Aza Lineage ADD


EP Review: Aza Lineage - Kingston To Cali


by Gardy Stein

EP Review: Aza Lineage - Kingston To Cali

Yes, yes, yes! Ever since I first heard her phenomenal track Sound System, performed live at a 2016 Dub School edition in Jah Ova Evil's yaad in Kingston, I've been following this Empress' rise keenly – and waited patiently for a substantial release. Well, the wait is over now, as Aza Lineage just presented her debut EP entitled Kingston To Cali to the world!

As the title suggests, this project was realized between the singer's Kingston base and California's More Life Productions label, with executive producer Megan "Natty Megs" Waxman on the controls and additional musical input by Hugo Wolf and Wannes Loosveldt. Their collaboration already started six years ago, when the sweet Plant Up The Herbs was released, a unique Ganja anthem that not only calls on the world to plant and grow Cannabis Sativa, put also points to its benefits for both health and economy, paying tribute to early proponents like Peter Tosh along the way. Featuring Aza's Lineage brother Kevin "Smilez" Morrisson, the track is a groovy affair with that fine old-school-reggae appeal that few productions nowadays have. It also includes the EP's title phrase, making it a perfect fit for the 6-piece-playlist. "Cool cool Reggae ina Dancehall style!"

The opener is a different track, though, a wholesome invitation to enter Aza's world of music called Rock And Step. It comes on a deep and heavy riddim, with dominant drum and bass, perfectly decelerated for the singer's harmonious, low-pitched delivery. What becomes equally clear here is her strict adherence to the Rasta principle of delivering positive, uplifting and inspiring lyrics: "Strictly consciousness when the record drop in, the mic brings powers so the lyrics haffi clean…" Word!

This same conviction is expressed in the subsequent No Winners Of War, probably my personal all-time favorite (not sure how often I've played this one in my radio show already, but it's been a lot). She sings, "Yes, every artist must take responsibility, for their rhymes, their metaphors, and their simile, some song take di youths dem morality…", thus making singers and songwriters responsible for violent acts that manifest as a result of the bad examples they set, glorify or sing about. The main focus of the song, however, is the pointless killing caused by the global war machinery, and while it would be completely reasonable to assume that the lyrics are a response to the war in Ukraine, they are not – the single was released on the first of January in 2021, long before this new terror became evident. But Aza's words are timelessly true, and despite (or because?) of the minimalistic Nyabinghi instrumental, they win an urgency that is perfectly translated by her voice and flow. "Be forgiving!"

One of the three songs so far unreleased, Smile Again is the most upbeat track of the EP, an ode to  a very important ingredient of life: friendship. "Here is my shoulder, I'll be your friend, and I'll be the one who makes you smile again." The whole song bathes in the joyful brightness of this statement, as friends are indeed essential in overcoming the rocky parts of our journey, especially if your family lives far away and your partner turns out to be toxic and/or unreliable. Take the time today to tell your friends how much you apprecilove them!

A collaboration with the Russian musicians from the Love Jah Project, Roots Radics has been around since 2017. The accompanying video, filmed at Kingston's Reggae Hostel and in studio, transports the vibrant celebration of the global movement of "reggae rockers" which has originated in Jamaica decades ago and now beautifully combines people from all over the world in its diverse art forms, be it music, dance or hand-crafted creations.

On the sensual side of things, the final piece Shea Butter was also new to my ears. It might not be the strongest track musically and vocally, but it adds a lover's perspective to the EP, thus lending a well-rounded thematic balance to the whole.

Nothing but praise for this young lady and her team! Kingston To Cali is a wonderful debut of a wonderful person and artist, a beautiful soul inside and out who really and truly lives the values she sings about. Chapeau, Aza Lineage!

Release details

Aza Lineage - Kingston To Cali EP

Aza Lineage - Kingston To Cali EP

DIGITAL RELEASE [More Life Productions]

Release date: 03/24/2023


01. Rock And Step
02. No Winners Of War
03. Smile Again
04. Plant Up The Herbs feat. Lineage Smilez
05. Roots Radics
06. Shea Butter