Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rewind!: "Holdin A Vibe" by Jah Nyne

"Holdin A Vibe" by Jah Nyne [Goldcup Records]
Let's go back again. Today we're going to take a look back at yet another album which I do not think received anywhere even near the amount of attention that it deserved in its time, but we can definitely get it going again. Back in 2011 an album which I had, technically, been waiting on at that point for two or three years or so arrived from an outstanding chanter from out of The Bahamas by the name of Jah Nyne. Over the few previous years, Nyne had been someone who I definitely had an eye and an ear on for several reasons, not the least of which was his powerfully infectious and melodic style. Jah Nyne made a brand of BEAUTIFUL Roots Reggae which made me and many others high on his actual and potential talents. No one made greater usage of those talents and got more out of the artist than Italian imprint, Goldcup Records, who would bring some of his biggest pieces to fruition prior to and including his album. Traveling back we look back at an extremely impressive debut set and REWIND! "Holdin A Vibe" by Jah Nyne.

{Cassa, biggup yourself. Took awhile, but I got to it}

1. 'Holdin A Vibe'

The title track and opener of Jah Nyne's "Holdin A Vibe" album is a damn interesting one for so many reasons. First of all, as a song, it has well grown on me over the past year and a half. I once considered its main strength to be the fact that it situates itself so precisely at the beginning of the album which maximizes its value because of exactly what is going on with it. Here we find Nyne relaying an experience he had with His Majesty which, presumably, lead him into either making this album or making music, in general (or both). Basically what he says is that he was told to speak righteousness to the masses and -- what you have next -- is an album full of what he was instructed to do! Furthermore, as I once really thought it as almost strictly a great intro and perhaps not as great of  a song - that's gone. 'Holdin A Vibe' is BEAUTIFUL and that would be the case if it were at the album's head or buried somewhere else as well. And it doesn't end as an intro (or at least it shouldn't), because of what it is, you can CONSTANTLY refer back to it while listening to the album coming behind it. It is one of the single best moments on the album named after it and a great point of reference as well.

2. 'Take Control'

Again, a very nice point of interest of the album's second tune, 'Take Control', is how well it is placed on the album. Of course being second has no real prominence, alone, but coming behind the song which it comes behind, 'Take Control' is given just a bit more of the spotlight and area to shine in my opinion. It didn't really need the 'help', however. From beginning to end, although it does show flashes of being spectacular, this is just a SOLID composition on which Nyne definitely does take a biblical perspective, but he does so under, to my observation, the prevailing sentiment of encouraging all to be HUMBLE, which is always a great thing.

"In desolate places, we'll find our bread
In the wilderness, yes, we'll find a comfortable pillow to rest our head
Obedience goeth forth in the name of The Lord
We're trodding through Creation with a humble spirit and faith, of course"

3. 'Jah Bless Us'

Smiling! 'Jah Bless Us' (this song and Ras Indio's album of the same name) just does something to my senses. It makes its point (and I'll tell you about that), but it also just REALLY MAKES ME FEEL GOOD! It just comes in with this ultra-pleasant and infectious bounce, which persists well after the actual song. Jah Nyne uses this to give us a tune about making the best of your personal situation and comprehending what you have in life and using it to the best of your ability. I kind of make it sound complicated (because that's just what I do), but it is a very uncomplicated selection whose attraction actually exists in that part of itself also.

4. 'Hungry Pickney'

Goldcup Records'… golden Golden Riddim underpins 'Hungry Pickney' which has definitely become one of the signature moments from 'Holdin A Vibe' and, you could argue, from Nyne's entire career as well. This tune was spectacular in its day and it hasn't dwindled through the years either (you should really check out the Golden Riddim album as well, it was packed with stellar names such as Khari Kill, Jah Marnyah, Miss Linda, Lion D and even Sizzla Kalonji). It was a rather broad social commentary, despite its title, and one of the most thorough of its kind (sounding like something you'd hear from Junior X) and it also had a gorgeous command of melody which saw the track ranking near the absolute finest offerings on this album.

"Some trust inna dem horses and chariot
Five star hotel, dem lay off inna di Marriot
SUV weh dem go drive
Dem put real estate over human life
Well dem no waan di money if it clean
No, a dem prefer di money weh put on bloodstain
But a righteousness clean up di nation
Let's hail di King of this Creation"

5. 'How Do You Feel?'

Although more specific, in this case dealing primarily with anti-violence, in terms of its direction, 'How Do You Feel' isn't very dissimilar to the song which it follows. The main difference, however, is just how personal it is. This one doesn't speak in broad and general terms, it hits directly at those and the conscience of those creating and maintaining violence throughout the world. Over the time I've definitely gained a greater amount of appreciation for this song which has a greater lyrical appeal than I probably gave it credit for having originally.

6. 'Rise'

And then there's the boom! I may've been the only one (but who cares), but the best tune that I initially heard, and still hear, on the whole of "Holdin A Vibe" was the BLAZING 'Rise'.

"Let's give Jah thanks and praise
Ancient fyah outta road deh fi blaze
Don't nyam outta babylon plate
Plastic smile mi seh hitch upon dem face
Dem caan get wi out a di race
Melchizedek Order dem, mi embrace
Di healing a di nation, wi waan meditate
Zion and Earth - The Most High deh create
Haile Selassie I strengthen I faith
Mi no inna argument, no time fi debate

So rise
Come mek wi go chant dem down
Babylon yah going down
Come mek wi go chant dem down
Babylon yah going down

Haile Selassie works, mi come fi proclaim
Many were called, only a few ordained
Yuh caan enter Zion if yah heart it no clean
Yow! Haile Selassie I reign
Out of yah sleep or slumber wake up from unuh dream
Unuh break free from unuh mental chain

MAD! 'Rise' was a track which did grab attention, but not nearly as enough as it should have in my opinion and I don't care what you say - it's the best song on this album and probably the best I've EVER heard from Jah Nyne which is saying a lot.

