|"In Transit" by Ziggi [Rock 'N Vibes]|
Much in the same way as it was for the last time we did one of these features ["Judgement Time" by Chezidek], today we're going to have a look at an album which has, very much, been a favourite of mine from the first time I heard it and one by an artist who, similarly, also has been one of my favourites for quite awhile. Also like the last album, what we have here today is a project which has grown and grown on me throughout the years to the point where its greatness has become so vivid to my ears as each and every time I hear it - I find something new to LOVE about it.
Over the past few years the former Ziggi, now 'Ziggi Recado', has strung together a sensational career. To my opinion, the Statian supernova has proven himself to be amongst the absolute most talented Reggae stars of the current era and his popularity has grown and evolved with right alongside his considerable skills as he is now one of the most well known and most respected acts in European Reggae music. Anywhere you stop, formally, along his release line, you're very likely to be impressed. Just last year he would release a pair of EP's, the original and sequel of "Liberation" for Dredda Records, while back in 2011, Recado would give us his self-titled, third and wildly popular studio album as well. It was three years before that, however, when, in my opinion, Ziggi would launch what would become and what remains his finest piece of work to date and, as I said, a personal favourite of mine. This was amplified Roots Reggae with just a dash of Dancehall. Coming courtesy of his former longtime home, Rock 'N Vibes (who would do each of Ziggi's first three albums), to my opinion, the music on this release came together to show what Ziggi was really about musically and from since then, he has yet to falter. Today we make progress and get elevated with one of the best albums I've ever heard, "In Transit".
Ziggi and producer, Berteaut Fleming [aka 'Mr. Rude'] hustle through the airport to make their flight. Coinciding with the theme, and the cover, of the album - it is time to get in transit.
#2. 'When The Youths Cry'
The first actual song on 'In Transit', like the fourteen behind it, is a great one. Although it hasn't been a song which, through the years, has garnered a great deal of attention, I don't think that an even somewhat solid case could be made that 'When The Youths Cry' is not an exquisite tune. It is. I now refer to the track as a kind of a 'loose' social commentary. Although it is also a personal selection, the song has such a free-flowing nature to it, which makes it all the more remarkable that it is also a track which doesn't waver from its lyrical goal, making it one of the best written moments here as well. As we'll find out, on this album that's a VERY big deal.
Best Lyrics: "Leggo all dem negative ways and deeds cause Jah Jah wi ah praise that's why dem caan succeed. When dem try fi fight wi down, everyday nuff blood ah run. And dem system too corrupt, that's why nuff fire ahgo bun"
#3. 'Need To Tell You This'
Where 'When The Youths Cry' is this beautiful track which has not received the credit and interest that its quality would seem to have earned it, that certainly isn't the case with 'Need To Tell You This'. Definitely one of the most identifiable moments on "In Transit", the Rootdown produced track (iLove Riddim) (MASSIVE 'Slew U In The Open' by Natty King on the same track), arguably, has also become one of Ziggi's most well known pieces altogether and, again, it is something that is warranted based solely on the song's quality. The tune finds Ziggi giving his full attention to someone special. I hesitate to call it a 'love song' - because it's more of a 'relationship song'. The difference being that although it well does have a similar focus (DUH), it also speaks on hard times and even a certain level of apprehension and awkwardness that comes, specifically, with being with a musician or someone who, in general, has to do things which takes them away for long stretches of time.
Best Lyrics: "Mi sing - When di time comes and mi haffi lef town, mi hope you understand mi have a little work that have to done. Baby don't you shed a tear. There is nothing you should fear. Though you far away, inna mi heart, you'll always be near"
#4. 'Fight This Struggle'
I don't think I had heard this tune in a minute before listening it for the sake of this post because when it first dropped in, it brought a giant smile to my face. 'Fight This Struggle' is carried by a downright GOLDEN piece of a track courtesy of the mighty Al.Ta.Fa.An, the Senior Riddim, which, to my opinion, is definitely one of that label's best creations and if you follow their work, you know how big of a statement that is because they are excellent. Besides having a great 'bed' in which to lay his tune, for his part Ziggi also puts forth a brilliant effort on a tune during which he urges all to, despite the hardships of life and the potential hardships of the prospects of changing things, maintain the course and try harder. Ultimately it is worth it on this environmentally conscious offering.
