Mon | Dec 17, 2018

The Rootz Warrior plays it safe, steady, sure

Published:Wednesday | March 22, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
The Rootz Warrior album
Warrior King

From the artwork (the outline of a map of Africa which frames Warrior King in profile) to the themes and music (the first track, His Majesty, is a retelling of Haile Selassie's royal credentials on a Niyahbinghi- dominated track), The Rootz Warrior, plays it safe.

In the world of popular music, this approach is not necessarily bad; as it keeps the unspoken contract between performer and listener, satisfying the latter's expectations of the familiar. On the other hand, taking the well-trodden path - also means there is little chance of a striking - even startling - discovery and that also holds true for The Rootz Warrior.


Endearing earnestness


So where does that leave us? With 14 songs which do not grate on the ear, but, at the same time, largely do not cause that ear to twitch at the sound of something lyrically or musically unusual.

However, there is an endearing earnestness about Warrior King's delivery which translates very well. This is a man who is deeply invested in what he is saying in his songs, who means what he deejays, and it makes a tremendous difference, lifting The Rootz Warrior from being potentially bland.

And on the note of sounding different, one of my preferred songs on the set is Ain't Giving Up, on which Warrior King starts with the chorus at a higher pitch than I am accustomed to him from. If it were not on the album, I would not have immediately identified his voice.

Another track with a different sound which gives added appeal is, Sign of the Times (Swab Dubstep Mix), which closes the album. Think Rastafari-themed lyrics, portending the repercussions of man's folly, meeting some head-banging music and you will have an idea of what to expect. It is a wonderful combination.

Watching You, is on the tried- and-true topic of a man admiring a woman from afar for a while, but the rhythm, lyrics and delivery come together beautifully.

Warrior King breaks with the format of using numerous guest artistes and has only two, Beres Hammond on I Wouldn't Do That (a competent commitment to not betraying one's principles and pals) and Richie Spice on Heartbreaker.

His delivery is on point throughout, with one exception. The Jamaican language pronunciation of 'worthy' is 'wordy', so on the opening track, the statement that His Majesty is worthy becomes His majesty is wordy, which changes the meaning - in English, at least. Also, time has overtaken the tribute to former Gambian leader, President Yahya Jammeh.

Track listing

1. His Majesty

2. Stand Up in the Fyah

3. Rastafari Protect I

4. Ain't Giving Up

5. Heartbreaker (featuring Richie Spice)

6. Your Love is Amazing

7. I Wouldn't Do That (with Beres Hammond)

8. President Yahya Jammeh

9. The One For Me

10. Same Source

11. Moonlight Bright

12. Watching You

13. Greater

14. Sign of the Times (Swab Dubstep Remix)