Micah Shemaiah ADD
Album Review: Micah Shemaiah - Jamaica Jamaica
by Gardy Stein
When a Micah Shemaiah project is announced, there is one thing you can be sure of: it will contain some high-quality, no-slackness, no-nonsense music – and the new album Jamaica Jamaica is no exception! In collaboration with We Generation Music (Jamaica) and Evidence Music (Switzerland), team Micah has once more created a string of conscious tunes, 13 in total, to which two Dub versions are added. Contrary to his previous release Still, which has been produced entirely by Zion High Productions and gives the album a coherent, "from-one-cast" quality, the production team on Jamaica Jamaica is more diverse, with eight different creatives lending a variety of sounds and tempi to the whole.
The first track makes clear how the title is intended. Jamaica Jamaica is not one of those emblematic, feel-good praises of the island's virtues and beauty to attract tourists, but a harsh critique of what's not going right in the country, speaking of corruption and political mismanagement: "Two party mash up di country dat we inna deh, star!". The underlying instrumental (a Cuss Cuss Riddim re-lick produced by Switzerland's Little Lion Sound) well reflects this grim, brooding atmosphere, and Micah calls for "a doctor" or "an angel of God" to save his homeland. To fully appreciate the authenticity of the Jamaica he sings about, a Jamaica rarely seen by foreigners, check also the accompanying video, out since 2020. And, while at it, the subsequent Why You Killing Dem So continues the complaint about violence and unfair conditions, about the indifference with which leaders enforce their plans on the backs of the people they are supposed to serve, leading to "more innocents lie down pon tar".
Produced by France's Dub Akom, (Don't Forget That Jah Jah) Run Things is a reminder to us all to not stray from the livity set out by ancient teachings, despite modern life's continuous challenges and temptations. Live clean, live simple, "come mek we hail di king!"
Feature-wise, the album holds an abundance of fellow artists. Boom Draaw, produced by Micah himself, invites Kingston-based singer Bescenta to the mic, while 808 Delavega joins on the creation of the riddim in Hard Drugs, both songs praising the benefits of the holy herb. With Sahie, Micah introduces an artist so far unknown to me on Many Miles, a beautiful, stripped-down and decelerated riddim. The young singer's bright, emotive voice adds a touching contrast to Micah's more mature timbre, and their harmonious interaction makes this one of my personal favorites. Parler (French for 'to talk') and Real Way are marked as features as well in the liner notes, although the collaboration seems to lie in production, not in singing – the former, a smooth, laid-back modern reggae piece, was contributed by the already mentioned Little Lion Sound, the latter, a deep Roots affair that will relax you instantly upon listening, by Goldbar'z (again, I advise you to check the accompanying video, as it contains some everyday moments between Micah and his son).
The finest feature of them all though, in my humble opinion, is Roots Blockbuster. Not only does it come on the classic Real Rock Riddim, perfectly re-recorded by Will Tee aka Will Tear of UK's Descendant Music; not only does it unite the voices of exciting young talents like Rassi Hardknocks, Xana Romeo and Eesah; it also gives ample shoutouts to both fellow artists like TJ aka Likkle Briggie, Infinite, Kazam Davis or Exile Di Brave and foundation MCs such as Supercat and Mighty General and, most of all, to those without a hit tune under their belt: "Every ghetto youth is a star!"
On the same sweet riddim, Neva Mis paints a colorful picture of a regular night out in Jamaica – which brings us to the more joyful section of the album, the perfect balance to the more serious lyrics treated so far. Left My Heart In Mobay, as the title suggests, tells a love story on a joyful beat, one of two contributed by German-gone-Kingston Matthias Reulecke (the second one is the spiritual Never Fail I), and the way Micah dips and dives in and out of the riddim's rolling basslines is musical storytelling at its best. Finally, Stereo invites you to "kick off your shoes and dance", "forget about the troubles" and "know a JahJah love you", reminding us of the importance of freeing your mind and letting your spirits fly to some good music once in a while.
As mentioned in the beginning, two fine Dub versions round off the album, an album whose title and coverart are as simple as they are powerful, capturing Shemaiah's new oeuvre in a nutshell: Jamaica Jamaica. Saving the best thing for last, this fine release is also available on vinyl, so you better go grab a copy while stocks last!
Micah Shemaiah - Jamaica Jamaica
DIGITAL RELEASE [We Generation Music / Evidence Music]
Release date: 03/24/2023
01. Jamaica Jamaica
02. Why You Killing Dem So
03. Run Things
04. Roots Blockbuster feat. Rassi Hardknocks, Xana Romeo & Eesah
05. Neva Mis
06. Boom Draaw feat. Bescenta
07. Hard Drugs feat. 808 Delavega
08. Parler feat. Little Lion Sound
09. Left My Heart In Mobay
11. Real Way feat. Goldbar'z
12. Many Miles feat. Sahie
13. Never Fail I
14. Jamaica Jamaica (Dub)
15. Run Things (Dub)