Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rewind!: "The Race" by Malika Madremana

"The Race" by Malika Madremana [Big Cup Music - 2003]
I've definitely been meaning to go back and have a second look at an album which I was just SO HAPPY to see come together earlier in 2013, the third altogether from the amazing Malika Madremana. Although not extremely active throughout the years, I've been very careful to keep an eye and an ear out for the works of the dynamic artist of Puerto Rican heritage, from out of New York, because, at her best, she is not to be missed. From what I've experienced, this album was just that: Malika Madremana at the height of her powers alongside the Dub Vision band and producer David Lodge. Let's now go back to May and REWIND! "The Race" by Malika Madremana.

Malika Madremana
#1. 'Mi Deyah'

And Madremana ain't going no weh yah! The first time you hear this song, its direction is rather clear, but reading into the album's opener, 'Mi Deyah', just a bit further and I've added a few concepts to it as well. First of all is the obvious - this is a song about determination and perseverance and maintaining oneself in the eyes of anything. That's prevalent throughout the tune. But listening on, I'm also moving towards seeing a large chunk of UNITY as well. Malika Madremana is speaking for herself, of course, but she's taking the rest of us with her as well if we would like to go (and we would) and, subsequently, ends up with a tune speaking not for, but with a giant group of people in mind and asking, "what can you bring to me I haven't seen yet", speaking on the ills of society - because history has shown, no matter what type of nastiness you bring, PEOPLE will not only survive, but thrive. BOOM!

#2. 'Good People'

The first single from "The Race", 'Good People', in retrospect, is one which almost divinely follows the album's opener because Madremana begins to go into specifics in regards to "this giant group of people". I definitely have come to appreciate the uniqueness of a song like this these days. You'll hear similar pieces in the vein of 'everything isn't bad', but most times the tune is speaking of the abstract - things like love and hope -- here the good in the world is the most tangible thing we have: Ourselves. I've also come to a higher level of appreciation for a single BEAUTIFUL line she speaks here:

"Show the boys and girls, there're still good people in the world"

Okay now what I'm taking from that is the concept that, yes there are many good and great people in the world. But if you find yourself in a situation where maybe there aren't as many, well then there is nothing that says that YOU cannot be that good person and that good example for younger people.

3. 'Someone To Dance Wit'

I need someone to dance with me! I LOVE songs on albums like this which lighten the mood and really are just to dazzle and entertain the listener (yes, listening to music should still be fun!) and 'Someone To Dance Wit' was perfect on an album like this. It was also just GOOD in general, regardless of what album you placed it on and should you ever find yourself presented with the opportunity, you should probably think about dancing with Malika Madremana. I would… if my Wife would let me… and she wouldn't… so nevermind. 

"Take me in slowly 
You'll get to know me
I think you might show me -
A good time in the dance tonight!"

#4. 'The Race'

I'm going to get back into this wonderful song, the single best on the album named after it in my opinion, but I also want to stress just how gorgeous the riddim on this one is. Brilliantly direct, but somewhat 'moody' as well, this track is as comfortable, but dramatic as the song Madremana eventually places on top of it. Also, check how it continues on for nearly a minute following the final vocals on the track. Someone knew that what they had here was fantastic and they made an excellent choice in stressing it. BOOM! 

As for the sentiment, like I said before, what Madremana does here, lyrically, is a master class of writing. Playing on the idea of the 'human race' as 'a race of humans' or as 'RACING HUMANS' within one song and as soon you figure out what she was doing, it just makes you smile or at least it did for me. If you read my work you know how much I appreciate that aspect of a song the most -- you can have a great track with a great melody but rubbish lyrics and the song isn't even memorable -- and when someone just gets it this right, even before I try to break it down fully, it just makes me HAPPY! There was a lot to be joyous with on the title track for "The Race". 

#5. 'Let Mi Lion Roam'

"Why you lock up a good man for?
Fire bun yah prison yard
It's time to let my lion roam
His family needs him in his home
Yes Lion, pray all is well
Rastafari blessings penetrate the I cell
So much to tell -
Everyone's okay, just missing you like mad
Don't worry baby, no this letter's not gonna be too sad
Why they messing with your day? -
Pushing it back so late
Babylon don't drag your feet, ain't got no time to wait"

Not to the extent of the magic which immediately precedes it on this album, but 'Let Mi Lion Roam' also displays a very powerful bit of wordplay and lyrical display. In this particular instance, we find Madremana using the image of a lion, doing what a lion is supposed to do -- roam free -- and not being not being UNFAIRLY locked up and miserable away from his pack. Of course it also helps that she compiles it and places it together in this lovely package as, unquestionably, ‘Let Mi Lion Roam’ is easily one of the most sonically pleasing selections during "The Race". 

