Abja: Inna Red I Hour [I Grade Records]
When I see the return address on the package from I Grade Records, I think as I open it, “What a perfect birthday present to myself- a new Midnite CD to listen to!” And what a cool title, “Inna Red I Hour.” I was already excited as I cued it up. Oh but wait, that’s not Midnite’s Vaughn Benjamin that I hear. I look at the CD again and there in dark red letters blending in is the artist’s name: Abja … mmm, nice voice. Sounds like old roots reggae, but not.
Usually I like my reggae pre-1980 or so, which leads to sometimes missing new artists until I see them live or hear so much about them that I take a listen. Then I hear that wonderfully righteous deep bass and Jah-steady riddims that I am now coming to associate with I Grade Records’ releases. Songs such as “Red I Tune,” “Lion Walk,” “Love Jah,” “Love Potion” and “Play On” present a groovin’ forward sound. The song, “War,” made me so eager for my next radio show that I wanted to storm the station and take over the controls so that I could blast out such an excellent song to the people ASAP.
“Chant out serious stuff…” Abja sings in “Crucial Confessions” as he worries over our world’s mental regression. “Rebel I Lion,” and “Rise Up” is more of that serious stuff. Soulful “Lion Walk,” thoughtful “Chances” and the smokin’ “Pass de Kahn” all have me dancing at the keyboards as I type! Add a beautiful accoustic song, “Still Have Love,” plus two really nice dubs, “Love Jah Dub” and “Lion Walk Dub” and I am thinking about my attack plans for the radio station again.
Reading the liner notes I see that, just like on Midnite CDs, Laurent ‘Tippy’
Alfred produced and arranged most of the songs. I am thinking he must stand real tall. Other shared music makers between Midnite and Abja include Kenyatta or Phil Merchant on bass, Tuff Lion on guitar, Bosie Hopkins on drums, and Tippy again, playing various instruments. That most excellent roots woman, Dezerie, is also in this extended family of righteous music makers, a family where it seems they all help each other up — as it should be.
…I could wait until no one is in the offices — disguise my voice and maybe dress like a janitor and then, when the real DJ goes in the bathroom, I will block the door and put on Abja’s CD. Sweet! I just can’t wait to play it on the radio!