Friday, November 23, 2012

'Still Flying': A review of The Rub A Dub Market Riddim

Build it. Music, probably by definition, is an arena virtually founded on inconsistency. Of course, ultimately, it is a matter of opinion, and opinions, themselves, are also very inconsistent, but if you've followed pretty much anything musically for long enough, surely you've come into the recognition and acceptance of the fact that no matter how much you enjoy someone or something, they're never going to be able to please you all of the time. Most of them, furthermore, won't even be able to do it most times. So, when you stumble upon someone or something that you find does consistently put out music that you enjoy or does so in far greater quantities than material that you do not like, it is very important, as a fan in my opinion, that you are not only focused on appreciating the moment (because, as we've already established, it could end IMMEDIATELY), but also are sure to support them/it. Now, when it comes to labels (which is what we're doing today), fortunately I can say that over the past couple of years or so, we've had some really strong ones who have not only shown great consistency in terms of the prevailing quality of their releases, but have also shown it in their quantity. Presumably, it's much easier to consistently do good work when… only do work once or twice a year. If you read my work to any level of constancy, you know that here I bring two of my absolute favourite labels, I Grade Records and Oneness Records. They've both, in completely different ways, have established themselves, CURRENTLY (and that's saying a lot, particularly about I Grade because they go back a few years also), as individuals making GREAT Reggae music. I'd also add a few others to that list such as Maximum Sound and Necessary Mayhem and today we're definitely going to take a look and a listen to another imprint who has been pushing excellent results for awhile now, the Austrian based IrieVibrations Records. Quietly (not really), the label has been making music which has made them exceedingly difficult to ignore over the course of the past few years or so and, in doing so, have also definitely become and confirmed their status as one of the most dependable stops from anywhere in the world. On top of that, while I may not talk about them as often as I should and would like to, personally they've also become a favourite of mine and pretty much anything that they do at this point is going to get my attention in some way.  
"Freedom Fighter" by Anthony B [2012]
Now how, exactly, have they managed to do all of that? It's all really simple (not it isn't). When you, in the course of less than a year, manage to release the best album from star chanter, Anthony B, in a really loooooooong time and do one of the finest projects of the entire legendary career of Luciano - I'm over-paying you attention and that's what IrieVibrations did with "Freedom Fighter" and "Rub A Dub Market", respectively. And it wasn't like they started there either. Throughout the years they've also done projects which have shone the light in their direction, but definitely 2001-2012 has been one of the brightest of spots in history for the label. 
also from IrieVibrations Records
So why not keep it going? Who knows what else is to come (I think I remember hearing a rumour about them doing an album from Konshens last year or the year before), but right now we get to take a look and listen to their latest release, the Rub A Dub Market Riddim. Obviously (hopefully you've been paying attention and I haven't lost you that quickly) (we're just getting started!), the riddim is so named after the title track for the aforementioned WICKED 2011 album of Luciano (which we voted the second best Reggae album of that year and may just be a top five release in the album catalog of 'The Messenjah') and it probably wasn't much of a surprise that IrieVibrations chose to expand It in this way. Just a few months back, the also did the Jungle Skunk Riddim, which took the riddim from another big tune on that album and spread it around as well. Also, while albums from Luciano, Anthony B, Konshens & Delus and Perfect Giddimani before them will stand out further, this IVR does have a solid history of doing nice riddim albums. Along with the Jungle Skunk, they've also done up nice pieces for their most interesting Roll Out Riddim, as well as the Sweet Baby (which was sublime), Peace and Caribbean Riddims respectively. And I'll also mention a stellar compilation from a few years back that they did by the name of "Still One Drop" (more on that later). Out of all of those, I may say that the Sweet Baby was my favourite (biggup Mischu Laikah), but as an album, I think the Rub A Dub Market has just soared to the front of the pack as IVR's finest riddim album to date. It certainly aides one in making a good riddim album when you have a strong riddim and the RADM is pretty special in my opinion. The composition here is a very straight forward, but very LIVELY Roots piece which made for an excellent backing track for the huge tune for which it is most well known. As always, another aspect of the riddim album (any of them), which is most interesting is who is voicing it and joining Luciano is a most colourful lot of artists which is damn impressive. One in particular I found really surprising and although there're only ten tracks on the Rub A Dub Market Riddim album, to my opinion, Irie Vibrations have made strong choices in who voiced the track and, by its end, as I said, they manage to pull together their finest riddim project to date. Let's take a closer look. 
"Rub-A-Dub Market" by Luciano [2011]
Besides being the lively piece of which I spoke, this piece, alone just really makes you feel good. As I've constantly said in the past, that's a full quality for a song and a riddim and thus, my only solid critique here - I'll tell you now - is the fact that an instrumental version of the track isn't on the album. What is, however, present on the Rub A Dub Market Riddim album from IrieVibrations is the already much discussed and celebrated riddim title track from Luciano. 

