Review: Kabaka Pyramid Releases ‘Kontraband’ Album

16 Tracks in total, ‘Kontraband,’ the debut from Kabaka Pyramid does not disappoint.

Kabaka Pyramid - Kontraband. DIGITAL RELEASE [Ghetto Youths International, Bebble Rock Records].

I only heard 3 of the songs before the album’s release so this is a fresh, new experience. The album is reminiscent of Chronixx’s “Chronology” in its diverse representation of modern reggae music.

Hip-Hop influences are evident throughout but do not detract from the roots vibe. You can choose to bob your head and/or skank to the beats. Kabaka spits bars of knowledge with a cool, collected delivery. At times, he sing-jays on the riddims in perfect melody.  

‘Kontraband’ is a strong debut for Kabaka Pyramid and it bolsters his global appeal. The Damian and Stephen Marley executive-produced album features Akon and Stonebwoy out of Africa. Jr. Gong joins Kabaka to illustrate the story on the title track.

Pressure Buss Pipes from the U.S. Virgin Islands sings the hook on “Make Way,” the opening song of the album. Fellow reggae revivalist Protoje makes his mark with a succinct verse on “Everywhere I Go.” Kabaka teams with Chronixx on the mesmerizing and memorable “Blessed Is The Man.”

Kabaka doesn’t only chant a lyrical onslaught on Babylon. He considers the divine essence of black queens on “Natural Woman.” He opens up about affairs of the heart on “Kaught Up,” and “All I Need,” which features Nattali Rize. The different vibes on ‘Kontraband’ balance out. If you ranked this entry as one of 2019’s top reggae releases, I would say that’s accurate. 

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Top Lyricists | Reggae Lover Podcast Episode 91

This is episode number 91 of the Reggae Lover Podcast with the top lyricists of Reggae music today.

The selection features 20 lyrically potent songs. The concept was a suggestion by Kris Richards, a visual and graphic artist who enjoys listening to this podcast while he creates his art. He created the original artwork for this episode.  Visit @iandidea on IG to see Kris Richards’ magnificent works. A big shout out and thank you to Kris, representing Jamaica and the ATL. So far his feedback is that this mix is too short, and he has requested a part 2. I’m cool with it. I’ll go ahead and mix up a series of lyricist-based podcast episodes.

This mix keeps your head bobbing all the way through. If you came to the end and thought “wait… what… it’s over already?” then I know you will come back for more. Meanwhile, you have to go back and listen to this wordplay and these metaphors. Lyrics are layered with symbolism in the songs, especially those by Kabaka Pyramid. You have to go back and listen again to extract the true meaning.

Rebellious Nature by Agent Sasco kicked it off. Wicked Man by Busy Signal, Wadada by Jesse Royal and Kabaka Pyramid‘s Global Warning complete the intro. Listen to Can’t Breathe, Well Done, and also Liberal Opposer by Kabaka. He also features on The Flame with Proteje. Koffee, the 17-year-old sensation, makes her mark on Burning.

Proteje‘s creativity is on display with the one called Criminal and also Truth and Rights. Over Damian Marley’s On the Corner Riddim, you hear Chronixx with Ghetto People. Busy Signal’s Survival from the Return Riddim by Jukebox Productions adds to the vibe. Love Is All I Bring, the new Spragga Benz tune from Sting International fits in well. I was able to squeeze in 1999’s Wha Yuh Say Star which got left off of the Spragga Benz podcast.

Damian Marley flows on The Master Has Come Back and Road to Zion featuring Nas off the Welcome to Jamrock album. In the next edition of the lyrical opposer mix, you’re going to hear some more from Vybz Kartel. I’ll also bring it very current with 2018 material from these and other new artists.

artwork - Reggae Lover Podcast 91

Thank you to the listeners who have added ratings and reviews on iTunes. Shouts out to my very lovely wife who has been binge listening via the podcast app on her new iPhone. I’m honored to have you listen to my podcast. It’s all about us reggae lovers. We have to continue to spread the culture. I focus on the reality I want to see which is positivity. Positive energy and momentum arise from reggae music.

Shout out to my family at WRFG 89.3FM ATL. I’ll be dropping by the Global Drumbeat and Riot Radio shows this week to spread the word about Reggae Lover. I’m gonna drop 2 crazy guest DJ sets live on the air. I’ll be talking about the podcast because I want more people to tune in as we build this movement. I’m inspiring and healing people with reggae.

Look out for the episodes coming up where I’ll be chopping it up with guests learn when, where, why and how they fell in love with reggae. Diving into some of the stories will be lots of fun and I’m so very excited about that.

