"Purification Session" by Niyorah [I Grade Records - 2006]
Sometimes things just work out even better than you thought. One of the most amazing and fascinating things about being a music fan, at least in my opinion, is watching an artist develop from early on and seeing exactly the trajectory their career takes when you follow them along. In that there are surprises, both good and bad, disappointments and other things, but one of the most satisfying is when you watch someone who is clearly talented and full of potential become even greater than you thought they would be. Such an example of this extremely unique situation would be Niyorah. The Dominican born, St. Thomas grown chanter - from the first time we took a big listen of him as part of the Star Lion Family - has shown himself to be incredibly talented and definitely someone to keep an eye on for the future and as he's developed his ceiling has gotten higher and higher and, as of late 2011, being now three studio albums deep into his career, his level of talent these days is seemingly without limit. Arguably the greatest example of this came on his second album in 2006 which, much like its creator is a project which I now recognize as even greater than I initially thought which is saying a great deal. Here, we have a nearly FLAWLESS album - "Purification Session".
1. 'Nothing To Prove'
Sitting and now thinking about the album's opener, 'Nothing To Prove' and it's a very interesting tune in terms of its direction. The title and punchline of the tune really seems to come as a statement in regards (and response) to being of African descent, but as you continue you see that the two aren't separated. In a sense: 'My heritage and the colour of my skin is why I have nothin to prove' - It tells you all you need to know.
Best Lyrics: "I'm talking about, celestial phenomenon. Man in one accordance with the plants and all the animals, doing away with the thoughts that might tamper The Most High's process. I'm giving a shot to Black Woman with the stamina, who love the land she represents - Here purity is so dominant. She has endured so much pain, living life inna babylon furnace"
2. 'There For You'
I've definitely grown in appreciation for 'There For You' over the years. On the surface, it's an inspirational type of song, but it's one which isn't very straight forward and self-explanatory (at least not immediately). What happens is that Niyo runs through different situations and scenario of hardships until eventually arriving at one conclusion (and that riddim is GORGEOUS!).
Best Lyrics: "The Most High will be there for you. Any time you feel there is no one to turn to, remember The Creator, He is everblessed, higher than the peaks of Mt. Everest"
3. 'Special Request'
'Special Request' is really the first thing on "Purification Session" resembling a 'love song', but the wonderful track is more of a female empowerment and uplifting one rather than just another typical entrant. Somewhere in the middle of the song, which is positively entertaining in so many ways, Niyo really hits another level in his delivery, making for a downright dazzling display in the name of lifting up the African Woman.
Best Lyrics: "She live by the laws of The Most High Jah, Haile Selassie, Kadamawe, The Black Emperor. This woman knows what to wear and for what to look for. Niyorah spice up her pot with some hot pepper! Upful and respectable, no sneaky vibes. With the serpent and the worm dem weh creep at night. She got African genetics of the highest type"
4. 'African Chant' featuring Pressure
BOOM! The first of three HUGE combinations on the album find Niyorah linking with fellow Star Lion Family member, St. Thomas superstar, Pressure Busspipe on the MASSIVE 'African Chant', still my favourite tune on the album. Of course these two have a great musical chemistry and history with one another and it is clear in just how CLEAN this tune runs through, despite having quite a large edge to the vibes. This one is to boost PRIDE in the children of Africa and it brings it in a forceful manner: You should be proud! Whether you realize it or not!
Best Lyrics: Niyorah "Rastafari recognize the root of it all! This ya iniversal concept is the truth of it all! You must remember babylon denomination dominate dominion, amphibian, opinion - the spook of it all. Africa levitify and purify earth. I am not doubting my essence, mi nah scrutinize worth. Plant mi okra, mi ganja - maximize earth . Multi-complex. Complexion: Blacker than dirt! Permedial structure, six pointed, erect and invert. Like locks to Rasta, ferments are antennas of earth. Breath of life, better life inna Kilimanjaro! Africa strive, gathering might, now the cock it a crow. Trumpet sound! Gather around! Just lift up unoo voice! Man anoint ganja joint, the ash give it spice. We got - foods for your belly and the herbs to heal. Plain and simple, know it as it is. WHOA!"