Best Lyrics: "Yow, I see dem looting, polluting and abusing Mother Earth. Nuff a dem no really know what life's really worth. Now di solar caps melting. Temperature's rising. Dem ah boost war, mi si no love circulating. No oxygen to breathe because they're chopping down di trees. Destroying all di homes of all di birds and di bees. They don't really care bout life. Tell dem open up dem eyes because dem nah live right. The world is in trouble. Temperature's on the rise. Tell di bigga heads fi open dem eyes up. Let's fight this struggle and give thanks for life. And your blessings will multiply" BOOM!
#5. 'Code Red'
The intense 'Code Red' has done a great deal of 'traveling' in regards to my tastes through the years. At first I really did enjoy the track which I wouldn't necessarily call Hip-Hop influenced, although I probably should. But in later times my appreciation of it dwindled just a bit. Today? I'm back on it. 'Code Red' is a nearly brilliant piece of designed and forecasted franticness. There's so much going on here, but the pillar of attraction to the piece comes, unsurprisingly, in its lyrics - a gift only for those keen enough to sift through the vibes surrounding it.
Best Lyrics: "Another crack baby's in the street with no food fi eat. Homeless man ah try sleep without no sheet. Youths ah turn to violence cause dem no see hope [so some ah sell crack and some ah smoke dope]"
#6. 'Cry Murdah'
Grrrr! Another favourite and signature moment from "In Transit", 'Cry Murdah', is up next. This is the type of a song that I'll speak on more later, in synopsis, as to the prevailing strength of this release and exactly why I enjoy it so much, but to cover it now - It's just a GREAT TIME of a listen. It was the type of piece whose presence not only made the album that much stronger, but it definitely gave it a pit of hype and a necessary hype as well. A social commentary at its heart, as far as a single song, 'Cry Murdah', like the album on which it appears, is a modern classic.
Best Lyrics: "And shotta neva hesitate when time fi let it off. So nuh bodda get inna di way when dem ah pop it off. And nuff a dem lose dem way already, now dem soul lost. GOT TO BE DEM LIVING TOO FAST"
#7. 'Shackles & Chains'
The Seven Riddim from Special Delivery underpins what could well be called another classic selection on the album, the stirring 'Shackles & Chains'. My absolute favourite song on this album comes somewhere between this conquering tune and the one preceding it. This song had everything going for it also. You can listen and be dazzled and you can listen and be educated by what Ziggi is saying and what he is saying is a thought of people progressing on large and small levels and not even coming close to being held down by negative forces and individuals. This is one of the best tunes he's ever done in my opinion, still, 'Shackles & Chains' was genius.
Best Lyrics: "Tell dem no bodda get inna di way when di youths dem ah revolute. Nah bow to dem a The Almighty weh wi salute. Youth dem ah get educate, so you can't pollute dem mind no more. And that's for sure. Eyes on di prize, youth dem full a ambition. Ready now to rise cause di youths have a vision. And right now your days are numbered. So get ready fi di judgment now. Shackles and chains can't stop di fire wi ah blaze. Babylon you must get erase. Sorrows and pains - alla dem will fade away. Tomorrow will be a better day"
#8. 'A Better Way' featuring Gentleman
Ziggi taps German Reggae superstar, Gentleman (why not make a new album???) for the first of several really nice combinations during "In Transit", 'A Better Way'. Two such artists on a single track definitely portends GREATNESS and this Al.Ta.Fa.An produced link didn't disappoint. Gentleman is someone who has worked with almost everyone and has proven to have a great deal of musical chemistry with just about all of them (seriously, he's made a song with almost every big named modern Roots Reggae artist) (Gentleman and… Sara Lugo???) (WHAT!) and Ziggi didn't prove to be an exception as the duo turned in a MASSIVE tune together.
Best Lyrics: "A fact this: This badness ah cause too much sadness. Youths dem a di one who pay di price fi yah madness"
#9. 'Gonna Leave You'
BOOM! Ziggi would deliver an unforgettable sweetness across the Sugar Riddim, also from Special Delivery, in the form of the hit that was 'Gonna Leave You'. I was late to this proverbial party (I usually am) and did not like this song as much as… pretty much everyone else who heard it when I first listened to it, but the years (actually the months, I've liked it now for quite some time) changed that and 'Gonna Leave You' is an undeniably gorgeous piece. What you really appreciate here (amongst others) is that Ziggi puts on the vocals just a bit and while you'll never confuse him for Jah Cure, what he does vocally with this song is so wholly appropriate and appreciable that it adds to the overall presentation of it and makes the moment so much more than it would have been on a straight forward chant.
