But I had no idea who he was at the time. I recognized him later that year when I picked up his Who Yeah Yah from the album Earl “Chinna” Smith & Idrens Vol. 2. I soon also picked up his cut on the Lovebird riddim.
Now – some five years after his Fight Against on the Lovebird riddim – his debut album has hit the streets.
Paris is Burning is a straight up roots reggae album with conscious, sometimes autobiographical lyrics, put together with French band Donkey Jaw Bone and recorded in both Paris and Jamaica using mostly analogue equipment.
Derajah’s dark, rugged and sometimes strained style of singing or singjaying doesn’t instantly grab you, and it takes a number of listens to get used to. He is in the same vein as Fantan Mojah’s thick baritone, but without his powerful vibrato. He nonetheless sings with confidence and versatility.
Donkey Jaw Bone is a competent and imaginative backing band with a tendency towards being a bit slick or polished. It contrasts against Derajah’s rough styled vocals. And it works pretty well.
Paris is Burning is a grower, and I had to push repeat several times before I really started to enjoy it. But it was definitely worth the effort.