Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rewind!: "Stronger" by King Lorenzo

"Stronger" by King Lorenzo [Rock Hill Records]

I've really been wanting to go back and take a look at a couple of albums in particular which I've been working on listening to in more detail and today we take a more formal course in the case of one of them (I may actually do the other, very random, soon as well) , King Lorenzo's sophomore offering. One of many albums which, perhaps, went a bit overlooked (due to there being SO many good albums last year), just as was the case on his well received debut set from a few years earlier, "Movin Ahead", Lorenzo once again turned in a very… strong album and one which, very much, figures to have made a lasting impression on fans fortunate enough to hear it. Today we go back and take a look and a listen to an album well worthy of another spin and REWIND! "Stronger" by King Lorenzo

1. 'Guide My Footsteps'

With a tune that I originally enjoyed, but now have an even greater affection of, "Stronger" begins. 'Guide My Footsteps' is almost a microcosm of the album carrying it. It is absolutely delightful and downright joyous to the ears, but there is a significant message here as well. Lorenzo gives big thanks and spiritual acknowledgements on the praising tune which is amongst the very best on this project altogether. BOOM!

2. 'Mighty Long Time'

Here is an example of a tune which has really blossomed to my ears and I so find myself enjoying it these days on a scale which I didn't previously, which is saying a great deal because, like the opener, I also really did like this one. I think that is because 'Mighty Long Time' is such a relatable song. The singer speaks on several things, but the core message is one of maintaining and being determined in oneself, regardless of what else has been going on.

"It's time I get what is mine
Cause I've been waiting for a mighty long time
Hard times - gonna leave that behind
Yes, I've been waiting for a mighty long time

So long I've been a victim of dem politics, badmind and dem game
But through my darkest hour, I still maintain my power
I was surrounded by, forces who don't want to see I rise, yeah
But I refuse to surrender, I keep my eyes on the prize 

And now it's time I get what is mine
Cause I've been waiting for a mighty long time
Negative vibes - gonna lave that behind
Cause I've been waiting for a mighty long time
A mighty long time

I will be moving onwards
Cause my mind is free
Look into the future, there got to be a way for me
I will be shining my light so bright for the world to see
I'm trying to make my vision turn into reality

And now, it's time I get what is mine
Cause I've been waiting for a mighty long time
Hard times - gonna leave that behind
Cause I've been waiting for a mighty long time

I'm not looking for no sympathy
Just wanna be the best that I can be
Jah Jah blessings gonna set me free
So long I've been a victim of politics, badmind and dem game
But throughout my darkest hour, I still maintain my power
I was surrounded by, powers who just wanna see I fail
But I refuse to surrender, I keep my eyes on the prize"

I took this tune in, perhaps, a different direction, where I relate more to it (because I haven't had a lot of "others" against me, it was almost always ME who was getting in my way) (years and years of just... DUMB!), but it still well applies and resonates throughout what has become my favourite tune on "Stronger".

3. 'Head Up High' featuring Clifford Fyah Henry

King Lorenzo teamed up with Clifford Fyah Henry for the SWEET inspirational moment, 'Head Up High' and the two produced an excellent composition. What I really like here now is how the song kind of comes in with its inherent limit. What I mean is that Lorenzo and Henry obviously want you to feel better and feel happy with what you're doing in life (even if you need to change a few things), but they also just as strongly want you to be humble at the same time ["I KEEP MY FEET ON THE GROUND…"]. In several ways, it echoes the sentiments of the piece preceding here, which is a good thing on a good song.

4. 'Something About You'

'Something About You' was a very solid love song on the album. There isn't much more to say about it than that, but it does feature an unforgettable riddim, from Cottage In Negril, and is just a lovely song which is really the only straight forward love song on the entire album.

5. 'Pressure Me Hard'

Again, 'Pressure Me Hard' hit's the  topic of persevering through one's tribulations in life and reaching your goals. I don't want to make it sound redundant to any extent (more on that later), because all of these songs really do have their place in the prevailing theme of the record (or at least my opinion of what that is here) AND, this song is gorgeous and, although similar to several others here, really is a unique effort and one whose presence greatly makes this album a better one.

6. 'Keep On Rising' featuring U Brown

The second combination, 'Keep On Rising' features veteran U Brown and is another very strong piece and I felt initially and still do feel as if this track could receive some type of significant push, that it could do considerably well. You can very much tell from the title what it is about and, again, it is piece which sets its own course and is original and unique on its own terms. This particular selection is one which I hold in a greater esteem these days and while it necessarily the type which kind of evolves, it is very straight forward, it does take awhile to really grab you and I'm someone who it has now experienced that. You will too.

