"To Your Majesty" by Danny I [I Grade Records - 2011]
Today we take another look at an album from 2011 which I don't really think got what it ultimately deserved in terms of attention and, in this case, it was almost to be expected. The artist in this case has never been very flashy or someone who automatically commanded attention before you listened to his music, but after you did take that next step, he proved to be someone who had seemingly mastered being consistent in an arena such as Virgin Islands Reggae music which is virtually constructed on the concept of being consistent. He exists as definitely one of the most dependable. Now three albums deep into his career, he very much figures to be someone who is more likely to get that respect and attention at some later point . . . From you! I'm doing my part (again) today as we Rewind! "To Your Majesty" by Danny I.
1. 'To Your Majesty'
"Everything that liveth better hail"
The opener and title track of this album has not only remained its most crucial and best tune to my ears, it's also gone on to become, much like the title track from the singer's previous album, "Unchangeable" and the MASSIVE 'Lion As A Rulah' from his now virtually untraceable debut set, "Jah Fury" (easily one of the finest creations I have ever heard), a pillar of Danny I's career in my opinion. This song is really an amalgam of many of the ideas on the album named after it combined on a single track and, as you may imagine such a tune would have to be, it's outstanding and such a satisfying tune. Truly music made for a King.
2. 'Leave All Your Load'
'Leave All Your Load' is one of those tracks on where my mind just gets really up and going because what it does is to, literally, say that it's time to go "home" and such a statement can be taken in so many different directions. You arrive at a point where "home" is just as much of a MENTAL place that it is a physical one. In either case, however, the vocalist is a calling for a healthy piece of change on a song which is still a real highlight from this album (and probably should've gotten more attention).
3. 'My Island Home'
Danny I gives one SWEET tribute to St. Croix on 'My Island Home', which is kind of a changeup for the album, but when you consider the vocals on this track, and the artist's vocals in general, while this tune isn't the hard-hitting social/cultural/spiritual/political-commentary, it isn't at all a grand deviation from what he does well. Oh and it's also . . . excellent.
4. 'On the Streets Again'
"Certain kind of bwoy no waan fi ease off
Certain kind of bwoy just waan fi squeeze off one
Certain kind of bwoy no want to hear talk
Certain kind of bwoy just waan fi let guns bark"
'On the Streets Again' very much is that type of social commentary I spoke of not being on the previous selection. What I'm focusing on so much from this one these days is just how passionate Danny I is in delivering it. He doesn't really have a set for "urgency", but if he did, the typically extremely laid back singer would probably use it to sound how he does on this song which definitely warrants it.
5. 'Sometimish Rastaman' featuring Sabbattical Ahdah
Hearing music from Sabbattical Ahdah, who guests on 'Sometimish Rastaman' . . . can be kind of frustrating. The chanter is fantastic - a huge talent - but he can be so damn inactive and invisible that you well wish he'd voice for someone who'd actually put his music out (like maybe . . . I Grade Records?) even remotely consistent. Here we have a next song which well displays the skillset of Ahdah, who makes a mighty musical pairing with Danny I on one of the most immediately recognizable and signature pieces here ["I don't wanna be, I don't wanna be . . ."].
6. 'Royal Line'
Live up. I hadn't heard 'Royal Line' in awhile. It's probably been at least a few months or so and as soon as I played it again for the sake of this post, it seemed like I hadn't actually stopped listening to it from the first time I'd heard it. I LOVE the way this song comes across because what we, essentially, have is Danny I saying to everyone to DO BETTER. You ancestry and your bloodline shows that you come from much better than you're showing - so it's time to "stop wasting Jah time" and begin to live a better life for yourself. Outstanding.
7. 'Pure Lovers Rock' featuring Dushane
Obviously the largest and most easily identified quality of 'Pure Lover's Rock' is the fact that it comes through across the same riddim Toussaint uses for his big 'Be You' single. It makes a fine usage of the composition which will likely forever be linked with that big tune (and deservedly so). Dushane is also on board on the cavity causing creation which is absolutely perfect for Danny I and he should do more similarly vibed pieces in my opinion.
8. 'Tu Confusión'
The Pura Vida Riddim takes over for the Spanish voiced moment of "To Your Majesty", 'Tu Confusión'. I still would like to, some day, go through the written words of this track. In terms of listening to Spanish, I'm HORRIBLE, but I can read it decently and the bits that I can piece through on what appears to be a social commentary, are definitely intriguing.
