Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rewind!: "New Name" by Jah9

"New Name" by Jah9 [RoryStoneLove]

…and sometimes when you look closer, they look even brighter. Though I generally fail, I do try to reserve my absolute highest praise for pieces which I feel have something special with them, not only in that specific moment, but seem to exhibit the type of quality which does not figure to be limited to just the moment or any actual time frame at all for that matter. Of course that is difficult. I am a human being and sometimes such creatures just change their mind for no particular reason and with nothing in the way of warning. However, through a few years of doing this now, I think I am able to distinguish a few things (I get lucky) and one of the most glaringly obvious in recent years has been the undeniable talents of one Jah9. Those skills were on a full and brilliant display earlier this year when she reached with her debut album and when it landed, it made such an impact that all who were so fortunate enough to hear and feel it have yet to stop extolling on its splendours and we may never even stop actually. Today we take a look back at the sitting Best Reggae Album of 2013 thus far and a project which, at least in my opinion, has all the markings of a future LANDMARK release and REWIND! "New Name" by Jah9.

See original review

#1. 'New Name'

Weak heart ah tremble when dem hear it sound. Though one of the pillars of the title and opening track of "New Name" is definitely humility, these days when I hear it, my mind is drawn in a direction of something a bit different, but maybe not so much - CONFIDENCE. 'New Name', the song and the vast majority of the album named after it exudes confidence and self-belief from beginning to end, but as I listen to it more and more and tune it in deeper and deeper, what I am left with is this fascinating connection between this type of humbleness and this type of confidence. In fact, I'm of the thought lately that it is one of the main ideas behind the tune. Of course it is a composition which lifts and lifts and lifts the name of His Imperial Majesty, but in doing so, this particular simultaneously lift all of those who follow HIM. Also of great interest is the deliver. It is in Jah9's way, fully, to be confident and strong in what she says - I don't think you'll ever hear some type of shy and bashful type of song from her, intentionally or unintentionally, so what she seems to project is this feeling of confidence and COMFORT and goodness because she knows exactly with Whom she stands. So, as I said originally, while 'New Name' is very much a "praising song", as I normally call it, it takes a next step and becomes, perhaps indirectly, it is a call to praise as well. YOU CAN BE THIS CONFIDENT AND FEEL THIS GOOD ALSO. Why? Because:

"I know - cause a so Jah say
The truest resurrection is spiritually"

#2. 'Intention'

The second track, 'Intention' comes out striking and questioning the actual purpose of almost everyone to be found. Most remarkably, perhaps, is that not even Jah9, herself, is immune as she also challenges herself and, by extension, people in similar positions to… do better essentially ["not perfect, but aware of the example I set for the youth"]. On top of that, there's also something very relatable about this song because it almost comes off as her thinking out loud (biggup Ambush). The revolving punchline of the song is "I KNOW", which after she goes to say some type of information that she has (DUH!) and then WHAT she does or tries to do with that specific knowledge. But what comes next, whatever it is, is never really LOCKED. Instead it is this struggle that she goes through and we all go through it in some circumstances. 


Sometimes she does have to exist inside "the system", but while there she makes the best of it and spends as little time as possible. Because of that, I now have such a greater appreciation of this song as it is this type of life-commentary which provokes thought and provokes a type of thought which like is already going on in each and every one of us in some way. And like I said on the review, it does not have the type of fierce approach as is found on the next selection because all Jah9 is doing on 'Intention' is (hopefully) reaffirming things you already know.

#3. 'Preacher Man'

You and I got it easy. The preacher man, on the other hand, will not. The song is really a fascinating one which finds Jah9 speaking thoroughly and harshly at times (and deservedly so) on how religion, as a concept, has been historically misused ["since the very beginning, you've told dem the end was near"] and how those who have done so, have basically used it as a weapon. There're moments in this tune where you could take out some of the spiritual imagery (some of it, not all of it) and it literally seems like Jah9 could be talking about a variety of different things such as guns and violence in general. And she strikes gold with that type of approach because religion, in many cases, has been a tangibly actual tool which, when placed in the wrong hands, and the wrong minds, can do as much and even more damage than anything that we typically reserve the label 'weapon' for. This is one of the definitive highlights on this album and is a BRILLIANT song.  

#4. 'As A Man' [Interlude]

"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he
The things we think of with love or fear determine not only our characters, but our circumstances -
And our environment as well
The uncontrolled thought
The drifting life
The past mistakes -
All can be obliterated by forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth -
Unto those things which are before 
And pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of The Most High
In Rastafari"


#5. 'Gratitude'

'Gratitude'. Gratitude. Gratitude. I've spent so much time going through this tune, even though I'm fairly confident that I have it grasped, but I keep hearing something new or something old in a new way that it continues to draw me back. Where I am now is regarding and respecting this tune as one which is speaking on the power of the mind. It comes from a biblical source, as is first presented on the interlude preceding it, and it goes on, similar to 'Intention', in my opinion, to discuss this entirely relatable and widely relevant internal conflict that we all have. Jah9 suggests that the mind is SO powerful that it is dominant over the flaws, or the potential flaws, of the flesh and because of that it is most important to THINK good thoughts. 

