Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rewind! - "Freedom Fighters" by Chezidek

"Freedom Fighters" by Chezidek [One Drop Records - 2013]
Though, in some respects, I have to admit to having a fondness for the type of… unusual ways of one One Drop Records, I do sometimes wish that they had gone about things differently. The label which, at least through their first three releases, showed very little in the way of deciding to promote their projects (which was very strange considering exactly who those albums featured). The result, as you might imagine, was a trio of albums which flew WELL beneath the proverbial radar and kind of continue to these days as well. That's unfortunate, particularly when you consider that their first two albums, which came from Lutan Fyah and Ras Attitude (and Lutan Fyah's "Truly" was virtually a masterpiece in my opinion), probably didn't need much of a push to make a bigger impact that they did, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if both vocalists had at least semi-passionate fans who are still unaware that those albums exist. The same could be possibly be said from an album from One Drop Records just last year from the flaming Chezidek. Of course the general year 2013 that Chezidek put together didn't help things - as he released "The Order of Melchezedik" (another masterpiece and a borderline classic already), which was well on top of the radar and was ultimately one of the most respected projects of its time. It would not have been difficult for any other album that year to go unnoticed from the singer and one did. 'Unfortunately' (not really), that album, also, was damn good! Today, as we've been meaning to do for almost a year now, we FINALLY go  back and REWIND what became a very little known GEM of a record, "Freedom Fighters" by Chezidek. 

1. 'Freedom Fighters'

TEARS! 'Officially' the crying doesn't begin until the second song on "Freedom Fighters", but the first is more than enough to serve that purpose on a personal level for me. What a beautiful song! Aside from being downright therapeutic (biggup Ziggi Recado) to the ears, 'Freedom Fighters', the song, was full of substance of Chezidek called for a next group of leaders to step up and fix what previous generations have broken. These days, I'm well stuck on just appreciating the sonics of the tune and that is A LOT to appreciate. Still, again, the singer also gives us enough listening points of discussion, making for a fully operational MAGICAL song and my new favourite piece on the album named after it. 

"It was the inaction of those who could have acted
The silence of the voice of justice
Well it mostly mattered
That has made it so possible for evil to triumph
Glorious pages of human history has been written only in those moments -
When men were able to act in concert to prevent impending tragedies


2. 'Eye Watas and Prayers [Live By The Gun]'

Feel free to begin crying on the second song on the album, 'Eye Watas and Prayers', because if the opener didn't get you (you're a robot) this one surely will. Though the song was largely straight-forward as an anti-violence social commentary, it packed on the beauty as well and is just a pleasing composition to listen to, particularly in its latter stages. I also have a newfound LOVE of the riddim from this tune with so many different and diverse, but complimenting sounds (there's a horn in there somewhere which is sublime) making for a perfect backdrop which Chezidek does not waste at all. 

"Live by the gun
Die by the bullet
No place to run
You too quick fi pull it

3. 'Chemical Free'

'Chemical Free' was a giant from the very first time that I heard it and now, having not heard it in a minute, it hasn't lost a thing and it has even gotten stronger in my opinion. This piece was one about utilizing the world and its fruits in a way in which was most beneficial and HEALTHY to mankind and eschewing the millions of things which are not. In retrospect, I think I overlooked just how meticulously put-together the songs comes off. It may not be the case at all (they may've created it in about fifteen minutes), but 'Chemical Free' so much seems like the type of song which was planned and arranged for a very long time before what we eventually hear emerged. In either case, it was a fantastic song and one of the most lasting moments from "Freedom Fighters" unquestionably. 

4. 'Dem A Dweet'

Though the title track and opener has overtaken it in terms of being the best song I hear on the album, 'Dem A Dweet' is still an absolutely golden selection and it perhaps speaks even more to my appreciation of the first song to say that I probably hold 'Dem A Dweet' in an even higher esteem now than I did originally. While the major attraction here was definitely a lyrical one -- as Chezidek goes on a tirade on some of his not so proper living peers ["seh dem love, dem only love sometime"] -- it is also a song which can be appreciated on a more simple level: It sounds REALLY good! The combination of both of those things make for not only one of the best songs on this album, but definitely one of the best ones of Chezidek's entire career as well. 

