Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rewind!: "Free Indeed" by Midnite

"Free Indeed" by Midnite [Higher Bound Productions]
Now we look at the first (or probably the second now) of quite a few albums that I've been meaning to take a second look at for some time now (biggup Chezidek and Lion D) and one which definitely fits into what we've been doing lately. Though not even fully six months old just yet, 2013 has already done more than a little damage and it's even already, specifically, yielded a trio of albums from Vaughn Benjamin & Midnite, with at least one more (and probably two) set to come within the year's second half. Of the three, I've recently been giving more time to the first and though I started out very high on he album, I think that just five or so months following its release date, I have an even greater appreciation for it. But maybe you missed it. Maybe you focused in on the recently released "Be Strong" (big album) or maybe even the dubbed out version of "Children Of Jah". For you and… just because I have more to say about it - we Rewind! "Free Indeed" by Midnite.

#1. 'Is His'

Who love Jah is his. I once called the opener for this album, 'Is His', "minimalist" and "skeletal" and it is the exact reason why I do things like this - I was wrong. A few months on I really do now appreciate the FULLNESS of a song like this. That riddim is deep and lush and you could literally throw something into it and lose it. Fortunately that isn't the fate of this song because despite liking it immediately, I enjoy it even more this days. Easily one of the finest tunes on the album, 'Is His' is as vibrantly vividly on the surface as it is once you dig a little deeper. 

#2. 'Don't Be So'

I hadn't heard 'Don't Be So' in a minute so surely that had something to do with the fact that when I drop it in for the sake of this post, it made me smile! I remember this tune and I remember loving it. What I take from this tune is that Vaughn Benjamin is really saying for all to focus on the GOOD things in life. There're many things which are terrible and are not as they should be, but there is goodness in every situation if you're willing to possibly take a little longer in ascertaining it. 

#3. 'For His Speech'

'For His Speech' is a tune which has taken me through some things and I'm happy to say that I'm probably not even halfway completed with what it will ultimately do for me. I don't think, now, that it is as deep as I once thought it to be. The song is a commentary on the state of the environment, primarily. And although Benjamin has his own way of going about making that point, it does center itself around examining many ways in which people have mistreated and abused our environment. To along with that is a track behind this song which may not (will not) ever get the credit which it is due, but is AMAZING. 

#4. 'Hemp Scroll'

Know the cure. Speaking of amazing - If 2013 ended right now, then I probably would proclaim for the second time in the past three years that the single finest song that I heard in a given year came from Midnite. In this case, it would be the MAMMOTH and DAZZLING 'Hemp Scroll'. I've listen to a whole heap of Midnite's music, especially recently, and this song ranks as a definite favourite of mine from their the entirety of their output. It is as concentrated and detailed and FOCUSED of a ganja song that I've ever heard and, regardless of the subject, the sound is wondrous and when combined with the message and overall PRESENTATION of the song, what you get is something which goes unrivaled on this big album and probably several others in their vault which're even stronger. 

#5. 'Envision'

'Envision' was another track which I immediately enjoyed from the initial time that I heard it, but as time has progressed, I've grown to appreciate it in different ways and in different portions as well. First of all, the song is more dynamic that I once did give it credit for being. It is well subtle and not something which will ever take over a listener straight away, but as you listen to it more, it develops into a sound which is nearly infectious. What I get from the sentiment of the song is to kind of take a step back and relax and begin to observe more of our surroundings. Benjamin, intentionally in my opinion, makes a very complicated piece in dealing with things such as technology and the media, but he seems to suggest that many of these things exist only to distract and disrupt people from what is really going on. He also sums things up damn succinctly, at least in my mind, when very early on he utters the brilliance: 

"The weaker unity ahgo lose more time"

And many of these things, when used improperly can take away from unity. 

#6. 'To Gain To Lose'

"Many negate exists 
And it's not as if without the risk 
THAT'S WHY I CHOOSE FIRM UPFULNESS
Firm upfulness
Totalitarian utopian
That's how Lucifer see Jah Jah kingdom
And declare of erroneous and other plans
And set up a false model on the stand
As he upgrades he abandon
And approach it from a different direction 
Late night over alchemist lantern
Refine your root intention"

I hear the faintest echoes of a 'scroll' in the sound of another of my favourites from 'Free Indeed, 'To Gain To Lose' and although this piece hasn't grown in the way that I suspected that it might, 'To Gain To Lose' remains excellent for me and I'm sure I'm not the only one. 

