Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Artist of The Month: Meet Malkijah!


Meet Malkijah! Where do I start with this one??? I have been listening to this woman's BEAUTIFUL music for over a year at this point. I first heard her name maybe two years ago now. She's worked alongside one of my favourite artists, with whom she also scored one of the biggest hits of her career and a bonafide Jamaican Dancehall star, with whom she's score THE biggest; and save for the fact that she was the first (of hopefully a few) Reggae artist that I ever heard of from out of a teeny tiny French island located off the coast of Afrika, in the Indian Ocean by the name of Le Réunion: I pretty much don't know a damn thing about her. That is, besides the fact that she's WICKED, of course.

Malkijah, much like the most famous of her male peers (who I'll mention in a second), is a hybrid artist of sorts, combining her undeniable skills in both the Dancehall and the Roots arena. Seemingly equally comfortable on both sets, the DYNAMIC chantress has a skill with the word which I can't help but compare to the SAVAGELY talented Lady Sweety (and if I could get that combination??? I could die a happy man).

SUPPOSEDLY, all of those skills are on full display on her debut album, Eruption, of course I wouldn't know however, because I've been searching for it for more than six months at this point and have yet to find it for sale or anyone who has (or a tracklist, or a label, or an official release date, or a producer (although I think I probably know who that is) and DEFINITELY not a digital release). And it currently bubbles near the top of my 'most wanted album' list. The album, whose cover is absolutely beautiful, is named after Malkijah's biggest hit to date, which she traveled all the way to Jamaica to record alongside Dancehall star Mr. Vegas. They also shot a nice video:

I also noticed that, WONDERFULLY, Malkijah happened to pop up on French label Metastone's Culture Weed Him Riddim album where she appeared alongside the likes of Jah Mason, Lutan Fyah, Omar Perry, Lukie D and TIWONY, with her outstanding effort, Suvivre.

And speaking of Tiwony, it was with the WICKED chanter from out of Gwada and Jamadom, a SCATHING and underrated artist, also from out of Guadeloupe, that she voiced another very popular tune, the MASSIVE 'System D', where Malkijah DEFINITELY held her own:

So! Keep an eye and an ear out for Malkijah (and if anyone has that damn album, you tell me where you got it!) (like seriously). We're really seeing the Females stand up and be accounted for and in the face of Queens like Etana, Queen Ifrica and Dezarie, you might forget to dig deeper and see artists like Malkijah. Unfortunately, you'll do that to your own detriment because this Princess from out Réunion? Wicked artist.

Friday, October 30, 2009

For Us & Us Alone: A Review of Fulfillment by Chuck Fenda

As Reggae music becomes more and more popular on all levels and moves closer to achieving my goal of ruling the entire world by 2030, we’re seeing a bit of a disappearing of the kind of ‘middle class’ of Reggae artist because each and every echelon of artist has seemingly seen an upgrade of sorts. You see it in the general perception of artists, of course, as names like (ESPECIALLY) Tarrus Riley run closer and closer to becoming this rather unusual type of household name where you’ll have someone living in Poland or. . . Nebraska or somewhere like such (biggup Poland and Nebraska), who know the names and know as much to associate the names with ‘Reggae’, but probably don’t know why. And you also see it in the releases (which is why we’re here today). In 2009, even apart from the fact that there was a Sean Paul album, it would be PRETTY difficult for me to make the case that the BIGGEST (in terms of profile) Reggae releases in 2009 (such as those which everyone know so well because I mention them every five minutes, from Buju Banton, Sizzla, Jah Cure, Riley and Queen Ifrica etc.) would, at least in some respect, seemingly have attained more and more attention from international ‘mainstream’ markets and more than that would in nearly every other calendar year in recent memory. So much so is this the fact that in my review of Riley’s 2009 album, Contagious, due to the artist’s ‘newness’ and his range of potential and already MASSIVE public appeal, I went as far as to label that album, from a significance point of view, the MOST IMPORTANT album of the year. Yet, because a great deal of HARDCORE Reggae fans are kind of ‘cliquish’ or ‘removed’, in the sense of wanting what is ‘ours’ to be ours (and if you are such a person, you have to be honest that when your non Reggae loving friends approached you singing some remote ass Jah Cure tune. . . You needed a moment, didn’t you), we’ve had to look elsewhere for our GOOD, but somewhat hidden music. Well, there’s been Lutan Fyah, who is well on his way to becoming a superstar (and by this time next year he may have already joined that previously mentioned group of artists), earlier there was Anthony B to an extent (BIG ALBUM, Rise Up), Lady G, Chezidek and definitely Ras Attitude, who brought forth arguably the best album of that bunch, in I Meditation. These are artists who have had albums in 2009 which you’re most likely ONLY going to know about if you’re REALLY a fan of Reggae music (and you can probably add Delly Ranx to the list also). They’re also artists who’ve attained quite a bit of fame amongst the heavy heads and the fact that they’re pushing these incredible releases are genuine BIG DEALS for deep Reggae loving fans all over the world. Well, now we have another to add to the list and in a HUGE way.