9. 'Nuh Hard Fi Do'
In full, I think that this album is the type which gets better as we go further and further from its release date. When Danny I releases his next album, or the next after the next, whenever that might happen, I can easily see a whole heap of people going back and remembering/learning just how strong the "To Your Majesty" album really was. That's already started to occur for me - this type of aged enhancement - in some respects and there is maybe only a single greater example from the album than on 'Nuh Hard Fi Do' [see track #11]. I did well enjoy it from the first time I heard the tune, but its now become one of my favourite songs on this album. I liken it very much to 'Royal Line' as far as the direction of both songs, but where this song seems to is in its approach. There's just something about the way in which 'Nuh Hard Fi Do' is placed together and how SMART it comes across that is so musically attractive. I wouldn't be at all entirely shocked if a few years on this track has even surpassed the title track for my affections. It's that good.
10. 'Never Lay Down' featuring Army
On paper, 'Never Lay Down' really stands out. Danny I's good friend and exceedingly popular vocalist (who has a very passionate fan base and who really, really, really needs a new album) Ras Army signs up and joins on the track which has also grown in my tastes these days. I look at it now and of course you're struck, initially, by how much the two sound like one another, but I'm not there recently. I do love the pairing, but as it ages, there's so much of a dual-uniqueness in this call to action of a song which is, at least partially, where its strength comes from.
11. 'Over Red and Blue'
Finally, I see you! The socially and politically charged 'Over Red and Blue' is a song which I really went back and tried to focus on because I don't know that I ever really got into the lyrics of it and when I heard it for the first time in a bit, I remember thinking from one of the first spins that it was easily the type of song that could stand up for a lyrics feature (and it still is), but now having done that and REALLY dug into it, I’m inclined to say that it may feature the single finest lyrical performance on the whole of "To Your Majesty". Something really clever happens here where Danny I drifts between English and Spanish ["I see dem over deh so - just like a mouse behind a queso. All dem thinking bout - how to catch you. But dem haffi watch it with Don gato"] and doesn't at all lose momentum nor a even a particle of its ultimate impact. A brilliant song.
12. 'Hold On'
'Hold On' is and has always been absolutely delightful in every way. This song is one of the types on which the artist is really speaking to oppressed people of the world who may have a great difficulty in maintaining their course, but I've really come to take songs like this, in general, in more of a macroly micro direction. I know that makes no sense at all (as usual), but what I mean is that you take a song like this and you can really put it through wide variety of SPECIFIC situations - thus macro and micro - and you end up with a wider reaching idea. That, of course, doesn't denigrate what was its obvious intent, but it now is applicable to people really just reaching a bad point in their lives or even having a bad day or a bad job or a bad relationship or a bad anything. Anything that has hope or leads to hope which isn't going in a great direction can apply here and especially through such a vibrantly vibed tune.
13. 'All Skin'
It ah burn. 'All Skin' has all ways (did you see that?) been one of my favourite songs from the "To Your Majesty" record and nothing has changed these days. This song is stunning in full as Danny I weaves a vibes exalting and identifying the royal power of His Imperial Majesty.
14. 'Hailing Tafari'
I feel this way too. And much like the tune preceding it on the album, 'Hailing Tafari' has always been big for me and it's only gotten even more sizable. This is the singer's take on the very stringy and skeletal riddim which has appeared on a few I Grade/Zion I Kings releases over the years. Danny I is interesting because his style, inherently, is one which doesn't have to go very far (not at all) outside of itself to tap into a style like this, which is obvious when you hear the results on this MAMMOTH moment.
Obviously it was the recent winning album by Ras Batch, "Know Thyself" which triggered the idea of jumping back to the "To Your Majesty" release and really just retaking it in and having another look. Danny I has always very much had a poetic quality to his work and not just because of the laid back approach and delivery. Something about his work very much exudes the notion of the work being an extension of the worker and although you don't, ostensibly, get that from his style, it's a trait which, at least to me, DRENCHES the "To Your Majesty" album and it's one of the greatest pieces of its appeal. So, if you haven't to date (shame on you) get to know Danny I and pick up the singer's latest release, the outstanding "To Your Majesty".