Sat | Mar 28, 2020

Kabaka Pyramid launches ‘Kontraband’

Published:Monday | May 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Billy Mystic
Kabaka Pyramid (left) and Colin Hines.
Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley (left) and Kabaka Pyramid perform Kontraband at Friday's launch of the album at the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road.

Last Friday was a day of celebration for one of Jamaica's finest vocalists Kabaka Pyramid. Fans journeyed to the iconic Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road, St Andrew, to join Kabaka and his team for the media launch of his first album, Kontraband.

The event was entertaining, engaging and reassuring. Guests, shuttled to the venue, had a chance to greet and mingle as the songs on the album were played in the background.

The first speaker of the evening was a proud Billy 'Mystic' Wilmot. He said he was pleased to see Kabaka's development since his first appearance at Jamisia in 2010. "He was young, fresh and green, and really talented. And over the years, I have seen him mature to the point where this is another proud day in my life," Wilmot said.

Colin Hines, in turn asked the man of the moment to join him for a sit-down interview. Hines described the album as a masterpiece before gleaning information on process, inspiration, producers and collaboration. A serving of each of the 16 tracks on the album accompanied the responses.

Each song is creatively written, beautifully executed by Kabaka Pyramid and his collaborates, as well as thoughtfully arranged by Stephen Marley.

The themes of the songs ranged from social issues, in Well Done, Border and the title track, Kontraband; declaration of self in My Time; to love in All I Need.

The list of international collaborations is fascinating, but getting the job done with the respective artistes is more impressive. In the inspirational song, Make Way, Kabaka Pyramid said he had written one verse that is now the second verse. "My second verse dem always badder than my first verse. But from Pressure ([Busspipe of the US Virgin Islands) come ah studio, mi just say find a verse fi me," and shortly after Pressure delivered. But that was not the case with Stonebway of Africa, featured on the song Borders. As both artistes were busy and based on different continents, collaboration was done via the internet.

Other artistes featured on the album are Nattali Rize of Australia, a musician from Barcelona, Spain; Akon of the United States, and Jamaicans Protoje, Chronixx and Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley.

Marley is the executive producer of Kontraband, and is featured on the title track. Marley explained how the idea of working with Kabaka came about. He also shared that due to a busy schedule, it took three years "on and off because of breaks in between," to complete it.

The programme of the launch closed with an impromptu performance from Kabaka and Marley, along with Agent Sasco, Bugle and others.