7. 'Live Up'


"Every time I read the paper, every time I see the news, my blood runs cold
So much negativity and animosity, seems like we're losing control
So many youths without direction
Some just need some love and affection
Some just searching for a little attention 
And there is no one around
But the future belongs to those who believe of their beauty of their dreams
Belief in yourself and know you will achieve, no matter how hard it seems 

Live up brother man, live up now
We don't have to turn to the gun
Live up brother man, live up now
Life can be so much fun! 
Live up brother man, live up now
Be careful of the games you play
Live up brother man, live up now
There's got to be a better way

Inna dis ya time when the going gets tough 
Caan get no work and opportunity no nuff
I've got my qualifications, yet still things tough
Go to the supermarket - everything gone up 
But I'm gonna help myself - yes, that is my style
Try a little hustle and till up the soil
Though I'm surrounded by temptation, I'm still going to hold my meditation" 

8. 'Stronger'

Although the album's title track very much follows the line I've been trying to establish as far as the main subject of a great deal of the music here, it does take a step further and is a slightly more aggressive piece than some of the similarly vibed pieces you'll find present. What I really like here is that, along with the typical thought of - overcoming obstacles and persisting to get what you want - in this case, King Lorenzo goes a little further and declares that all of that stuff has HELPED [!] him along the way. The thought that so much hatred and so much negativity and nastiness could be a fueling force for success isn't one which was previously discussed on the record and, obviously he saves it for a special moment and it comes across crystal clear in this instance.

9. 'This Life' featuring Nereus Joseph

Previously, before I got caught up in the musical whirlwind that is 'Mighty Long Time', 'This Life' was my favourite song from "Stronger" and it still comes very close to that level. Lorenzo links up with the sweet singing Nereus Joseph and, really, you're going to have to try extremely hard to find something that Joseph has done in his career that I wouldn't enjoy. The man's presence, alone, typically guarantees a certain level of quality and CLASS and you won't find the exception to that trend on track #9 of "Stronger".

10. 'Feel Like Dancing'

King Lorenzo suddenly feels like dancing and when you hear this song, you will also. It's exactly what you're thinking that it is and that is a good thing as there is not a damn thing wrong with making good music for the sake of making good music and making people feel good. Mission accomplished.

11. 'Thanks For Today'

It isn't REALLY, because you kind of expect it on an album like this (you're going to expect it on just about any album in the genre of Roots Reggae), but 'Thanks For Today' is a song which is a bit of a changeup here. It is a very easy song which just kind of gives thanks to The Almighty. Of course, that goes back to the opener, but the two selections are very different. 'Guide My Footsteps' is much more of an involved and complex  type of approach. 'Thanks For Today', on the other hand, is almost like we, as listeners kind of tune into a running conversation Lorenzo is having. Big tune.

12. 'Where Is the Love'

'Where Is the Love' is a song which now really is one which strikes me of being an attempt to instill PRIDE and just STANDARDS in the masses. King Lorenzo wants you to be proud of being who you are and, because of that, you're confident and able to let go of bad people in your life and negative forces, in general. This one is a bit more complicated, but it's not at all difficult to 'digest'. Oh and also easy to take is that MAMMOTH riddim behind this tune. DAMN!

13. 'Back to The Roots'

And lastly, while "Stronger" does come to its end on a moment which I do not LOVE, 'Back to The Roots' has grown on me just a little from the first times I heard the song. The title, essentially, says everything you need to know about this one, but the surprise is how, at times, impressive it can be and how handily it manages to eschew the more clichéd thoughts - for the most part.

"I'm gonna take it back to the roots 
Oh I'm gonna take it back to the roots 
I'm gonna take it back to the roots -
Where life is so natural and true
I'm gonna take it back to the roots 
Oh I'm gonna take it back to the roots 
I'm gonna take it back to the roots -
Where life is so natural and true

Don't wanna stray, don't wanna lose my focus
I don't wanna live my life like a circus, no
I don't wanna miss the real things in life

And, quickly, I'd want to go back and just elabourate more on the main theme of the album. Like its title suggests, King Lorenzo's thought here is to empower and to impassion and to inspire and the route he most often chooses to trod in order to convey that thought is, as he does on 'Mighty Long Time, 'Pressure Me Hard', 'Keep On Rising', 'Stronger', to speak of facing challenges in life and overcoming them. As I said, he takes things just a step further on the album's title track, but all of it combines to make one excellent sentiment - one which you should well check out if you haven't already and pick up "Stronger" by King Lorenzo today.

See original review

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