In time. As opposed to things such as concerts, films and sporting events, when it comes to albums, I don't know exactly how much attention is paid to the actual timing of a release. I wouldn't think that it would be a great deal, specifically in Reggae, because not only do albums come from such a wide variety of sources which are wholly unpredictable, anyone who cares about albums and is/has been a fan of people like Sizzla Kalonji, Midnite, Luciano and a whole heap of others has likely encountered, over the years, multiple occasions where a particular artist is literally competing against themselves. The one deviation from that, of course, would be with a single active label not doing that, but even then it isn't unheard of to have one label have multiple big releases out from, seemingly, artists who would appeal to the same lot of fans (like right now with VP Records on board with two big releases from Beres Hammond and Cocoa Tea) ("One Love, One Life" & "In A Di Red", big albums, in stores now). My point in there is that I think that everything has a 'proper' or a 'best' time, when it comes to releasing albums and even if that isn't such a grand concern on the business side of things (and it probably isn't) - maybe sometimes it should be. For example, hmmm… Oh I don't know, last year Reggae superstar and the greatest vocalist in the history of humankind, Jah Cure, released his sixth album to dat… that album never actually reached, did it??? Unlike some of his previously named and far more prolific peers, the Cure's album catalog, even when he wasn't directly involved with it, hasn't been without plan and 'free-flowing'. He has never had more than one album in a single calendar year and he's never even had albums in two consecutive years, which definitely makes such moments very big deals, respectively, and spots to REALLY look forward to from his huge audiences (of which you and I are members). So, because of that, following his most recent set, 2009's "Universal Cure", nothing had changed, nothing had diminished and whatever was going to be the next Jah Cure album was going to be yet another very big deal for the genre and everything pointed to a very nice 2011 being the year.
|"The Universal Cure" |
And that was the plan, apparently. The label, SoBe Entertainment, who had really did a fine job in promoting "Universal Cure", had the next album planned, were dropping consistent singles (which were hits), had big international faces on board and even gave it a name, "World Cry". I think they may've even given away a free song and, once again, the wheels of a legitimately impressive promotional vehicle in Reggae music appeared to be in motion as early as the first two or three months of 2011. There was news of a delay back then, which wasn't very long (and if you follow probably any genre of music, not really a problem or unexpected), and then there was more and even more music and "World Cry" appeared to be right around the corner - a very, very long corner.
2011, SHOCKINGLY, would come to its end with no album in sight, even though it had seemed like you'd already heard it (more on that in a moment) and while surely Jah Cure wouldn't end his career without releasing another one, it seemed as if "World Cry" might be destined for an unlikely future shared with records from the likes of Sasha, Ding Dong (WHAT!), Kid Kurrupt, Predator and a few others which just never worked out and never came out. Respect to Sasha (now Sistah Sasha and singing Gospel music), but you aren't looking for any of those projects and weren't when they were, seemingly, coming soon, the way you are to new music, in general, from someone like Jah Cure who remains one of the most popular Reggae artists on the planet - a distinction which isn't running away from him either. Fortunately that wasn't the case and SoBe still had plans for the unreleased set and though it had fallen well off the proverbial radar, 2012 would almost, but not actually conclude without the album manifesting as Jah Cure's "World Cry" has now been released. The first thing, as you might expect, becoming noticeable here is the fact that the album missed 'it's time'. It doesn't have a ton in the way of competition now and had it not been delayed four-hundred times, December 2012 would be a nice time for it to reach, but the lustre and interest which would have been there twelve or eighteen months ago isn't. On top of that, "World Cry" is now digital-only to my knowledge (joining Spragga Benz' "Shotta Culture" as the two most popular such albums in Reggae to my memory) and much of the reaction has centered around the delaying of the album which is just awful and would not have happened had it not had so much pre-release work. Furthermore, fans weren't the only ones affected by the delays as I read an interview with the Cure where he said that not only had waiting for the 'World Cry" album to reach allowed him to focus on other things, but it did so to the point where he had already COMPLETED its followup and even set the July 28, 2013 date (the sixth anniversary of his release from prison) as when the album's first single would drop. Again, this isn't someone like a Vaughn Benjamin who we are talking about (currently Midnite stands at album #45 with the next two set and ready to go, but you KNOW Benjamin probably has enough written to stroll right in the studio and record up to #55 or so RIGHT NOW), so obviously delaying this album has even thrown of Jah Cure's plans a bit as well. Still, with all of that being said, it is Jah Cure. He is amazing and you're still interested in how it all eventually ends. Let's find out.
