In Reggae, it remains an entity which isn't entirely necessary to make or even further one's impact on the music at times but, to my opinion, having an album is just such a large step in an artist's career and it says so much about the state they're at, musically, as well. When someone somewhere decides that spending money on recording this artist on a full scale project and just generally promoting them and aligning the image of their company with this individual, that is such an important step, even in Reggae where, typically and still, much more attention is paid to single tunes. And also, we still have a few remaining examples of persons who attain a nice level of success, but never get around to releasing an album. Today we look at names such as Bramma, Laden, even Shane-O (notice they're all Dancehall heads and Dancehall artists don't release as many albums as Roots artists do, which makes this case even more fascinating in my opinion) and, for whatever it's worth, even someone like an Aidonia who, although he does have an album to his credit, does not have one which even remotely captures him in his current state (or that state from over the past few years or so) (it also helps to make this point when there is no way at all he'd even acknowledge its existence in any way). So, while in those cases you may be able to say, that an album is not (or would not be) a block of success, but a product of it, that is not always the case. Today, we take a look at someone in Qshan Deya' who came to the attention of so many fans via having such a widely well received debut album and then, at least on that front, promptly preceded to VANISH from album releases for . . . about eleven years! In his case, so many people tied his prevailing image to that album and other work around the same time, that you'd not get too far at all into telling the singer's story without telling that way back in 2001, the St. Vincent born vocalist delivered to the world the aptly titled "Journey" and not only would IT, itself, be an expedition through the mind and styles of one of the most clearly gifted newcomers to Roots Reggae music of the time, but it'd be a mighty loooooong trip until we received the wonderful opportunity to say hello to Jah Humble Servant, Qshan Deya', in that way once again.
Like I said, it'd be eleven years (I was almost twenty when last we heard from the singer on an album, I'll be THIRTY-ONE (so, so old) in a month and a half) before we'd see another Qshan Deya' record on the shelves and that's made even more perplexing, passed the fact that he did an exceptional release for a label in J&D Records, who once had a nice operation (these days they're best remembered as the label who originally sent out "Free Jah's Cure", the debut album of the incredibly voiced singer), when you consider just the general discussion and hype surrounding the singer. Deya' (spelled 'Qshan Dia' on the first album and I've also seen that as one word) had so many people so excited for what was to come next, having worked with some of the biggest names in the business, including touring with Star Trail and recording for Stingray and even Bobby Digital, but it all seemed to slow down for him which was so unfortunate.
Thankfully, the singer born as Kellis Quashie held firm and continued to record (and you'd hear his tunes from time to time and see him pop up on riddims also) and things have SO returned to form as he's now delivering a package which cannot go ignored by fans of modern Roots Reggae music, his STERLING sophomore set, "Love Govern Us All". As we alluded to, there was a lot of hype around this artist and it was WARRANTED. Deya' very much falls in line with the deep voice Roots singers such as Luciano, Bushman and the constantly overlooked Natty King and he has such a BEAUTIFUL style of making music and, looking back, it shouldn't have been to anyone's surprise just how efficient the artist was so early in his career. A couple a years ago or so Deya' (who now makes his home in New York) started to put out even more and more material (and he had done things from even before that also) and, as the story goes, that was due to him having linked with veteran producer and manager (and he pretty much does everything in the music you can think of) Sampalue and his Diamond Rush Productions imprint. I didn't know that until I started working on researching this album, but that's a very nice way to reenergize a career and seeing just how effective they've been in such a short amount of time is also a good sign that Deya' is once again set to, re-fulfill on all of that early hype that he had and befitting of all of his extremely strong natural abilities as well. While I haven't heard much early response on "Love Govern Us All", I have to say that I was REALLY looking forward to getting my hands on it. I didn't know exactly what Deya' was up to, obviously, but I had heard a few tunes and most of them appear on this record. That kind of makes me think that maybe Garfield Phillips [Sampalue] and Qshan Deya' had it in mind to build to this point where they could release an album (or maybe even more than one). Regardless of intentions, however, this album, in such a short amount of time, and along with a very heavy roster of big releases this year as we've established before, is one of the more anticipated for me. I was very curious as to what Qshan Deya' had been up to and what, ultimately, he would set his sights on and that all becomes crystal clear on "Love Govern Us All". Obviously, he also feels that an album is a big thing for an artist and for someone who, at least partially, made his name in doing "Journey", I'm DAMN happy he chose this route once again. The only remaining question is whether or not Deya's second venture is any good or not. . . of course it is. Let's take a listen.
In terms of his voice, through the easy comparisons, I'd say that Qshan Deya' probably sounds most like Bushman. His style of writing, however, where he varies in blending more tangible subjects with more spiritual ones, while clearly leaning towards the latter, is more Luciano's style. Somewhere in there, also, is a brilliant ball of originality as the vocalist has carved out his own straight forward style as a writer. He is quite straight-forward, but I do so enjoy the way he takes his lyrics. "Love Govern Us All" gets started . . . Let me tell you something about the start of this album you get SIX tunes deep here before you arrive at a tune which I do not LOVE (and I'm don't exactly dislike #7 either). The sextet is completely impressive and includes some of the biggest moments on the album to my opinion. For example, check the LUSH opener, 'Long Time'. TEARS! This song is somewhat of an autobiographical one as it appears to outline Deya's 'journey' to Rastafari and just how long he's walked this path on the earth. The song features an early stretch which is just STUNNING:
“. . . Inspired as a youth
THE FIRST TIME I SAW HAILE SELASSIE I INNA HIM KHAKI SUIT”
“. . . It’s time the youths dem follow suit
Rastafari is love, wi no have no time fi loot and shoot”
I mean . . . that is so POWERFUL! You can place yourself in this man's line of thinking and get that same feeling. This is my single favourite tune on "Love Govern Us All", but it's only the beginning! Next we have the very familiar 'Help Me Jah', which is another big tune and one which I actually recall hearing from a couple of years back or so. This is just a pure healing vibes of a song. It's Deya' asking for a bit of assistance from The Almighty on his journey ["This is my time to rise, with no compromise"] and, again, I can see this one being autobiographical as well because it just really seems like a direct dialogue from the singer to His Imperial Majesty. The first of four combinations on the album comes through next in the form of 'Cut and Clear', which features Deya' alongside his label mate, strong chanter Emperor Mangasha. Mangasha is talented and he makes his presence well known on this golden praising track.
