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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Ben Speight on Reggae, Soundtrack to Social Change | Reggae Lover 100

I had an eye-opening conversation with Atlanta-based organizer for social justice, Ben Speight. 

  • Ben tells how and why he fell in love with Reggae.
  • He talks about reggae as the soundtrack to movements of social change over the years. 
  • He discusses the history of Ska and Roots Reggae, highlighting the political content. 
  • He draws comparisons between Motown and music from the Rocksteady and UK Lover’s eras. 
  • Hear his thoughts on dancehall, Cali reggae, and the new school of roots rockers coming out of Jamaica. 

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This interview, episode 100 of the Reggae Lover podcast, is a testament to the diversity and power of reggae music.  Like my guest said, please continue to support reggae music artists, musicians, DJs, and promoters.

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