Let's do it again. At or near the start of someone's career is a much different situation. When an artist first begins and arrives at the point of realizing and then releasing their very first album and it is well received, we as fans almost immediately begin to think about its follow-up. Can they possibly do that again and, in doing so, establish their name as not only a future star, but as someone who can consistently deliver good music at such an early stage of their development? At that same time they're also in the process of establishing many other things and are generally on the rise so the fact that they could also manage to fit in winning albums along the way is such a wonderful next step. This year we've already seen the two glaring cases of both Protoje and then Lion D taking that route with "The 8 Year Affair" and "Bring Back The Vibes", respectively - and now, they are seemingly well on their way to some level of stardom and it will be all kinds of interesting to watch and hear them get there. But like I said, that's a little different situation. With what we deal today is something pretty rare as a an artist to whom I have now been listening for more than a decade and is more than eight years removed from his own actual sophomore release (2005's "Rising Sun"), the curiously and definitely gifted Chezidek, attempts to make an extremely important second impression of his own. It certainly was not as if he hadn't shown flashes of brilliance or even hadn't existed as a musician in conditions of persisting excellence throughout points of his career, it was the opposite. He had also made good albums - his very first, "Harvest Time" from 2002, was arguably one of the best debuts from since the turn of the century and half a decade later was his most popular project to date, the Massive B vibed "Inna Di Road". He had been consistent and wholly dependable and very talented as well. However, back in 2010 the singer, then seven albums deep into his career, released a set by the name of "Judgement Time" which really was just somewhere else in terms of its quality (and it still is and you are just a… nasty human being if you don't own that album). After years and years of impressive work it speaks to the prevailing CLASS of "Judgement Time" when I say that it was SO good that it was surprising.
|"Judgement Time" |
But everyone was prepared this time. "Judgement Time" would come via Dutch label, JahSolidRock and do just incredible things. It wasn't this kind of quickly moving wildly popular release. That really isn't Chezidek's style (even if you follow his big songs, with very few exceptions, it's usually more of a gradual process). Instead, what seemed to happen with that album was almost like everyone who heard it then told someone else, "Damn. That new Chezidek album is really, really good!" and there was virtually nothing in the way of disagreeing (and, thus, criminally wrong) opinions. It was a unanimous winner which would set the stage for a full-on appetizing sequel which has now arrived.
|Also from JahSolidRock|
"The Order of Melchezedik". Were all of that not enough, also adding to the attraction of a second Chezidek album from JSR would be the label's own progression from the first. Although this becomes the artist's very first project from "Judgement Time", in the interim JahSolidRock was very busy. Not only did they push full sets from esteemed veteran vocalists Apple Gabriel ["Teach Them Right"] and Earl 16 ["The Fittest"], the label would also deliver the sweet "Back To Eden", the Reggae album of Dutch Soul singer, Lloyd De Meza AND a sterling compilation called "Cultural Vibes" as well. Like I said, they've been very busy and what they have put together, each time, has been both big and well received and now JSR, just like Chezidek, comes full circle. For me, and I'm assuming I'm not the only one, this is a very crucial album, even on paper, at such an advanced stage of Chezidek's career. Not only is it following what is likely the best album of his career thus far (and as I said not too long ago, that debate is over for me, "Judgement Time" was his greatest) and a well known one as well, but he is a big name and was before the first one, so "new Chezidek album", definitely carries a significance on its own and particularly when it is the first of its kind in three years. Big credit also goes to JahSolidRock who has been very strong in promoting their work. So you can expect, I would think, a similar push behind "The Order Melchezedik" and maybe even a bigger one. Such an album is going to be afforded almost every chance possible to succeed, but with such a lofty platform also comes equally soaring anticipations and expectations. There were so many things that made "Judgement Time" as special as it was and many people (including You and I) are likely to show up for the next show if not expecting it to be as good as the first, then surely expecting it to be on that level and to display similar traits as well. One thing, especially, which I was most looking forward to was something which was, in my opinion, one of the most striking experiences of listening to "Judgement Time" - this strangely CLEAR sound that it carried. I still don't know the linguistics of describing it at all and I probably never will, but that album sounded SO GOOD, even before you got to the actual music and when you did, of course, it too was top notch. I didn't get very far into "The Order of Melchezedik" without hearing that same thing happening again and it, alone, made me smile. But what we came here to see and to hear was whether or not the new release manages to build upon what began in 2010 and if it could be possibly be a worthy successor to such a great effort! It could and it does.
