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.
The iconic rough and rugged vocal harmony trio Culture must have a loyal fan base, because VP Records have recently put out their fourth compilation with material from the late Joseph Hill, his cousin Albert “Randolph” Walker and Kenneth Paley.
But this new set differs from the previous three, since it collects material from a variety of sources rather than focusing only on Joe Gibbs, which has previously been the case.
The 38 track set – plus a 21 song live DVD with a 40 minute interview – titled Natty Dread Taking Over encompasses well-known material from foundation producers Joe Gibbs and Sonia Pottinger along with a few tunes from Joseph Hill’s solo album Lion Rock and the cream of the reunited group’s later work for Linford “Fatta” Marshall and Colin “Bulby” York.
What makes this compilation really interesting though is the inclusion of a solo cut by Albert Walker and Kenneth Paley for Henry “Junjo” Lawes, the album Africa Stand Alone in its entirety, four tracks from a radio session for BBC in 1983 and a King Jammy dubplate on the Sleng Teng riddim.
Africa Stand Alone has never before been available on CD or digital download and it’s a remarkable album with a raw and unpolished feel to it. And it fits Joseph Hill’s dread and educational callings for peace, love and unity very well. Several of the tunes got a bit more make-up when they were re-recorded for Sonia Pottinger and included on the album Harder Than the Rest.
The BBC radio session presents Culture standards such as Too Long in Slavery and the anthemic Two Sevens Clash in a new, different and highly enjoyable light.
Natty Dread Taking Over is more than mere fun. It’s uplifting, surprising and a great way to discover both classics and unknown nuggets from one of the greatest reggae groups of all time.
VP Records has recently put out a collectors box set with material from fire and brimstone vocal group Culture, an outfit lead by the unmistakable voice of the late Joseph Hill.
Seven Sevens Clash is an appropriate title for the box since it collects seven hard to find 7” produced by the Mighty Two – producer Joe Gibbs and engineer Errol T – responsible for the highly acclaimed album Two Sevens Clash released in 1977.
The seven inches have the vocals on the A side and its dub counterpart on the B side and are pressed with the original Joe Gibbs label sleeves and collected in a hard box set.
The vocal tracks are probably familiar to many reggae addicts with classics such as See Them A Come, Two Sevens Clash and I’m Not Ashamed. The dub versions might be less familiar, even though most of them are easily available today on CD and digital download.
Joseph Hill’s singing is rugged and passionate, while some of the mixes – particularly Informer Version – sounds like they have been mixes by Jacques Cousteau.
The box set is limited to one pressing and comes with an MP3 download card.