|"Be Strong" by Midnite [Fifth Son Records - 2013]|
Give it time, let it blossom. In 2012, a label by the name of Fifth Son Records would release what has gone on to become one of my absolute favourite albums from the well esteemed Vaughn Benjamin & Midnite to date, "In Awe". I will likely always remember and be fond of that album because it was and remains a genuine one of a kind release. Each and every time I went back to it and still do to this day, I found something else to enjoy and a new and remarkable way for which to appreciate it. Earlier this year, Fifth Son and Benjamin would serve up a sequel to "In Awe" as they once again linked up for a, presumably, big set. The album was, as expected, exceptional, but what was going to be interesting to see was whether or not it too would develop over a bit of time and become an even stronger release. So let's check in on its progress and Rewind! What was already a fine album which has hopefully gotten even better, "Be Strong" by Midnite.
1. 'Be Strong'
Its sound remains as wonderful as it was on my very first spin through the album's opener and title track. Whatever it is, all that it is, that is going on behind this track is absolutely divine! The composition here, alone, is compelling and I would have LOVED to hear it as a clean version as well. For his part, Vaughn Benjamin uses the musical offering to deliver an evolving-ly interesting and captivating message of an undeniable and unquestionable inspiration.
"Give dem a counsel
Give dem a teaching, Jah
Give us the law
IN JUDAH IS THE LAWGIVER!"
'Dandylion' kind of goes in the opposite way from the opener. It will take you a while, but when you come to a certain point - you can REALLY appreciate the riddim behind this tune, arguably, just as much as on the album's eponymous song. The track a devastating one an, again, Benjamin gives it the lyrical attention that it deserves. The ideas on this one are definitely curious. What I still get from it, however, is, as the title would suggest, that it is about development, particularly of young[er] people and how the world and the people in it seemingly go out of their way, in many cases, to inhibit that process and progress. I point to a song like this as finely emblematic of one which I would direct newer/non fans of Midnite's in the direction of. It is both pleasing to the ear and a demonstration of Benjamin's typical approach. It was also golden.
3. 'Jah Know'
BOOM! 'Jah Know' is a direct example of just how "Be Strong" has progressed on me over the five or so months that I’ve been dealing with it. While I surely did observe and respect its power initially, it is a song which has very much slowed down for me from then and what sits beneath this seemingly pounding and unforgiving is LOVELY! 'Jah Know' is a journey of song which leads squarely to Benjamin's explanation and reasoning of the power of His Imperial Majesty (it almost reminds, a little, of the MASSIVE 'Ever Was So' from the "Standing Ground" album).
"In the beginning Jah, The Father, sit the throne -
HIM seh HIM a The Alpha and Omega inna one word sound"
4. 'With Regret'
'With Regret' is a moving vehicle of a song which continues to increase and increase its pace and intensity throughout. It is a JOY to listen to, but what I've been working on here, in particular, was the message of the song which is just a bit more difficult to work towards, but you know that's the fun part. What I am currently taking from 'With Regret' is that Benjamin is saying so many of the ills of the world have the same beginning in not paying a proper respect and love to The Almighty. This has birthed this negative wave in the world which, obviously, is a very regretful situation ["with regret that hath happened"].
5. 'Set It and Done'
'Set It and Done' was a song which I knew immediately would require a greater level of attention than some of the other selections on this album to fully take in and, for a change, I was actually correct on that. The riddim on this, though GORGEOUS, isn't something which is going to grab you and lock you up, but for what it is, it makes for a nearly perfect bed for the song to lay in. The actual tune is another praising piece, but in typical Vaughn Benjamin style, the road which we take there is a spellbindingly BRILLIANT one which will (and likely already has) force some to turn back, but continuing on reveals one mighty song.