#7. 'Outcome'

Grrrr! 'The Outcome' will forever be a standout on this album and instantly because of its changeup style of sound. There is nothing else on this album that sounds like it, which makes it a likely choice to be well remembered. I don't even know if the label, Higher Bound Productions, did singles for this album or not but this definitely would have been a fine choice (not as fine as 'Hemp Scroll', but a fine one nevertheless). I would also love an instrumental or another few tunes on this KNOCKING riddim, but Benjamin, of course, does sublimely. 

#8. 'Perceptual Vortex'

"Incredible to be grateful for small things"

Here we have a song which is just FUN! There is so much ripe material to take in from 'Perceptual Vortex' (as you might imagine from a tune with such a title) and I've enjoyed listening through it over pass few months to come to a conclusion. While I may never finish molding my thoughts of it (and I hope I don't!) where I am today is in regarding it as a tune which Benjamin does as a praising composition, but he does it in a way where he is saying that it is great to sing songs (like this) and make music (like this) for His Majesty. He subsequently goes even further with it: 

"THE MELODY IS THE MELODY AS LONG AS YOU'RE BREATHING IN"

Which actually seems to suggest that The Almighty IS that melody as, as long as there is life, there is the 'melody'. BOOM!

#9. 'The Battle'

"To cope with the battle
Thinking how to cope with the battle
To cope the battle
Michel Nostradamus dem ah quote fi dem quota
Wrote with a pen, and blade need a rotor
Written in The Book of Life, crossing over
Numbing being amnesia and di weed - it was broken
Running through the subway, half frozen
Those said the slavery was for a soul to be ennobled
The book of degrees and in what sense -
Tell dem plans for secession from the old thing needs spoken
Dark in the shadows in the hidden anger building, boiling 
Just to prove dem, know how you treat dem
TREAT DEM WITH THE FAIRNESS, CLEARNESS, REALNESS, SHARENESS 
To each his own 
What the world must done know - AWARENESS
All over the world, people ah bun cess"

#10. 'Free Indeed'

Though maybe a curious choice for a name of the album, if you just judge a song by its quality (and you do), then 'Free Indeed' is an excellent option as one of the pillaring selections on the album named after it. The song is one about seeking and finding spiritual clarity and freedom. And I don't have to tell you where Benjamin's allegiances are on that:

"Only certain man from longtime was NOT forced to kneel"

#11. 'Green Pastures'

There is an increasingly fascinating running duality between lyrics and riddim on ‘Green Pastures’, which almost kind of exists as an addendum to the tune preceding it on "Free Indeed", in terms of its subjectry. The riddim seems to be doing its own thing and Vaughn, who couldn't care less what that "thing" is, is also on his own. HOWEVER, somewhere in the middle of it all, they reach a point of congruency which makes for a very memorable moment on the album.

#12. 'High Order'

'High Order' was spectacular! That sums it about as neatly as I possibly can. This song was simply about enjoying and reveling in the splendour of His Imperial Majesty and when you make a song about such an experience, you definitely would want it to have a certain sound to it and a certain display of it - that is exactly what happens here. Benjamin actually shows a rare spot of emotion on the song and you can actually get from his voice that he lives in absolute AWE of the course which has chosen him in this life: The highest order.

"THE MAJESTY OF HAILE SELASSIE I THE FIRST ONTO ALL I PRESCRIBE!"

#13. 'Mock Off'

Not quite what 'Outcome' was in sound, but maybe a stronger tune on the whole, 'Mock Off' is easily one of the strongest tunes on this album. Particularly within its earlier stages, the song, like a less emotive version of the piece it follows, shows Vaughn Benjamin as someone humbled by what he is experiencing in life. There is this kind of casual and quiet confidence which comes in his delivery. It's almost as if he KNOWS he walks the righteous road so there is nothing to fear. 

#14. 'Healah'

An unconceivable power. "Free Indeed" comes to its end with, 'Healah', another track giving praises to The Almighty and this one in a somewhat indirect way. Here Benjamin, essentially, tells you to look around and to enjoy  the beauty that you see which is an extension of His Majesty. I've probably listened to this one more than any other song on this album with the exception of 'Hemp Scroll' (DUH!) and it isn't because I'm so infatuated with the vibes -- just from a sonic perspective, there may actually be half a dozen songs on this album which're more impressive -- but this song is one which is LYRICALLY DYNAMIC -- and though you could make that case for almost every single song that Benjamin does when in a good form, it comes blaring through on 'Healah'. 
So because it was released relatively early this year (and I believe that it was initially scheduled to reach in December) (which may explain why the album cover is still dated for last year), maybe you overlooked it in the face of not only another pair of Midnite albums, but Jah9, Sizzla Kalonji, Etana and the likes as well. Take care of that and pick up an outstanding album from Midnite and courtesy of Higher Bound Productions, "Free Indeed" today. 

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