Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Mind vs Heart
Raphael
Irievibrations Records
CD / Digital Release
October 18, 2013

Track list
  1. Intro
  2. Laid Back
  3. Wine With Me
  4. Soundblaster
  5. Mind vs Heart
  6. Inna Dis Ya Time
  7. In Every Style
  8. Duppies Inna Dance
  9. Knocking
  10. If Jah Is With You
  11. Time
  12. Gideon
  13. Step Up feat. Tiwony
  14. She Cry
  15. What About Us feat. Skarra Mucci
  16. To The Foundation (Bonus Track)
  17. Cool Down feat. Michael Rose (Madaski Remix) (Bonus Track)
  18. Cool Down (Dub Version) (Bonus Track)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4/5
Thanks to a number of first-rate singles including "Good Old Vibes" on the Peckings label, the April 2012 released 8 track EP "My Name Is Raphael" on Bizzarri Records, and several live performances, Afro-Italian singer and songwriter Raphael has attracted a lot of attention in the past few years.

Born in Savona (Italy) from Nigerian father and Italian mother, Raphael's musical journey started in 2002, when at the age of 15, he started developing his musical skills becoming singer and songwriter of the Italian Reggae band Eazy Skankers, founded with the bass player Andrea 'Botta' Bottaro and musicians Lucio, Giovanni, Alessandro, and Mammol. The Band performed all around Italy in shows and festivals such as Rototom Sunsplash in 2005, Arezzo Wave Love Festival in 2006, GoaBoa Festival in 2007, and shared the stage with artists like Black Uhuru, Junior Kelly, Bitty Mclean, Toots & the Maytals, Cocoa Tea, Turbulence, and Gappy Ranks. In January 2008 the Eazy Skankers recorded the album "To The Foundation" at the Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, Jamaica. In 2010 Raphael did some well received PA shows in the UK, touching Birmingham, Bristol and London. A new album by Eazy Skankers entitled "Changes" followed in May 2011.

After two albums with his band, Raphael started to focus on a solo career which led to the release of the aforementioned free downloadable "My Name Is Raphael EP", and this brand new album "Mind vs Heart" for which he teamed up with the experienced and well respected production crew of Vienna based Irievibrations Records. As the title indicates, this set treats the listener to an appealing mix of mainly message tunes and a few nice love songs. The album's "Intro" features Raphael's powerful voice only accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Most of the intros we hear on albums don't appeal to us, but this one is of a different level. A real nice opener, which could easily have been turned into a good song.

A full sounding 'one drop' riddim with a deep bassline and great horns underpins the solid "Laid Back", before the mood changes when the light-hearted "Wine With Me" drops in. And then the previously released "Soundblaster" carries a completely different vibe. Musically this is an instantly ear-catching effort, while lyrically it deals with a negative shift that took place in the approach and outings of reggae music. It's a theme that Raphael also touches in the matching "Duppies Inna Dance". The latter tells us about the negative influence certain artists have on the youths by using dubious lyrics, something Raphael clearly avoids as experienced while listening to tunes such as the wonderful title track "Mind vs Heart" and the powerful collaboration with the deejay Tiwony from Guadalupe called "Step Up" (and, of course, all the other tracks). Conscious tunes also worth hearing are "Time", the wicked "Gideon" and "What About Us" with Skarri Mucci. The solid "Inna Dis Ya Time" on the "Jungle Skunk" riddim and the outstanding "If Jah Is With You" on the "Rub A Dub Market" are already known from Irievibrations Records' juggling sets, while the bonus tracks are taken from the Eazy Skankers albums.

Raphael's official full-length solo debut album "Mind vs Heart" is certain to fortify the status he has already achieved.