In trying to think of who else could have possibly released an album which would have elicited a similar response, I’m dealing with names like Turbulence, Jah Mason, Fantan Mojah and CHUCK FENDA. When I saw Chuck Fenda had an album coming what must have been around six weeks ago or so, I smiled a smile so wide that my face hurt. Apart from being WELL within that scope of artists who exhibit top flight skill, but are generally not lauded as much as some of his more famous peers, I mean. . . Chuck Fenda is just WICKED! He also had, a couple of years back, what has to be considered one of the most popular ‘underground-overground’ releases with the increasing MASSIVE The Living Fire album from Greensleeves. That album definitely turned (and continues to turn) quite a few heads and never mind the continued rise in stature the artist has enjoyed over the last couple of years (actually you could well go back around five years or so, back to the ‘I Swear’ days). Still, the New York born chanter remains arguably the most popular and definitely one of the most talented of a group of some of the most respected names in the game and, unlike even some of his more well known peers, his CONSISTENCY is always on point, having gotten to the point where virtually the name Chuck Fenda alone can guarantee the quality of a project. Also, Fenda is one of an even more select group of artists whose music definitely has quite a bit of IMPACT. You can trust that there won’t be much (if any at all) in the way of just ’fillers’ in his music because, even he seems as if (WONDERFULLY) he only makes a tune when he has something to say. Now, if all of that weren’t enough to grab my attention (and it certainly was), then the fact that Chuck Fenda’s new album, his third studio release to date, Fulfillment, was produced by the BEST ROOTS REGGAE PRODUCER IN THE WORLD, Kemar ‘Flava’ McGregor, certainly would have been the deciding factour for me. Fulfillment, in my opinion, comes in the absolute perfect time for the artist and does arrive via industry leader, VP Records, and becomes Fenda’s debut on the biggest level in Reggae (although Greensleeves wasn’t far from it) and, although, as I said, for the most part it is heavy Reggae fans who will ultimately support it, Fulfillment almost instantly becomes the highest profile release of Fenda’s career and when you REALLY start to dig into it, you see that he pulled out his ‘A Game’ for the occasion. McGregor’s style of production (if you aren’t familiar), is to make these VERY sprawling and beautifully vibed and crafted riddims and while you might not normally associate such a thing with Chuck Fenda, who would, at least ostensibly, given his style, benefit on a larger scale from having more of a discernible EDGE to his music, but that isn’t the case here. Fulfillment, by it’s end, ‘fulfills’ the talk I’ve given it and not only becomes an absolute must for Reggae fans in 2009, but proves to be one the deepest and downright BEST albums of the year.

The real sticking point, I found, on the album is generally what you will find with Chuck Fenda’s material: The IMPACT. The ‘Poor People’s Defenda’, as I said, seems to only make music when he has a point to make and on Fulfillment things are well in that fashion and for what he has to say, he is afforded some of the best riddims in the business within Kemar McGregor’s No Doubt Records’ catalogue. Such as on the opener for Chuck Fenda‘s new album Fulfillment, where Fenda takes No Doubt’s own brand new piece, The Ghetto Riddim, for a spin. Seemingly to make his allegiances CRYSTAL CLEAR (as if he needed to) (and he didn’t) Chuck Fenda declares ‘I Am For The Poor’ to get things going and does so in wondrous fashion. This tune has been growing on me (and quite a few others) steadily over the past few weeks, with my ears now been wide open to the message. It’s not the kind of clichéd and stereotypically vibed tune as you might expect (nothing over that riddim was if I recall correctly), but it’s a very poignantly written and simply NICE vibes to get things going. Fenda then reaches for the mighty 83 Riddim to back the next tune in, ‘Heights’. If I’m correct, the 83 marked the onset of the working relationship between McGregor and Fenda and it’s still sounding so nice as when it first reached. You’ll almost certainly have to spin this one several times before you get it’s genuine strength (it’s simultaneously over and under stated in its duration), but when you do, I’m sure you, like me, will recognize the BIG social commentary as one of Fulfillments best tunes altogether. Then is ‘Getting Serious’ from Simone Fletcher’s Nylon Riddim for Shane Brown’s Jukeboxx Productions. I’ve gone through it with this song! Originally I didn’t like it very much and, even now, I still wouldn’t necessarily say that I ‘LOVE’ it. However, this time in a year or so and I might as it has well grown considerably on my tastes throughout the nearly year since I first heard the tune (and it also features one of THE lines of the album, “Come face the judgment. Nowhere fi hide, run to di rock, di rock waan look somewhere fi hide!”).

