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I Grade by Chezidek

I Grade by Chezidek

I Grade by Chezidek

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Chezidek and Sly & Robbie create the perfect strain


Chezidek provided the antidote to a rather patchy 2007 for roots reggae with the Bobby Konders production 'Inna Di Road'. 2009 sees him feature on two albums with civilly disobedient titles: 'Herbalist', a collection of his work for various producers on Tad’s records including tracks from 'Inna Di Road' and 2006’s 'Mash Dem Down'; and 'I Grade', cut with Sly and Robbie and the Taxi band. There are no prizes for guessing which one is the best…

Chezidek - I GradeRecorded at Harry J’s studio and mixed by legendary engineer Godwin Logie, 'I Grade' is unmistakably a contemporary reggae album - yet has all the crucial ingredients from the sounds of yesteryear. We get plenty of real horns, lots of nice touches (such as the iconic chorus-laden guitar refrains of the Roots Radics era) and extended instrumental codas from the rhythm twins - featuring Sly’s firecracker drumming and Robbie’s simple, unstoppable bass.

Chezidek’s voice is soft and gentle and his recording persona is introspective and sincerely spiritual. But when stirred his fragile tones assume a defensive earnest that fits brilliantly with a powerful minor key backdrop just as Cornel Campbell did years ago with Bunny Lee.

As with 'Inna Di Road', there are many such deep roots pieces here. We Want More Love takes ownership of Lee’s classic Ain’t Got No Love rhythm, while declaring the need for “a united states of Africa”. Devil Yuh Cah Bully Wi Out uses the same (suitably bullying) foundation track as Gregory Isaacs Poor Man In Love (recorded during Sly and Robbie’s sessions with Horace Andy in 2008). But 'I Grade' also boasts a series of equally high quality love songs: from the twilight bewitchment of Tonight to the serene Girl Like U In My Life, which casts Chezidek’s ideal woman as “natural, humble and so nice”. Adding further spice are cheerful catchy rub-a-dub marches Borderline and Who Start The War - where Columbus, Hawkins, Morgan and Drake are considered as the instigators of the world’s ills.

The second disc is choc full of crisp busy dubs that sound notably different from the vocals and actually works as a stand-alone album. The A sides would have been an essential acquisition in itself. Taken together this is one serious value for money release. After a relatively inauspicious start, this throwback to the heyday of the ascetic reflective Rastaman could be the most impressive modern reggae talent of them all.

Copyright Angus Taylor 6th September 2009 ©

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