Everyone has a story to tell. For a musician/artist this story is a . . . well, it's a musical one in which almost every facet can be told and followed by listening to their work. For someone like You and I - just observing and listening - this is easily one of the most fascinating and time consuming aspects of being a music fan and someday, when we're old[er] and crazy[er] as hell, it'll serve as the basis of completely ridiculous conversations which begin with phrases like 'do you remember when ________ did that song . . .'. Until the days of 'anti-youth senselessness' (what!) begin, however, there's nothing which says we can't stop and take a look at exactly what story some our favourite artists may have to tell, musically. That's what we're doing today (and that's what we do everyday when there's a review) as the all kind of interesting, captivating, gripping, riveting and any other adjective you might want to add - colourful - Perfect is - eccentric - popping up on radars again. We could cover the background and backstory (which isn't actually a word apparently, but it should be) of the eclectic chanter from the greatest place in the world (ST. ANN!), but we've been there before and certainly will be again at some point, so instead I though that we'd focus on the present and maybe the even the future of someone who simply now has to be considered one of the greatest gems of modern Roots Reggae music. When you take a look and listen to Perfect, what you're dealing with, essentially, is an artist in the bonafide prime of his career. That's a very tricky thing to determine in music because, depending on certain things like genre and style and subgenre, the actual age of a person in their prime (as opposed to something like sports, which, although is far easier to pinpoint - the second part of the first half of life - can still be tricky depending on the sport) may not actually matter at all. And given the very slow rate of change in Reggae, it also may not factor in much just how long a person has been active. A case could be made, for example, that someone like Beenie Man had a prime which lasted fifteen years or so, which makes no sense at all, but is largely accurate. In Perfect's case, conversely, things are just a bit unambiguous: He's been doing this for quite awhile now (just as I said last year) we know what he is, we know what he is not and he is CONSISTENTLY making some of the best music not only of his career, but of anyone in Reggae music today.
|Various stops on this Journey|
When the former Mr. Perfect originally rose to prominence, although he did so largely on the strength of one significant single, 'Handcart Bwoy', that single VERY QUICKLY multiplied and became three or four - which basically means that he came 'through the door' as a hitmaker. But I'd argue that now, he's shown himself to be appreciably better and that's largely due to the fact that Perfect has not only come to know how to use what is his most unique gift - his completely unpredictable explosiveness - he's also become someone who can make it work in almost any situation. Evidence of that will be found in either of his two most recent album releases, "French Connection" of 2009 and last year's extremely sizable "Back For The First Time". And just in general, these days, even on singles, he's showing himself to be an entirely more mature and capable artist who, as I said, these days is only peered in skills by some of the absolute greatest of the genre.
|Building a Dynasty|
So what do we do after establishing our greatness? We build a Dynasty, of course! At least that's obviously what Perfect had in mind for the next step in his own journey as he linked with the possibly just as flaming US based Dynasty Records for the release of his brand new album, "Journey Of 1,000 Miles" [good title]. Dynasty is a label which, just over the last couple of years or so, has really become one of the better labels around from anywhere and, at least as far as I know, while they have done several riddim releases and singles and other projects, this marks the very first time they've actually endeavoured to create an artist's album (hopefully they're looking into doing similar works with both Lutan Fyah and Messenjah Selah, both of whom they've also worked with extensively) (because those would be so nice and they did recently release a digital EP with the former). That says a lot when a very reputable and currently reputable label who can, presumably, work with just about anyone they want (and the roster of their 'regulars' is very impressive) chooses someone and not someone who they've signed, to make their own debut album with. What also speaks volumes is the fact that behind "Journey Of 1,000 Miles", along with Perfect and Dynasty Records is another very large entity - the largest in the genre in fact - VP Records and the album also marks the very first time they've worked with Perfect as well, having missed out on the 'Handcart' years. That's a very big deal as well as a very large credit to both Perfect and Dynasty Records, however, in both cases it's a credit which is due and maybe even overdue for the chanter. Dynasty's style of production is largely varied and colourful and, ostensibly, matches well to someone as . . . varied and colourful as Perfect. I can recall saying about "Back For The First Time" just how wonderfully its producer, Lustre Kings Productions, had toned Perfect back: That isn't the case here - he very much roams free. Not surprisingly the album isn't that stereotype of a modern Roots set with the heavy and plentiful one-drops, but instead, as the title (which I do really like) would indicate, it's a more wide reaching project, musically. Fans of this artist shouldn't (and won't) have a problem there as they're [we're] totally more likely to be involved with an extremely consistent, yet customarily odd at times, performance from the fireball that is Perfect.