Going down the tracklist for Fulfillment and DEFINITELY three tunes stick out on paper, the three combinations, all of which were pleasant surprises. The first being of which is both the biggest surprise and the most pleasant as Chuck Fenda takes on Sammy Dread’s seminal ’M-16’ and remakes it (Dread in tow) as ‘Bad Boy‘. By the slimmest of margins, the slow growingly MASSIVE Bad Boy is the greatest thing I hear on Fulfillment altogether and I was so pleased to see this combination in particular as I’ve always maintained that Fenda, in terms of approach, is an artist who would have fit well into any era and on Bad Boy he proves me near prophetic. HUGE tune. As much of a surprise as Bad Boy certainly was, ‘Thin Line’ is arguably just as much, as it features Chuck Fenda alongside (now) label mate I Wayne. The rather ‘elusive’ singer from out of Portmore would seemingly be on the verge of an album release of his own in 2010 and he’s been in fine form lately with the LOVELY Thin Line being a recent highlight and I’m well thinking about reconsidering my choice of Bad Boy as the album’s finest moment. The final combination on the album, ‘Tough Time’ features Bushman (!) alongside Fenda and is another well done moment. I’m always to happy to see Bushman on a project, pretty much ANYWHERE, but he doesn’t typically (for some reason) make for good combination tunes (unless your name is I-Lue, of course), but Tough Time is ANOTHER big tune here as the two make the vibes very nice together speaking of how the masses are to hang tough when things aren’t exactly going well. Although, being quite the fan of McGregor’s, I’m very familiar with a few tunes (including the aforementioned opening lot), but besides the combinations on Fulfillment, there were a few very nice surprises. The very VAST tune ‘The Devil Is A Liar’ is probably the biggest of that bunch. You can take this tune in so many ways, both the abstract and the tangible, but the way I ended up resolving it is to simply take away the NEGATIVE (‘Devil’) and lean towards the positive, whatever that may mean to you personally, it’s still a very lovely vibes. The tune ‘Cold For The Money’ is one which definitely had me kind of vexed when I first heard it (and when you first hear it, you’ll know why), but Fenda wastes no time in delivering one of the most powerful messages on Fulfillment altogether. The tune speaks about generally eschewing the more material and vain aspects of life (like money) when you have far more important things to focus on. Again, the tune for me, is very vast and I could dive in on that one and work almost endlessly, so I well love the ideology behind it on that level as well. The final stretch of tunes on Fulfillment (actually from #10 all the way through to the end) feature predominately new tunes (at least to me) and of pretty much very nice quality. The acoustic number ‘I Want To Be Free’ somewhat caught me off guard as, simply based on the title, I wasn’t expecting very much at all. I’m still not completely ‘sold’ on the tune still, however, it’s definitely something not to be missed and I would imagine that after a few more spins I may just hold it in even higher esteem. ‘Why Should I’ was another welcome surprise (even though this one sounds VERY familiar), as it seems to play to another of Chuck Fenda’s less talked about talents, the straight forward chanting style. You’ll hear him called a variety of things (including “chanter”), in terms of his style, but I think he has a perceptible dimension of a PURE chanter (think of a Fantan Mojah type of vibes) and on Why Should I, Fenda absolutely FLIES on the downright sparkling tunes for His Majesty. In terms of giving thanks (and just generally speaking as well), Why Should I is topped on the Nyah drum backed closer ‘Our Father’ (and when that acoustic piece came through earlier, I Want To Be Free, you knew the ending would be a Nyah tune). Our Father is SPECTACULAR (literally) and gives any tune on Fulfillment a run as the finest on the album (and you could definitely make that case). Regardless of its standing here, however, the tune, another chanting vibes, is one MIGHTY Rastafari affirmation and you’d have quite the task in choosing a more appropriate closer for the album in my opinion. Fenda wraps the tune from a lyrical degree, in my opinion, early on when he unforgettably says on the very first verse, “My people be strong. Don’t do wrong. The journey is long. RASTAFARI HAVE THIS BATTLE WON!” Indeed He does and He also engineers the completion of this wonderful album.

I probably should also mention tunes like ‘Survivor’ (one of the album’s best), from the Rocksteady Riddim, ‘Herbalist Farmer’ from the Drop It (which actually appeared on his live album earlier this year also) and the LOVELY ‘Oh Lord Forgive Them’ from the Sweet Riddim. All of these tunes are very well done and heavy Reggae heads will recognize them almost immediately as singles and from No Doubt’s riddim albums.

Overall, I DEFINITELY still stand by what was essentially the foundation of this review: That a very strong case is to be made for the thought that Chuck Fenda’s Fulfillment album is one of the most important releases of the year, especially for hardcore Reggae fans. I can’t imagine that there will be some great surge or even a mock surge toward mainstream (probably EVER) with the album or with Fenda’s music in general. This one is almost SPECIFICALLY for Reggae fan and for us, it has to be considered one of the best of its kind. The one even remotely solid critique here, that there are too many familiar tunes on the album, is eliminated in my opinion, particularly on the album’s second half. I’m not proclaiming Fulfillment the best album of 2009, because it just isn’t, but what it is, is everything we hoped it would be. Fulfillment is TOP NOTCH modern Roots Reggae from one its greatest current champions and one who, in all honesty (and humility) makes the music for those of us with the ‘ability’ to love it. And if you’re a bit more established fan of the music and especially Chuck Fenda’s music, then you’ll do just that with Fulfillment: Just like I did.