7. 'Zion I'

Up next is a tune which I have thoroughly enjoyed from the very first time that I heard it, the somewhat Horace Andy-esque 'Zion I'. Like almost every song on the album, the tune registered with a very substantial spiritual and mental base and what Nyne built from that point, at least to me, was one of the better pieces here. This is another tune which I don't feel necessarily received what its quality would seem to suggest it deserved, but there's nothing that says we can't give it to it NOW! 'Zion I' was big.

8. 'Peace & Love' featuring Ras Ijah

Ras Ijah would join Jah Nyne on the first of two combination efforts on "Holdin A Vibe", 'Peace & Love', and he would do exceedingly well in shining brightly on a pair of standout verses from the entire album. I love the contrast here as we have the rough and gruff Ijah alongside the more refined and melodically dominant Jah Nyne. Together the two link up and develop a tune which was an outstanding vibe and one which I wouldn't at all mind having a sequel someday.

9. 'Herbs & Spice'

I shouldn't have to tell you exactly what's going on with a song called 'HERBS & Spice' (so I'm going to act as if I've already covered that). In many respects the song is a delightful one, while in others it may not be so, but what stands out here mostly, today, is just how effortlessly it appears for Nyne to have made. He makes some excellent and poignant points throughout, but it doesn't, at all, come off as the type of composition which was so extremely laid out and planned prior to its recording

"Mi si di soldier patrolling wid dem artillery
Mi build a spliff in dem face
Dem caan touch mi"

10. 'I'll Treasure You'

Speaking of delighting. I'd almost forgotten about 'I'll Treasure You' for the most part, and I kind of like that in instances like this where you get this great almost nostalgic experience when hearing a tune for the first time in awhile. The most charming aspect of this very strong lover's song is the fact that it is supported by a version of the same track used by the legendary Bob Marley for the equally legendary 'Stir It Up' and while it doesn't quite strike on the levels of the song's original passenger, what Nyne does turn in is more than decent and, perhaps even better, just a glorious idea.

11. 'Shoulder to the Wheel'

If your experience in listening to Jah Nyne's music goes back further than the release of this album, then it is very likely that one of your, like my, favourite songs of the Bahamian's is the EXCELLENT 'Shoulder To The Wheel'. It probably first reached a couple of years or so prior to the arrival of the album and because of that, had ample time to grab my senses and make itself a long-standing standout of an album I didn’t even know was on the way. It's really just a piece about determination and strength and although it doesn't come through in very fiery type of channels, it does exude this infectious level of a more quiet type of confidence which aides in making for one of the most mighty musical DISPLAYS on this album and from Jah Nyne in general.

"Unuh caan sit down and think seh things fall from sky
Lazy body, you no get up and go give work a try
Unuh deh pon di battlefield, well then yah qualify
Just try a little thing, yah nuh need fi wear no necktie
Stay focused and everything multiply
Give thanks and praises to His Majesty I
No need fi go weep and there's no need fi go cry
The benefit of hard work prepare di table fi I"

"Unuh come Selassie I house if unuh waan strength
Straight road fi go trod of I've a lasting length
Inna di wilderness - Rastaman go pitch tent
Ises, King Selassie I, mi reverence
Gimmi di coke -
Nah, Chalwa
Don't forget mi incients 
Wi meditation, burn di serpent
Selassie rule a theocratical government
Inna di tabernacle wi burn myrrh and frankincense
Deh pon wi knees, mi heart must always cleanse

"Work hard for material and spiritual gain
They're both essential for our well being
The scale must balance, one side caan lean
And if the scale unbalanced then no one side point streen [straight]
Prepare to achieve what is to attain
Everything that you do, do in The Almighty name
Seek Jah first and blessings shower like rain
And wickedness in heart, it must haffi recede"

12. 'Unity Is Strength' featuring Peter Runks

And finally, "Holdin A Vibe" would reach its conclusion with its second and final (DUH!) combination (how could this be the last song and not the last combination) (common sense is bad for you!), 'Unity Is Strength', which featured veteran Peter Runks who would have also had a new album out at the same time. Runks has a very nice voice which may not work well in many other genres, but is nearly perfect in the spectrum of Reggae music. Here, the two deliver another very straight-forward winner which may not offer much in the way of twists and turns, but is a solid effort and a fine way to end things.
Jah Nyne
One of the biggest reasons that I so much enjoying doing these features is that they allow me to refocus my reviewer's ear and do so months, and sometimes even years, later. When I do that, inevitably I'll hear new things that I didn't pay much attention to the first time around. I'll gain a new appreciation on certain songs and lose one on others and while I did have a similar experience this time, most importantly I was able to relive just how much of an UTTER JOY this album was to listen to. I'm not calling it the greatest album I've ever heard and I'll never declare it a full on classic, but if you're looking for a very pleasing and gratifying Roots album which didn't sacrifice message for sonic appeal, then definitely pick up one of the most interesting debut sets I've heard in a very long time, "Holdin A Vibe" by Jah Nyne.


  1. Oh, I like this post. This is one of my favorite albums at this point.

    I don't understand what gimme di coke, nah chalwa means. makes more sense backwards.

    Always appreciate when you shed light on how you review the music. Write out the lyrics; check the album again later on; how multifaceted is that concept.

  2. It is backwards. But I think you wrote it out better than I did, to what he meant. I think it was supposed to be like "Gimmi di coke?" "Nah [gimmi di] chalwa"