“No weapon that form against I shall prosper
Rastafari is the master
And HIM nah fear screwface nor fun and laughter
But they cuss from all dem disaster
With all di traps and snares weh dem set
The Most High guide and protect di whole a my step
Diligently I keep HIS precepts
Nothing can put asunder what The Most High bless”
The lovely Luciano-esque 'Fast and Pray' comes in next and if you just love Roots Reggae music, this song is going to reach you on so many levels. The sound is impeccable and Deya' goes over with a message that reminds the masses to keep our collective selves humble and in a proper mindset (he even spells it out for you, LITERALLY, later on in the tune). There's also the big vibed 'Disappointments' which touches on a topic, directly, that I don't know I've heard dealt with in such a fine detailing. The song is one which says no matter how far you go in life or how much success you have, disappointments are just a part of things and to, essentially, not hang your head too low when you make a mistake - as the saying goes 'walk enough, eventually you'll stumble'. If you're really focusing in on things, this is the type of song that can definitely set someone apart from the proverbial pack because it's so just so unique. And finally in this stretch is the title track which gets going with a very Luciano-like opening speech. The sound here is a bit different from its five predecessors, but it's still an outstanding piece which calls for the MASTER to be love.
'Single Parents Cry'
'Single Parents Cry'
While the seventh track on "Love Govern Us All", the stepping call to action, 'Start Today', may not be my favourite but it's a pretty nice tune (very varied, to say the least) and the ten which follow it are big and some even match the vibes of the album's first SIZABLE six. Such a display of HUGE quality comes through on the very next tune, the luminous older release 'Single Parents Cry', which covers the title's subject on a dually functioning side.The selection is one going to the parents who don't stick around for their children and leave the other parent around to do the work of both. Most captivating here is how Deya' addresses that there're actually single fathers in the world, doing what they're needed to do by their children and, at the same time, he speaks on the countless women who have to be mothers and fathers to their children. And you know you can never get too much of a good thing, so immediately following that tune is the obligatory Mama tune for this album, 'Mama'. As the title might suggest (it does), this one is extremely uncomplicated. It's Deya' giving credit to his Mother for her part in making him the man that he is. After declaring love Mama, the artist turns his attention to the other special woman in his life on the next three tunes on the album, 'Never Let You Down', 'Still the Same' and 'Guilty'. The first two, particularly 'Still the Same' are nice songs (and I'm sure that song takes a melody from an older R&B song), but the third is of special interest as it's another combination as veteran DJ, Lady G, joins Deya' on the song. Later on, Tony Rebel helps to say 'Go 2 School' and Half Pint also chimes in on 'Get Out'. Both of these are significant offerings on the album and not only because they're combinations - they're also very good. In fact, 'Get Out' is rather clearly one of the best pieces on the entire album over that heavy classic riddim.
What remains on "Love Govern Us All" are a couple of efforts which both stand up tell the masses to leave the violence and walk in the way of righteousness, 'Bloodshed' and 'Elevate Your Mind'. The first of the two is surely the better tune and it's one of the finest on the whole of the album (it is spectacular), but the second is just SO clever.
“Walk away from crime
Elevate your mind
Be wise in this time, time
No more gun crime
Elevate your mind
Walk away from crime
Every ghetto youth haffi shine
No man no badda dan no man
Every man should be a humble
We shoulda try fixing up di land
Eradicating di confusion
Remember, no man is an island
And no man stands alone
Before you come inna dance-
Mi beg yuh leave yah gun at home”
And lastly is the most colourful and familiar closer, 'Everything Tun Up' which reached just last year. I always thought that this song had the sound to do big things, and it did, but I think maybe appearing here can give it a second life of sorts as Qshan Deya' sends the listeners out with one SWEET mood from his first album in several centuries.
'Everything Tun Up'
Overall, at the very least, we'll call an album a 'significant occurrence' in an artist's career and I think that it means even more for someone who rose to prominence in the way that Qshan Deya' did (on the strength of another very much talked about album), so in that, everything appears to be back to normal for him. However, what I want to say here specifically is that, now it all appears that this project manifested itself in a very perfect time. Just like in the case of "Journey" where there was so much going for him, "Love Govern Us All" arrives at a point where people are well noticing the work that Deya' is back doing and he's able to get his lovely messages out to the masses now more than ever, arguably. This album shows that determination and perseverance go a very long way, especially when linked together and you have to be happy for someone like Qshan Deya', who appears to be headed to the top once again, after all these years . . . now hopefully he can do another one of these before I turn FORTY-TWO! Well done.
Diamond Rush Productions