5. 'Kick Up'
Lustre Kings Productions' WICKED Shining Riddim ("THERE'S A FYAH IN DI BAAAAAAAAARN"!) backs 'Kick Up' which, although it has definitely become one of the more overlooked selections during this session, is a mighty moment here. This tune, at least for me, is really about revolution and the potential of revolution. What Niyo is saying is that the people and particularly young people have the power (and the potential power) to change the system and to change it for the good and forever. It's one of the more complex sets here in my opinion and well worth the journey to its meaning, whatever you ultimately come up with. ENJOY!
Best Lyrics: "The ghetto youths are suffering - but we - know that we are worth something. So I, gonna put my faith in Jah - Fari - so no bring ya hate in yah"
6. 'Sell Out'
'Sell Out' is pretty self-evident, but again, it doesn't necessarily go in the 'expected' route. The song is about those who take negative and just foul methods to get to the proverbial 'top' and achieve successes. Niyo wonders if it's all really worth it when you have to isolate yourself from good and decent people and COMMON SENSE!
Best Lyrics: "You've got six zeroes, I've got one peso and still you want to take it away. They wanna stop every single ghetto we roll, yesterday, tomorrow and today. They got nuff dinero, living like a Pharaoh - a mansion by the island's bay. Try stop my work, you gotta be loco, never will you end this way"
7. 'We Are One'
Next we get all acoustic on the people with 'We Are One', a song which pretty much comes and goes on my tastes, depending on when I listen to it. Oddly enough (while trying to make this album sound as good as I possibly can), these days I'm rather enjoying it. If you really focus in on the actual message here, which requires a bit of 'sifting' through the aura of it, there's something as beautiful as the tune's creators obviously wanted you to pick up from merely the sonic experience.
Best Lyrics: "Smiling faces make me satisfied, to see the races show love and not divide. If you choose hate, you will be left behind. Remember: True intelligence recognizes false pride"
8. 'I Love The Way'
Over that cool and hypnotic Arabian vibed LKP riddim - I'm pretty sure 'I Love The Way' was a single for "Purification Session" (which you can probably tell from that video which is hopefully up there) and it definitely shows the artist in a good form. Similar to 'Special Request' the song is one uplifting Black Woman and really the relationships as well. I always like songs like this and probably because I make leaps which, at times, the writer themselves didn't have in mind, but it's crystal clear that Niyo agrees with me on this one - Treat a good woman as best as you possibly can - There are no excuses to do otherwise.
Best Lyrics: "Woman you are not alone. The energy you feel, I've got those feelings of my own. Your love, it is so powerful, you put me inna zone. Real Mama Africa, Empress from Home"
9. 'Lion Have Mane' featuring Vaughn Benjamin
"Featuring Vaughn Benjamin" is a big deal in and of itself and it becomes magnified and magnified greatly when the results are what we have on 'Lion Have Mane'. Talk about pride - This one shouts pride to every corner of the globe and it almost seems to exist as two different tracks. Benjamin, as is his norm, is on his own road, he's doing what he always does, but here the passion is upped just a bit and he's tuned in for a massive effect and the same is to be said for Niyorah who may go overshadowed here, but more than holds his own.
Best Lyrics: Benjamin "Lion have mane. Lion have voice. Lion have hail. Lion have choice. Lion have the triumphant sound fi make the whole world rejoice. Babylon have rain. Babylon have drought. Babylon have a brimstone judgment if dem nah change dem route. Everything come to pass now weh Rasta talk bout"
10. 'Caught Up Inna Image'
If you find yourself wondering more about what people think about you than what you actually are, 'Caught Up Inna Image' was written for you to shake up some sense in your bones. One of the most interesting aspects of this one is how obviously PISSED OFF Niyo is in delivering this message. It all seems so absurd to him, but clearly still a big enough problem (and he was right about that) that it needed addressing and in a big way.
