Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rewind! - The Jah Warriah Riddim

The Jah Warriah Riddim [Zion High Productions]
Another attack. We take a second look at the second entry in the Riddim Series from the Zion I Kings. While the first installment, The Songbird Riddim, came via I Grade Records, #2 would come via the already well established, yet increasingly vibrant and productive Zion High Productions. Following a stirring 2013 season which saw some of the best work of their lifespan pushed together in a single twelve month span, the label shot out very early in the new year to signal, hopefully, that 2014 would be more of the same and they did it, very much, in a way emblematic of the CLASSY work they have done not only last year, but throughout the years. Today we go back for Zion I Kings Riddim Series Vol. 2 and Rewind! The Jah Warriah Riddim.

1. 'Beat Dem' by Lutan Fyah

Though I rate a few tunes here ahead of it by the slimmest of margins, the album's opener, 'Beat Dem' by Lutan Fyah, along with its most familiar piece, has become one of the signature moments that I immediately attach to the Jah Warriah Riddim. This song was GORGEOUS and, at least for me and now, I took it in the direction of a being a tune about energizing a conscience. Generally, you don't have to be told when you're doing something wrong, you almost always know it, especially when it comes to behaviour. So while Lutan Fyah does lift up these forces who will act on you if you're living a negative life, I think that he does so in a way to strengthen them on the inside. Big tune.

2. 'Cycles of Life' featuring Pressure Busspipe by Jahdan Blakkamoore

"After the thunder comes the rain
After grey clouds come a sunny day
From a man work hard, he must get paid
One day you ah par wid yuh bredrin
Next day, you find out him life taken
Lord, too many young ancients falling
We haffi trod on strong until we hear our calling

These are the cycles of life
Speak from heart, do right
Mediate on The Most High day and night!

Stand up for your human rights
Be as strong as King David inna victorious fight
Know that evil could never be a light
King Rastafari come yahso fi restore di blind man sight
Neva you let your problems get you inna strife
Or di dollar coin mek you waan tek a man life
Call upon Jah and make a joyful noise

These are the cycles of life
Speak from heart, do right
Mediate on The Most High day and night!

One day you standing on the mountain top
Next day, inna di valley of financial rot
You cry 'Oh Lord, when will it stop'
Stand firm when di fyah get hot

You think a now di ghetto youths ah study fi get reach pon top
But dutty babylon ah hold dem back 
Di Bobo always have some merchandise inna sack
A when di bills dem waan pay, so you betta have that
The Rastaman stand up for the poor and have-not
No tell mi bout no gang war, unuh betta squash that
You ah flex like babylon cowboy and mascot
Mi seh a love and unity weh wi use fi mash dat

These are the cycles of life
Speak from heart, do right
Mediate on The Most High day and night!"

3. 'Not From Me' by Lloyd Brown

"It's most familiar piece" - One of the highlights from his 2013 ZHP produced album, "Rootical", Mr. Lloyd Brown's ultra-clever rise above the bullshit 'Not From Me' has only gained lustre over time and it remained and remains one of the best songs atop the Jah Warriah. It is the type of song which gives the listener something new to focus on nearly each time you hear it. These days, what I like is how Brown not only distances himself from the madness, but how he seemingly steps so far away from it that he no longer can comprehend why everyone else didn't follow his lead. 

4. 'This World Happened' by Midnite

"Oh Rastafari, families and worlds without end
Compatriots and lovers
Citizens and friends
Caregivers and standing pillars
Welcome again
Cause this world happened"

'This World Happened' is a very interesting song, despite the fact that I probably don't like it now as much as I used to. It is the very nature of Vaughn Benjamin to be compelling and, despite not even approaching his best on this song, he manages to do it again (and I don't actually think that he could not do that, even if he tried). This song appears to be a kind of a rare broadly written song from Benjamin. Though he doesn't take full advantage of the riddim (unsurprisingly, he virtually never does), what Benjamin does produce is a kind of a life-commentary where he goes in about so many different aspects of life and how these things and these people ultimately come together. 

