There is an new generation of Roots artists emerging out of Jamaica making sure the Roots Reggae scene and voice of Jah will not die when put against slackness, sex and an increasingly gangstafied Jamaican dancehall scene. Among the elite of these artists we find “Jah9” who is no newcomer on the scene. She has released one (very rare) album before and multiple single tunes but this “VP Records” release is the first with proper distribution and could almost be considered her debut LP. You can see that “VP Records” has put a little more effort than usual in this release, probably aiming for recognition beyond that of us hardcore Reggae fans. Looking at it you would almost believe it’s some kinda Beyonce or R&B artist, the inner sleeve has printed lyrics and the vinyl label is does not carry the usual “VP Records” design. It’s true that this is an very modern sounding album with influences from many different genres but it’s also one that stays 100% true to the roots of Reggae and the lyrics are uncompromisingly Rastafarian and nothing to take lightly.
First song is “Humble mi” a powerful, Nyabinghi drum and electric guitar flavored track with a slight middle eastern flavor where “Jah9” sings about her spirituality and how it humbles you to tune into god and receive his message. It becomes clear that she has some serious lyrics, it’s intellectual, deep and not your usual Rasta cliché’s repeated without conviction. If it’s one thing she is not it’s an “bandwagonist”. Moving on, track 3 “Hardcore” is one of my favorites on here, telling us that we cant win no matter how hard we try if our hearts are not pure and that only the blessings of Selassie I can achieve this. It’s upbeat, with catchy lyrics and an awesome message. If there is one tune that musically totally breaks from the mold it’s “Natural vibe” which is almost more “Neo soul” than it’s Reggae. It’s conscious and intelligent but more of an love song, if “Jah9” ever grows tired of Reggae (which i hope not)she would be great in this genre. This album has few artist features and when it happens it’s an perfect match in “Vaughn Benjamin” as she kinda reminds me of an female version of him, esp. in her lyrics but also to an extent in the delivery of her singing. It’s an darker, moodier and almost gothic sounding roots tune and an perfect end to an very well made album.
If you want to hear what the future of Rasta/Roots music sounds like I’d say this is a prime contender, it manages to stay true to traditions all while breathing new life into the music. This is “Roots Reggae 2.0” and an truly enchanting album. I hope it will do really well and launch “Jah9” into the stardom she deserves