Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Under Pressure: A Review of Coming Back For You by Pressure

So! You’re in the big leagues now my friend. You’re a young and up and coming Reggae artist who has recently gotten a very large amount of attention due for a very special song. This song was so HUGE, on so many levels, that not only did it earn you accolades the world over, but in the process, it also ‘shattered’ what was somewhat of an unspoken ‘barrier’ between your world and the ‘traditional’ one. This song took you all over the globe in a very short amount of time and it, essentially, made your incredibly easy to remember name a household one within the Reggae community and it’s also earned you a level of attention and scrutiny which you simply were not open to previously. What in the world do you possibly do for an encore? Well, perhaps you take advantage of all this newfound popularity and attention as certainly the finest in Reggae production worldwide would be lining up to throw their biggest riddims in your direction. Perhaps you take a notice of the fact that THE producer who helped to steer in that “HUGE” song (and subsequently an album’s worth of far more than ‘adequate’ follow-ups), one of the greatest producers to ever walk the earth, remains well within your musical reach. Again: What do you do? In trying to think of someone who might have the answer to such a question, as of late, simply because that is my style, I just can’t come up with another name who would have to face ALL of those bulleted points, that is, of course, besides WICKED Virgin Islands chanter Pressure Busspipe. Now there’re definitely dozens upon dozens (if not more) Reggae ‘one hit wonders’ who could kind of tell you the answer (incorrectly) to part of that fairly ridiculous scenario in which Pressure now ostensibly finds himself in. But again, not only would their answer be completely wrong, it would also be an answer not COMPLETELY within the terms as Pressure virtually became a crossover artist of sorts when he helped destroy a rather frustrating “barrier” between Reggae from the Virgin Islands (“your world” and Reggae from Jamaica (“traditional”) by linking with super producer Don Corleon for the “HUGE” tune ‘Love & Affection’ and the album which it would go on to title. Pressure is SERIOUSLY in one strange position in his career, although, from my own opinion, it’s probably a position he relishes, now that ‘all eyes’ are going to be focused on his career in a way in which they weren’t before. When Love & Affection was at it’s highest peak, he definitely had the spotlight of the Reggae listening world on him, but at least in my opinion (as a fan looooooooong before a critic), when you give me something irresistible and HOT to listen to, I’m probably not going to ‘gaze’ as hard on what else you give me along with it as I probably will after said irresistible vibes cool a bit. Now, with the chill having taken place (that tune is still MASSIVE though), fans are definitely eager to see what else (and where else) Pressure can come up with.

So what do you do? You go home. Before the days of Love & Affection there were the days of The Pressure Is On, before the days of Don Corleon, were the days of Dean Pond and Eno Staford and before Vendetta Studio, there was Studio 340. The artist whom Pressure had established himself as, coming from out of St. Thomas, although nowhere near as popular as he is these days, was already talented enough to bring was is probably the greatest Reggae debut album of the past two decades or so, the aforementioned The Pressure Is On album. Not only that, but in ‘going back’ to the days of (not quite) old, Pressure links with the production crew who brought all of that out of him and, ultimately helped to develop that skillset to the point where it would attract the attention of someone like Don Corleon and the masses worldwide eventually. And BRILLIANTLY it is to that same group of producers and settings that Pressure returns to bring forth his new project, Coming Back For You. It should be noted, however, that he never really left and has existed as an artist these last couple of years or so working extensively with both Don Corleon and Studio 340. That’s changed, to a degree, as Studio 340 (while still an active entity), isn’t technically behind the new album, instead it goes to serve as both a return for Pressure and a launch for Dean Pond’s brand new label Rymshot Productions (distributed digitally by the ‘what would I do without you‘, Zojak Worldwide). That, in and of itself, is quite the big deal as, if Pond’s history is any indication (and it is) with having helped launch and develop SO MANY strong artists from out of the VI Reggae scene, you might expect to see a continuation of that at his new home as well and, as I mentioned, Studio 340 is still on board also to a degree. I’m certain that Pon couldn’t have chosen a ‘better’ and certainly no more fitting project to premier the label worldwide as despite what NUMBERS may tell you, TRULY his style of production is one which is absolutely PERFECT and the best possible fit for Pressure Busspipe. Go back and find that very first album, The Pressure Is On and within just that frame you can almost feel that level of chemistry in their vibes together. It is in that regard that Coming Back For You is successful in grabbing my attention, even if we were to ignore the subsequent time in between the debut album and this releasing. When you look at things like that, it becomes even MORE crucial to make a winner out of this album as not only is it following a definitive measure of crossover success and an IMMENSELY larger fan base, the union which brings it about is one which, to the hardest of hardcore fans, is one which is proven to be downright LETHAL. Thankfully, the magic clearly remains as Coming Back For You is one SWEET SWEET album. So impressive is it, in fact, that if you only know Pressure from Love & Affection, if you know the total package or if you STILL have no idea who he is, you’re almost certain to LOVE this one.

