(Evidence Music, 2023)

An exquisite release through and through, Jamaica Jamaica is the culmination of years of effort by Jamaican singer Micah Shemaiah. Featuring societal topics, tight production with booming low end, and an overall cohesiveness that most artists dream of, this is a special release indeed, with nods to the past, pleas regarding the state of the present, and an appreciation of what is not yet written.

The title track, atop a serious Cuss Cuss relick, is an instant clarion call: ‘in Jamaica, really need a doctor; Jamaica, Jamaica, evil a go roll like cancer’. The ensuing verses are catchy and poignant, confidently setting the album’s tone. “Why You Killing Dem So” demands accountability for life lost, a topic that, most tragically, is increasingly universally relatable.

“Run Things”, a tough horns-led number, is a modern spiritual in a way, with sufficient space to let Shemaiah’s voice shine: ‘remember one time Rasta man used to burn down Rome… don’t forget that Jah Jah run things’. “Roots Blockbuster” is a strictly roots posse cut (featuring Eesah, Xana Romeo, Rassi Hardknocks, and Mikey General, who all bring their best, harkening back to the vibes on 2013’s “Dread At The Control”), which brings that proper real rocking energy for the dance hall, while “Neva Miss” is equally potent on the same riddim.

With a presumed tip of the hat to Capital Letters, “Boom Draw” is the first of two quality herbalist tunes; the following “Hard Drugs” denounces foolishness and all drugs, except marijuana, atop a brooding 808 Delavega production. Shifting into ballad territory, “Left My Heart In Mobay” brings grace and emotion to a tale of ‘an irie, irie girl’. Displaying such stylistic range is all-too-often at a reggae artist’s peril, yet here it feels natural and heartfelt.

“Stereo” rolls ahead smoothly, all about ‘roots alone… playing on your radio; sound man drop it in a stereo’. There’s an ear-worm quality to this entire album that is quite refreshing, given the current era’s desire for short singles over captivating full-lengths. “Many Miles” (with SAHIE) certainly deserves a mention, as the emotive urgency regarding the journey ahead is well past the era of one step forward (and two steps backward). It is obvious that Micah Shemaiah, with like-minded collaborators, is ready for the duration.

Dubs of “Jamaica Jamaica” and “Run Things” wrap up this release, which is legitimately an early favorite for album of the year. Don’t sleep.

Available on Bandcamp: digital, vinyl, and assorted vinyl packages.

More info:
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