Saturday, July 5, 2014

2014: Under Pressure

"Revelation is the time now
Stop and take a look around
Take the lock off of your mind now
And listen to the sound"

As we have now breezed our way through the first half of 2014, it's a great time to look back on what has, so far, been a wonderful year when it comes to Reggae albums and one of the finest in recent times in my opinion. On the surface, certain things stand out so vividly. One of them, of course, comes between three albums in "Nuh Worry Unu Self", "Radical" and "Born A King". If, before the year started, you were to have told me that Sizzla Kalonji would do three albums in the first six months of 2014, I would have been absolutely delighted and, despite the fact that neither of the three were any type of sensational, I'm still delighted at the fact that it has played out in such a way. We can also look at a very solid contribution from Ward 21, "Still Disturbed". Though the masses may ultimately give that distinction to Popcaan, to my opinion no one this year has offered a better Dancehall album than the Ward and they have delivered one of the subgenre's most FUN demonstrations on a full album in a LONG time. We've also seen solid and more than solid contributions coming from big names such as Perfect Giddimani, Midnite, Lutan Fyah and Ziggi Recado; surprising returns from veterans who hadn't seen album shelves in quite a while such as Jahmali, Ras Mc Bean and Maxi Priest and a towering surprise from Rob Symeonn. Want more? International stars Ziggy Marley and Sean Paul also stepped forth; there've been sterling debut projects from Addis Pablo and Mr. Williamz and, bolstered by the likes of Chronixx, Exco Levi, Amlak Redsquare and others, 2014 has also been a fine year for the Reggae EP as well. More still, along with Sizzla, Recado, Midnite and others, big BIG names such as Tarrus Riley and I-Octane have represented as well! It has been fantastic and we still have six more months of this so who knows what will happen.
Still, with all of that being said, when it comes to Reggae albums, the biggest story of the year, to my opinion, has been and remains the common sense link up between Pressure Busspipe and I Grade Records with the Zion I Kings for the single best set of the year, "The Sound". The album, which originally reached back in April, has set itself apart from the proverbial pack (and a monstrous pack it is) thus far and is still the only full "5/5" rating that we've given this year. In retrospect, I'm damn happy (though not at all shocked, given its sources) that the album received its nice share of attention and continues to. I recall seeing a chart on which it outranked even the aforementioned "Radical" album, which released on the same day, in terms of commercial success and the initial single from the album, 'Virgin Islands Nice' continues to do a very IMPRESSIVE form of damage as well - of a type which absolutely pushes the appropriate levels of the power of music and what it is capable of.
I was very happy to see that the next single chosen from "The Sound" was one of my favourites as well, 'Show Love'. I thought this tune was one of the best songs that Pressure had done at any stage of his career and that it was just about as perfect of a composition as I've heard in a very long time and apparently I wasn't the only one who thought so highly of the tune. Should they take it a next step (and they should, the absolutely should), I'd be curious to see which song they might choose as the album was full of 'likely' candidates to my opinion. Though just about three months old, "The Sound" also appears to be the type of album which picks up steam and as I now find myself wholly fixated on a song, 'Serious About It' ["Life is so precious and some boy ah play game. Dem ah get di blessing an exalt di fame"], which would make a nice choice and… really any of the other eleven tracks on this amazing release.

In a year which has been exceptional thus far, it speaks even further to the greatness of its most spectacular moment: "The Sound" by Pressure. The best Reggae album of the first half of 2014.

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