Rated 4.50/5
VP Records

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Words of The Week: All I Can See by Jah Mason

All I Can See Is Love

Yeah man!
One universal oneness you know
Yeah man
Red, Gold and Green flow
You know
Yeah man is cherished life you know
You know why?

I’m sitting here looking at the trees
I’m looking at the birds and the bees
All I can see, Jah Jah Mason see is love, is love, is love!
I’m sitting here looking at the trees
I’m staring at the birds and the bees
All I can see, can see is love!

Where is the love that is so genuine? Genuine
Well some of dem, dem lost di love from inna di beginning
And nuff a dem round ya weh dem act all so feminine
Now tell mi what kinda world are they living in?
Longtime mi alla tell dem fi start di listening
Dem can’t find, dem can’t join, di love is missening
Some hype style, dem lifestyle it is threatening
Rastafari! Yow! Then again! Show dem yow!

I’m sitting here looking at the trees
I’m looking at the birds and the bees
All I can see, can see is love!
I’m sitting here looking at the trees
Staring at the birds and the bees
All I can see, can see is love!

Then if the birds and the bees show love well mi say why cant we do it?
Some a bend up dem face, twist up dem face, nah stop from screw it
Rough time. Hard time!
Jah Jah Mason him go through it
Dutty life. Nasty life
Rastaman still a BOO it
Di dragon a rise up, eagle a rise up.
Ready fi go slew it
Corruption and sin
Yow mi wonda how dem do it
It’s all about righteousness so you fi pree it
Yow Tek a look and just see it
Yow again!

I’m sitting here looking at the trees
I’m looking at the birds and the bees
All I can see, can see is love!
I’m sitting here looking at the trees
Staring at the birds and the bees
All I can see, can see is love!

Just teach yourself fi love, then teach it to others
Likewise the Fathers
Likewise the Mothers
Likewise the sisters
Likewise the brothers
Oh wait!
Yu nah waan Rasta climb up the ladders
Yow. Mi still a show dem love
Cah mi say to dem one another,
Keep the joy. Reach the joy
Yow, no get sadda
Yow. Rastafari love!
We keep it up deh, up deh, up deh!
Could not send no badda
Again yow

I’m sitting here looking at the trees
And I’m staring at the birds and the bees
All Mikes you see, yow then is love.
Is love. Is love. Is love!
And I’m sitting here looking at the trees
I’m looking at the birds and the bees
All I can see, can see is love!
I’m sitting here looking at the trees
And I’m staring at the birds and the bees
All I can see, can see is love!

Where is the love that is so genuine? Genuine
Some lost di love dem have inna di beginning. Beginning
And nuff a dem round ya all a move all so feminine
So tell mi what kinda world are you living in
Longtime mi tell dem and mi show dem
Dem nah listening
Dem can’t find, dem can’t show, di love is missening
Some hype style, dem lifestyle it is threatening
Well Rastafari come wid di version!
Yow again!

Sitting here looking at the trees
And I’m staring at the birds and the bees
All I can see, can see is love!
I’m sitting here looking at the trees
And I’m staring at the birds and the bees
All I can see, can see is love. . .

Taken from Jah Mason's album Unlimited

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Unity Is Strength: A Review of Reggae Resistance - Supreme Riddim

Just like any music fan, I’m sure, if I could build an even remotely ‘tangible’ bridge tying together my various favourite genres and subgenres of music, I would be one happy individual. Don’t you, right now, have in your mind some pair of artists who may be related musically or may be absolutely nothing like one another who you would so absolutely LOVE to see do a combination together and the very fact that they aren’t is kind of bothering you? I know I do (biggup Baby Cham & Assassin and about a dozen or so others) and the more and more I listen and find new and newer artists, that list most assuredly continues to grow. Also growing, thankfully, are the amount of times, seemingly without ‘warning’, these type of combinations and I think that the nature of Caribbean music, as an aggregate, lends itself to these type of situations, unlike other forms of music which may actually entail bringing almost completely different ‘worlds’ together and having a set of conditions and circumstances where such a thing may occur (almost by ‘luck’ in that respect). When your music is simply one brand of vibes playing in a very specific region and a next artist’s music is playing and doing damage, one would think that the unity is only a natural thing and thankfully, as I said, things are beginning to look like such. Last year, there was a very strong release by the name of Coming Of The King from a wonderful new artist by the name of King Cephas. Besides the fact that the album was OUTSTANDING, it also marked a very small but nice occurrence as Cephas, a Jamaican artist, linked with the venerable Tuff Lion, a producer/musician/artist from out of St. Croix and the piece definitely managed to bring together Jamaican Reggae (which we typically just call ‘Reggae’) with that well identified Virgin Island Reggae sound and the results, as I said, were very good. Similarly (and VERY fitting in this case), also last year was a decent release from a label by the name of Rasta Pasta Rekords (I didn’t make that up), the A Bitta World Riddim which brought together some of Trinidad’s finest artists like Khari Kill and Jah Bami, with Jamaican standouts Lutan Fyah and Chezidek. And while the results on that one were a bit uneven, in my opinion, there were definitely some big tunes (the biggest being Lutan Fyah’s ‘Lonesome Fyah’) and I believe the riddim did quite a bit of damage in running its course. And, of course, I don’t need to bring up the countless go-betweens within Soca and Reggae, which is one of a very few ‘cross-genre’ type of situations where bonafide superstars collaborate with each other on a REGULAR basis.