5. 'Never Give Up'

I well wanted to take a deeper listen to 'Never Give Up' because, on its name alone, I couldn't really remember the song until I got into it (especially the chorus). This record was one which you'd listen to and actually expect to kind of be overlooked and underestimated in the face of some of the more spectacular moments on the album, but it is the type of song which GLOWS when you put it beneath a 'brighter light' and take a closer look (… or even if you only take in that damn infectious chorus).  

"I no wanna be the victim
Still I can't just be living for myself
Even if its from a distance
Got to share Jah love with someone else
Oh I really work so hard
I seek of no reward -
But the blessings of life and my children's children
Wiseness and overstanding and the right knowledge
Long life and health and strength"

6. 'Shine Your Light'

Speaking of bright lights - Yes, I still hear the riddim from 'Shine Your Light' and immediately begin to sing a Lutan Fyah song in my head, but Chezidek's cut of the track is no less luminous. This selection was a subtly clever praising tune which FULLY makes a space and an acknowledgment for the various faiths and walks of life to be found on the planet, but Chezidek makes no puzzle of it, at all, where his allegiances rest:

"Be what you wanna be
See what you wanna see
Pree all you wanna pree
I and I and I a just Rasta"

7. 'Burn Out'

From the first time I heard 'Burn Out' I always thought it to be a compelling and curious composition because of its core meaning and I haven't really deviated much as far as my thoughts of its intent. I think it is a song about maturing and, within that process, continuing to let go of negative things around you. What has changed, however, is my LOVE of this piece from the lyrical side. 'Burn Out', in spite of its title, is not the grotesque and disgusting clichéd song condemning the same things you've heard on thousands of other songs. What it is about, as Chezidek says so wonderfully, is replacing those things with upful and positive and inspiring things ["Humble yourself, like a little child. Learn to live in a peaceful manner. Show a little respect. Show a little honour. NOTHING CAN HIDE, JAH JAH HAVE YOU ON A SCANNER"]. At its peak, Chezidek absolutely dazzles linguistically on a song which is RIPE to be heard again… for the first time. 

8. 'Good Girl'

Though not the most lasting effort from "Freedom Fighters", for what it was, 'Good Girl', was very strong. Love songs, for whatever reason, have never really been a strength of Chezidek's and, as 'love songs' go, his pieces tend to more on the mild side (which is a good thing in his instance) and this was no exception. Most enjoyable here, without a doubt, is just how easy this one was to take in. It breaks no new ground and does not come close, but is just very nice to listen to.

9. 'Mr. President'

'Mr. President', like both the opener and 'Dem A Dweet' before it, was a song which really brought some edge and some spice to the album. You don't too often hear Chezidek angry and overly impassioned, and you don't get that here, but several times here you get the feeling that he's not entirely far from losing it a little! The results, to my ears are fantastic and make for one of my favourite songs here.

10. 'Jah Jah Tabernacle'

The downright CRAWLING 'Jah Jah Tabernacle' is another tune here which well requires more than a few spins through to fully take in. It literally sounds like a different song developing each time you hear it. And these days what I most like here is that development. On the smaller scale, it happens during the song: In its middle portions Chezidek turns the intensity up SLIGHTLY and it doesn't even continue throughout the rest of the song, but at that one moment, this praising song goes up several notches in quality.

"Go and tell it to di nation
Tell it to all generation
Tell dem bout The King of Iration
HE is our salvation!
All gonna hail that same one
All gonna sing that same song
Chanting for our redemption
Chanting for our liberation!