5. 'Many More' by Ziggi Recado

As we would learn around the same time that this record released, 'Many More' was the first of many more of its kind to follow as one of ZHP's next projects will be a full album featuring the Statian standout, Ziggi Recado (a Ziggi album for the ZIK…) [WHAT!] [BOOM!]. If this big social commentary is any indication (and it is) that album should be a special one (though even if this song were rubbish, I'd probably still predict a big album) as we see the development of some major musical chemistry between Ziggi and ZHP. As for this particular effort, were I've gone with it now is to see it as one of the most pleasing songs to hear on this track. Several of them make really good usage of it from the on the surface, but very few as well as this one, which has always been a quality of Ziggi's at his best.

6. 'Lie From Truth' by Ras Batch

The esteemed Ras Batch is shining lights in dark corners on the 'slight of hand' in society from a historical and present-day perspective on 'Lie From Truth'. I don't know exactly how much (nor do I know how I would even begin to quantify such a thing), but maybe even only next to someone like Vaughn Benjamin and Sizzla Kalonji, as a fan of Batch's I've learned a lot and many of his songs deal with one of my favourite subjects, the Afrikan Diaspora and his offering to the Jah Warriah Riddim continued his professor-like ways.

"As they lead your spirit inna battle
Strengthen your heart, inna this mental battle
Inna wicked babylon don't get too comfortable"

7. 'Touch Not The Lord's Anointed' by Glen Washington

Much like Lloyd Brown, veteran Glen Washington is taking a higher and incorruptible road on 'Touch Not The Lord's Anointed'. As is his norm, Mr. Washington places things in a more spiritual context, but one which is very much OPEN. This song is something to aspire to. One of the best aspects of 'Not From Me' was Brown's detachedness. His idea was if you want to deal with and in all of these bad things - go ahead, I don't care, but I'm not (thus, setting an example in more tangible terms). Washington, on the other hand, is waving all in his direction to do as he does and follow The Almighty. 

8. 'How U Ago' by Jah Mali

Jah Mali's presence on this track was such a wonderful idea and it gives credit to all of these various connections that go on behind the scenes that we, as fans, don't know about and don't really care about - I don't care how he came to be here, I'm just happy that he did. His selection on the Jah Warriah, 'How U Ago', is a swat at procrastination and inactivity and, really, depression. Pretty much everyone kind of goes into down spells, even if you're doing well, and I think that it was Jah Mali's idea to combat these as well as just general idleness and misery because they rarely continue as they are and, eventually, lead to very negative and self-destructive acts [trust me, I'm a recovering expert on the topic]. 

9. 'Igh Shield' by Arkaingelle

"I hold Rastafari in awe
Conquering Lion of The Tribe of Judah
I hold Rastafari -
Mighty life-giver, I shield and buckler

Seventy-two nations did ah come to bear abeyance unto the might and the power of The Trinity
Haile I Selassie I, The First, Who name wi ah give on to Rastafari pickney 
Out yah inna di west, where dem carry wi beyond 
Stole wi knowledge and wi culture and wi history
It's been a long  time yeah -

TEARS! While I most certainly do love the song (and especially the artist) which follows 'Igh Shield' by the Arkaingelle on the Jah Warriah Riddim album, I have to say that, after spending so much time on this particular effort, it has become my new favourite tune from this track. I do definitely have an ear for Arkaingelle's music as he, most notably, did a tune several years ago called 'Manifest Joy', which is one of the best songs I've ever heard, so it probably doesn't come as the greatest surprise, but following that DEVASTATING offering, 'Igh Shield' has also likely become the next best piece that I've heard from him. This song's charm comes within its modesty. It is very straightforward and you'll find several selections here which match and exceed it in terms of sonic appeal, but it makes up for it with this almost 'quiet' type of comfort which gives it a feel of being very personal to the artist here. Also, despite that, I get a very passionate type of vibes from this tune as well. Previously, I think I went a little too far in placing an idea behind this tune and I said that I thought it was about "finding" something, but now I'm more along the thought that 'Igh Shield' isn't about finding anything and instead it is about the joy that comes when you have actually already FOUND what you are looking for. It is the "awe" that the Arkaingelle finds and makes the focus more about the finish line and less about the race.

