Friday, July 27, 2012

Discography: Ras Attitude

Ras Attitude
It worked so well the first time, that I thought we'd bring it back. In observance of a big new album and just an all around supremely highlighted body of work, I thought that today it would be nice to get back into what hopefully will become a decent new running series for us around here (until I get tired of writing) and examine the work of the ultra-talented, potential Reggae superstar, Ras Attitude. The chanter from out of St. Croix has really become a staple on the entire scene of Reggae music, even reaching beyond the Virgin Islands, which certainly is an ever widening field. Really to any impartial critic or just a fan with adequately functioning listening devices attached at the sides of their heads, Ras Attitude has to be considered one of the most gifted artists of the current era, as well as someone clearly destined for an even more substantial form of greatness. With him having recently released his seventh studio album to date, "Hold the Vibes", we now take a look back at them all in Discography: Ras Attitude. 

The music of Ras Attitude

"Happiness" [Sound V.I.Zion Records - 2001]

Glorious. I'm always looking for a reason to get back into "Happiness" which was not only the debut album from Ras Attitude, but I think it was also the very first artist's album to appear on Sound V.I.Zion, the label of Attitude's good friend, producer and initiator of this series, Ras Batch. While it certainly wasn't his best piece of work, looking back, I'm coming around to the notion (one which I've been working on for the past couple of years or so) that it may've been a lot better than most people gave it credit for being and still do. With an album like this, it can be kind of difficult to discern such things because 'Ras Attitude's first album', whatever it was, has some type of inherent distinction, whether or not it was actually any good, so you many times you may not even get into its actual quality before lifting it up to some pedestal. Fortunately, however, this set had its share of strong moments and doesn't just as exist as some figurehead-ish type of a project. "Happiness" had a bit more Dancehall and Hip-Hop than you'd ever expect from Attitude looking back, but these days my personal standouts include 'Jah Trees', 'Who Mek Man', and the bookends, 'Back in the Hills' at the front and the still devastatingly gorgeous track, 'Glorious' which closed it up. 

"Love Life" [Sound V.I.Zion Records - 2004]

Mr. Goodwin. I'd like to think that Attitude's sophomore venture, "Love Life", has become one of his more well heard releases altogether, but surely that isn't accurate. For me, in several ways, while you may not see the Modern Classic write up one day, it's somewhat of a personal classic because of how IMMEDIATELY strong it was. This wasn't the type of an album, such as its successor, which took a great deal of concentration and thought to rectify its greatness, it was very upfront - either you liked it or you didn't.  Hearing it now, it sounds like a portal of sorts from the "Happiness" album to the rest of the artist's career. It had elements of that first record (a nice amount of Dancehall here as well) and it also featured bits and pieces (biggup Lutan Fyah), which would kind of illuminate throughout his career. It also had some really strong material. Batch, Mada Nile, Ambassada and others contribute to an album which featured tunes like 'Bun Dem' ["wi ah bun dem wid no apology. Rastafari give I di authority!"] [BOOM!], 'War To Win' and the title track. It also contained a piece which is the first of the trinity of tunes from Attitude which I hold in the highest possible esteem, the downright flooring 'Ithiopia Alone'.  

"Holding Firm" [Zion High Productions - 2005]

Time-delayed. I know I've told this story before, but I'd like to thank Ras Attitude and the fine people at the currently resurgent Zion High Productions for showing me just how old I was. When I very first got a hold of "Holding Firm", frankly I thought it was boring and it had too much singing. It was very much unlike the album I just told you about, which would have been a favourite of mine at the time and still very fresh in my mind, being just a year old at that point. I had it for a little while and then I didn't have it anymore. Fast forward a little while later and I heard it again and . . . Suddenly it sounded like a completely different album. Surely that suggests some type of severe aging on my part and while I miss my 20's more and more each day, one of the gifts of time passing with me still being on the planet is that my ears had been opened to one of the greatest JOYS of an album Attitude has ever given the world. "Holding Firm" was absolutely a loaded album and you could go straight down the line unerringly and hit a winner at every stop along the way. Particularly, check 'Wrath of Jah', which featured Batch, 'All We Need Is Love', 'Why', the title track and the song which still tops this one for me, 'Let Jah Be Praised'.  