Best Lyrics: "Some people bow to riches and material. But NiyoRah come to hail up The Imperial!"
11. 'Globe All Warming'
Mind how you treat yourself and the world around you is the prevailing vibe on 'Globe All Warming' and, you might suggest, the entire album. Here, in particular, Niyorah is sure and detailed to explain the massive consequences if you fail to do either as well as the unfortunate current shift occurring in the HEALTH of the planet which must be corrected if ANYTHING is to prosper.
Best Lyrics: "The hotter the Earth, the more bacteria spread. Many more will have to suffer, plenty more ahgo dead. Inna di present and di future, nuff dramatic event. Purification time is so intense. Trucks will not be able to get supplies to you. It's so obvious my people - you must grow your own food. Don't depend upon the system, you'll end up gettin screwed. Dis ya one yah fa sure is it fa true"
12. 'How It Is'
As simple as the title is - You can definitely guess that what we have with 'How It Is' is a social commentary and one which kind of makes its sonic approach so 'clinically' straight forward that you don't take a big listen to initially. However, as the tune progresses through its duration, it also progresses in terms of its mood and while it never reaches a critical intensity, gradually we hear more and more of an urgency and by its end, it is one HUGE tune.
Best Lyrics: "By any means, I will defend the poor. I will shoot a wicked man and close the coffin door. Militant, sometime the Lion roar. You must defend and don't pretend that Jah Jah isn't pure"
13. 'We Shall See'
BOOM AGAIN! 'We Shall See' is one of the real lasting highlights of "Purification Session" and, for me, it's really the 'purifier'. It's THE track on the album which directly kicks out nastiness wherever you'll find it hiding! It is well aided in that by the huge Rastar Riddim which help lift this one to anthem-like status and a real modern classic of a single and one of Niyorah's best from any album.
Best Lyrics: "I KNOW! ONE DAY! WE SHALL SEE! Babylon go under. Down deh. In the heap. I & I say RASTA! CONQUER! ENEMIES! Ghetto people RISE UP! TRAMPLE! JEALOUSY!"
14. 'Wha Yu Feel Say'
Call it a 'changeup' because that's what I'm going to do. Buried on this album is 'Wha Yu Feel Say', a tune which should be a little surprising because it features Niyo showing off the versatility in a big way. Essentially he goes through this tune in a DJ style and there're no stutters or pauses or anything which would show a deficiency on that level. Also, as far as the message, the song is a large slap (left hook and knee) in the face of the oppressive world.
Best Lyrics: "Wha yu feel say you betta dan we? Wha yu feel say you run di country? It a Jah run things, dun things, fyah bun things! Not any one a wi" & "Inna mi dem build so much anger, but remember struggle mek wi stronger. If dem bring gunshot, wi rise above dat. Trust me, we nah live fi got conquer!"
Once again we find Niyorah attempting to instill a sense of pride within the masses and this time he's moving in a more specific and careful direction. Instead of the broad and sweeping "lift up yourself" type of idea, we get a "if they stand in your way, defend yourself" type of thought. The result is very unique and largely because of the mix between the more aggressive line of thinking with that most serene riddim backing. It's also one which should keep your attention for quite some time.
Best Lyrics: "Alright, anytime I feel like you - Waan fi kill di love, in di Lion Crew. Mi aguh sen fi Rock. Mi aguh sen fi Cruz. Yah betta mind you doh mek mi get loose"
There's a very cool track from the "A Different Age" album by the name of 'Sandy Weekend' ("And I feeeeeeeeeeel") (I digress) and 'Always' has . . . always - reminded me of that song and that's a good thing, but I shouldn't let a reference point, no matter how glorious, dominate the attraction focus from this lovely composition. It's more acoustic, but very FULL this time and, again, not as broad as the previous like-vibed tunes. This one is a love song and it's a very nice one also.