10. 'I Am Blessed' by Queen Omega

Though I do now favour the song ahead of it here, Queen Omega's 'I Am Blessed' remains a downright ROYAL composition from one of the most talented artists in Reggae music today. It's hard to even talk about the Queen without thinking about (and hoping about) what is to come from her and I really hope that she has an active 2014 and her track here definitely helped to get things started moving in a positive way. The vocal display here is what stands out most to me now (having exhausted nearly every other characteristic of the tune). Along with being an outstanding writer who can deliver in a variety of different ways, another thing which sets Queen Omega apart is that, when she pushes it, she also has one of the best voices in Reggae today and when she chooses to use it on MAMMOTH songs like this one, it highlights it even more. 

11. 'Rightly The Trumpet' by Ancient King

"Jah seh woe unto dem, you astray my sheep
To My kingdom, dem you never lead
All fi yuhself, pure greed
Think I never know seh is a front when you preach, it yuh never mean
Ravenous wolf inna skin of sheep TURN THE HOUSE OF JAH INTO A DEN OF THIEF
Yahoshua speak this thing - I SEE IT! 
Yeah, pastor is a swine that hustling di churches fi di cheat


GRRRR! I don't think I'm going too far now to say that I now full on LOVE the contribution Ancient King makes to the Jah Warriah Riddim, 'Rightly The Trumpet'. This song, like 'Igh Shield' and 'How U Ago' has just really progressed on me and I think that it may just be one of the best songs that the King has done in his entire career (dating all the way back to his FINE debut album, "Conquering Sound" from I Grade Records ["DO GOOD! RASTA SAY DO GOOD! AND GOOD WILL FOLLOW!"]. This tune is one about appreciating the power of the spoken word. Ancient King, essentially, says to make sure that you say good things (and, by extension, do good deeds), because you never know who is listening and watching and what impact you're able to have on them. I hesitate now to call him underrated, because he just doesn't seem to be capable of remaining very active, but Ancient King, when at his best, is EXTREMELY gifted and now, three albums deep into his career, if you haven't checked out his work in the past, now would be a good time and 'Rightly The Trumpet' would be an even better starting point for you. 

12. 'Media Portray' by NiyoRah

"Reporters sell the folly to the world
And the world accept the folly as true
Corporations own the damn network
Their intent is dominated by the loot
There is nothing spiritual about their mental thoughts
They manipulate the people with lust
Oh Jah watch over we -
Before, access to the waterways is taken from the poor
Watch over we -
Before, the youth dem wake up early and it's strictly skull ah bore" 

I've kind of warmed up to a tune in 'Media Portray' by NiyoRah which I had originally marked as above average, and it isn't that it is a favourite of mine now, but it is better than I gave it credit for being originally. NiyoRah is someone else who I hope to hear a great deal from in 2014 (and he actually had a fairly good year in 2013, quietly) and he, too, is getting off to a nice start with this tune. Though the song is very direct and specific, I took it more as one, like 'Rightly The Trumpet', saying to set a good example because you never know who is looking up to you and depending on you. This comes through in the dispersion of information, particularly, in this tune which makes for a very compelling moment.

It was an album brimming with "compelling moments" from beginning to end, but I'm sure you already know that, because you picked it up on the day it was released. On the chance that you didn't, however, that's fine - we all do really, really, really, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY dumb stuff sometimes. But you can make up for yours when you check out the Jah Warriah Riddim from Zion High Productions today.

No comments:

Post a Comment