'Journey of 1,000 Miles'
It seems official now that the former Mr. Perfect and longtime Perfect has, at least as far as album work is concerned, changed his name again - this time to Perfect Giddimani. His most recent two albums now, including this release have carried the name. That's a very good move if you ask me as 'Perfect Giddimani' is entirely more unique than 'Perfect' and it's also more of an attention-grabber to newer heads as well. Another attention-grabber would definitely be the title track for "Journey Of 1,000 Miles", the brand new and sixth studio album from Mr. Perfect Giddimani (why not???) for Dynasty Records. Just a few days ago maybe, I listened to this tune and realized that it was MUCH better than I was giving it credit for being (and I already enjoyed it quite a lot) - it's a SPECTACULAR song and a rather obvious choice to be the album's title given just how attractive it is on many different levels. It made me smile and it makes you think also and it also sounds amazing so you can't ask for more. And this is the type of a song you expect to hear from someone who has advanced to Perfect's level. I'm very impressed!
“All dem ah curse and chat
I tell dem that I’ve been through the worst and back
Ah yes, we’ve faced worse than dat
Whole heap a time mi head get burst and drop
Gallang, go tell di nurse and doc -
You can’t tek weh mi life and put mi inna hearse back
I’m a real Afrikan, so mi hail King Selassie I, The 1st, nonstop!
It‘s not easy
To carry my load
It‘s not easy
To travel my road
They say the journey of a thousand miles, starts with one footstep
It‘s not easy
And don’t you ever forget”
Charged with keeping the vibes of the album high after its concussive opener is a tune which takes the album in a much different direction, but doesn't fail to stir on its own merit, 'Mama Africa'. I hesitate to call this one a repatriation tune, although it certainly is, because it's a little bigger than that. More times you'll hear a song like this which is just basically saying "I'm coming home . . . " (and Perfect does say that - verbatim), but it's also matter of CELEBRATING home and celebrating its people as well. The vibes of the song match the prevailing sentiment as it comes through in a full and vibrant chant. Placing a nice ribbon on the onset of this "Journey" is another big tune and a very familiar one as Perfect places his point of view on the previous release, the Crown H.I.M. Riddim, 'Roots For Me'. For me, this is a unity type of a song, although I can see how you might come away with a few different other aspects of it standing out for you. What stands out most prominently for me, however, is how Perfect brings in all of these different people from different walks of life and different portions of the globe and draws them together under the banner of living righteously and under the will of His Imperial Majesty. This is a very powerful track which probably got a bit overlooked, but here's your second chance - make the most of it.
There isn't a single song on "Journey Of 1,000 Miles", not one, which isn't captivating, in some sense or another. I'm not going to tell you that every song is great, they aren't, but something about each and every one of them will stay with you. For example . . . Oh lets take THE song which stands out so much on paper to me, and hopefully I'm not the only one - 'Roll With the Billionaires'. What the hell is that song about? Okay, I kept listening to that song waiting for it just turn grim - basically into 'Can't Satisfy Her' by I Wayne - but it never happens, so it's basically a tune about a girl who . . . Is going for her dreams and is inspired to do great things. It isn't one of my favourites, but like I said, there's just something about it which makes it stand out. On the other side of that would be a song like 'Should I' which is, again, very flashy, but it's also a strong song which finds the chanter struggling to find the 'perfect' next direction in which to try to win back the love of his life (been there) (it worked) (biggup my Wife). Check the sweet 'Rain Fall' which just has such a NICE vibes surrounding it which is very fitting for such an inspirational track. And, speaking of nice, there's 'Happy'. It's been a really long time since last you've heard a more appropriately titled song [see 'Beautiful' by Stevy Mahy]. Everything about the song is happy, so if you'd like to continue being upset (been there too), you'll avoid this one until you cheer up. The song which immediately follows 'Happy' certainly won't help lower you back down at all. 'Coming Home'. Again, you can take this one as a song about repatriation, but if you do, you won't be opening it up to the fullest because a song like this is MADE to be enjoyed as much by its sonics as its message as the two are completely inseparable, but you can try if you like! All of these tunes really just go to give the album a very large amount of character and, in total, show the most impulsive Perfect in his unpredictable element.