"Priority one is to focus Most High in the meditation"

By merely existing the song acknowledges that thinking properly can be a task (if there were only good thoughts, then you wouldn't need a song like this) and as someone who has lived such a flawed life, I always like songs like this which whether full-on or circuitously acknowledges that sometimes… people just make really bad mistakes and while that is not the leading point here, it is one which adds another, gorgeous, dimension to an already vast composition. 

#6. 'Taken'

In an almost Vaughn Benjamin-esque (very, very random vault review of a nine year old Midnite album coming soon) fashion, Jah9 gives us the downright majestic 'Taken', which is the ganja song on "New Name". The riddim on this song, first of all, is amongst the very best on the whole of this album. It is stunning [!] and Jah9 utilizes it to perfection by offering her very intense perspective on the subject. Here, she focuses on several things but the one which most standouts to me is her concentrating on the affects on the mind. If you've listened to any of the songs on this album before or after 'Taken', you know that is simply what she does (more on that later), but this piece takes a next step and in my own overactive brain - THIS song is to be heard and HEEDED before you tackle 'Gratitude', 'Intentions' and the likes, because it will:

"Tap into the potential of your mind!"

#7. 'Avocado'

I'm almost tempted to let my Wife write this one (every time she hears the word "avocado", she immediately responds by saying, "avocado, mi love di avocado) (and sometimes she just says it without hearing the word) (… oh and I pretty much do the same thing too) because she loves this song so much and I do also (and so do You). 'Avocado' is a gem of a song. For what it is -- such a creatively powerful love song -- which does have a deeper implication (if you say "deeper implication" over and over again, you eventually reach a point where the word "DEEPLER" will come out of your mouth - I guarantee it), I may not know of its equal. Entertaining, enthusing and even inspirational. 

Oh and I'm only 6'1 and, presumably, a much lesser choice than the object of Jah9's affections in this tune (although I do know a lot of very big words), but I do happen to have a truly ridiculous and comical pair of clown-like, giant feet. So… I mean -
"Size eighteen, mi have di size eighteen
Size eighteen, mi have di size eighteen
Size eighteen, mi have di size eighteen
Size eighteen, mi have di size eighteen"

#8. 'Mr. Right'

Jah9 has found her 'Mr. Right' and she is so wonderfully happy that she's also decided to make a song, celebrating him and the moment. 'Mr. Right' is another piece which is really relatable to pretty much anyone who has ever been in love and as someone who has experienced that twice now (the first time, however… yeah, nevermind) (but the second has been excellent!), I'm all over this song. What I like most is how she kind of takes us along for the experience and she has these entirely familiar spaces of emotion where it is like that person just kind of exists somewhere else apart from the rest of the people you know and they can get your attention when no one else can and make you laugh even when you don't feel like it. And:

"It's like he's emanating light!"

YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN LOVE, WHEN YOU LOOK AT SOMEONE AND THEY GLOW! Hopefully you've been there and it is so nice joining Jah9 on her own trip through the most wonderful emotion that there is.

#9. 'Jungle'

You've likely heard countless tunes empowering women and hailing the wonderful women of the world and that is a great thing ["Hey Mama"] ["Hi Mama"]. On some of these songs, you've also likely heard women being praised even more because the men in society haven't necessarily lived up to our responsibility ["Mama is there and Papa disappear. She alone ah help wi face di problems out there"] and, again, that is something which is unfortunately accurate and deserved. On 'Jungle', however, Jah9 seeks to rid out that problem at its nascence. To my opinion, this is a song aimed especially at younger men and hopefully it gets you enthused to do good things. It is a call to action which so INTELLIGENTLY makes its case in a way which is attractive to men. If you are a good man and taking care of yourself and your family, you are the lion! You have nothing to fear! You are the King of The Jungle! Jah9 glorifies something which she shouldn't need to, but unfortunately does, and presents doing what one should do any way as this fantastic and necessary thing for a good society to run smoothly. And she does so when typically the thought is that in order to empower society - you need to empower women - but empowering an absent or potentially absent male is just as important. BOOM! 

