Raver Reviews: Zion I Kings find strength in the 'Lion of Judah' | MIDNIGHT RAVER
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Raver Reviews: Zion I Kings find strength in the ‘Lion of Judah’

It is impossible to reconcile just how influential Zion I Kings have been in this, the modern era of roots reggae.  Their latest riddim compilation, Lion of Judah Riddim (Zion I Kings Riddim Series, Vol. 4) is an exceptional album that will no doubt take its place among the best riddim compilations of the last several years.

The “Lion of Judah” riddim is a signature Zion I Kings arrangement anchored by Junior Richards’ drumming and Jah D’s (David Goldfine of Zion High Productions) killer bassline.   Round it out with Laurent “Tippy-I” Alfred on guitar and organ and Drew Keys on piano and you have a quintessential Zion I Kings modern roots riddim.  Of course the trademark of any Zion I Kings production is the Tippy-I mix, and he nails it here once again.  While many producers tend to bury the percussion in the mix, Tippy-I brings the brilliant hand drumming of Junior and Jah D to the surface to counter-balance the heaviness of the drum and bass.

I spoke with Jah D about the production and he discussed how it all came together.

“We all get in the studio together and it all happens organically.  I don’t come with a bassline.  I listen to Junior (Richards) on the drums and the bassline just comes to me.  For me as a musician, the drums are the foundation of the music.  The thing that most influences the feel of the music is the way the drummer plays.  Junior Richards…this man is serious…full hundred percent.  He is a big, big part of our sound.  He has played drums on eighty, ninety percent of all Zion I Kings productions.”

The album opens with an incendiary performance by Pressure Busspipe, one of the stalwart torch-bearers for modern roots and the ZIK sound.  “Rastafari Get the Victory” has been leaving dubheads slackjawed for months now as Laurent “Tippy-I” Alfred has been introducing it in his brilliantly orchestrated live dub sets along with Lutan Fyah’s “Too Much Ramshackle” and Don Carmelo’s “Lion of Judah.”

Pressure’s performance is uplifting and inspiring as he alternates between chanting and singing, showcasing an undeniably appealing sing-jay style all his own. His unmistakable vocal styling, with its characteristic “grime and glory,” is as unique and authentic as any in modern reggae.  It is a performance that stands strong even among a set of top ranking performances by some of the most talented artists in reggae.

One of the best performances on the album comes from Jahdan Blakkamore.  While the other artists on the album ride this militant and rootikal riddim with inspired Rasta anthems, Blakkamore comes with a lovers tune, “Smood Blakk Skin.”  It is a tune which showcases Blakkamoore’s truest talent – a finely tuned, highly agile, unpredictable and unrivaled vocal prowess.

One of the best tracks on the album is the “Lion of Judah Celebrityz Hornz Version,” which features the deadly trombone of Balboa Becker and the killer sax of Daniel Casares.  The horns breathe new life into the riddim, giving it a whole different sound and vibe.

Lion of Judah Riddim (Zion I Kings Riddim Series, Vol. 4) is the best riddim compilation of 2015 and just might be Zion I Kings’ best riddim yet.  The riddim exemplifies the “I-Grade sound” – a roots heavy sound characterized by an authentic and profound spiritual intensity and multi-layered percussive soundscapes which give the sound a deeply reverential and ceremonial feel.  It is a riddim that commands outstanding performances from each of the supremely talented artists included in the set.  Zion I Kings have delivered once again with Lion of Judah Riddim (Zion I Kings Riddim Series, Vol. 4).


 

Jah Raver’s Lion of Judah Riddim (Zion I Kings) Promo Mix by Jah Raver on Mixcloud

 

1. Lion of Judah Celebrityz Hornz Version
2. Rastafari Get The Victory by Pressure
3. Too Much Ramshackle by Lutan Fyah
4. Conquering Lion (I Grade Dub Live mix) by Akae Beka
5. Lion Of Judah by Don Carmelo
6. Black Lion by Ziggi Recado
7. Lion Of Judah (I Grade Dub mix) by Zion I Kings


LionOfJudahRiddim

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Comments

  1. ubermize says:

    Very nice riddim with some choice vocal cuts.

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