It took eight long years for Queen Ifrica to put out her third album Climb, the follow-up to Montego Bay, which dropped in 2009 and included the moving single Daddy.
It seems like the album has been eagerly awaited since the set immediately climbed to #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart. And this is a set that will appeal to a broad spectrum of fans. It’s an eclectic album showcasing a number of moods and styles.
Much of it is a crossover matter with romantic themes and affairs of the heart. Check the bouncy first single Trueversation with Damian Marley for example. Or That’s How It Is Sometime, complete with strings and xylophone, and the slick Good Man.
But Queen Ifrica offers harder sounds as well. Lie Dem Ah Tell is fierce dancehall and Grabba is a slice of ferocious contemporary nyabinghi where the Queen spits lyrics over a percussion-driven rhythm.
Best of the bunch – a thick bunch since it comes with a hefty 17 tracks – is however the gospel-infused I Can’t Breathe, which borrows from the traditional hymn Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, or the militant ska track Rebellion.
I guess Queen Ifrica has collected lots of recorded material over these eight years, but Climb would have been even better if a few of the cuts would have shelved for later projects.
Kenyatta “Jr Culture” Hill rose to prominence in 2006 when his legendary father Joseph Hill – formerly lead singer in vocal trio Culture – died while on tour in Europe. Kenyatta Hill was travelling along and stepped up from behind the mixing desk and completed the tour. About a year later he dropped his emotional debut single Daddy, recorded together with a rooster of top Jamaican musicians, including Sly Dunbar and Dean Fraser.
The single was also featured on his debut album Pass the Torch, released the same year. It was in 2011 followed by the live tribute set Live On: A Tribute to Culture.
Three years have passed and Kenyatta Hill has recently put out his third album, a set on which he has certainly refined his song writing and singing skills. It’s a mature set where Kenyatta Hill almost sounds like a reincarnated version of his father with a dash of Burning Spear. His raspy tone is rural, passionate and intense.
Riddim of Life collects ten tracks, of which six are vocals and six are dub versions. It’s mainly produced by Greek-American singer and song writer Christos DC and recorded together with members from the legendary Roots Radics and U.S. reggae band The Archives.
It’s a strong set and offers some brimstone and fire riddims and emotive pleas to Jah. Listen to the peaceful Jah is My Friend or the darker and more intense Afrikan and Pressue Drop.
Kenyatta Hill keeps his father’s legacy alive and waves the red, gold and green banner high and proud.