For the longest, artist “I-Kong” was one of Roots Reggae’s “best kept secrets”, he released an obscure album in the 70 ies that went for ridiculous sums (the few times it popped up) on Ebay and was only known by the hardcore fans. Somehow the buzz grew and the album, “The way it is” was re-released by no less than 2 companies and (i assume) “I-Kong” realized there was an interest in him again and revived his long dead career.
Last year his comeback album “A little walk” was released, videos with current artists where recorded and his momentum is not slowed down as his new album “Passed on” was just released. It’s a joy to see some of these obscure 70 ies artists finally receive some love and time to shine. The album starts on a high with “Motherless child” featuring another veteran artist “Judy Mowatt”. It’s an strong, organic Roots tune with a slightly melancholic vibe and strong, prophetic lyrics. I-Kong is not one to sell out and the roots are most definitely here. He vibes of good with Judy and it’s one of the albums best songs.
I love the piano on the next song “Change your ways” and the vibes are upbeat and positive with an message that wrong doers need to repent and change their ways. The organic sound is still there with real instruments and a full sound, anyone enjoying classic roots harmony group “Culture” will like this song.
Comparing lesser known artists with those who are more known may falsely give the impression that they are copying them. Let it be known that “I-Kong” is not a copycat. However, if we skip a few songs we get to “Cool runnings”, a fast roots rocker a little bit in the style of “Bob Marley & The Wailers”, it’s very catchy and as timeless and classic as Reggae comes. This could have been recorded in the mid to late 70 ies or 10 years from now and still sound just as fresh.
More collaborations can be found on “They don’t know” which he does with “Ken Boothe”, another veteran and one of the best artists to ever grace a Rocksteady or Reggae song. It’s a love song and on a more smooth and relaxed tip and perfectly fits “Ken Boothe”, it’s a joy to hear them sing together.
Just about every song on here is a joy to hear but last song and title track “Pass it on” featuring newcomers “Raging Fyah” proves that they saved the best for last. It manages to blend old with new, has a slight melancholic vibe although it’s fast and catchy. The lyrics is fitting as “I-Kong” passes the torch over to the guys in “Raging Fyah” (a group who without a doubt is among the best of the new generation of traditional artists).
I’m sure that y’all are tired of my abuse of superlatives by now so let me finish this review. I’m sure y’all have figured I love this album, it is full of the kind of Roots Reggae many say isn’t made no more, it has real instrumentation, strong and positive lyrics and while “I-Kong” has to be in his late 60ies or early 70ies by now his voice is as powerful as ever. I’ve never really jammed him that much but this album sure will change that, I’m ready to discover his back catalogue, all while keeping this in heavy rotation.
buy it on Amazon here
Listen to it on Spotify here