Review the podcast on Apple Podcasts and get a shout out on the next episode. Have any questions, comments, or feedback? I love to get requests and suggestions. I want to hear what you are interested in hearing. Hit me up. I will those mixes lined up for you. Get your own custom mix right here on the Reggae Lover podcast and be a part of the show. Thank you for listening. Keep your head up – keep it positive. Until next time, One love.

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Suggest a Reggae Lover Mix

Marsha Ambrosius, Freddie McGregor, Maxi Priest, Romain Virgo, Ikaya, Raging Fyah, Jah9, Christopher Ellis, The Green, Katchafire, Jah Cure, No Maddz, Chronixx, Jesse Royal, Kabaka Pyramid, Exco Levi, Kelissa, Jahmiel, Iba Mahr, Keznamdi

VP RECORDS REMEMBERS “THE CROWN PRINCE OF REGGAE” DENNIS BROWN

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Compilation Features Covers from Marsha Ambrosius, Freddie McGregor, Maxi Priest, Romain Virgo, Ikaya, Raging Fyah, Jah9, Christopher Ellis, The Green, Katchafire, Jah Cure, No Maddz, Chronixx, Jesse Royal, Kabaka Pyramid, Exco Levi, Kelissa, Jahmiel, Iba Mahr, Keznamdi and more.

DENNIS BROWN Double-Disc Tribute Album Will Drop June 3, 2016

DENNIS BROWN Double-Disc Tribute Album Will Drop June 3, 2016

Hailed by NPR Morning Edition as one of the 50 great voices of all time – the Jamaican musical icon Dennis Brown began his recording career at the tender age of 11 and released more than 75 albums during his all too short 42 years on Earth. Although the reggae legend passed away in 1999, his music and legacy live on.

VP Records, the world’s leading reggae label, will pay homage to Brown on June 3, 2016 with an extensive tribute album of his timeless hits and deep cuts titled, We Remember Dennis Brown. The 30-song collection features a wide and impressive range of reggae and R&B voices covering crucial Dennis Brown compositions. The set was produced by Jamaican legend Clive Hunt with an all-star team of musicians.
In February (Brown’s birthday month), VP Records premiered one song from the album every Friday for five weeks – including “Caress Me” from one of Jamaica’s brightest voices Romain Virgo, “Milk & Honey” by roots reggae rockers Raging Fyah, “Bloody City” from the Caribbean’s soulful songstress Jah9, “Promised Land” from Hawaiian reggae band The Green and “Have You Ever” by R&B powerhouse Marsha Ambrosius.

In addition to these power hitters, We Remember Dennis Brown will feature an array of singers from Brown’s native country and across the globe who he influenced. Jamaica’s latest crop of stars (including Jah Cure, Gyptian, Iba Mahr, Kabaka Pyramid, Kelissa, Keznamdi, Chronixx and Jesse Royal) as well as the island’s icons who worked with Brown (like reggae vocalists Bushman and Freddie McGregor) all offer their contributions. Freddie’s son Chino McGregor and Christopher Ellis, the talented UK-based singer and offspring of Alton Ellis (another one of Brown’s musical mentors and confidants), both deliver powerful renditions of Brown’s classics.

New Zealand rockers also create a breezy rendition of “If I Had The World.” The worldly collection proves that his universal sound transcends all boundaries of time, race and creed. Each artist adds their own original flair to Brown’s profound soul-stirring sound – touching the hearts of new and old fans alike on this unique multi-disc collection. We Remember Dennis Brown will include deluxe packaging as well as extensive liner notes on the belated legend.

Dennis-Brown

DENNIS BROWN

Dennis Brown was greatly influenced by American balladeers such as Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin as well as Jamaican singers like Delroy Wilson and John Holt. At only 12-years-old, he cut his first hit “No Man Is An Island” at Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s famous Studio One. Within the years, he was a force to be reckoned with musically – dubbed the “Boy Wonder of Jamaica” and “Crown Prince of Reggae.” Before he was 16, he had worked with Jamaica’s top recording artists (Alton Ellis, Horace Andy) and producers of the time (Prince Buster, Dennis Alcapone, Winston “Niney” Holness and Vincent “Randy” Chin).

In the 1970s, he worked closely with producer Joe Gibbs and released multiple albums. One of the album’s songs “Money in my Pocket,” peaked at #14 on UK Top 40 chart becoming one of the biggest international hits in Jamaica’s history. This success landed him the cover of the NME’s February 1979 issue. Enthusiastically adapting to the new dancehall era, Brown released a huge amount of work throughout the 1980s recording with genre’s major producers like King Jammy on Brown’s 1986 album The Exit and Gussie Clarke in 1989 with the Gregory Isaacs duet “Big All Round” and the album Unchallenged. He continued to record prolifically in the 1990s before his passing. His 1994 album Light My Fire and 2001 release Let Me Be the One were both nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.