#6. 'Invisible Beauty'

Speaking of pleasing, next we have the RIPE 'Invisible Beauty'. Expanding on my first thought behind the meaning of this tune, which is one of the more complex (which was, clearly, by design) that we have here, I'm more aggressive with my thinking here, but it is pretty much on the same path. Initially I said this song was about bringing people together across race and walk of life and, like I said, my feeling is a bit harder now, but it's the same. Madremana seems to be saying to STOP making up excuses why you can't get along with someone or why you're different and closed off from someone or something because it is so flawed and limiting and just a bad way to live a life. And I love this track so much - very strong musicianship from Dub Vision.

"It's a vibration from a distance
With a channel straight to the hear
You should use your spirit to listen

#7. 'Jah Is Wit Me'

'Jah Is Wit Me', essentially, serves as a musical autobiographical song from Malika Madremana and she develops it from there (because music is so clearly a huge part of her life, you could also call it part of a general autobiography as well). I haven't changed much in regards to this tune. I am still very impressed by the way in which she expresses her joy at how she came to be someone who not only matured a love of music, but Reggae music in particular and then became someone who attached herself to it in such a significant way. A thousand years from now, people will know the name Malika Madremana as a musician from the 2000's and here is how it all began. 

#8. 'Love is Easy'

"Love is easy
Simple and pure and sweetest
Easy, natural and calm and pleasing
Keeps up so warm
Love is easy
Fresh as a morning breezy
Easy - that's how it should be for we

I  tell a story of love
So seriously
Certain things that I have learned, mysteriously
I never knew that love would make me feel these ways
Through tears of joy, to tears of pain in lover's maze
And yet I still live on to love another day
It shouldn't be so hard, lets leave it up to Jah
Cause I need to know -
Is there a love so special?
Silent, secure and peaceful
Oh, so ilahful
Patient and kind and gentle
I need to know -
Am I alone in my search?
Surely that would make the earth such a lonely place
Jah make man and woman to love

Love is easy
Simple and pure and sweetest
Easy - no push, no stress
Just seize it, when it's Jah blessed
Love is easy
Clear as the sparkling seas, yes
Easy - that's how it should be for we

One lesson I was shown about love -
Mommy taught me
She said, 'it should be so hard'
I said, 'you coulda fooled me'
I never knew that love would teach so many things
The pleasure of its tender touch can turn to stain
It's we who make it hard
Lets leave it up to Jah
Cause I need to know -
If I take a chance with your love -
Will it raise and lift me up, to a higher place, where we're supposed to go
Cause I just know - if I share with you all my love -
We can share laughter and fun each and everyday -
Jah make man and woman to love
Cause I need to know -
I can't be the only one -
With visions of love perfection 
Oh, so wonderful
Now that I know -
Love does exist in this world
Suddenly it makes the earth such a happy place
Jah make man and woman to love

Love is easy
Simple and breezy
Natural and sweetest
Perfect for we
Love is easy
Fresh as a morning breezy
Gentle and pleasing
Just what we need
Love is easy
Simple and pure and sweetest 
Smooth as the seas, yes
Perfect for we
Love is easy
Pure and so sweetest
Simple and breezy 
Perfect for we
Love is easy… "

An extremely, but delicately romantic song which is based on love as a concept is what 'Love Is Easy' has become for me. The song isn't actually about falling in love, at its core. It is about the step which precedes it when you're wondering if you're ready to do it again with a certain person who you simply cannot stop thinking about. It is weighing the good points versus the bad to arrive at a decision, even though you kind of already know what you're going to do (as if you had any choice in it anyway) (you didn't) (those determinations come from a much, MUCH higher source) and just preparing yourself for love. A BEAUTIFUL song and one wholly relatable and accessible. 

#9. 'Tradition'

As its title would suggest, the tune 'Tradition' is very much rooted in sharing, celebrating and continuing with traditions, cultures and customs in the world and, specifically, doing so through progressing forward with the music. Something here which now strikes me so vividly is how, despite the very pointed and direct nature of the composition, if you listen closely you definitely notice more 'free' elements present on 'Tradition'. I wouldn't go as far as I do in some cases and say that she kind of freestyles the song (with the names she mentions and how she does it, it is clear that it took some time), but there is such a compelling  and BOUNDLESS vibes to this song and it has become one of my absolute favourites on this album recently. 

#10. 'Miles and Miles'

The closer on "The Race", 'Miles and Miles', is brief at just north of a minute and a half, but in that short time it manages to dazzle. You might find yourself wishing that, like the album itself, it was just a bit longer, but something tells me that it was by design in this case and I have no complaints about that… well I mean if they really wanted to play some more, I wouldn't have minded either.

So, if you have not already, definitely pick up the latest from the delightful Malika Madremana, "The Race". As I said, in my opinion, it is her finest album to date (which is saying a lot as I recently went back and had another listen to her second album, "Elixir", and it is still fantastic, but I think that this one is even better) and one of the finest from anyone that you'll find from the first half of the year in Reggae music.

{Skinny Fabulous - STAND UP!}

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