Saturday, May 12, 2012

'Look Closer': A review of "In This Time" by Rebellion The Recaller

Not that I'd know myself, at all, but I would imagine that being really talented [at doing something] must be pretty nice! As an outsider looking in, I can definitely see how something like that might come to really nice usage at times. This would be true for just about anything in question, I'd imagine, but in the arena of music, obviously, things are a bit more complicated and crucial. Musically speaking, something like possessing a genuine talent can make so many things much better and really open your vibes up to a fan base and successes that someone, perhaps lesser gifted, but in your exact position, would not enjoy. And, as we'll see today, it can also be quite surprising. When focusing on Reggae music, because that's just what we do here, while we certainly do have a great deal of well capable artists on the scene, we also have a great deal of them who go so largely un[der]recognized by the greater Reggae listening world to the degree that you would hope that they would be appreciated and celebrated as some of the most talented lights that we have. Today, we look at such an individual, in the most unusual of cases, who has attained a level of stardom and figures to be currently on the rise, but for someone of his actual and applicable class, he hasn't gotten it yet, the great Rebellion The Recaller. The WICKED Gambian born chanter has been playing his trade for quite some time now and he's grown, reportedly, to be a pretty big deal in Europe and he also fits well into a line of artists in the continent who have come from other places to 'feed' and flourish amongst the seemingly Reggae STARVED European audiences. The Recaller (don't you just love it when they have the nickname already laid out and prepared for you???) has done just that  and although he hasn't yet risen to the levels of someone like a Gentleman (more on him later) or Ziggi Recado, he seems to be well on his way. Also, in terms of the current status, he's definitely one of the leaders of Reggae from out of Afrika, alongside the likes of the fantastic Takana Zion, Lyricson and others who, from the outside looking in, have become that next 'class' of big artists from out of the Continent. Interestingly, both Lyricson and Takana Zion have recent projects to their names (twice in the case of the former) . . . So The Recaller goes next right?

"Movin On" [2008]
I was absolutely certain that it had already been!  But, as it turns out, RtR's sole album, "Movin' On", which reached way back in 2008 remained, until this year, his only full album release. That album, was very good, and came via the seemingly now VANISHED IM Music from out of Germany (I THINK) (the same label sent did and sent us "Love Life" by Black Dillinger, and just never responded after that), but retrospectively, while it did serve as a big introduction to the artist, it didn't have much in the way of legs and it has become one of the most underrated and forgotten to an extent big debut sets of actual quality from an artist who stuck around and did a major amount of work. Since that release, RtR has remained active and has been a staple on many of the riddims for a very healthy variety of European producers and labels (as you're about to see now). In the process, as I said, he's become even more talented than you'd recall from the first album. 

So how about a second album? For his sophomore set, Rebellion The Recaller has worked alongside Elite Records, from out of Switzerland and just in case you haven't been following along, he's going to give a grand opportunity to catch up. "In This Time" is an album which features some TWENTY tracks (again, everyone wanted to stock up on track numbers, knowing we would have to catch up when we returned) (watch the strategy - just like last time) and, by my most assuredly incorrect count, NINETEEN different producers! That's semi-old school/late 1990's & early 2000's Dancehall type album compiling right there. The great thing here, however, is while so many of those sets has almost no cohesion to speak of at all, that isn't not a problem here and the album becomes one of the more DYNAMIC [predominately] Roots Reggae albums of 2012 thus far. Also in this case, although it is very much a compilation style of an piece, you do really get a feeling that RtR and Elite Records had the mind to not only go after the artist's more usual fan base, but to go after Reggae fans, in general. RtR is someone who has an extremely colourful style, he takes in sounds from just about everywhere and wraps them up into this very unique delivery, but that isn't dominant here and the prevailing vibes throughout is of him as more of a typical chanter which, thankfully, he also does well - like I said, "being really talented must be pretty nice". It is in that effort where we find RtR really excelling and hitting a level here, which simply didn't seem to exist on "Movin' On", which means that he's definitely developed over the past half decade. As a result of that, "In This Time" proves to be not only very dynamic, but accessible as well. I've dealt with albums recently which I would say were far more geared towards the type of fan who's been around awhile and has experience and a familiarity with the genre (such is the constant state, particularly, of Virgin Islands Reggae music), but I'm not going to say that here. THIS is going to be one of the new albums I would recommend you listening to (or playing for) if you are someone fairly new to the genre and before hearing it, I don't think that's a quality I would placed on RtR and even if I would have, his wouldn't have been one of the names that I would have come up with if someone asked for a list of artists for newer fans to listen to (Gentleman would have been - more on him later) (or did I say that already). But that's changed as "In This Time" proves to be a powerhouse of an entertaining Roots album - dig in!

