Album Review: Pressure - Africa Redemption
Pressure Buss Pipe returns with 17 songs that are fresh, cool, playful and deep like a remote river swimming hole. The album title is explored in the opening spoken word interlude, “We the people must be free to create our own meditation… this is Africa Redemption, black, international redemption.”.
Although Pressure hails from the Virgin Islands, the recording was done at King Jammy’s studio in Kingston giving the slick feel of a true Jammy’s production. The album was produced entirely by Trevor “Baby G” James who happens to be the son of Lloyd “King Jammy” James and brother of Lloyd “John John” James. John John mixes many of the tracks as well.
Pressure teams up with industry darling Chronixx for the title track, Africa Redemption on an infectious ride the two trade honest, illustrative lines to reach the chorus - a multi tracked anthem impossible to resist. The rhythm is a Dr. Dre type of hip-hop groove meant to move the massive.
Freedom Fighters shows off the range of Pressure’s voice as he slides up to a falsetto, moving through a vibrato trill over a one-drop groove tinged with synth horns that pay tribute to “freedom fighters young and old, freedom fighters that no sell them soul.”
For the song Where I’m From Pressure offers background on how his own ghetto experience makes the grade and his declaration to “never turn the back on where me from”. The riddim stems from the perennial trend and in this case, the second wave of recycling vintage riddims. This time it is the General riddim which was used for Massa God World A Run (Buju Banton) and Lion Heart (Garnet Silk) in 1992 for the Penthouse catalog. It’s origins are actually at Channel One studio and The Revolutionaries band with Sly Dunbar on drums, the late Bertram “Ranchie” McLean on bass and the late Uziah “Sticky” Thompson on percussion.
The tempo shifts to a nyabinghi ballad on Lead I Home. A celebration of cultural identity and the necessity to seek knowledge through literature that differs from the “King James version” of events. The song is an uplifting message to all to maintain self-esteem with a suggestion from Rasta beliefs for women to “grow your roots and cover yourself”. The production is full of lush female vocals, dramatic strings and keyboard builds, it sounds like it was made for Elise Kelly’s “Easy Skankin’” morning program on Jamaica’s IRIE FM radio station. It’s ideal for waking up and getting on with life.
Pressure draws for Garnett Silk on Belly Full sampling and speeding up the lines from the late artist’s classic song Fill Us Up With Your Mercy to expand on the theme of stewardship and taking care of our neighbor. Garnett Silk’s version was recorded originally at Jammy’s on what was the “Belly Full” rhythm. Pressure’s song addresses class war and greed with great lyrics like, “Upper class you have your bread butterin’ while the youths up inna di slums sufferin’.”
Another set of heavyweight contenders and champions in their own right - Tarrus Riley and Damian Marley collaborate with Pressure on Mental Disturbance. Tarrus sings the chorus and opens with it while Damian drops his verse, Tarrus returns with the chorus while Pressure joins with his line at 3 minutes into the 5 and half minute song. The final 90 seconds of the song are entirely instrumental, with delay effects, crash percussion sounds, a heady rock guitar solo and notes to carry it out.
An obligatory devotion from Pressure to his and all mothers is found on Dear Mama. Pressure gives props to his own Mama with loving verses like “What is cooking Mama? Smelling good, would feed the whole town if she could.”. A natural seque to a song directed to the youth, Parents reminds the young people not to disrespect their parents with the threat of Jah’s wrath.
For I’m Grateful Pressure chants over an R&B groove, giving himself props, assessing his life, feeling good about himself explaining he, “was a victim of violence still I live to fight again”.
An interlude introduces My Herbs, its basic weed smoking sounds, lighter, coughing, blowing smoke….to introduce the weed tune collaboration with Jah Mason who delivers a broad synthesis on the many benefits of bunnin’ his herbs. Boiling, planting, “from mi Empress get the seed where mi Empress get the oil, inna mi natty put it in a style.”. The two point out that smoking coke is not an option smoking nothing “what white like chalk”.
Known for his reggae love songs, in particular Love and Affection the album moves into this vibe beginning with Just Like Dat and its graphic explanation of what will be happening when he gets his love interest home. The use of vocoder on this tune to punctuates the “do it right now” giving it a particularly sexy throwback vibe up against R&B style harmonies, bell tones on the keyboards and soulful guitar sounds.
Continuing with this theme of romance and sex is Right Love which alludes to the artists full name with lyrics that sing “When your pressure pipe bus’ only me alone can fix”. A slow ballad punctuated with soprano sax from Dean Fraser, grooves on while Pressure explains that his girl wants “the right love”.
Back to a nice steppers groove while still in the love zone for Love Me So which asks the subject to “Tell me love me so and my love never me go.” A solid one drop groove answers any open questions about a tumultuous relationship on Many Moods. A break up and make up tale which finds the artist pledging, “You said we would be together some day, said you’re coming home on a one-way, promise this time to love you only.”.
To close the set is Feeling Fine a sweet ode to feeling fine in the “Caribbean sunshine”. “Right here and now me a enjoy me life, thugs them come out and leave them guns and knife, promoter smile cause the dance get nice, reggae music a the people’s choice.". There are a few places where Warrior King’s vocal style sounds like an influence on this album, here the song My Life is echoed by Pressure. The background vocals here and throughout the set are delivered flawlessly by Fiona Harris and Rovleta Fraser.
Pressure is back with a bag of tunes destined for the dance and the radio waves, as he faces his own past and brings us all along on the ride toward the redemptive future.
FULL ALBUM STREAM
Pressure - Africa Redemption
DIGITAL RELEASE [Yard Vybz Entertainment]
Release date: 09/16/2014
01. Africa Redemption Intro
02. Africa Redemption feat. Chronixx
03. Freedom Fighters
04. Where I'm From
05. Lead I Home
06. Belly Full
07. Mental Disturbance feat. Damian Marley & Tarrus Riley
08. Dear Mama
10. I'm Grateful
11. My Herbs Interlude
12. My Herbs feat. Jah Mason
13. Just Like Dat
14. Right Love
15. Love Me So
16. Many Moods
17. Feeling Fine