Damn. That new Chezidek album is really, really good! It appears as if it was the intent by everyone involved to not only make a good album, most importantly, but I think that Ras Denco and all the fine people at JahSolidRock also really appreciated the moment and the opportunity to make a deserved mighty sequel to, arguably, their most well known creation and if that were the objective, then consider their efforts a triumphant success. Those efforts bring to fruition the new album from Chezidek, "The Order of Melchezedik", which gets moving with a gorgeous opener in 'All My Life'.
"All my life
And all my days
The joy of my heart is to give Rastafari praise
Put down that burden
Ease that pain
I and I trodding Rastafari way
For babylon world is a heavy, heavy load
And it's a very, very, very long journey
You're gonna need Jah down the road
You're gonna need Jah when the fire start burning
I say - One perfect love is the key to Jah door
So come now, one and all, give up Jah ises more and more"
The tune is an attractive one. It's dynamic and moving and infectious and no song on this album would really have served as a better way to get things started to my opinion. Then we get to very familiar territory when the clean version of the riddim for 'All My Life' comes through next. This is something which occurred throughout the "Judgement Time" album and really I'm happy they kept it here because it adds so much to the listening experience and DISPLAY of the album and while it only happens twice here, seriously the version of 'All My Life' is one of the best tracks on the album - with or without vocals. Chezidek does return on 'Faya Pon Dem' and, once again, does sublimely. This piece is a social commentary and a very specific one at times. This is a very fascinating song. First of all, I know I can't describe it well, but if you wonder exactly what I mean when I talk about the sonic appeal of this album and its predecessor - listen to this song. So clear and so pleasing to the ear and Chezidek utilizes the moment to make a fantastic song aimed at everyone who is leading a foul and nasty existence. Then… TEARS!
"Search and you will find -
There's no place that you can hide from -
It is somewhere there inside -
So just put away false pride
'Search and You Will Find' did something to my mind and whatever it did, I'd like for it to do it again! And then again! It is a diamond of a song and my single most favourite selection on the whole of "The Order of Melchezedik", which is saying a lot because at no point does this album dip. Not even for a note.
'Praises To Jah'
Chezidek isn't done giving praises (and will never be done) and he continues to thank His Imperial Majesty in MASSIVE ways throughout the record. One of the most spectacular comes on, I believe, what is the album’s first single, the stirring 'Praises To Jah'. When I first heard this song, I thought of how perfectly it may've fit onto the previous album, but how its presence on this one, along with that of a few others, gives it an IMMEDIATELY recognizable and signature moment. It is golden! It is a versatile piece - we hear Chezidek almost deejaying during the tune's most exhilarating portion (I'm sure he's done that before, but I can't remember it sounding THIS good, if he has) - and it also has that coolness which reigned during the MAMMOTH 'Walk With Jah' from "Judgement Time". It's a beautiful composition and one sure to power itself to being a hit. Check also the delightful 'Jah In Your Heart', which is an inspirational piece fully through and a fine one which pinnacles in its writing as Chezidek goes through several different topics all in response to giving praises to The Almighty. Also belonging to this group would be the unifying 'One Family' which is such a nice song and, again, one which really shines on the lyrical end. Because of other things, such as his voice, I do not think that the singer gets enough credit as a lyricist and if you want to see where his level really is, pick up "The Order of Melchezedik".
"Then why do you say I'm your enemy -
When you know we are all one family?
I look at you and you look at me
And all that we see is humanity
Not because of your ethnicity -
Or your religious ideology
Don't deny the love ….