Best Lyrics: "It's so hard for me lady. Can't take the fussing and fighting. And when it comes to you baby - you know I tried to do the right thing. But it seems like we never on the same line, arguing about the same thing all the time. Yes, I miss the days you used to be my sunshine. Now it's time for you to listen to the punchline: Yes, I'm gonna leave you girl. Can't take the pressure no more. I think I'm gonna leave you girl. Yes, I'm headed for that door"
#10. 'Oh Yeah' featuring Ce'Cile
So when you want to loosen things up just for a moment and you want to do it in a way which is fun, but SMOOTH also. What do you do? You link up with Ce'Cile and you do 'Oh Yeah', the certain change-up on "In Transit". This tune was clearly made for just kind of a lighter atmosphere and it is the type of track which doesn't even come close to detracting from the balance of the album. It could have, of course. When you take such a song and throw it on an album where it, in terms of subject, sticks out so greatly - you take the risk of 'disturbing' the album. That wasn't the case here. 'Oh Yeah' was harmless and it was good too.
Best Lyrics: "How you look so ready, yow mi really waan link you. Yeah, Ziggi rate you. Really waan date you. Put you pon a pedestal and escalate you. Take mi home to Mama, mek mi sit and debate you"
#11. 'Blaze It pt. 2' featuring Anthony B
For the herbalist tune on the album, Ziggi went in an interesting direction in several different ways. First of all he made the tune a sequel of an older selection and then he also tapped Anthony B on a track from Al.Ta.Fa.An (and a GORGEOUS track it was) for a powerful and unmoving tune covering one of both star's and guest's favourite topics of discourse. The song was kind based on and around the original, which was a hit in its time, a quality which, in retrospect, gave it even more flames.
Best Lyrics: "Tell dem it's the healing of di nation. Take away frustration. Mek dem hold a higher meditation. No matter what the situation, got to keep it burning, Nuff respect to all di herbsmen"
'Unconditional' has always been a tune which I felt, perhaps in the face of tunes such as 'Gonna Leave You' and 'Need To Tell You This', has gone underrated and overlooked through the years. That's really too bad because, at least to my opinion, the Supersonic helmed tune [Devil's Angel Riddim] is every bit as good as those similarly guided but far more well known selections. It is also, however, a bit less complicated and its sound less immediately spectacular, but for everyone who REALLY cared enough to take in the entire tune, what you got was a love song and a relationship song which was 'filled with love'. Excellent backing sing
Best Lyrics: "It is a long, long road. But we done came this far so right yah now there is no turning back. We gotta long, long way, to go, but with your loving baby girl I'm solid like a rock. Yes, I am standing firm. And yes I know that everyday we learn - a little more bout your love, more bout my love. So yes, yes try love"
#13. 'Don't Get Down'
On the obligatory Mama tune on this album, the heavy 'Don't Get Down', Ziggi keeps the vibes high while slowing things down just a bit, even in respect to the slower tune which precedes it. Extremely straight-forward and uncomplicated, this tune finds its success on that very thing as its simplicity shines. Here we find Ziggi giving thanks to the greatest person on the planet and doing it in a very strong lyrical fashion.
Best Lyrics: "You always lift me up when I was down and I'm thankful for the way you watched over me. You're a queen, you know you wear the crown, and I'm grateful for the love that you give to me. Cause your loving and affection keeps me going so I pray for your protection. And I will never disappoint you - so Mama I don't wanna see you feeling blue"
#14. 'Good Over Evil'
Ziggi touches the No Borders Riddim through Massive B via the KNOCKING 'Good Over Evil'. The song is one which, as its title does suggest, really just establishes and reinforces the idea of pushing positivity high and slamming negativity down (harshly). It comes through in specific channels in some instances and very broad ones in others and I say that (in an absurd and complicated manner), to speak on just how superbly this track is WRITTEN. You could even very well make the point that it was the best lyrical display on the whole of "In Transit".