Another fine example of this occurred just earlier this year also, when Tiwony, a STAR Reggae/Dancehall artist from out of Guadeloupe, linked with Ras Zacharri, from out of Jamaica, on the BIG tune, ‘Pagan Eyes’. The combination (which you can find on Tiwony’s most recent album Viv La Vi), was simply one of the most recent examples in an increasingly long line of projects featuring Jamaican artists comprehensively alongside their French Caribbean and French counterparts. Last year was the VERY big tune Hustla from young Gwada superstar Krys, which featured BOTH Dancehall stars Vybz Kartel and Aidonia as well and that was (as you might imagine) a VERY big deal. Well, wonderfully, we’ve now located something to well keep the vibes going as the label Blasta Records now puts itself within the same framework with their HUGE Reggae Resistance: Supreme Riddim project. I didn’t rightly know how all of this came about and up until a little while ago (when I learned that this piece was forthcoming) I thought that I had never heard of Blasta Records and I also don’t know (however I do suspect as much) whether or not ‘Reggae Resistance’ is a running series from the Martinique based label. I was wrong on one case, however. As is often the case with some of the smaller Caribbean labels (although apparently Blasta is quite the big deal) I had heard of them as the label was the author of one of my favourite French releases from the last year or so, Stone J’s Sensations La Vi and in doing my research for this review, I also discovered that I had heard a few of their other works as well, without actually making the connection. Regardless of their past and my past interaction with Blasta Records, BIG RESPECT is in order for now bringing the Supreme Riddim, which has quietly become one of my more anticipated releases of the second half of 2009 and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Sticking on the topic of blending the two subgenres, Blasta has amassed a RIDICULOUS group of artists to voice the riddim! Artists who would otherwise not be given the opportunity to voice the same riddims and thus, almost be closed (especially in terms of the French artists) off to a fan base who has already proven to like the style of music they make, which is incredibly unfortunate. And even if you are an English speaking fan who doesn’t want to go through having to learn another language (or two), you’ll still be able to appreciate the passion some of these artists push into their music, as well as their CRAFT and SKILL on a whole. Back to the artists, although the aforementioned Tiwony is nowhere to be found (and neither is the seemingly ever-elusive Lady Sweety), Blasta has captured a GREAT DEAL of my favourite names in French Caribbean Reggae still. The artists here (even some of the ones with whom I’m not so familiar with) have shown themselves to be of a certain skill level and I swear my eyes must’ve lit up when I first saw who had voiced the Supreme. AND the Jamaican artists? Two of them are literally of the jaw dropping variety that they are here (especially on in particular) and the other three, although somewhat ‘expectable’ (in terms of their prolificacy), they’re all much respected names and one of them is DEFINITELY one of my favourites, and they all do BIG work also. The results rather easily go to compile one of the best riddim albums of 2009, without question.

As for the Supreme Riddim itself: While it changes (mostly in terms of its intensity) the riddim is a predominately JOVIAL type of vibes to my ears. It is also LOVELY, which definitely helps in almost any direction in which it may go, and serves as a more than solid backdrop to this very skilled vocalist. Perhaps not the most skilled (but perhaps so), but DEFINITELY the most accomplished of the artists voicing Blasta Records’ Reggae Resistance: Supreme Riddim is up first as none other than the INCOMPARABLE Max Romeo (of all people), brings forth the opener and one of the most impressive tunes on the album altogether, ‘Players In My Life’. There’s a strong horn section on this tune which isn’t exactly present on every tune on the album, but it’s absolutely BREATHTAKING (yes, I just said that). Still, the strongest portion of the tune is, of course, Romeo himself. I was kind of confused by the tune’s title, but it isn’t musically related and instead deals with people who aren’t of a serious character and Romeo’s desire to keep such a person out of his life (essentially saying ‘I have enough of my own damn problems anyway’). Big tune. Holding the unenviable task of following up Max Romeo is one of the artists on the Supreme riddim of whom I’ve never heard, Lord Pol, with his interesting ‘Vivre Est Un Combat’ [‘Life Is A Struggle’]. This tune is pretty well done, although I do hear a bit of room for improvement within Lord Pol’s vibes, but this is exactly what I mean when I say you have artists who may have otherwise been “closed off” to a fan base. I do like this tune and who knows when or even if I would have heard Pol’s music had he not appeared here (and then been able to DIRECTLY associate his name with the tune). No such worries with the next tune (at least not on my end, maybe on yours), as one of my favourites, Straïka [D], comes through with the BIG Faut Que ça Aille. The veteran singer/chanter from out of Martinique is seemingly always at his best (when I’m paying attention) and his effort here is well one of the best altogether on the riddim.

