it's still appreciated.

HOWEVER, someone who is well indirectly doing her part in keeping my spirits moving by continuously dropping amazing works, of course, is Achis Reggae favourite, Sara Lugo, who has dropped two new videos over the past month.

The first was for the tune 'Pour le Plaisir', alongside Phases Cachées, from out of France (which is apparently where Lugo lays her head these days).

I have to mention, hilariously, my Wife's wonderful first reaction when she saw the video for this tune which was something along the likes of, "when did she get THOSE", and I'll leave that to you to figure out what "those" are there. But the video is a very nice one which well matches the vibes of the song and really does what it's supposed to do, at least in my opinion, and makes the song stand out even greater. GREAT music on that tune and give it another listen.

Secondly and most recently (DUH!) is was the somewhat surprising clip of the MASSIVE 'Learn & Grow' which features Indonesian firebreather Ras Muhamad. The tune originally appeared on an album you already own, Muhamad's "Salam" and has lost not a bit of its shine over the course of the past couple of years. It ranks amongst the best either artist has ever produced to my ears.

Besides being another excellent video, I was just REALLY happy to see this tune be backed up with visuals. You go through albums (or at least I do) and think about how nice it would be if one or two of your favourites might get that type of rinsing but it doesn't always happen and, given the age of the song in particular, this was a big surprise (biggup Queen Omega for mining 'Ganja Baby', which is well over a decade old now).

So, if you're down on your luck or you're just not feeling too well, might I suggest adding a bit of Sara Lugo to your daily rotation. I'm  no doctor, but I've told you this for years: This woman makes music which JUST MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD! 

Both 'Pour le Plaisir' and 'Learn & Grow' can be found on Sara Lugo's latest release, the wonderful "Sara Lugo and Friends", which is in stores now... so go and get it.