Best Lyrics: "Too much ghetto people babylon ah try eliminate. Right yah now, now shotta dem ready fi start retaliate. Dem ah buss it like a bubble and dem neva hesitate. Tell dem seh di youth dem mind, you know wi haffi penetrate. Mek dem know dem haffi live it up and try to hold di faith. Roll it up and light it up and then it's start to meditate. Babylon it's getting hot you know you must evacuate. Dis yah one you know you caan dictate"
#15. 'Burning Redda'
'Burning Redda' is another track on this album with a crucial message which is also amazingly entertaining. You come to this tune of two minds: On one side if you get over-dazzled, you'll miss something special being said, while on the other - should you come thinking too much (and I do that, but I'm also very easily distracted, which is a good thing in this case), you won't be able to just enjoy ‘Burning Redda' for the crazy and mad track that it is. In the middle of it all exists a BIG tune and a significant point on the album.
Best Lyrics: "Informers looking out like street camera. When you think dem nah see, dem still ah study yah. Caught up in di hype and mix up in di media. FOOLING DI JUNIORS, PROVING ALL DI SENIORS"
Bonus Track. 'Cry Murdah' remix featuring Admiral T
Take, arguably, the best tune on the album and add the virtually unnecessarily talented Admiral T (that man could actually have a quarter of the skills that he currently has and still be DAMN wicked) and you have a tune of immense interest. Admiral T alongside Ziggi, even on paper, is a wonderful idea. In fruition - it's just as strong.
The last time we did one of these I went in a different direction in terms of talking, specifically, why I liked that album as much as I did and I think I'll do that again this time, but the concept here is so RIPE with discussable points, that I wouldn't at all be the ridiculous over-thinker that I am if I didn't at least deal with it slightly. The idea of being "In Transit" for this album in particular can lead to so many different routes. Personally, looking back, I look at the moment of its release as THE time when Ziggi (as I said of Jah9 recently in regards to her own new album) ("New Name", in stores now) pretty much 'shed' his label of potential and became someone who began to be dealt with in terms of the present rather than potential. He stopped being a prospect and became a contender. Anyone who could do something like this surely is beyond us wondering what is next - it's far more fun to wonder what is now. I'd like to think that was one of the main ideas behind the album concept but it does seem rather odd to think of someone, essentially, saying "Okay, after this album everyone will know I'm amazing" (even though that is exactly what happened). Also I should mention within that same frame that, if I recall correctly, the album would reach rather far in its progression towards being released before Greensleeves, which was probably newly acquired (or on the verge of being acquired) by VP Records at the time, came on board and gave it an even wider level of notoriety. Another (far more likely) idea would be that the line of thinking here is that being 'in transit' is another part of the music. It had been a couple of years from Ziggi's first album, "So Much Reasons" (which was also very popular) and it was time again to hit the road to promote the new album and new music and one could take that more specifically to the artist in the airport going on tour and playing from place to place and just being in that atmosphere of being a musician and away from home for long periods of time (check 'Need To Tell You This'). However, regardless of the actual idea behind the concept, I think that we can say from the perspective of a very long half-decade later, that not only was it a successful one, but it so wonderfully a nice dimension to the album that it would not have enjoyed if it were named after a song on the album (although 'Code Red' or 'Unconditional' may've made for pretty good titles).
As far as the major appeal of "In Transit", for me I think that it comes through as such a huge extension of the artist. I know that sounds… kind of dumb (but you should be used to that by now) (look at what you're reading!), but what I mean is that we can now look back at what became of Ziggi and specifically say that no album that he's done has so fully and vibrantly captured EVERYTHING that he is good at musically in the way that "In Transit" did. Although it was very popular, I wasn't the biggest fan of the first album, so when it came to the second, I had this reaction of "OH! Ziggi can do this!" and that may not have been the majority response, but when for me it became that moment when he ascended into being someone who -- if I am absolutely going to listen to music (and I am) -- I have to listen to this man. This is brilliant. As far as the actual music, Ziggi Recado is someone who has a conscious and spiritual base, but he comes through both aggressively and smoothly. He has a very dexterous and versatile approach. Like I said in reference to 'Cry Murdah' and there were others - these are songs whose direction places them in the scope of Roots Reggae music, but whose sound is so open and accessible that it crosses genre's by 'simply' being what it is and you can say that about Ziggi also. He can be ultra-refined and rough around the edges at the same time and be both on the highest level. And if you REALLY tune into "In Transit" you know that it, also, was those things. You also know that it was brilliant and something else: A bonafide Modern Reggae Classic!