Speaking of “the best altogether on the riddim”, unsurprisingly, my allegiances in regard to that title (in its absolute form) lie with the MASSIVE inspirational tune, ‘Our World’. This three dimensional piece is just the typical BRILLIANCE we’ve come to expect from LUTAN FYAH these days. On one hand, he speaks of generally giving thanks for what we have, but he also ‘goes green’ in effect, by dealing with the environment and reminding all that HIS will is tied into the health of HIS world. By its end Our World just leaves you shaking your head, speechlessly impressed. Joining Fyah on the Supreme Riddim, of his Jamaican peers, is definitely an interesting group. After Max Romeo is Max Romeo’s artist Jallanzo who brings in ‘Faya Affi Burn’, a LARGE effort from his well received recently released debut album, Reggae Rockin Tonight. Also on board is Konshens, who seems to be popping up everywhere these days. Here, his HUGE inspirational vibes on ‘One Foot’ rise to the class of the Supreme Riddim (sounding like the late Eloquent with that flow) as definitely one of its finest outings. And lastly, closing the album out is Turbulence who delivers ’Mama’, one of the best tunes from the artist I’ve hear in awhile (Mama just happens to be one of his best topics, also check the WICKED ’Mama Is Here’ from the Rising album). The tune is LOVELY and finds Turbulence offering one of THE lines of the album when he says, “Mi sorry, but a one question mi need fi ask you: How yu tek di hungry belly pickney dem around you? Di amount of tears wi cry, yow mi tink it woulda drown you”. Big tune by its end. Amongst the Frenchies? Well, if you read me with any type of consistency, you’ll see this tracklist, for me, as absolute GOLD. Still, despite some of the bigger names, the most interesting for me is young veteran from out of Martinique, Little Sista, whose ADDICTIVE ‘Fire Babylone’ is easily amongst the best material I hear on the riddim DEFINITELY(good luck getting through that one without singing along with it!) (it ain’t happening!). Also don’t be too quick to skip over Pablo U-Wa’s very nice Afrikan affirming ‘Je Chante Pour Elle’, which is BEAUTIFUL and gets the horns back up and blaring (yet another big artist from out of the Ivory Coast). And then the big guns roll in, five tunes in succession. First up is the aforementioned Stone J (who may actually be a Blasta official artist (as might Straïka for whom they released his most recent single, the very interesting ‘Machines, Robots’) who nearly DESTROYS the Supreme riddim with his BUBBLING tune for the strong women of the world, ‘Lioness’ and hopefully the tune might appear on a forthcoming Stone J release from Blasta which I’m looking forward to now. Even Saël is on board with a nice tune which missed his recent album Témoignage (which is a typically SPARKLING effort from the Martinique chanter), as is the increasingly big deal that is Mighty Ki La. His effort, ‘Elle’ (see all the boys slowing things down and singing tunes for the ladies here) finds a VERY WELCOME laid back version of the generally fire breathing DJ and maybe we can see such a version of the artist more and more in the future (never abandoning that firebrand, however). Recent find of mine, Supa Lee [aka Blenda] is already back and popping up on the Supreme riddim following his wicked album Operationnel. There's also the well underrated sweet singing Valley who closes things out (for the French artists) with the very nice 'Folie Que Tu As'.

And yes, UNFORTUNATELY, Blasta forgot to give the clean version of the riddim which would have been almost certainly SPECTACULAR in the case of the Supreme. . .

Overall, this one has WINNER written all over it. Even the tune or two I didn’t mention (such as ‘Don’t Look Back’ by Djool (whoever the hell she is)) are very good and I just like the general production and the HIGH QUALITY of the vibes coming from this one. Back to the ‘mixing’ concept of the review: I also really like the quality of the artists. How in the world you get Max Romeo just to voice your riddim all of a sudden is HEAVY and you just know that he must’ve heard this riddim and just been so impressed that he had to go on the project (either that or Blasta gave him a stake in the company). And then to follow him with a very high level of artists on today’s scene and then do the same with the French artists, I mean I’m REALLY impressed. I’m stuck with this one, trying to wrack my brain to find something which CLEARLY trumps the Supreme and I just can’t do it. Therefore, I say with a small a bit of hesitation (but I’m saying it still), that when you decide to pick up Reggae Resistance: Supreme Riddim, with it you may just be picking up the finest riddim album I’ve heard in 2009 altogether.