TRACK LISTING:

Iba Mahr, Jesse Royal, Keznamdi, Chronixx, Exco Levi, Kelissa, Jahmiel, Kabaka Pyramid & Rockaz Elements – I Need Your Love (Rasta Children)
Bushman – Don’t Want To Be No General
The Green – Promised Land
Raging Fyah – Milk and Honey
Christopher Ellis – Created By The Father
Mutabaruka & Marla Brown – Words of Wisdom
Chino – Melting Pot
Yahsha – The Existence Of Jah
Jamelody- Halfway Up, Halfway Down
Freddie McGregor – Little Village
Mykal Rose – Easy Take It Easy
Jah9 – Bloody City
Richie Spice – Wolves and Leopards
Shuga – Black Liberation
VP Hit Team – To The Foundation
Romain Virgo – Caress Me
Marsha Ambrosius – Have You Ever
No Maddz – Rocking Time
Maxi Preist – Love Me Always
Jamelody & Ikaya – Love Has Found Its Way
Sanchez – Your Love Got A Hold On Me
Katchafire – If I Had The World
Etana – Should I
Jah Cure – Ghetto Girl
Christopher Martin – Baby Don’t Do It
Gyptian – How Can I
Ikaya – For You
Dalton Harris – No More Will I Roam
Jah Vinci – Money in My Pocket
VP Hit Team – Silhouette

Rocksteady ATL hosts the debut of DUBWISE ATLANTA, Sat. June 13 @ Space 2 (The Sound Table)

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The organizers of “Rocksteady ATL,” myself and The Honorary Citizen, will host the debut of Dubwise Atlanta on Saturday June 13th at the Sound Table’s SPACE 2 (485 Edgewood Avenue, Atlanta, GA) with Yaadcore from Kingston, Jamaica alongside Aba Shaka, Love People, and Highlanda Sound.

The original Dubwise Jamaica is a Roots Dub Reggae session every Wednesday in the city of Kingston, created to preserve the roots in the Dancehall & spread the message of love through music.  Dubwise Jamaica guarantees strictly original & rootical selections all night coming from the vein stream & not the main stream, resurrecting songs that haven’t been heard in decades as well fresh selections from the new and upcoming Reggae artists.

Rocksteady ATL hosts Dubwise Atlanta at Space 2, Saturday June 13th, 8pm

Rocksteady ATL hosts Dubwise Atlanta at Space 2, Saturday June 13th, 8pm

Strictly roots and culture vibrations, with no slackness. Tunes played in a dubwise style, for their full duration, with messages of upliftment delivered live over the mic.

In December 2013, Yaadcore, the Jamaican selector known for his Reggae Aroma mixtape series, began holding a weekly, Wednesday-night session inside Kingston’s Whitebones Grill with the principles listed above.  Dubwise Jamaica quickly became a magnet for similarly-minded selectors, including such foundation DJs as Rory Gilligan of Stone Love and Danny Dread of Stereo Mars and Volcano sound system fame. Jamaica’s young reggae stars Chronixx, Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid, Jesse Royal and Micah Shemaiah were among its earliest supporters, passing through both as performers and just to hol’ a vibes, and it soon attracted veteran artists like Lutan Fyah, Mikey General and even Ninjaman, as well as international acts like Pressure Busspipe (St. Thomas) and Ziggi Recado (St. Eustatius).

A year and a half after its launch, Dubwise Jamaica has become an international brand representing what many see as a return to a more pure and natural style of playing reggae (as opposed to the fast-paced juggling style preferred by most of today’s Jamaican DJs).  Yaadcore has teamed with selectors Corey Chase and DJ Rampage to launch Dubwise Miami, a weekly session at Coyo Taco in the Wynwood Arts district. Although Yaadcore’s schedule only permits him to appear in Miami about once a month, each Wednesday night the backroom of the fashionable taqueria becomes the “Coyo Dub Lounge,” attracting a loyal crowd as well as fellow DJs such as house DJ Armand Van Helden.  Artist Kabaka Pyramid dropped in recently to perform.

Yaadcore has brought Dubwise sessions to New York City, Washington DC and Puerto Rico (San Jaun, Santurce and Rincon) over the past few months and relaunched Dubwise Jamaica in a new location following a brief hiatus.  In Yaadcore’s view, he’s laying a foundation for a movement that can spread consciousness and upliftment through roots music whether he’s in the building or not.

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