"Royal Lionage" [Royal Inity - 2006] 

Upstream. I look at "Royal Lionage" now as THE album which very much ushered in the 'modern' version of Ras Attitude (and yes, I know that makes no sense at all). It was a streamlined  (literally, it only had eleven tunes) and well refined set which now serves as one of the most instant basis of comparisons when dealing with output from the artist. It's interesting now because he's clearly developed from then, but even being MORE talented - it's difficult to top this sublime one from Royal Inity (who has seemingly vanished from the planet these days) (biggup IM Music). Despite its brevity, this album featured a great deal of memorable moments which jump out even prior to going back and listening to it. I remember songs like 'Revelation Time', 'Joyful Day' (especially), ' Push Up Your Level Rasta', 'Kette Drum' and 'Upstream of Life' by name and already associate them to this album without very much thought and that wasn't all. "Royal Lionage" came to its conclusion with a pair of the strongest tunes in Attitude's vault altogether. There was the all kind of beautiful 'Shelter Me Oh Jah' and, of course, 'Know Who Is Jah', which is the second of the aforesaid 'trinity' of truly great songs from the chanter. 

"Trodding Home" [Green Sphere Records - 2007]

'Trodding Home'

Wearing a crown. If I remember correctly, pretty much at the same time that Batch pushed his own album for Green Sphere Records, "I-Ver Strong", Ras Attitude had an album for the label which, arguably, remains his most high profile release to date (until, I Grade Records goes ahead and does the inevitable), "Trodding Home". The album featured a title track which would go on to make a serious impact on just about anyone who ever heard it (even me - it's the last of my 'trinity') and become probably the single biggest hit of Attitude's career to date. For me, I go so long without REALLY digging into this one, that I'm always happy when I find a reason to listen it again, because I'm almost sure to find a new favourite songs. These days it doesn't get much better than 'Music' (you need to hear that song, right now), but I'm also focused on older favourites like 'Jah Lives' with Malika Madremana, 'We Gonna Make It' and a song which I completely forgot was on this album, an acoustic version of 'Music', featuring the full motion brilliance that is the incomparable Tuff Lion 

"I-Meditation" [Universal Balance Records - 2009]

Universal. I don't have to think about these things very much anymore (because I already have, obviously), but 2009's "I-Meditation" is not only the single best album that Ras Attitude has done in his entire career, it's also the one which, at least for me, showed that it was time to looking at him for the talent that he was and got me started on the thinking that he was one who was capable of putting together that type of LANDMARK moment (and he is, he's going to prove me right, I'm sure of it). When you do something like this, even with the great works he'd already given us at the time, I'm expecting great things and I haven't waned in that at all. What made it so good? Pick just about any of the album's seventeen lights and you'll know why. Pay a special attention, however, to songs like 'Disya Time' (if I were to make my trinity a quartet, this tune would be number four and I probably should do that, but I don't feel like rewriting this piece!), 'Mi Woulda Vex' alongside album producer Ishi Dube (biggup Ishi Dube), 'Great God' with Norris Man, 'Sing A Song' with Jah Dan, Everton Blender joining in on 'Whip Dem' and the ear candy that is 'Gway' . . . oh and every other song on the album while you're listening also. Winstrong and Jah Sun also made appearances on this album which was just fantastic!

"Hold the Vibes" [One Drop Records - 2012]

Here we go again. Having had just a few weeks now to simmer on Attitude's latest creation, "Hold the Vibes" - I don't think that my impressions of it have changed very much, but perhaps my thoughts have solidified in just a bit (I do really like that cover, which I didn't say previously). 'Here We Go' definitely remains my favourite, but after that I think the one tune that I've gravitated towards most as of late has been 'Miss Royalness'. That tune has a riddim on it which may just be the best on the entire album and is really just hard to shake from your senses (not that I've tried very hard). As I said before, while I don't think this one is his finest piece of work, it has reassured me that the greatness that I heard isn't very far away from flourishing in its brightest way.

Ras Attitude
So! Hopefully you've already picked them all up, but if you've missed one or two along the way, definitely check out the work of an artist who really has everything you would hope from a performer in modern Roots Reggae, Ras Attitude

1 comment:

  1. I really like write-ups like this one. It highlights some of your old writings, and presents your ideas in a reaffirmed and packaged light that is helpful to both new and old readers.