Rated 4.5/5
Blasta Records

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Check It Vol. 1

Yes. It's yet another new feature. Check It is something I'll do maybe once or twice a month and it'll feature music that I just happen to be listening to at a certain time and enjoying to some degree. The material will most likely be somewhat timely, but not always, if it's something that's old but I just got it, it's fair game. Also, the albums you see here, MOST LIKELY, I won't be reviewing them in the future, but again, I'm sure there'll be some exceptions to that rule (like maybe the first album I'm about to tell you of) (and maybe the second) (and maybe the third and the fourth also).

Roots Rocking Reggae Vol. 1 [Tad's Records/Al.Ta.Fa.An/Zojak Worldwide]

Perhaps due to the cover (which is awesome) being loaded with quite a few familiar faces (especially the three in the center) or the terribly clichéd title, you’ve gone on and overlooked Roots Rocking Reggae Vol. 1, but if you have, trust that you’ve done yourself quite the disservice. This album is EASILY one of the best compilations of any type that I’ve heard in 2009 and it even tops some of the far more well known similarly vibed pieces (not to name any names). RRRV1 taps into the SOLID and woefully underused vault of tunes from Al.Ta.Fa.An, one of my favourite labels today and pulls from it fifteen tunes ranging from GOOD to EXCELLENT. It does feature not only the well known and well spun Sizzla, Luciano, Junior Kelly and Jah Masons of the world, but also The Mighty Diamonds, VAUGHN BENJAMIN, PINCHERS, ZIGGI, TAFFARI and Smiley (WHAT!). And yes: I know you were thinking it, Lutan Fyah is on board as well. The album is a big deal in my opinion and it also has a volume two, which is less impressive to me, but if you didn’t run through those Minor 7, Flat 5 releases a few years back, you’ll probably be just as impressed by it as well.

Best Tune: ‘Create Our History’ by Luciano & Bob Andy

Bigga Haitian - Sak Pasé [Walkup Records]

(And you’ll forgive me for the details on this one because I’ve had the album less than a day as of this writing) Bigga Haitian, for me, is in the company of a very unusual group of artists which includes the like of Midnite, Maxi Priest and maybe even someone like Eddy Grant in a sense where, I couldn’t accurately tell you where or even when I started listening to them or first heard their names, but they’re foreign artists who just seem to have ALWAYS been around for some reason and whenever they bring something new, I’m always ready to listen. In the case of Bigga Haitian, things are definitely no different and I was well interested in vibing his new project, Sak Pasé from Walkup Records. Checking in at just eight tunes (one of which is a remix and another of which I’m SURE is an old song, due to the fact that AS SOON as it began playing, I began singing along word for word, almost immediately), Sak Pasé is probably better described as a FAT EP, rather than a full blown album. But whatever the hell you want to call it, trust that every tune you’ll find here is very well done and on a tune by the name of ‘Load The Chalice’ (featuring a whole heap of individuals I’ve NEVER heard of), the man taps a version of ‘K’em Pa Sote‘! Nuff said! It’s Bigga Haitian, one of the all but forgotten MASTERS of Reggae these days (and you look at that man's face! Doesn't look like the type of gentleman you would want to disappoint).

Best Tune: ‘Haiti A Weh Mi From’ (Can’t tell you where I know it from (fittingly) at all, but it’s old school Dancehall magic)

Blue Riddim [Greatest Friends Records]

My old readers, from longtime, IMMEDIATELY can see why this one might interest me. I HAVE NO IDEA who Mota Favela, Shorty or Terry Bible are. None at all. And although I do know of both Roger B and [Burning] Spectacular, I definitely wouldn’t call myself a fan of either (although Spectacular does a good job here). However, I definitely am a fan EVERY SINGLE OTHER artist on Frenchie label Greatest Friends Records’ very well done Blue Riddim. And not only am I fan of theirs, but with the exception of Chezidek (who I run into, musically speaking, on an almost daily basis) they’re the type of artists who aren’t necessarily in the swing of things so much, so I’m generally ALWAYS happy to see them. QUEEN OMEGA, Mark Wonder, Natty King, PRINCE THEO, RAS MAC BEAN and ZAREB! I mean really? The tracklist almost looks like I (ME!) came up with it and when I saw the cover, I knew what I was dealing with. Thankfully, the Blue riddim itself is VERY NICE. It’s kind of a funky sounding, old school riddim with a lovely guitar added and it proves quite addictive actually. You just can’t take a lineup like the one which appears here and just fade away into the background, it simply isn’t possible (especially when I’m around). BIG release.

Best Tune: 'Dancehall Nice' by Natty King

BadMan Riddim [House Of Hits/Zojak Worldwide]

As if we didn’t settle things on the Saint Jago Dela Vega and the Sweetness, House Of Hits, which is quickly becoming one of my favourite labels going today has also brought forth the Badman Riddim album (via the same lovely people at Zojak Worldwide) (and there’s also the lover’s riddim album for the Your Love Riddim) (they don’t quit). The Badman riddim is SOLID in every sense of the word. It may not be as sensational as the Saint Jago and it may not be as GOOD as the Sweetness (which I still find myself listening to quite often), but this one is just all around well done. The Badman features HoH’s typical cache of top notch artists as well such as Lutan Fyah, Chrisinti, Koolant, Ras Charmer and label mainstays [Lady] Stream and Emmanuel Strain (curiously absent AGAIN is Marley Campbell) and also on board is Sizzla (again), Jah Mason, Junior Kelly and a very impressive Atara Rhu. Keeping things mighty nice and mighty impressive AGAIN, from a label you obviously can’t afford to ignore these days.