For [in favour of] babylon philosophy
Don't judge me by the shade of my skin
Don't look down on me for the place of my origin
We were born to be free!
So put away your slavery
We are all from the same family tree"
"Then why one have nothing, lives nowhere?
And you have so much yet you don't share?
You spending so much on warfare
Dropping bombs and you're killing them down there
Well the ones in the suffering and despair -
WHEN THEY CALL FOR MERCY DO YOU HEAR?
Or do we only love those who are near?
WHEN WE SAY WE LOVE, DO WE REALLY CARE?
For wealth and power and glory -
You're poisoning the children slowly
You subdue your brother so lowly
And treat your sister unholy
YET PORTRAY YOURSELF SO PURELY
YOUR JUDGMENT IS SURELY"
BOOM AGAIN! DAMN!
Not losing his calm at one point there, this tune comes through with such a grand amount of star potential with it and it ranks so highly for me and is a lyrical achievement on its own. Big tune!
'Rain Come Falling' is such an interesting song because we find the artist, whether intentionally or not, examining the duality of 'rain' and 'water'. On one side are the ominous dark clouds and lightning and thunder, while on the other is the happy farmer who is pleased that his crops are being fed. Of course I don't take these things so literally, necessarily, and instead I think the song is actually a look at life and how things can change at any time without warning. Later we also take another look at the works of Mother Nature on 'Plant a Tree'. This one I do take on a more direct scale because it is an environmental commentary and one as lovely and serene as the world which Chezidek wishes that we lived in. On the explosive 'Tumbling Down', we head back to the sentiments of the earlier piece, 'Faya Pon Dem'. Here, he continues to express the notion of the awful end which awaits certain individuals, but I get the feeling that 'Tumbling Down', which is a very clever song, is also very personal for Chezidek. Though he does speak on a few different things, it almost seems as if he had one or two particular things in mind when he wrote it. And finally, "The Order of Melchezedik" closes (not really) with 'Hail Up the Roots' which is a brilliant tribute to Africa.
"And inna Senegal
And inna Gambia
Zimbabwe and inna Uganda
Shanty shanty, inna Ghana
Inna Malawi and inna Botswana
Inna Sudan and inna Nigeria
Mi haffi trod up, trod up inna Kenya
Freedom fighters from South Africa -
Give praises to Jah in Ethiopia
Don't forget the roots
Hail up the roots inna Africa
I and I - the African Child
Walk the banks of the River Nile
Eat the food from the African soil
Learn to face the warm sunshine
Long before they rule and divide
Long before they brutalized
Long before they colonized
I'm looking through my African eyes"
And 'Hail Up the Roots' doesn't take things alone, instead it is actually followed by the heavy 'Rootical Reprise', which is a KNOCKING instrumental extension to the song. This was just a great idea and, again, tremendously adds to the listening experience of this album.
Critiques? The only thing that I think can even be said here is that there're really only ten songs with a couple of instrumentals. HOWEVER, I learned my lesson on "Judgement Time" where there were seventeen tracks with six instrumentals - meaning eleven songs. Yes, I wish we had more of both, but listening to that album for three years has lessened that as a legitimate complaint in my opinion, so I'm not even going start that now. For what it is, this 'order' is a healthy one.
Overall, despite carrying a bit of pressure to live up to such a high standard, Chezidek and JahSolidRock do not even remotely show the effects of it during "The Order of Melchezedik" which is as seamless as its predecessor. I also want to say that although I definitely wanted to draw comparisons between the two, because I so much loved "Judgement Time" (and I'll show exactly how much I loved it in one of our next posts), the new album is original. It isn't at all derivative and it's even, at least to my opinion, slightly more dynamic at points, which make for a fully unique sound, but one which is sure to captivate all who came back for the sequel. They did it again! From beginning to end, "The Order of Melchezedik" is outstanding and it shows that, in each other, both Chezidek and JahSolidRock have found nearly perfect musical partners. Now! I mean… is it too early to ask for a trilogy? Because I could really do this again. Fantastic and not to be missed.
CD + Digital