With all of that being said and with the more I'm about to say, my ears focused in on one moment on during "Journey Of 1,000 Miles" and they just haven't let me go! To any degree of common sense, the title song is the best song on this album. It is, it's an amazing song. Fortunately for me, however, I don't have any common sense [NONE!] and haven't in a very, very long time, so I have no hesitation [NONE!] in saying that the best stop along this journey occurs during the obligatory herbalist track, 'My Chronic'.
“Don’t worry nor panic
Cause my chronic
My chronic -
So take a draw from it
Sweet words: Good herbs
And the sign on the room door says -Don’t Disturb-
And I gotta lot more in storage reserved
No chemicals to harm yah nerves
Smells so good from around the curve
Authentic marijuana mi plant and serve to Diana and Irv“
DON'T WORRY NOR PAAAAAAAANIC! BOOM!
The tune follows in a healthy line of a little 'peculiar' ganja songs from Perfect and it may just be the best of them all because, despite trying as hard as I can, I've been hopeless to get this tune out of my brain - but I'm not actually complaining. The two tunes following 'My Chronic' are also highlights of Perfect's Journey, 'Dinner Time' and [ESPECIALLY] 'One Week'. The dietary concerned and borderline brilliant former is probably exactly what you're expecting, but maybe even more straightforward. Besides just being all-around excellent the song is an example of Perfect just taken a natural and organic approach to his music. Its very straight forward and he gives that edging delivery to make sure that everyone who hears it knows to, above all, watch what you put into your body. For its part, 'One Week', is just MASSIVE! The track finds Perfect confident and assured that he could rid the world of a large amount of our ills if we just gave him and THEM "one week inna di jungle". This song doesn't directly force you to think in 'uncommon' terms (at least I hope it doesn't), but what it is about, for me, is really just taking control of certain preventable activities and behaviours and dealing with them - a very clever call to action is what it is and there's not much better on the whole of "Journey Of 1,000 Miles" and he could probably go another thousand and not find much better also.
The remaining selections on the album also feature more than a few highlights as well, although they do pinnacle with a pair of tunes in 'Warriors' and definitely 'What Come Good'. Both of these pieces turn up the flames on the record and in a very big way. 'What Come Good' has a subtly outstanding riddim which quickly develops behind the chanter who uses it to throw the energy way up!
“Anotha day, another dollar
Anotha shirt, another collar
Dem ah bawl and ah holla!
Mi ah lead and di rest a dem ah follow!
In a certain ting Rasta no walla!
Nah smoke no coke and no pork wi nah swalla!
Hail King Selassie from today til tomorra!
And nuttin neva wrong if yu nah beg nah borra!”
That tone is set forth by 'Warriors' which is a full on and sprawling call to action - immediate action. Check 'Sundays & Mondays' (which, coincidentally, follows 'One Week'), a tune which I do like but took a more than a few spins to grow on me, as did 'Real Life' although in its case, it is a bit more explainable. This tune is the only official combination you'll find here - featuring Bobby Hustle (who I think is one of Dynasty's artists because he is present on virtually everything they do all the time) (as is Dway) (biggup Dway). It's kind of an R&B style of vibes and although Perfect is covering his more usual terrain here, he actually pairs well with the well lucid Hustle, who you should look out for as well. There's also 'Hold On' which is very interesting and I'm pretty sure Perfect took the melody for it from an old R&B song. And finally is the stirring 'Sonny Boy' which is a VERY personal tune where Perfect speaks on the death of someone very important to him. I always find myself listening to songs like this as if I am hearing something that I shouldn't be and while I did experience that here, I'm not left thinking it after hearing it a few times through. It's just a special song and a tribute to an obviously just as special person to Perfect.
Overall, this latest stop in the journey of Perfect is one which definitely finds him in a complete command of who he is as an artist. At this point, like I said, I don't know what he could do better. I'm not saying that this IS his finest album (which I find myself saying a lot for him, I really need to figure that out one day in his case), but it is another one which, like "Back For The First Time", features an artist in his simple and applicable best. The difference here, of course, is that the vibes are much freer and Perfect . . . Basically seems to do whatever he wants at all times. "Journey Of 1,000 Miles" once again showcases the talents of someone who seems to take pride in breaking barriers as an artist and while I don't imagine HOW he could get any better - a few years ago I probably didnt think that Perfect could get this good either. Very good.
Dynasty Records/VP Records
CD + Digital