Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Discography: Chezidek

We've come a very, very long way from the days when Chezidek was probably best known as that singer with the strange voice. While that delivery hasn't changed much and is still to be regarded as one of the most unique in modern Reggae history, he's spent much of the last decade+ giving fans something far more interesting to talk about than his one of a kind tones: Great music. Chezidek's career is interesting, in part, because much like his predecessors of the legendary Philip 'Fatis’ Burrell and Xterminator, he's always managed to remain very active. It is in this prevailing activity that he's also maintained a very frequent album release schedule and while it may not impress when compared to that of a few of his musical siblings, most notably Sizzla Kalonji, Turbulence and Luciano, to have had eight albums in about ten and a half years is still very impressive and very active. It also denotes a significant level of popularity and reverence, particularly when you consider that only the first two were Xterminator productions. Today we take a look at the catalog of, perhaps quietly, one of Reggae music's most consistent and impressive and definitely unique lights in recent times. Discography: Chezidek

The music of Chezidek
"Harvest Time" [VP Records - 2002]

Let I in. Chezidek's Xterminator helmed debut album, "Harvest Time", and the music of which It was comprised, definitely was a large vehicle in bringing to the forefront a coming talent who was very much knocking down the proverbial door to some level of stardom. And while I wouldn't actually call it a 'classic' in the general way in which I normally use that term (it was only eleven tracks and much of the first half was significantly better than the second), I still really like this album and it does contain tunes which are now bonafide masterpieces in my mind. Songs like the title track [BOOM!], 'Let I In', 'Heart Full Of Love' and 'I Shall Not Be Moved' were absolutely gorgeous and have not at all diminished in quality in the more than a decade since their release. It's also very interesting that, at least in my opinion, with respect to a truly fantastic creation to come at #5 on this list, "Harvest Time" remains one of the two best albums Chezidek has ever done. 
"Rising Sun" [VP Records - 2005]

You again. You will never find a greater detractor of my intelligence than me. Matters of the brain have simply never been something at which I was very good (AT ALL) and will likely never be. HOWEVER, knowing that still doesn't lessen the utter frustration which exists because I have been listening to Chezidek's second album, "Rising Sun", for nearly eight years, on an at least semi-consistent basis and have yet to really figure out what was going on with it. Songs don't quite go in the direction you figured that they would, which isn't normally a problem at all, but here it is just wholly confusing. And I really enjoyed that first album, obviously, so it definitely had something to do with it - waiting three years for its followup - but the way in which it turned out, it almost feels like despite the fact that it was followed by another six albums, I'm still kind of waiting for the second one! "Rising Sun" was just odd and I don't know if I mean that in a good or bad way. I can't even say that I do not like this album as it is, easily, one of the most confounding albums I have EVER heard… but I'll keep trying! 
"Mash Dem Down" [Al.Ta.Fa.An. - 2006]

Still around. The Al.Ta.Fa.An. Steered "Mash Dem Down" album has, unfortunately, pretty much faded away from the minds of most fans and probably even most of them that own it as well which is really too bad because, now looking at it, it may be the fifth best album on this list, which is saying a great deal. The album was one, very much, kind of mirroring those that the label would help vibe for Minor 7 Flat 5 around the same time and it was better than most of them actually, in my opinion, and considerably so in a few cases (though definitely not as good as others) (biggup Anthony B). While it may not have aged well in terms of how popular it is, or isn't, what I remember as being good on this album still sounds very good. Perhaps the lasting biggest tune on "Mash Dem Down" was 'Leggo Dutty Babylon Ways' (entirely too lazy to attempt to recall the name of that riddim, but I love it) and it was joined by solid material such as 'Only The Strong', 'Bruck Like Crackery', 'Let Go', the title track and others. It also carried a bit of star power as Chezidek was joined by Prezident Brown, Gentleman and Lutan FyahMark Wonder on the same track ['Only The Strong']. Still well worth listening to, nearly seven years later and this isn't the last time you'll hear about this album in this post. 
"Firm Up Yourself" [Cousins Records - 2007]

A different flava. Like its predecessor, "Firm Up Yourself" is an album which hasn't aged well in terms of its popularity in this catalog. It hasn't faded quiet as much as "Mash Dem Down", but it was starting at a higher point if I recall correctly. "Firm Up Yourself" came via the once mighty, now virtually completely vanished, Cousins Records who once had a very active operation going which would also produce works from the likes of Turbulence, Luciano, Lutan Fyah, Natural Black and others. Unlike most of those albums, however, Chezidek's release wasn't produced by Byron Murray and In The Streetz. The work here was done by Kemar 'Flava' McGregor, at a time when, although not as accomplished as he is today, the maestro may've already been the best Roots Reggae producer on the planet. Because of that and having such a formidable star in Chezidek, "Firm Up Yourself" was a very good album in its day and it still is, with the singer having his turn with some of Flava's gorgeous tracks. The results are big tunes such as the title track, 'Food', 'Run Away', 'No Fear' and the ruling 'King Highly'. 