|Previously release from "World Cry"|
If you've never heard Jah Cure's music, the first thing that you need to know is that his voice is… indescribable. You could sing much, much worse than this man (and pretty much everyone else does) and still have a fine singing tone. What he is able to do vocally is unlike anyone else and, because of that, along with maybe people such as Aidonia or Admiral T -- the lyrical acrobats of the world -- you're able to appreciate his music even when it's not at its greatest or is a bit past due. For instance, check the opener of Jah Cure's new album, "World Cry", 'Nothing Is Impossible'. This tune is a very well known single from more than a year ago and it's a beautiful song. It's somewhat Poppish to my ears, but a very nice song still and one on an inspirational type of vibes, obviously. A decent way to start things. Next is the aptly titled R&B tune, 'Can't Wait', which is also a song from awhile back. This tune is more of a relationship type of composition, a very cool one, and a real winner in my opinion. Also, I'd point to a piece like this one as being one which is aimed more at 'mainstream' circles and I do think that the Cure could have some success in that arena, but I'm waiting for a HEAVY Reggae song. That doesn't come through on the very colourful 'Co-Sign', which is new to my ears, and another piece which shows more of a lean towards a different type of audience. I don't want to make it sound like these songs aren't good, they all are and, at least to my opinion, out of the opening trio, 'Co-Sign' is the best of them all and one of the best on the whole of "World Cry".
It's interesting that the name of the album is what it is and, in Reggae music, you see/hear such a title and immediately think of Roots Reggae music, but "World Cry" is not a Roots Reggae album. It's Pop, it's R&B, there is Reggae music, but as a complete project, you definitely take it as one which SoBe Entertainment (a label which isn't greatly involved in the genre. Outside of the Cure, to my memory their only involvement in Reggae has been previously working with Ce'Cile) (biggup Ce'Cile for the review title) has geared towards more of the typical audience which follow their other artists. That's not a problem, but it doesn't appear to be an album made with people like myself and yourself in mind (they probably assumed that we'd arrive here anyway) (they were right). There're also several love songs throughout the album and that is the dominant topic of discourse here. And again, I don't want to make it seem as if that's such a striking problem, it isn't, in fact one of my favourite songs on "World Cry" is such a moment. Unsurprisingly, I still very much favour THE song here which is most familiar to my ears, the admittedly well worn 'Unconditional Love'. He's sung better songs and he's sung many of them at this point, but I'd very much rank this tune as one of the finest love songs of Jah Cure's entire career and on an album teeming with them, it reigns supreme on that end. The golden Cardiac Bass Riddim supported 'Before I Leave' is another top notch track, albeit one well over two years old at this point. The Cardiac Bass was… a STUNNING track and didn't birth anything but substantial music and 'Before I Leave' was one of the more 'ample' to my ears.
The very clever 'Only Vice' is another one which should be familiar. Despite not knowing the actual song, the Sensimillionaire Riddim from the House Of Riddim (EXCELLENT riddim album, featuring tunes from the likes of Jah Mason, Mark Wonder, Joggo, Zareb and Smiley) ('Big Money Bag', big tune) keeps a place in my memory (biggup Smiley) and the Cure scores heavily on the HEAVY Reggae track and in a very 'free' style.
"I'll be the one to raise your blood pressure
Deep dive til I find your secret treasure
Take gravity away, our feet won't touch the floor
And if you're chilly baby I can be your summer
And if you're lonely baby I can be your lover
And if you're feeling down and out, I'll be your upper
Just say the word and baby I'm a come running"
The unusually talented Jazmine Sullivan (very interesting and 'soulful' voice she has) joins in on 'World Cry" on the decent (but growing) 'Choose Up', a song which I wouldn't be at all surprised to, someday, become one of my favourites here, although it does have some room to work there. I'm pretty sure I recall this song from earlier this year at least and it is the type of song which so easily fits the vibes on of the rest of the album. The same could be said for the all Zouked up 'Me Miss', though I'm not at all crazy about this tune and expect it stay such. It's an okay track, but nothing really special, good or bad, around it, although it does get slightly better as the tune progresses, so listen through it entirely before passing a final judgment.
