Last year I came in contact with U.S. based label I Dwell Records and its producer Jack Riddim. The label had put out two smoking releases – Lymie Murray’s Deeper Roots and Toussaint’s Where I Lead. Both albums were dark and intense, but had a warm touch.
The label’s latest release is Trinidadian expatriate Khari Kill’s modestly titled album Born to Rule. He rose to prominence about seven years ago with the mighty Picture of Selassie on Massive B’s relick of the Truths and Rights riddim. Several strong singles were soon released and followed by an excellent album, produced by Massive B, Lustre Kings and Outta D, in 2007. Since then it has been rather silent from the Kill camp. Until now.
Born to Rule does not reach the same high standard as his debut nor Lymie Murray’s or Toussaint’s sets for the same producer, even though Jack Riddim recycles a bunch of the best riddims from his previous projects.
Over the course of 13 conscious tracks Khari Kill rails and rages in an aggressive singjay style against evil and injustices in society while praising the Almighty and keeping his faith in Jah. It gets a bit weary, especially his non-melodic delivery. The set would have gained from including a number of combinations with singers, just to smoothen things up a bit.
Born to Rule is a raw and relentless set of songs, but probably best consumed in smaller doses. Keep the remote handy.
In November of last year Mikey General – veteran singer and long time friend of Luciano – dropped his latest album Born to Rule, a 14 track set full of modern roots and released on his and Luciano’s jointly owned imprint Qabalah First Music.
Mikey General started his career in the UK in the early 80’s and relocated to Jamaica in the beginning of the 90’s. He has recorded with some of the best producers in Jamaica, including the mighty Phillip “Fatis” Burrell.
Even though he has put out several albums, recorded with many prominent producers and had the backing of Luciano, Mikey General hasn’t had a big breakthrough yet. And in my opinion this album won’t change his stardom.
My biggest issue with the General is his voice. It is high pitched, light, complaining and too thin for my taste. At times it is reminiscent of Horace Andy, but not as personal.
For me, Mikey General is at his best on singles, such as the great Jah Jah Have the Handle, released some months ago on the JahSolidRock label or the dubby Tell it Like it Is produced by Ryan Moore of Twilight Circus. His voice just doesn’t hold for 14 tunes in a row.
And maybe that is why the best tune is Ababa Janhoy with Luciano and Ethiopian singer Haile Roots. This combination is based on an Arabic tinged riddim and the lyrics are partly sung in Amharic.
Born to Rule is a statement of self spiritualization and righteousness, but I can’t say that I feel motivated afterwards.