"Some artist nowadays look like ah gaze dem ah gaze
They're making music to gain some fame, but it's all in vain
But when Messenjah and him crew touch down -
A strictly worries in town
We lick dem wid word, power and sound
Roots and culture wear di crown
Some a dem ah push bad vibes and dem nah hold no rem
Dem ah gwan lak dem a di roots, but dem ah di branch and stem!
Dem shoulda know wi ruling so from way back when!
Dem know dat Papa Luci is a living legend!
Dem caan tek di fyah weh Jah Messenjah send!
Seh nuff a dem come ya and deceive Jah children!
Dem ah gwan lak dem a mi friend, but dem a bag a heathen!
Mi bun dem and scorch dem again!
[Scorch!] Well then-

Carry mi music over rub a dub market
And a di music sell off!
Carry mi music over rub a dub market
Even di producer haffi laugh [Ha ha ha ha]"

BOOM! The tune was MAMMOTH, it's the finest on the riddim named after it, it was the finest on the album named after it and it also produced the single most memorable verse I heard in all of 2011. Fantastic piece all around. Carrying the very large responsibility of keeping the vibes high on the riddim is an artist in Raphael who is obviously becoming a favourite at IVR, with the very strong 'If Jah Is With You'. This song is kind of a praising track, but it is one with its 'feet' planted firmly in the ground, which makes it some type of spiritually steered social commentary. It's also very bright and uplifting and I'm telling you right now to keep an eye and an ear on Raphael in the future. He's very talented. Someone else IrieVibrations is very fond of these days (as is pretty much everyone else who gets to hear his work), is the exceedingly prolific and impressive Kabaka Pyramid, who goes full praising tune on a definitive highlight on the RADM Riddim, 'Lead The Way'

"Rastaman original -
No badda call mi no criminal 
Di one yah lick dem subliminal 
Rastaman original -
Livity so metaphysical
From Bobo Hill straight to Pinnacle
Rastaman him different -
Through wi hail The Omnipotent
Selassie I protect di innocent
Rastaman him different -
And di woman dem so brilliant
Babylon fall is imminent"

To my opinion, the artist has EVERYTHING one would need to be a big star on the Roots side and he continues to dazzle here with what has to be one of his strongest efforts to date (missing, however, is the singing divinity that is Pyramid's musical partner, the brilliant Sara Lugo). I'm expecting huge things from him in the future and you should be also. 

One name appearing on the Rub A Dub Market Riddim really stuck out from the pack when I first saw and that was, of course, Virgin Islands star and Achis Reggae favourite, NiyoRah, who delivers the musical kick in the ass with 'Workday'. The selection is aimed at the loafers and procrastinators of the world who have a difficult time getting things done. It's definitely more specific than that but occasionally you need someone to tell you what Niyo does on this track which is so cleverly arranged and I won't spoil it for you here, but missing this would be a really, really stupid to thing to do. While I was so much looking forward to hearing NiyoRah on the track, he wasn't the only one remaining. Also present is another staple of IrieVibrations Records, Perfect Giddimani who, in typical Perfect form, gets the job done in a most unique way with the oft-thunderous 'Realize'. Loooooong after this tune has ran its course, you'll still be singing its chorus and I'll be singing it along with you ["MI REALIZE!"], but also tune in to the lyrics as the chanter continues displaying one of the most volcanic of primes in the history of Reggae music. Later on, an emerging favourite of mine, Ras Muhamad, gets heads moving and thoughts flowing with the scintillating 'Taking Over'

"We taking over now!
Over now!
And si di badness and di slackness haffi dun
We're taking over now!
Over now!
And mek di shotta dem put down dem gun
We're taking over now!
Over now!
When bigga judgment and di fyah ahgo bun
We're taking over now!
Over now!
Ya know di table haffi turn

Mek di future secure, for a brighter tomorrow
And open up di door -
Leave your pain and your sorrow
Trials and crosses, dem haffi cease
Youths of today, I & I haffi reach
Wake up and live
Stay positive
Come wake up and live"

I think I've said this before, but we're getting REALLY close to the point where an new album from Muhamad is a necessity as probably there're only just a few artists in the genre, anywhere in the world, making music as good as he is these days. Big tune. There is another very interesting tune here, 'Love Don't Love Me', which actually features Ward 21 alongside Tifa. Now, this is the tune, as I alluded to (or at least I think I did), which actually appeared on IVR's "Still One Drop" compilation that originated back in 2009 (may be time for a sequel to that one now). That would have probably been the first time anyone the RADM Riddim (before it even had a name, obviously) and although this tune had faded from my memory by the time, I did remember it now and I’m glad it is present here. It's a cool song. 

Wrapping up things here is a very nice trio of artists in [AKA] Koxx, Martei Korley and Trixstar, who all do well. For his part, Koxx scores very big with his music praising piece 'Good Vibration', which is one of the best songs present here to my ears. Martei is someone who I certainly need to learn more about because his 'Rub A Dub Soldier' definitely warrants it and, like Koxx, he also give thanks to the music and goes through how it has so greatly affected his life and brought him to where he is today. It's somewhat autobiographical and I always enjoy tunes like this which kind of show how an artist has been drawn to make what you're hearing. And lastly is Trixstar, the second female voice we here hear (which this riddim simply NEEDED to have), with 'Love Shine', which isn't a 'love song', but is a piece of mighty social commentary and a winning tune from the artist. 
Overall, I guess the other complaint I'd have is that this one didn't have more songs (which is kind of an expansion on my first critique actually) because it is very good and I'm greedy. I'd like some more. The artists that did reach, however, all did very well and that isn't a quality which I can say on too many pieces which carry more than five or six tunes or so. There isn't one song which I'd call without value on the Rub A Dub Market Riddim and I'd say IrieVibrations made a very good decision in building it for an album. They've made a ton of great decisions lately and, like I said, have become one of the more dependable labels in all of Reggae music. The Rub A Dub Market Riddim album is yet another reason why. Well done. 

Rated: 4.2/5
IrieVibrations Records

Review #401

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