In a sonic landscape full of sex, violence and an ever growing influence of American gangstarap (I love quality gangstarap but I’m against Jamaican music trying to emulate it) it’s re-assuring we got a new generation of Rasta prophets who intends to keep the conscious spirit of the 70ies roots reggae scene alive all while updating it to fit an modern audience.
Those tired of cheap computer “riddims” and “autotune” will find solace in Jamaica’s latest and brightly shining star, “Hempress Sativa”. The name might be overkill but this is mature and intelligent music with many facets and subjects. If you have enjoyed recent years explosion of excellent female acts like “Jah9”, “Black Omolo”, “Reemah” etc you will feel at home with “Hempress Sativa”. While being her first full length album she is no newcomer to the scene as we have seen and heard her in a number of videos and 10″/12″ releases.
The album starts with “Revolution” a melancholic and thoughtful tune telling us that we have to unite and stand together for the revolution to finally happen. It’s not at all as aggressive and militant sounding as one may think. She sings with great conviction and the tune features awesome harmonies as well as an organic sound found on all the rest of the songs on here.
Skip a song and we get to the 3rd tune, “Rock it ina dance”. You may have heard this song elsewhere as it have made the rounds on youtube (and was released as a single) etc.. It sounds kinda as if the 80ies rub-a-dub music had a child with traditional roots reggae and that child in turn had grown up being influenced by Fugees. If there is one tune who will be played on dances on here it will be this one. Conscious soundbwoy anthem!
Other standouts are “Natty dread” with veteran “Ranking Joe” who still sounds surprisingly well. It’s the most upbeat song on the album and “Hempress Sativa” toasts in an impressive “old school” style well suited to her guest artist. While im a huge fan of the deep, slow and thoughtful tunes this album mostly consists of i have to admit we needed the sunshine this lighter track provided. Another tune you may have heard before is “Boom (wa da da den)” a collaboration with Italian Paolo Baldini from a few years back.
This is a very strong and well rounded album full of excellent instrumentation, intelligence and an awesome flow, courtesy of “Hempress Sativa”. Even the packaging is of highest quality, i would not mind having the artwork of the cover hanging on my wall. An excellent album, if this is any indication of how Reggae in 2017 will sound like we are in for a good year. Expect to find this on all “best of the year” lists 10 months from now.