Could you have picked a more fitting title? While the album’s title may initially pale in comparison to the likes of more elaborately named pieces from 2009 like Rasta Got Soul or Ghetto Youth-Ology, given the set of circumstances surrounding this release; with the artist coming back to the fans and coming back to his roots, this one may just be the most APPROPRIATELY titled album of 2009 altogether (and not to mention there is a WONDERFUL title track as well). The opening act for the aptly headlined Coming Back For You, the new and third studio album from Pressure Busspipe from out of St. Thomas, is the first of only three very familiar (and one kind of familiar) tunes on the album, the MAGNIFICENT ’Pure Life’. This one was one of the tunes with which Pressure and Dean Pond kept things hot after the Love & Affection days began and “hot” doesn’t even begin to tell the story in my opinion. Pure Love is EPIC! While it goes in a few different directions lyrically (more on that in a later), the prevailing message I take from is one of urging perseverance and determination in life and actually SEEKING to have and show these qualities within the comfort of His Imperial Majesty. BEAUTIFUL! And the music here is so sweet you almost wish that they attached a clean version of it at the end! HUGE opening. ’Burdened’ with keeping those vibes high is ’Sacrifice’, but the burden seems a vanquished one as Sacrifice doesn’t falter AT ALL. Again, musically speaking and lyrically as well, Sacrifice is top notch and it boasts of having what is probably the single biggest chorus on the entire album, interspersed with verses which are nearly as impressive. And lastly in the opening lot is theoretically the main attraction, the title track of Coming Back For You. You’re going to think the same thing I did when you first hear it: This is OBVIOUSLY an attempt at recapturing the magic that was present and active on Love & Affection. Ultimately, however, perhaps you’ll come to the same conclusion that I did: WHO CARES! Coming Back For You is absolutely brilliant lovers material and, in my opinion, it underlines the fact that certainly Love & Affection was no ‘fluke’ and Pressure has actually developed and crafted his game when it comes to love songs to be that DESTRUCTIVE. The wonderfully vibed tune caps a downright stellar beginning.

Pressure goes on to reaffirm his mastery of the love song a few other times on Coming Back For You as well (although, in my opinion, the title track is the finest such vibed tune). Check the rather Hip-Hoppish sounding ‘Together As One’. It took a few spins for this one to really begin to grow on me and while I still won’t call it one of my favourites, I do enjoy it on a level and, as usual, I appreciate the changeup of the vibes and the ‘risk taking’ as well (and that tune will have your head bobbing in no time). There’s also the R&B vibed ‘Hurt No More’ which didn’t have to grow on me at all, by comparison, and definitely IS one of my favourites here (and the one drop on that tune is BRUTAL!) and I think I‘ve heard this one before as well. And lastly is the somewhat old school Dancehall vibed ‘Baby Girl [Where Have Your Loving Gone]’ which features the unknown to me singer Maurice. This one has a bit more BITE to it than the others and, after the title track is full on my second favourite love song on Coming Back For You definitely (and I imagine we‘ll be hearing more from Maurice in the future). So those seeking Love & Affection Redux will certainly be satisfied (and thankfully Dean Pond and co. didn’t decide to include any crazy remixes or remakes of that tune). Still for me personally, however, it is a love song of a different type which reigns supreme on Coming Back For More: Love of The Almighty. THEE standout on an album chockfull of them comes in at track seven when the MASSIVE ‘Jah Alone’ rolls through. This one is a previous single which I recall playing for quite awhile, but I’ve loved it from the very first spin through. It comes through on Rootical’s Cruising Altitude riddim and it is just. . . Shattering! It’s inspiration on a completely different level and, seriously if you don’t love this song, then go and start listening to chamber music and ONLY chamber music! The tune which follows Jah Alone, the also familiar ‘Everything Will Be Fine’ is just lovely. I may have preferred to see this one as the closer even (and you already know what the closer is anyway), but it doesn’t matter, I’ve also loved this one from the very first time I heard it and it hasn’t changed in that regard, if anything it’s even stronger to my ears (TEARS! TEARS FLOW on this tune). It was also some of the newer material on Coming Back For More which definitely caught my attention as well. ‘Best In My Life’ I recognize because it flows over the same BRILLIANT riddim which backed Danny I’s tune ’Unchangeable’ and it’s right on those extremely high levels as Pressure proclaims his devotion to the One who is REALLY the best in life and goes on to make the vibes very relatable to everyday life, which is always a great touch. The obligatory herbalist anthem ‘Weed’, is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is this hypnotically spiraling AGITATED one-drop which backs it. And speaking of one-drop (and hypnotic), check the foundation which spurs on the very curiously titled ‘As A Treasure’ and, of course, the tune which wraps itself around it. This one is another one of my favourites and I was SO interested in seeing in which direction Pressure took the tune because the title itself doesn’t really give any hints to it. What you have here is a song which is almost solely about increasing self esteem, self belief and just general confidence, but not in some tired and sappy way. This thing is POWERFUL and the “treasure” alluded to in the title is the treasure oneself (and check the guitar which comes in over the bridge).