#10. 'Imagine'

Surely what is said during 'Jungle' is essential to reach the splendours of 'Imagine', which takes the next step. From its ideas, 'Imagine' is absolutely flawless. It shows Jah9 'imagining' a community where so many things ran properly and ideally and how that would be. Also, and really important, from her delivery you definitely get the feeling that she full believes that this isn't just an idea to be left on a song, but it is entirely possible to reach as well. However, I've listened to this song so intently (and still do), that that isn't what has developed to my ears. What has grown is the vibes of the tune. This is one of those very rare moments where lyrics and meaning and ideas threaten to overwhelm the basic sound of the tune (not surprisingly on an album like this) and it does, but if you can kind of back up slightly, you'll notice an ever-increasing dynamicity to 'Imagine'. It is divine from a thunderous backing to sweet chanting background singers. Both lyrics and sound combine to make one magical song.

#11. 'Legitimate' featuring Protoje

"Legitimate or not
Some claim indemnity from the original plot
As though their integrity could still be intact
But what is the likelihood of that? -
When if you trace the source of each resource they've got -
They've tapped into the veins of the masses
The system maintains
Feeding on their youthfulness and draining from their brains
And then the weak ones are injected -
Armed and turned toward the strife
They return with force and take away their life

But make no mistake!
There is life in abundance for all to partake
So war is redundant and hate is futile
[In the face of love]
But too many put feeling
[In the face of love]
We all are the same!
The essence of life in this physical plane
So nothing can restrain the love
You just have to claim the love

Yes, I remember the censorship of showing your roots
Deception with no life conditioning for the youths
Replacing old traditions with their programs for decline
Defiant of the taming 
My natural advantage - I'm proclaiming

So make no mistake
There is life in abundance for all to partake
So war is redundant and hate is futile
[In the face of love]
But too many put feeling
[In the face of love]
We all are the same!
The essence of life in this physical plane
So nothing can restrain the love
You just have to claim it
You just have to claim it
You just have to claim the love

From the days of Menelik and Makonnen
King man dem ah hackle, Ites up in di tabernacle dem
A so wi tackle dem
Slew dem in di battle then
Becah dem have lock up inna herd, wi like a cattle dem
But no mi nah go hesitate to draw -
Whether it be the weapon or the herb inna mi jaw
The earth inna mi paw from di first vision I saw
Sensation of the cord that did tie mi to my Ma
Wi learning what wi waan
Understand di boy dem caan violate di covenant -
It carry universal law
So who fi curse wah Jah bless, wi lef dem inna awe
Work without a flaw from inna Addis Ababa
No, mi nah go harbour hotta hotta lava 
So, which one you rather?
Riches now or after
One life you live?
You sure a dat?
Watch it come back harder
What bout di curse you ahgo lef yah son and daughter?
Try scrape up di brawta
Inna drought a dash weh water
No mek dem heathen dem go stray you from di path
Cause even when you dead, you caan go escape dem ya wrath

I have no fear!
Though I have no enemy, I am aware!
That something only have themselves
When you delegate your fate to someone else
But fortunately!
I claim dominion over my destiny!
With wisdom and power from knowledge of The Key

So make no mistake
There is life in abundance for all to partake
So war is redundant and hate is futile
[In the face of love]
But too many put feeling
[In the face of love]
We all are the same!
The essence of life in this physical plane
So nothing can restrain the love
You just have to claim it
You just have to claim it
You just have to claim the love"

#12. 'Inner Voice'

And finally, Jah9 wants You to learn how to trust YOU on 'Inner Voice' and to help you along your journey or maybe to get you started, she offers this MAMMOTH and DAZZLING track. Again, as was the case with 'Imagine', this is the type of song which I immediately began to go deep on, lyrically, from the first time I heard it and now, as I move back just a little, I am able to appreciate other aspects of it. Particularly interesting, of course, is the song's bridge (I think that's what you call it), where we go totally sans our heroine and into an astounding full chant for nearly a minute beginning in the song's early second half. It doesn't matter what you come looking for on 'Inner Voice', brilliant lyrics and message or an intoxicating sound - You'll find it as you did throughout this amazing album! 

This is not a "Modern Classic" feature (though this album will surely qualify for one of those someday), but I would like to, very briefly, mention a common theme present throughout "New Name". It is a very 'mental' album and, as she digs into on 'Gratitude', as you think it is then, for you, it is! For me, part of the continued fascination of this album and attraction to Jah9's music, in general, is that she incites deep and ACTUAL thought. She doesn't speak in absolutes and she doesn't paint pictures which're perfect. Her method is full and lifelike. It is beautiful because life can be beautiful. It is rocky because life can be rocky. And it is flawed because we are not perfect and never will be. However, with an album like this, at least as an artist - "I'm beginning to wonder" about Jah9. The current Album of The Year and I'll be damn shocked if I'm not saying the same thing on the first of January, 2014.

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