We can do it, we can make it happen
Inna Jah Jah Tabernacle 
Good over evil, we shall win the battle
Inna Jah Jah Tabernacle"

11. 'Fire Must Haffi Burn'

"Fire must haffi burn
Fire must haffi burn
How long Jah Jah call and dem never return
Fire must haffi burn
Fire must haffi burn
How long Jah Jah call and dem never return

Seh we never will forget it
Even though we do forgive
How they brought us down in slavery, trampled down our dignity
No equal rights nor justice, we were trapped in poverty
Seh they fight against our culture and their true identity
With their brainwash education: Babylon philosophy
Yet we never give up the struggle, seh we fighting to be free

Fire must haffi burn
Fire must haffi burn
How long Jah Jah call and dem never return
Fire must haffi burn
Fire must haffi burn
How long Jah Jah call and dem never return

I wanna tell the story
We wanna tell the story
How much of I and I dem throw overboard on the transatlantic journey
Dem waan change the story
Dem no like tell the story 
Dem caan wipe away our history
Ancient prophets and priests, Queens and Kings
Teachers and philosophers of the origin
Masters of science, technology and medicine

Fire must haffi burn
Fire must haffi burn
How long Jah Jah call and dem never return
Fire must haffi burn
Fire must haffi burn
How long Jah Jah call and dem never return

Cut and clear and sanctify
Purge and cleanse and purify
Come together and beautify
And it no matter how hard you try
They will never be satisfied
Babylon dem ah crucify

12. 'Light Up Your Spliff'

Chezidek declares "brainfood", presumably, in reference to the subject of the song, but if he only meant this actual song, 'Light Up Your Spliff', he'd get in an agreement from me there as well.  This song was a slight tribute to the great Everton Blender and I always thought that was such a nice touch here which not only helps to make it a good song, but a memorable one as well. 'Light Up Your Spliff' was THAT song on "Freedom Fighters" and it always be one of the several (but maybe even most in this case outside of the title track) which I hear and IMMEDIATELY smile. 

13. 'Mama'

Surely we couldn't come to the end of an album like this one without at least one piece of love devoted to Mama and that's what Chezidek does on… a song called 'Mama'. There was nothing new here (I don't think you can do anything new on a Mama song in Reggae music) (I think it is impossible today), but as was the case with 'Good Girl', this is just such a pleasing song to listen to. Specifically, a big credit goes to whoever plays guitar on this song. Subtle as it may be (and it is), they do an amazing job on one of the best riddims on this album.

14. 'Head Get Swell'

'Head Get Swell' kind of serves as a fine accompanying piece to 'Dem A Dweet' as, at least in my opinion, it is aimed at the same group of people, essentially. 

"Don't let your head get swell from the little food you eat
don't get out of your self
Stand up firm on your feet
Don't forget your journey and what you preach
Don't forget where you coming from and where you reach"

I thought it a very unique song initially and I still do because of how it is put together. Humility is trampled subject when it comes to Reggae music, but most times you hear it explored, it is done so broadly. In this situation, Chezidek directly (or at least seems to) goes after people who have come into new success (maybe musicians, for example!) and have lost their way in life and now think themselves better than others.

15. 'Thanks and Praises'

And lastly (I haven't written anything lengthy in a while (now checking in at 2400 words) and this was easy) was another highlight from "Freedom Fighters" as the sublime 'Thanks and Praises' set the album away on a high note. After having done ALL of that work, it is important to give praise (for TALENT if nothing else) and that's how Chezidek and ODR wraps things up. You may see titles like this and immediately assume (correctly) that you've heard so many songs like this and you're right, but this one was nearly special to my ears. Along with that GRUMBLING riddim (it sounds like it is trying to talk to you), Chezidek delivers a fantastic performance in honour of His Imperial Majesty. 

"Oh I know it's not easy
It nuh pretty out a street
My mind is made up, my heart is fixed
I and I won't take no defeat
Sometimes I couldn't find a place to rest my weary feet
But a forward ever, backward never
I and I never retreat
Hear I when I call!
Jah Jah give us health and strength
I hope - I and I trust Jah Jah -
I and I confidence
One day we shall overcome
And I know we shall win
In Jah is the victory -
Selassie I The King of Kings" 

So! I think that there may be a fairly high chance that you missed out what turned out to be one of the least appreciated GREAT albums of 2013 but we've just received word that… you can still get it! They didn't remove it and erase it from history. Check out the lovely "Freedom Fighters" from Chezidek via One Drop Records today. 

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