Snypa Levi: Californian ex-pat, reggae vocalist and Rasta believer is a living piece of Aotearoa’s reggae history. After almost two decades in the business, his debut solo album ‘The Sojourner’ has been a long time coming. The album is the culmination of years of work, creativity and inspiration from this stalwart of the Aotearoa reggae scene and vocalist for Dubwize. It is also worth celebrating as the debut release on new label Reality Chant. Produced by Messenjah, the album is tight. The riddims are top ranking. ‘The Sojourner’ reveals the full spectrum of Snypa’s talents and Dubwize’s heavyweight sound.
Snypa is known for his high energy performances as frontman for Christchurch sound Dubwize. Jumping around with his dreadlocks flying, Snypa is always a joy to watch. His lyrics spell positivity and inity; one of few MCs to come out of this country with a conscious Rasta inclination.
‘Country Living’ is a clear hit, accompanied by a stunning music video shot on the South Island’s west coast. ‘First Sight’ starts off with Dubwize’s signature horn line, developing into a jumping sweet love song. Porina McLeod’s backing vocals add a welcome dimension to Snypa’s lead. ‘Rasta…Be Militant’ is a stepping roots tune; title track ‘The Sojourner’ is one of my top picks, with a gorgeous melody and irresistible riddim. ‘Face Reality’ is a hot duet with Jah ‘Fire’ Mason, while ‘Men of Athens’ is the most epic track on the album, followed by the dub to allow a full appreciation of this stunning creation and provide a full stop for the album.
‘The Sojourner’ has a great balance of roots and dancehall. ‘Get Down to It’ is headed straight for the dancefloor, with a stellar performance by Snypa, Raggadon and Tuff Enchant. ‘I Press On’ and ‘Decent and Polite’ are hot numbers ready to ram dancehall. Dubwize have come forth as the foremost creators and producers of original contemporary roots and dancehall music in this country, staying true to form inna soundsystem style. Messenjah’s riddims are clean, uplifting, and feature some hot Aotearoan talent. Isaac Aesili, Confucius, Partido, Hayden Godfrey, Porina McLeod, Steve Key, Tuba Dan and Pablo Brodie all contribute to the album’s rich instrumentation, making for a refreshing organic sound.
Snypa sums it up: Come New Zealand, show them Aotearoa teach them. Set a better example that every other nation can follow. The Sojourner is just that: an example to follow. This album has raised the stakes in New Zealand reggae. Big ups and blessings to Snypa and Messenjah for this offering.