'Don't Give A Damn'

Another quality which I found here, but was far less striking [because I'd noticed it already], is the fact that the artist has obviously focused more on developing himself as a writer. Not that he was exactly weak in that area, but these days he's even better and in the tunes released between projects, I'd come to that conclusion: He now has a great deal to say and has a more 'polished vehicle' in which to deliver those messages. For example, take in the opening track on "In This Time", the new album from Afrikan Chanter Rebellion The Recaller, 'Don't Give A Damn' (biggup Mr. G). This song jumps in over the sterling Bonafide Riddim of last year from Dub Akom and comes in as a very clever social commentary of sorts where RtR paints a picture of certain unaware members of society who have strayed away from His Majesty and are essentially walking the earth as zombies because they don't give a damn [about anything]. The first tune on this album is also its first GREAT one. 

“Tell dem there’s no impartiality in front of the Almighty
More love and sincerity-
No hypocrites amongst wi
Stop criticizing when got no clue about it
Picture yourself as on the earth you residing”

Next is a tune which may be even better, 'Ghetto'. This song utilizes a cut of the riddim made famous by the legendary Peter Broggs on the immortal 'International Farmer' tune - this version is done by Furybass. It is another social commentary and a very specific one in this instance which well demonstrates exactly where RtR is lyrically these days (especially later on in the song). 'Live In Glory' takes the album in a bit of different direction, both in terms of its actual sound as well as its content and subjectry. Another addition here is that it's the album's first of five official combinations, this one being an introduction to an artist who'll come back later, Douvi Lous. His isn't a name which is completely foreign to me, but I don't know a great deal of him either. He's another artist from out of Gambia who has been making a name for himself over the past couple of years or so, rhyming for European based labels and apparently he RtR are very good friends (I also know of another tune they did together besides the two on "In This Time". They make a fine pairing on this tune for a track which I was really looking forward to hearing and it didn't disappoint. The first quarter (told you!) of the album wraps up with two more big songs, 'Road of Life' and the title track. The former has a very serene vibes to it (although RtR maintains his own rather edgy course for his delivery) and is probably one of my favourite songs here, while the latter is interesting for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it was produced by the aforementioned IM Music (showing that they did have some further work in mind - if I recall correctly, they were going to do an album featuring both RtR and Black Dillinger) (please come back wherever you are!). And, as I said, the album is very dynamic and accessible and you won't find too many more Roots song which are more of either than this track which is excellent. 

The second quarter (told you!) of "In This Time" gets started with another attention-getter, the very familiar 'Intentions'. This Special Delivery helmed song features the aforementioned German Reggae superstar Sara Lu. . . Gentleman! It also featured prominently on his own most recent release, "Diversity" (anytime with a new one Gentleman) and wonderfully so. This is another powerful tune and one which hopefully spawns another link between the two. Speaking of links, here you'll also find 'We Nah', which, again, features Douvi Lous. While I do prefer 'Live In Glory', this song is another bit of evidence that these two work so well together and hopefully Douvi Lous sticks around and does his own project at some time for Elite Records - it would be big. 'Ultimately' is another familiar piece as it rides the Moonlight Riddim from Riga and Hemp Higher (wasn't until now that I realized that it was the same riddim used on Admiral T's DESTRUCTIVE 'Gangsta') (and it may also explain why RtR is always saying "inspired" (biggup Cali P) and it's worth checking out for the crazy Dancehall. Still, it is a BEAUTIFUL pair of tunes on the second quarter which stamp it for me, even more so than 'Intentions' - both 'Make Dem Know' and especially 'Cover Up' are sensational and some of the album's finest moments altogether. It was the latter of these tunes which basically caught me unprepared. I was not expecting it to be that good, but it was and it proves to be a wonderfully HEAVY track which you definitely have to hear! 

'Keep Me Original' w/Shabu

The next lot keeps the vibes high and does so in an unforgettable style and it's again another pair of tracks take top honours here. The first of these is the well spun 'Keep Me Original' which features RtR alongside Shabu. This one is hard to get out of mind because it runs the retooled Question Riddim via Germaican which they released last year. It's full on hypnotic, which is what it was designed to be and you'll find better songs on this album, but you might not find one - not a single one - which is any more fun than this track. And I also REALLY found something that I loved in the tune 'Oness' (biggup Oneness Records). It may not be as immediate as the tune which precedes it on the album (which I just told you about), but it grows on you so quickly if you just take a second out and really tune it in.