I separate the final portion of Coming Back For You (excluding Baby Girl because I’ve mentioned it already), because it contains three of the best tunes on the album. The first is the kind of electrically grounded one-drop of ‘Love Conquer All’. I feel that if you take this tune as accompanying As A Treasure, which precedes it, you come away with one WONDERFULLY COMPLETE message to take forth on your journey definitely. And then I’ll mention the closer ‘Ever-Living King’. This one, OF COURSE, is the Nyah drum backed tune which you were expecting to close the album and it is SPARKLING! The song doesn’t quite come across as a full on chant (there’re piano keys in the background), but whatever you’d like to call it, it’s very well done and I hear so many of these type of tunes that it’s surely becoming harder and harder to impress me on it, but you’d never know it with Ever-Living King (TEARS!). HOWEVER! All of that being said, the tune which precedes the closer, ‘I SEE RASTAFARI’ is probably as high as my second favourite piece on the entire album because it is simply MADNESS:

“Brimstone pon di klu klux klan
Hand me the broom, sweep them in the dustpan
Only King Selassie I mi put mi trust pon
What happened in the past, I’m still holding a grudge pon”

“The body is only temporary you see
Black History Month is only February you see
Repatriation is very mandatory you see
Some only want fi go a Zion when dem dead and bury
DEM NEVA, REACH MOUNT ZION SPIRITUALLY
YOU BETTA REHEARSE AND PRACTICE LOVE PHYSICALLY
OR ELSE THE PRESSURE POT A BOIL OVER LITERALLY
YOU SEE, RASTA NAH INDULGE IN NO FOLLY
NATURALLY ME SAY. . .”

I mention that bit of I See Rastafari to accentuate a point a alluded to back in the middle of the review that the album, lyrically, is all over the place. And it is in that variety, in my opinion, that you see TANGIBLE lyrical growth in the artist through Coming Back For You, which is strange because I wouldn’t have looked at Pressure, not even last year and said that he was an artist who had far to go and pretty much ‘was what he was’. Well, I guess I was wrong about that, ‘he’s more than he was’.

Overall, although I’m all but certain that Pressure and Dean Pond didn’t actually go into the studio thinking of the serious ‘pressure’ they may have been under, they didn’t buckle at all. Coming Back For You is excellent and it is a reaffirmation of a winning pair that has perhaps gone overlooked in the afterglow of the mass success Pressure has had between he and his original producers. OF COURSE, I’m very happy that for that success and it is probably due to said success (can you imagine if that didn’t happen this was Pressure’s first album in like four years???) that when Coming Back For You is on board, there will be SO MANY new faces looking at it than were previously were paying attention. And what they’ll find is something which may be even stronger than what they came looking for in the first place: One of the best Reggae albums of 2009.

Rated 4.75/5
Rymshot Productions/Zojak Worldwide
2009




{Note: Coming Back For You from Pressure reportedly drops on November 20th worldwide and will reportedly be available on iTunes pre-order very shortly}

3 comments:

  1. The album was made available worldwide on December 15, 2009 through online retailers, and can be purchased at www.myspace.com/pressurebusspipe.

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  2. Love This Song Meh Boy....Bless

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