{Note: Album was re-released, digitally, more than once}
"Inna Di Road" [Greensleeves Records - 2007]

Calling. Despite having his first two albums being released by VP Records (which is a pretty good accomplishment). Chezidek's most high profile set to date arguably remains this wonderful set from 2007, the Massive B produced, "Inna Di Road" from Greensleeves Records. This album would contain a trio of hits of varying degrees by the singer. One of those big tunes would be the title track (which is a pretty good idea - naming an album after hit song), while another would be an earlier hit, 'Leave The Trees' (which would also appear on the next album I'm going to tell you about). Still, the lasting dominant highlight from the "Inna Di Road" album, for me, was the MAMMOTH 'Call Pon Dem', which just may be my single most favourite song from the artist ever. The rest of this album wasn’t just 'filler' either, with tunes such as 'Far I', the hype 'Me Nah Run' and the infectious 'Trouble Maker' leading the way. 
"Herbalist" [Tad's Records - 2009/10]

More mash up. Despite the fact that it was a pretty good album, on the surface, and a high profile one for Chezidek, I don't remember the "Herbalist" album for that. What I do remember it for usually is for being an album inside an album. More than half of the tracks which make up "Herbalist" come from the "Mash Dem Down" album (including that album's title track and two of its three combinations). And again, while that isn't a good thing, it hasn't made "Herbalist" a BAD album (it may actually be even better than "Mash Dem Down"), but as you can see, it is a quality which has stuck in my head in reference to it over these few years, instead of big tunes like the golden 'Sun or Rain' which belonged to "Herbalist" and only "Herbalist". 

{Note: Digital originally released in 2009. The CD would reach the following year}
"I Grade" [Tabou Records - 2009]

Grading up. The Sly & Robbie vibed "I Grade" album is another one from Chezidek's catalog which hasn't aged very well as far as its popularity, however, I can definitely say that now I have greater appreciation for it, going on four years after its releasing, than I did around the time of its inception (I always did like that word, never use it enough, however). That's basically come on the strength of a few tunes on the project, of which I was already very much a fan, growing in stature to my tastes. I'm speaking of songs such as 'Border Line', definitely 'Righteous Name', 'Keep I Rolling' to an extent and the album's functioning CROWN, the beautiful 'No Surrender. That wasn't all either. "I Grade" was at least partially noted for being an album on which Chezidek brought more love songs than to any other you'll find on this list. It isn't his specialty and if he sings for another century it still wouldn't be, but there were some nice efforts in that spectrum here as well. And I didn't even the fact that "I Grade" came with an accompanying second disc, full of dubs of the music from the first, which is also fantastic these days (becoming more of a Dub fan in my ancient, ANCIENT days). 
"Judgement Time" [JahSolidRock - 2010]

From the highest region. And lastly we take a look back at an album which is nearing a really remarkable three years of age, "Judgement Time". It literally seems like this album reached early last year and not three times that amount of time, but it would seem like that for me as I've yet to actually remove it from my attention for any significant amount of time (not that I've been trying, because I haven't). The JahSolidRock album… PROBABLY is Chezidek's best album to date (with obvious respect going to "Harvest Time", I'm still not confident in making that call), with its most attractive quality remaining its SOUND. I do not have the technical vocabulary to explain it, but "Judgement Time", from a sonic point of view, is AMAZING! What you hear on this album, even from songs which aren't its best, is just a stellar display of music and it is to such a degree that it has begun to completely overwhelm the one major critique you'd have of this album (like the debut, it only has eleven songs on it and you WANT MORE). If you could make bad songs have such a sonic appeal, I guess that would be a good thing as well, but you'll find none of those here. Standing tallest on Chezidek's most recent album release were pieces like its single finest moment in my opinion, 'Walk With Jah’, 'In My Heart', 'Jah Love' ["Jah love is the real thing. Nothing can compare. Whatever the crisis is, I will have no fear"] (TEARS!) and the unforgettable 'Ganja Tree'. This one is probably working its way to a classic level for me at some point, but even right now it is absolutely excellent and because it is now nearly three years old… yeah, why not a new Chezidek album in 2013?


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