|"Truly" by Lutan Fyah [One Drop Records - 2012]|
Do you remember the album Lutan Fyah did from last year? If you do not it isn't too big of an issue because, as is turning out to be their style, the company who pushed it, One Drop Productions, tends to do their business quietly, but the one time they definitely had a reason to shout and celebrate what they'd done was when the label dropped a wonderful album from the chanter in 2012. Not only did it prove to be one of the very best in his very distinguished catalog, but it also proved to be one of the very best albums in a year which was soaking with big time releases of all types. The album would feature a nearly prime level of Lutan Fyah and if you've listened to the artist in a mighty form on previous releases such as "Time & Place" and definitely "Phantom War" (with several others as well, as I alluded to), then you know just how damaging in he can be anywhere in the vicinity of that form. He was precisely there in 2012 and now we take a very gratifying look back at it and Rewind! "Truly" by Lutan Fyah.
The album's opening and title selection remains a favourite of mine. Besides the expected and typical genius of the song in the way of lyrics, what resonates so loudly here, and really throughout the album named after it as well, is the level of PASSION exhibited (Lutan Fiery). The song stands as one of the signature moments of this album and probably one of the better pieces from the chanter in recent years altogether, but what hits you even harder is that this master level praising piece is not the best song on this album. WHAT!
The heavy 'Youthman' is really a piece about being aware in the world. In the original review I didn't full want to commit to giving it the 'social commentary' label and the reason why is because it seems to be, at least at times, a much more personal track. It isn't just about Lutan Fyah speaking about the state of the times, but he's directly speaking to individuals who have the opportunity to help change things or to just avoid negative situations for themselves. So though it is surely broad in many ways, I think it goes just a bit deeper than that. A big tune still.
3. 'Doubtful Thomas'
"Unexpected di judgment tek dem, dem traumatized
And a long time dem hear, but dem nuh realize
Dem nah hail The Crowned King - Selassie I
Now dem got so much things to rectify
Dem go plant dem seed pon di rocky road
Ignore di fertile soil, now no fruits nuh grow
And now a harvest time, dem got nuttin to show
Dem ah bawl bout things ah move slow"
Though I well did enjoy it, a lot, the first time I heard it, I can fully say that 'Doubtful Thomas' has grown on me considerably even from that time. The song, on the surface, is a delightful one. As far as melodies and the riddim and everything - it is a very nice sonic presentation of a song, but lyrically it's even better in my opinion as Lutan Fyah outlines the troubles of those who refuse to live righteously and for His Majesty. This is the perfect type of song which can also go beyond that type of spiritual bounds as well as the Fyah also makes wonderful tangible connections as well, essentially saying that if you do not live right, the plans you make (the crop you plant) will not turn out well (will not grow).
4. 'Selassie I No Partial'
The same magnificent mixture of genius and passion that birthed the title track for "Truly" also gave life to my choice as its top moment, the stirring 'Selassie I No Partial'. To my opinion, this song does something very remarkable, but in a good way. Lutan Fyah, especially in his earlier stages, did not have the most exciting style. As I've said in the past, his greatest strength, immediately and always, was his lyrical ability, but he lacked in creating things such as melodies in the way of some of his more gifted peers in that arena. HOWEVER, of course this didn't mean that those songs weren't substantial (his second and third albums, for example, are two of the best I've EVER heard) and great at times. Should you want a glaring example of that, check out the rough, yet STERLING 'Selassie I No Partial'.
5. 'Trouble Inna Yard' featuring Ras Attitude
Do you remember Ras Attitude's album from last year? If you not… Reaching simultaneously with "Truly" from One Drop Records was "Hold the Vibes" from Ras Attitude, which also featured this song, 'Trouble Inna Yard', a very welcomed combination featuring the two. This song, undeniably is a social commentary (all the way down from its title) but even prior to that, on paper, a combination between Lutan Fyah and Ras Attitude is downright appetizing. Thankfully, what the two produce is yet another appropriately sizable moment on album brimming with them.
6. 'Woman U Clean'
"Woman you clean
Fit to be my queen
Excellent is your name
Continue doing your thing
You never blaspheme
Excellent is your name
You got the loyalty I deserve
Open my gates and make it work
You're so dear to me
Protect the family
You're a blessing, not a curse
You bring no pain, you bring no hurt
And so lovable, you make me happy
No carbon copy
You no imitation, no cosmetic
No makeup, no bleaching cream
In you, I put no limit
When you smile, you drive me wild
Dem caan tear this apart, The Most High bless it"
Though you'd be tempted to call it such, 'Woman U Clean' is NOT a love song in any typical sense of the phrase. It isn't about falling in love or being in love or anything like that. Instead, what I really take from this one is gratitude (biggup Jah9). It is a song about being grateful to someone for all of the wonderful things they (SHE) do. And Lutan Fyah will do this type of song occasionally (his cut of the recent Songbird Riddim ["when I hear the songbirds I think of you"] [BOOM!], 'She's Got Soul', would be somewhat of another) and the results almost always turn out fine as we fine him giving thanks to the amazing, hardworking and oft-overlooked and underappreciated Women of the world.
7. 'Nah Trim'
Probably the most popular tune "Truly" gave us, 'Nah Trim' was also one of its two best to my opinion. On the (almost painfully short) selection, Lutan Fyah really speaks to the kind of 'mainstreaming' of Rastafari and Rastafari culture which opens things up to the dilution of everything ["then all kinda man join in. Then all kind man join in!"] as well as a more 'fashionable' view. Of course he centers things around one specific area, but even the least little bit of concentration really opens this song in such a way that makes it one of my favourite Lutan Fyah songs in recent times. Oh and the sound here is one of the best on this album as well. Entertaining and educational.