Best Tune: 'Still Be Around' by Chrisinti

Pliers - Sex & Religion [Bonner Productions/Zojak Worldwide]

Despite the HUGE successes had by Richie Spice in the last half decade or so and the fact that Spanner Banner returned to the scene in a large way in 2009 (and biggup Snatcha Dawg, or whatever he‘s calling himself these days), I still hold absolutely no reservations and offer no conditions to the fact that Pliers remains the most well known of the famed Bonner bros. As part of the greatest and most popular one-two punch in Reggae history, Pliers at this point, is pretty unarguably one of a very few BONAFIDE INTERNATIONAL REGGAE SUPERSTARS. Therefore, whenever he’s working on something, it should be a big deal, which is why I mention to you now, Sex & Religion. Yes. I know you’re thinking about that title. You may be, like I was originally, thinking that it was something outside of a Reggae album and while it certainly does have vibes mixed in from other genres, for the most part Sex & Religion is a Reggae/Dancehall album. The album really gets going after a slow start and WONDERFULLY, joining Pliers are a few of his ‘friends’ including brother Spice, Bascom X (of all people) and one very famous sparring partner.

Best Tune: ‘Love Can Make It Happen’ featuring Richie Spice

Get Over Riddim [B-Sharp Riddim/Zojak Worldwide]

I don’t rightly know who B-Sharp Productions are and I don’t even know why this at least several months old riddim stands out for me, but it sure does! Oh. Well maybe it has something to do with Capleton, or Determine (in good form), or Chuck Fendah, or Everton Blender, or Half Pint, or PINCHERS, or Lutan Fyah, or Turbulence (in good form), or maybe even it’s Mark Wonder? Who in the hell knows, but a riddim with such a all-star roster of acts playing on the piece is definitely likely to get attentions from me, in one way or another (to the point where, even if it were horrible, I would have STILL told you that was the case). The actual Get Over, is also very nice and it plays so easily beneath most of the artists here (predictably), which so much helps to push this one to the forefront. The beautiful thing about this one: I’m not going to sugarcoat it and saying that the Get Over is AMAZING and every tune is so nice, but get at it digitally! Again, the beautiful people at Zojak have made it available and there are at least seven tunes here which are so nice, so load it up and pick it out.

Best Tune: 'Babylon Go Down' by Capleton

Elephant Wise - The Reasoning [DasVibes/Lava Camp/Zojak Worldwide]

My favourite DasVibians are at it again. Following the very nice surprise that was Raz Bin Sam’s Own This Life, the always on-point label from all over the globe once again taps the land down under and from it, they draw on Elephant Wise. Bin Sam was an Israeli born artist who had moved to Australia and apparently Elephant Wise is another transplant, this time from KENYA (of all places), proving that the global magnet which is Reggae music can truly draw a human being to ANYWHERE in the world. As if we needed another relevant ‘Elephant’ (did you see what I did there???) in Reggae music today, Wise’s debut album is an extremely varied piece, which finds him going from style to style often in the balance of its fourteen tracks. I heard a few familiar things (including what I’m 99.9% sure is the King’s Highway Riddim), but the best thing I hear is what a work in progress. Elephant Wise still has a ways to go in terms of tangibly developing his skills (as does almost every artist in the world) (and every writer as well) (yours truly included), but CLEARLY there is a skill level there, so should you latch on right now, as long as he stays in the business, you won’t be waiting for NOTHING because The Reasoning shows him to be one of the better young talents outside of the Caribbean already.

Best Tune: 'Belly A Di Beast'

Shurwayne Winchester - Shurwayne Winchester & YOU

And lastly is by far the most talked about and never done review here at Achis’ Reggae (I feel kind of weird typing my own name, you know) is Shurwayne Winchester & You. I have good reason! After careful deliberation, I actually loaned the disc away and it seemingly never returned, however, re-listening to some of the tunes on the album, although 2009 certainly wasn’t the strongest of seasons for the man from Tobago, it may not have been as bad as I made it out to be. Strangely enough, however, what was the man’s greatest shot of the year, ‘Wicked’ is strangely absent from the album. Seeking to try and help make up for that are guesting spots from Maxi Priest and Serani (who sounds AWFUL) on two different tracks (and if I recall correctly, the version of Rough Wine actually on the album is the one sans Ce’Cile). And it’s SHURWAYNE WINCHESTER so while the album, in my opinion, failed to reach the lovely heights set by 2008’s STRONG Renaissance album, you can well expect to be entertained thoroughly here.

Best Tune: ‘I Wanna Make Love’