The final third or so of "World Cry" presents and represents a shift in focus as the music goes away from the love song, dominant in its first (and middle) portion, to dealing with more socially conscious themes and subjectry and while I wouldn't at all call this Roots Reggae music (because it is not), it is a very welcomed shift. It's also worth mentioning that while the topics shift, there isn't such a clear connecting swinging of the actual music. It is, for the most part, the same mix that it's been up to that point. To my ears, the finest song here is also the album's top ranking offering, the very recognizable 'Save Yourself', which (may be three years old at this point) is full on masterful and always has been as a straight forward and basic (a good thing here) social commentary.
"So they send out the people to break up our nation
Say they seek out the people so patently waiting
Then they send out the people to change our emotion
SAY THEY TIRED OF PEOPLE WITH SO MUCH DEVOTION
So I say, save yourself!
No matter what you do
From the ways of the world
We've come this far, you don't need no help
Say they change up the weather to throw off our season
Say they send out pollution to cancel our breathing, breathing
So they pick out president without our choosing
And they riot whenever we start to refuse them"
I called it 'basic' because of the way the song is presented, but its presentation is the only thing deserving of such a tag. The 'body' of it is full brilliant and something, in terms of the sound, which is different from the Cure. This portion of the album also contains the album's other two combinations, 'Like I See' and 'Praises To Jah' with Mavado and Phyllisia, respectively. I don't like the former at all. It is a Hip-Hop song and, in one form, was a combination featuring rapper, Rick Ross. The sound is rough and grimy, both of which are 'surfaces' on which Mavado shines and he does well here, actually, but I just don't like the tune. Oft Jah Cure collaborator, onetime label mate and bonafide CUTIE, Phyllisia, chimes in on a song which didn't sound like I expected it to at all. 'Praises To Jah' is kind of Poppish. It's a very colourfully vibed selection which is on the doorstep of several different sounds and it's also very good in my opinion. Of course, I would have preferred the more expected route, but I have no problems with what they came up with and HOPEFULLY after what was a pretty strange 2012 to my knowledge, Phyllisia can have some big successes in the new year because she's always shown herself to have a considerable talent calling for more activity (like a Zouk song). There's also the LOUD title track which I've gone back and listen to now many times and just can't quite say that I fully enjoy it.
Interestingly, that song is very similar in my tastes to the two remaining songs on "World Cry", 'Reach Out' and 'All By Myself' (which has a remix featuring Hip-Hop legend, Tupac Shakur). All three of these tunes are instances where if you just listen to what is being said, it is powerful material, especially on the title track, but it is the marriage of meaning and message and lyrics to sound where I begin to lose my appreciations for all three. And it's probably (likely) because I'm a stingy and jaded Reggae fan and I wanted my Jah Cure Reggae album and this isn't it (and I wanted it in last year), because none of these three songs are BAD at all and 'Reach Out' is actually pretty good - they're all good. But its is a process of going through and them, and for the most part the same exists on all of the album before them - they just seem to be missing something.
Overall, to go back to the premise of this review, I really think that the situation of the constant delaying of this album has really hurt it. Obviously that is the case of the old songs (and, like I said, we're approaching the completion of the third year for one or two of them, entering 2013). This is Jah Cure, this isn't an unknown, if he makes music it gets popular and you listen to it, over and over again at times and it's really bad that so many tunes here are not only so old, but have PEAKED (and were hits of varying degrees) in every way, even before the album arrived. It's a 2011 album stuck in 2012. And to go along with that, the musical mix here isn't what I would have hoped. I was definitely looking for more straight forward and Reggae-centric music from the Cure and "World Cry" is many things, but that isn't one of them. Still, the album isn't without quality, obviously, but I would only recommend it for newer fans of the genre (who aren't very likely to be reading a review this long). For more experienced heads - with what the album turned out to be, I don't know if even coming eighteen months sooner on the calendar would have remedied what you won't like here. "World Cry" is decent and it is full-on beautiful in some aspects, but it would have had to have been an all time classic to make it worth that wait.