“Always memba, fyah neva deh yah fi ting and check 
Only there just to execute: The purpose it was create 
It symbolize is destruction in every aspect
In some ways you might know, others you ignorant
Memba you know we sharing and caring for the sake of the children
For wi living of goodness of mercy
The good wish, you wish to yourself, wish to do someone else-
In order to be granted an entry” 

This is one MASSIVE piece of a unification track unlike any other piece on the whole of the album and probably any piece of work that I've heard from RtR. You'll also find here the very recognizable 'Greatest Things' which is from a couple of years back on the Arrogant Riddim (didn't even have to look that up) from City Lock (did have to look that one up). This is another fun track, but it's fun with a message in this instance and I can actually remember listening to this song when I first heard it and literally being in the process of 'watching' it grow on me. I still like it a couple of years on. The lumbering 'How Much They Care' is another selection which requires a bit of space to grow, but this section of "In This Time" does happen to feature the only present tune which I do not enjoy, 'Revolution Time', which is its next combination track. That tune features a Hip-Hop artist by the name of Brolik and I may not need to say much more than that for longtime readers - Hip-Hop just isn't for me. 

And rounding out the album is a nice quintet of tracks which features a trio of mighty known pieces -one of which is my favourite song on the album - and a very, very interesting piece. The one tune which is none of those things is also quite nice and nearly exceptional - the Silly Walks produced 'Murderer', which finds RtR going all Buju Banton on the people (not really though). The anti-violence set is nice without really doing anything out of the ordinary and while it certainly isn't the flashiest composition on board, you could make a case that it's one of the better in general and one of the better written drops as well. 'So Cold' is a tune which came in a while back across the Gwan East Riddim and it was one of the sets to which I alluded when I said that RtR had shown an appreciable and marked level of lyrical advancement in between albums. This song is really active and in motion, but throughout it the chanter just maintains his focus while effortlessly rolling out some real knowledge in the process.

“Good of dem youth yah to be brave cah dis a di perilous time
Man ready fi commit peer bloodshed and take another man’s life
Cause di a reason dem ah claim and try fi come justify 
Look how di system work and influence dis accurate mind
Through nuff a wi ah affected cah mek dem come victimize wi 
A The Most High wi ah praise, longtime HIM protect and guide wi” 

'Genuine' may very well be the oldest selection on the record - it's from several years back on Pow Pow's big Overstand Riddim and on that creation it was a highlight amongst highlights (of course the riddim's single best song was the HUGE 'Jah Is Love' from Tenna Star) (I digress). It also happened to feature Hakim from the Suns of Light. And I LOOOOVEE 'Good Over Evil' which is just such a vibrant song. It almost sounds like a groovy Soca song is threatening to break out an any moment. Furthermore, it's another song which was produced by IM Music, which goes even further to make me wish that they would have stuck around long enough to push the album they had in mind . . . Or just anything else for that matter - this is lovely. 

BUT! The best thing I hear on "In This Time", for the first time in a long time, is the GLOWING closer, 'Cool'. I know OF this song, but I don't know that I've ever given it this type of consideration (though, referencing myself, I'd meant to). DAMN! This is one HEAVY Roots piece and fucking brilliant at times. I've drawn on words like "dynamic" and "accessible" to describe qualities about these vibes, but here all of that ends: If you don't like this one . . . Go and . . . Shit just go and find something else to do. 

Rebellion The Recaller
Overall, like I've said - come on! This album is a really good one for just about anyone at any stage in enjoying this wonderful and world's best music. And I don't say things like that too often, but "In This Time" has to be one of the LEAST polarizing musical structures that I've come across in a really long while (I'm comparing it to maybe some of Fantan Mojah's earlier stuff in retrospect???). For the more experienced listener - everything is here. It is a challenging listen, the lyrics are great, you have a big modern sound and it definitely provokes serious thought. And for the newer fans, I can't say that someone with a real talent who makes music like RtR has done one of these in a really long time either. It's so SPACIOUS that you shouldn't have much of a problem following along. Perhaps I can say that about him as well: Rebellion The Recaller demands the respect of just about everyone with a BIG BIG new album. Well done. 

Rated: 4.5/5
Elite Records
CD + Digital
Review #358

No comments:

Post a Comment