"Human knowledge come short and won't admit none
Rastafari children know His things fi get done
Inna di heat of youth, you're under the rising sun
You haffi apply yourself if you don't want fi get overrun
Just set it and done
Set it and done"
6. 'Dirt and Clay'
Here we have a song which I initially marked as and left as an average piece but (and this is the reason we do things like this feature), has well involved into so much more. 'Dirt and Clay' is actually an easy tune to overlook and I was one of certainly many who did just that and like everyone else who did - I fucked up. 'Dirt and Clay' is a fantastic selection which, despite a less than thrilling riddim behind it, really does manage to accomplish much still. The idea here is that underneath all of the whatever, everyone is the same.
7. 'Dem Kinda Heights'
My single favourite song on "Be Strong" used to be the one for which it is named but that was changed over the time from first hearing it. Now at the head of the record in my opinion is the downright monstrous 'Dem Kinda Heights'. Though it was certainly no great shift in my appreciations (I originally rated it as #2), this song, propelled by mastery in both lyrics and music, has risen to the head of the album and it may rise even further in the future. I am sure it will.
"Moving along divide and conquering lines
With no solid knowledge of character defined
Yes, this is I-dentity biggest outcry -
Something to proud and reason to try
THESE ARE THE THING DEM WEH CULTURE REMIND:
PHASE OUT YOUR CULTURE YOU NUH RELEVANT TO LIFE"
8. 'Relates To Everyone'
"It relates to everyone
Is it decent to live there? -
Safe to move along?
If mishap should leave you unprepared, will any help come along?
Will your humanity be respected as a stranger in a land?
The very worst lessons humanity learned - from human errors
And repeated and relived - redundant soul
DON'T SHORT THE GENERATION THAT INHERITED THE CONFUSIONS
They are too learned, as in human
And then the uproar of indignation awakened all of us
And this will force righteous ruler-ship and human consideration
It relates to everyone
I said it at the moment: 'Relates to Everyone' would be the kind of song that required TIME, even more than the album as a whole and most of the songs on it. These days, I have been awakened to it and it is STUNNING! One thing I definitely want to mention is the second verse (if Bredz keeps it in there, what you see up there is the first) which begins with "so don't forget the Afrikans…". At the same time this happens a drum begins, very subtly and adds to the overall presentation of a lovely tune. Also, the riddim in its entirety is much better than I once gave it credit for being. It is more than [WONDERFUL] violins.
9. 'Past Tense'
'Past Tense' was hypnotic. That is the best way to describe it and it still is the case. It is one of those type of songs that Benjamin will do that absolutely no one else is capable of. It is what sets him apart and places him into his own category.
"It's not expectation -
It's already on the ground
A feeling like utopia in the frame of sound
It's from intention within a plural bounds
The King Of Kings, who make it gather round
At the bonfire, every family stake
As each a member all a part of this
Walks of the spirit in cohesion with - SPIRIT UPLIFT"
10. 'Bless The Nest'
The closer of "Be Strong", 'Bless The Nest', is a song which has well stayed with me over the time. It is a sensational song and it is probably the biggest tribute to this album that I can give it by saying that at least two songs here, 'Be Strong' and 'Dem Kinda Heights', are better than it in my opinion because it is THAT good. As far as what is going on with the direction of the song I have also built upon my thought of that as well. While I still believe that 'nest' is not an actual, tangible, place, I don't even think that it is a WHERE and to suggest that it is, even partially, isn't on the right course. The 'nest' that I hear here is one which is entirely of the mind. HOW you feel when you feel good, the actual feeling, is your nest. It isn't what you feel or where you feel it.
So, perhaps you did exercise a bit of good common sense and pick up "Be Strong" pack in May or so, and if you did, maybe it is time you pulled it back around and gave it another spin. For myself, I'm 'in awe' of the quality of it and its predecessor to continually become stronger and stronger over time and I'm assuming it will continue. If I were to set a list of my top ten favourite Midnite albums to date, "Be Strong" may already be on it, right now. But if it weren't, I'm damn confident that five years from now (and maybe even two) it will definitely be there.