Best Lyrics: "It is you Jah has sent for the King Man. Lovely girl let's make love in the rain. Even better, let us trod on the beach sand. Loving Mama Earth, from where I came. It is you Jah has sent for Niyorah. Lovely girl let's make love in the sea. Beautiful, with the lovely aroma. No one's around, only you and me"
17. 'Nobody Knows' featuring Ras Attitude
And the twists and turns still aren't done. None other the insanely talented Ras Attitude joins in on the SWEET 'Nobody Knows'. This is one of those moments where absolutely NOTHING can go wrong, from reading it on paper, through listening to the actual song. And nothing does go wrong. The two link up for such a 'quietly' powerful and resounding tune that, really these days, it strikes me as one of the better songs on the album and I don't that I could've said that the first time that I heard it because of its nature and despite is fantastic set. Surely one for the more seasoned of listeners.
Best Lyrics: Niyorah "Enjoy the life you live. When fighting, fight for something. Ignite the inner flame. Remove yah mind from out the hood"
18. 'Inner Light'
And finally is the outstanding closer for "Purification Session", the self-examining 'Inner Light'. What is this "inner light" of which Niyorah speaks? Is it a conscience? Is is The Almighty? Is is common sense? YES! It's all of those things which are open for discussion on this glorious track which so wonderfully leads me into my synopsis for the album because just like it, I don't know how this one tune could be any better at all. Not even a little!
Best Lyrics: "Check it out: Dem is a disgrace. Twisted. Babylon wid dem twist face. Is like dem outta place. It's like dem misplaced! Rastafari bun rat race!"
I'm going to take this in a different direction that normally because I think that the prevailing theme of this album is pretty clear - Niyorah is, essentially, saying to better oneself. Bettering yourself in his mind (and rightfully so in my opinion) also includes bettering the people around you, strengthening the relationships you keep with them improving your society and also your surroundings, immediate and further-reaching. It is a theme which doesn't necessarily 'move' a great deal, but it is incredibly accessible and opened up for many different interpretations and it is the journey to that message which makes this album so good and makes it so FULL of substance as well (in that particularly, you can call it a very "fun" album as well, even though that probably isn't the first word that would jump into mind here).
As I alluded to, in "Purification Session" what we have is an album which, for what it is, is pretty much perfect. I don't know that it could get any better. I can't point to one thing and say that 'if this were better we'd have such a more complete album and that's coming on a release with eighteen tracks, where the immediate notion would have to be that maybe it's too long. It certainly isn't and if he was rhyming like this, if Niyorah wanted to do another eighteen and a double disc, I don't think I would've stopped him there. That is a very rare quality which it shares with the first entry in this series, "Phantom War" from Lutan Fyah (nineteen songs) as well Gentleman's "Confidence" (twenty) - being really big and seemingly overstuffed releases which are not labourious at all and just run straight through. For me, that is a very natural and organic occurrence which basically signals that artist and producer were just making songs or adding songs until they had either had exactly what they wanted or until they said exactly what they wanted to say and that is a POWERFUL trait to have.
I'm not calling this the best album I've ever heard, but what I am saying is that it is COMPLETE. There's nothing else you can add or take away from this session to make it a more productive one and while, as I said, I was very high on Niyorah's talent and potential talent very early on in his career, making THAT type of a project is something that you almost never attribute to an up and comer ("I think that this artist can someday make a flawless album") (what???) until it is done and you can argue that he's now done it twice, but that's another story.
"Purification Session" exists as one of the most enjoyable Roots Reggae experiences of the modern era and an album which, on each and every spin through offers something new and powerful and enlightening to its listener, making an even greater journey. It also exists as a bonafide Modern Reggae Classic!