Tag Archives: Judgement Time

Chezidek returns with another rock solid scorcher

The Order Of Melchezedik CoverThree years ago Jahsolidrock Music blessed the world with the brilliant and critically acclaimed album Judgement Time from Jamaican singer Chezidek, a set produced and recorded together with Dutch musicians Not Easy At All.

Now Chezidek has returned with a new organic and original album on Jahsolid Rock. But Not Easy At All is not involved much this time. The riddim tracks are instead mainly provided by Austria’s House of Riddim, Dutch band The Skanking Monks and Ziggi Recado’s keyboard player Rekesh Dukaloo. And the result is very pleasant and highly enjoyable.

Judgement Time was more or less presented in a showcase style, i.e. a vocal followed by a version. This is not the case with The Order of Melchezedik. It collects only two versions. The rest are vocal cuts.

More of Chezidek’s highly individual, distinct and sometimes unbalanced high-pitched vocal style. But The Order of Melchezedik contains some of his finest moments as a singer and his pitch control is above his usual standard.

There is not a dull moment on The Order of Melchezedik and the musicianship is first rate, particularly the horn section, the smooth guitar and the exquisite harmonies.

This is definitely a set directly aimed at the best of the year lists. It’s currently exclusively sold via the label’s website, and will be available on CD and other digital platforms around 20 April.


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A bright light on the Swedish reggae scene

Renowned Swedish producer and sound wizard Internal Dread died in a traffic accident August. One of his last projects was Swedish ten piece roots reggae rockers First Light and their debut album Judgement Time.

This twelve track live played reggae album is directly derived from vintage Jamaican roots and early dancehall. Lead singer and percussionist Michél León’s youthful, energetic and high tone resemble vocalists such as Triston Palma, Barrington Levy and the late Hugh Mundell.

Internal Dread used his dub skills when mixing the album and effects are present throughout the set, especially echo-laid vocals and guitar.

Most of the album is based on original riddims, and the only relicks are a bouncy version of the Studio One classic Real Rock, and a lethal cut of the Cuss Cuss riddim, one of the most versioned riddims ever and originally produced by Harry J and sung by Lloyd Robinson back in the late 60’s.

The tragic and untimely death of Internal Dread has hit the Swedish reggae scene hard, but Judgement Time is highly respectable legacy.

Judgement Time is presently only available on CD, but will soon also hit the stores as limited vinyl and legal download.

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JahSolidRock takes reggae back to the roots

Dutch-based label JahSolidRock is behind one of this year’s best releases – Judgement Time by Jamaican singer Chezidek. The album has an air of reggae from the 70’s and 80’s. And that’s what this label is all about according to the CEO.

As many other reggae labels, the story behind JahSolidRock started with a sound system and two friends with a passion for music.

Ras Denco – now CEO of the label – and singer Benaïssa Linger had a sound system in the late 80’s and early 90’s, named Umojah Ashanti. But something went wrong. Not between the friends but the music was changing, and not in a good way. At least according to Ras Denco.

− We did the sound system thing for a couple of years with great fun and a lot of devotion, until the interest in roots music was changing toward dancehall and slackness. We could not find ourselves in that vibe of reggae, so we decided to put the sound system thing at a lower speed.

The label starts
It seems however that they couldn’t keep their hands off the reggae business. About three years ago they decided to start the JahSolidRock label and used their contacts with several of the Jamaican artists they had met during the sound system days. One of the first releases was Benaïssa’s sun drenched EP Voodoo/Coconut Water.

− We hooked up with Silver Kamel records in New York and released Benaïssa’s debut album Tables Turn, which did pretty good worldwide. The album was a collection of songs that all had a positive message; some roots, some crossover. From that moment we continued recording and have done some more releases over the last years, writes Ras Denco in an e-mail to Reggaemani.

The label’s biggest record so far is Chezidek’s acclaimed album Judgement Time that reached the streets earlier this year. Ras Denco explains some of the ingredients behind the success.

− We put a lot of time and love in the album, and during the recordings in the studio with Chezidek there were also nice and positive vibes. We tried to keep that authentic roots reggae vibe from back in the days on the album; by using real musicians, real horns, real drums etc. And it’s a real album, a studio album, not a collection of lost songs from different producers.

Taking it back to the roots
And that’s the mission for the label – taking reggae back to its roots in the 70’s and 80’s. Ras Denco believes the greatest and most creative reggae was produced during that period.

− It was handmade music. Music came from the heart in those days and had a positive message, he writes and concludes:

− Musicians were important, and the artwork made in those days had something mystical about them. It’s exactly as David Rodigan said in an interview with you a few weeks ago – music coming from Jamaica does not make any sense anymore. It’s all hip-hop influenced, dancehall orientated and there is no more praising Jah. We try to go back to that foundation reggae sound, by working with great musicians, and people who still have love for reggae music.

Value for the money
But producing roots reggae is often expensive, something that the producer Frenchie pointed out a few weeks back in an interview with Reggaemani.

− It’s difficult to pay all musicians and production costs to make a great album, and still try to make profit out of it. But still we think that people will pay money for great productions. We prefer to make a ten tune showcase album with all ten tunes solid, than a 23 track album, where only two tracks will stand the test. I also believe the buying public want some value for a CD, Ras Denco explains.

Several albums ahead
He writes that the label has some interesting albums lined up. All of them made with real musicians and with a great deal of love.