8. 'Rasta Is My Purpose'
BOOM! 'Rasta Is My Purpose' is another tune which, if possible, I've also grown significantly in respect of from the first time that I heard it. Somewhat like 'Selassie I No Partial', I enjoy the straightforwardness (an actual word) of this track. It is just the artist going ahead on a top and doing so in his usual brilliant fashion. The result, in this case, is one of the most impressive lyrical blips on the whole of "Truly" and, obviously, a huge, huge song.
Friend is the one who's there to love and care for you
Friends will never neglect or hurt you
Friend is the one who's there to love and care for you
True friend is a friend indeed"
I kind of overlooked 'Friends' initially, but while I would not say it is a favourite of mine, comparing it to the rest of this album still, it also has grown on me just a bit. The big attraction in this case is just the sound of the tune because it is so direct. I wouldn't at all call it flashy, but it will definitely catch attentions (or it would have if it got the opportunity) and if you, like me, didn't give it a proper chance, I can tell you that it's probably better than you remember it being.
Grrrr! Lutan Fyah calls out nastiness wherever it exists on the next song, 'Conspiracy'. This tune has something of an EDGE to it which is full no scintillating to listen to in this way: Backed behind a supreme level of knowledge and an even higher register of skill and talent. This is a social commentary to its core, but it is one in high-definition and with pyrotechnics behind it which has you, as a listener, going back countless times wondering if he just said what you think he did. He did! BOOM!
11. 'Dem See Me' featuring Webbie
The album's second combination, 'Dem See Me', alongside Webbie, is a song which I also did overlook to some extent, but it isn't a favourite of mine either. The riddim here… I suppose I might call it Hip-Hoppish (it is also quite unusual), is just kind of difficult to really tune in, despite someone as talented as Lutan Fyah on the vocals and even with help from Webbie. Still, it wasn't a full waste of a song and has some interesting value, even if it is more from a curious place than one of appreciation.
Like 'Conspiracy', 'Warning' is a social commentary with a bit of harshness attached to it and just like in that case, it works well here because it blends with a HIGH level of lyrical proficiency. Again, he says things here which make you rewind [Rewind!] and make sure that you heard them fully and they're linked together beneath this beautiful package with one of the best riddims on the album carrying it.
13. 'Ghetto Sweet' featuring NiyoRah
The same way my eyes lit up when I saw Lutan Fyah alongside Ras Attitude on a single piece, they ignited for 'Ghetto Sweet' which found the Fyah voicing with another VI dynamo, NiyoRah (who is, incidentally, having an excellent year 2013) (as is Ras Attitude). This song is a POWERFUL one which really says to be grateful for what you have and where you have it ["the man who live down in the ghetto have so many stories to tell"]. It speaks on the virtues of poverty and not necessarily having the finest material things in life (or any of them). Also it's fascinating to take note of the meshing of the two styles. Lutan Fyah and NiyoRah are somewhat straightforward usually (though the term definitely means different thing in relation to both, particularly given Niyo's versatility) and this is an incredibly detailed effort, something which they also both have in common. I really like how it doesn't come of as a chanter/singer combo and, instead, they both come as two equals. Two MIGHTY equals.
14. 'Hold You Tonight'
'Woman U Clean' was not, but 'Hold You Tonight' definitely IS a love song. It is plain and simple and it is a WINNER. I'm listening to the song now for the first time in a minute or two and I don't recall it sounding this nice or having the capacity to. Lovely.
15. 'No Long Argument'
"Selassie dun bun dem computer gadget
Dem enslave di people wid dem 6-6-6
And dung inna yah wrist dem waan fi stuck microchip
Mi tell di righteous man seh fi run come quick
Fi safeguard dem wealth dem use di military force
Dem bank all di wealth inna dem offshore
Have di people dem inna church ah praise ghost
Tell dem seh a lightning and thunder rolls
No long argument
I'm a Zion child
Rasta is the way, keep your smile
Dem tell di people bout dem flying saucer
DEM WAAN FI BOMB UP DI EARTH AND RUN GO SPACE AFTER"
16. 'Endless World'
And on the final vocal selection on "Truly", the exceedingly clever 'Endless World', Lutan Fyah once again raises his levels to a MAMMOTH level in examining the historical and repeating ways of oppressive society to keep themselves in power 'endlessly'. This effort, perhaps above all on this album, really requires a great deal of attention paid to it to fully grasp the concepts behind it because not only is it not what you think that it may be initially, but it also continues to kind of develop that off-center ideology in a progressively unusual manner. This becomes even more applicable when the Fyah begins to deal with more specific concepts
"It's a world without end
I nah go guess what's happening
It's a world without end
Same thing ah gwan all over again
What if tomorrow we wake up and hear seh -
Mr. Babylon ah drop nuclear deh
I & I no wish fi si dat there deh
And that mi call upon Jah Jah and pray seh -
Before wi resort to violence mek wi talk about it
Remove di cause of di problem, no blame no culprit
Wi all play a part so don't you dodge di bullet
Before you squeeze di trigger, beg yuh dash weh yah stick
Dis a real Armageddon time
You no si di system ah get weh wid crime
I know Jah Jah gone show dem sign
Hey wi no blind, tell mi bout seh matter over mind!"
17. 'No Partial Dub'
I could have added a few requests (if they were taking them) (and they weren't) for songs here I would have loved to hear dubbed versions of, but they ultimately chose the best song on the album for a technique which is becoming increasingly popular on albums these days (biggup JahSolidRock).
It's very likely that you weren't paying attention last year, there was a lot going on anyway, and you may've missed this contribution from Lutan Fyah to what was a spectacular year for Reggae album releases. But, just ahead of what is potentially another giant addition to his catalog, it is a now, seemingly, a perfect time to go back an take a look and a listen to one of his better albums in recent times, and in any times, "Truly".