− We’ve a compilation titled Cultural Vibes coming out in October. It collects all releases we’ve done last year and this year on 7” and digital releases. We want to showcase our tunes on this album, and we hope to get some positive reactions, he writes and continues:

− We’ve also just finished recording the new album from Apple Gabriel titled Teach Them Right, which will also hit the streets in October. It’s a special album, since it has been eleven years since Apple Gabriel did a solo album. We’ve also recorded a new album with Earl 16, and as we speak we are working on future projects with Chezidek, Brinsley Forde, and one of the most promising artists out of Jamaica – Zamunda.

If all these releases are any way near the high standard of Judgment Time by Chezidek, I’m confident that my record collection and JahSolidRock will have a long and fruitful relationship.

Favourite artist?
Don Carlos, David Hinds and Dennis Brown

Favourite label?
Island, Negus Roots, Live and Learn and Bullwackies

Favourite album?
Ijahman Levi – Haile I Hymn

Favourite tune?
Ijahman Levi – Moulding 12” version

Favourite producer?
Errol Brown and Chris Blackwell

Favourite riddim?
All Roots Radics riddims will do

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Chezidek prefers European producers

Chezidek is one of the top reggae artists and has recently released the acclaimed album Judgement Time. After his concert at Swedish reggae festival Öland Roots, Reggaemani had a chat with him about his new album and the reggae scene of today.

Chezidek released his first album Harvest Time in 2002 and has since delivered several strong efforts. He has worked with producers from Jamaica, the U.S. and Europe.

He has a unique delivery and fragile voice that may not suit everyone. But he has managed to become one of the brightest stars among the new generation of cultural singers and is currently in the forefront of the international reggae scene.

Chezidek performing at Öland Roots. Photo by Anna Thunander

I meet him about 20 minutes after his performance at Öland Roots. He is noticeably calm and in a cheery mood where he’s sitting backstage with a spliff in his hand.

This is his third festival gig in Sweden. The first two were at the Uppsala Reggae Festival.

− I remember the first time I was in Sweden. It was in 2005 at the festival in Uppsala. A very special occasion. I sat on my knees on the stage praying and suddenly rain came streaming down, says Chezidek philosophically and takes a puff.

His last two albums were recorded in collaboration with European producers. At last year’s I Grade, he worked with Guillaume Bougard from France and on this year’s Judgement Time Dutch Not Easy At All Productions was behind the controls. Both records have been praised by critics around the world.

Judgement Time has very natural vibes. The producers have a clean energy and they really love the music. It’s not about money for them, Chezidek says and continues:

− It’s a deep roots album and it’s very special for me. Easy and natural.

He believes that his latest album is substantially different from its predecessors, especially Inna di Road from 2007.

Inna di Road was a serious album. I wanted to reach the people, to move and connect, he says and starts singing Dem A Fight We.

Chezidek has also made several notable songs with French production team Irie Ites, including Bun di Ganja and Mr. Officer, a duet with Lorenzo.

− Irie Ites take music back to the roots and they really love reggae. I’ve known them for a long time. I used to sing with Lorenzo when I met them in Jamaica in 2002. He followed them to Europe. I was supposed to come along, but stayed and recorded Harvest Time with producer Phillip “Fatis” Burrell, he says.

Chezidek explains that Europe has better vibes than Jamaica and that is why he works extensively with European producers. In Jamaica, he says, it’s all about dancehall and hip-hop rhythms.

− There is no reggae scene in Jamaica today. Everything revolves around money, money, money. The more expensive it is, the better. I sing about life and that type of music is not played on the radio or on sound systems. It’s like climbing a mountain backwards, he says, and continues:

− People want to hear the music, but no one plays it in Jamaica. It’s all about the negative sounds. Bad people claim the space and spread negative energy, while the good ones are in the dark.


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Chezidek lyckas igen

I höstas släppte Chezidek I Grade. En skiva som tog sig in på min topp tio lista över årets bästa plattor. Sju månader senare slår han till igen. Nu ännu starkare.

Nya Judgement Time – den åttonde i ordningen – har spelats in tillsammans med holländska Not Easy At All Productions och skivbolaget JahSolidRock, som drivs av sångaren Benaïssa. Och de har gjort ett fantastiskt jobb med både Chezideks sköra röst och arrangemangen. Framför allt är många av blåsarrangemangen brutalt bra.

Judgement Time är inspelad med live instrument och bygger på nya, fräscha rytmer. Här finns inga relicks, något ganska ovanligt i dag.

Ett av Chezideks starkaste kort är gräshyllningar. Hans Leave the Trees är en av de bästa låtarna från 2000-talets första tio år. Ganja Tree från nya plattan är också en välskriven och välsjungen hyllning. Men Judgement Time innehåller mer än så. Mycket mer. Exempelvis följs sex av låtarna av instrumentala versioner. Och de låtarna byggs in i varandra, så att lyssnaren inte tappar fokus.

Bäst blir det i Live & Learn och i Walk With JahCollie Weed riddim, som släpptes innan plattan. Redan då kunde man ana att det var något stort på gång. Burning Fire, vars gitarrslinga för tankarna till Dennis Browns Westbound Train, är också ett av de starkaste korten.

Det här är reggae från den gamla skolan, men utan att någonsin låta tråkigt eller mossigt. Precis så här låter modern roots när den är som allra bäst. Judgement Time är utan tvekan årets bästa platta så här långt.


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