Gentleman – Mad World
CD / LP / DR
2. Over The Hills
3. Fight For No Reason
4. Can’t Lock The Dance feat. Stonebwoy
5. Things Will Be Greater
6. What Dem Ago Do?
7. They Don’t Know
8. Mad World
9. Far From The Rage
10. Stick To The Topic
11. Island Breeze feat. Etana
12. Jah Only
There’s a fairly good chance that the very first time I actually heard Gentleman’s music — knowing that it was his work — was when I’d finally become curious enough to take a listen and it may have just been on what was his second release, 2002’s Journey To Jah. That set was EXCELLENT throughout (and declared a Modern Classic here), but it would be topped IMMEDIATELY on the strength of one of the greatest albums I have ever heard, Confidence, just two years later. Maybe it will say something that when we came up with the idea to do the ‘Modern Classics’ series, it would only take until number four to include Confidence [“Intoxication of a certain kiiiind”]. It is simply one of the finest albums that I have ever heard and it is nearly twenty years old and Gentleman did not call it a career there. I like to look back at Confidence as a point where Gentleman’s career hit the proverbial next level in terms of the entire world taking a greater look and what was to come was more stellar output.
Full ALBUMS worth of work on projects such as Another Intensity, Diversity and New Day Dawn would further keep me interested and while we were away on hiatus the artist, born Otto Tillmann, would continue his substantial works in dropping a number of projects including 2020’s interesting Blaue Stunde, which was an album completely in his native German and 2016’s solid Conversations, a combination project alongside Ky-Mani Marley (a few big tunes on that album but especially Jah Guide Over Us and Red Town).
At his best, Gentleman makes a very ‘standout-ish’ brand of Reggae music. It is both very easily digestible by newer fans as well as heavy enough for more seasoned listeners. It’s also typically fairly melodic and just pleasing to listen to as well. The full results, as I’ve said, can be sublime and down right CRUCIAL and it is simply what you have come to expect from the now forty-seven year old artist over the course of the past couple of decades or so. I was thinking about that when I started: We’ve been listening to Gentleman’s music for more than TWENTY YEARS now. He’s certainly not alone, but he isn’t usually someone who I look at in the same way as I do others with whom I am SO familiar. Gentleman kind of does his own thing and he does it marvelously as, perhaps, one of the greatest to do ever, PERIOD, as well as being one of the genuine big men of European Reggae music.
Should you require even more proof or explanation, check the opener of Gentleman’s latest big creation, Mad World, the AIRY Defining Love. YOU WILL LIKE THIS SONG. That’s it. It requires nothing in the way of conditions, quantifications or qualifications: I am certain you will enjoy it. The track finds Gentleman attempting to implant quite a bit more LOVE in…. pretty much everywhere. This is aided by a SWEET Jugglerz produced vibe (Jugglerz has a hand on virtually all of Mad World) as artist, label and whoever else EASILY puts one of the best feet forward to open the album. Things only rise from there as Over The Hills is an even stronger offering. This previous single (which may’ve been the first tune that I ever heard from what turned out to be Mad World; probably from over the summer) has such wonderful pull to it. It is highly infectious and you won’t get through much of it at all without singing along (probably just until you learn the words).
Over the hills and valleys mi ah climb
All where rules are clearly defined, by Nature
Si wanna be inna di hills a where di birds dem singing
Tired of di city, where di gunshots ringing
Hype after hype a weh di artists flinging
SOUL AH RUN DRY. MI NEED SOME REFILLING
Mi ready fi di walk, ready fi clean up mi thought
Back inna mi medi, leave di poison dart
Everybody round ya act so wise and smart
MI READY FI A BRAND NEW START
So woman mek wi pack up wi things and gwaan
And plant some trees pon di farm
Come mek wi pack our things and gwaan
Calm after storm
That song was a bit on the heavier side and, while this one does have its moments, it’s almost more of a Hip-Hoppish type of pulse at its core. However you wish to describe it, I found a nice place of substance with this one on a smaller, more specific, level. On the grand scale you take this one to VIOLENCE or WAR, I suppose, with a more political outlook. For me, however, I took it more definitively. Do you know anyone who just likes to argue and pick fights with people? Or maybe more than one who’re just…. constantly bitching at one another (and I don’t mean that delightful old couple you know who is always yelling at each other)? Fight For No Reason, AT LEAST FOR ME, also rings true for them. You do not want to be that nasty, judgmental creature who always has something negative to say and Gentleman wants you to know that you don’t have to be him or her and he’s right.
Rearrangers don’t want you to feel secure
DEM GET IT ALL, BUT DEM STILL WAAN MORE
Dem seh dem rich, but wi know dem poor
Get up, stand up and move cah there is no time to play
When you fi feel di groove you gone upon a holiday
YOU TALK BOUT TOMORROW WHEN YOU FI TALK BOUT TODAY
Get it all, remember, don’t delay
Wah dem ahgo do?
When wi start bun di fyah
Heathen ahgo run go seek di prayer
Wah dem ahgo do?
When dem caan quench dem desire
No matta wah you do, wi get higher
Why can’t it be like it once was before
When di youths dem took it easy, never gwan so hardcore
Everybody wanna be safe and secure
Dem caan take di blood ah run no more
Seh you are a toppa top –
And you gotta lotta glock
Seh you buss a lotta shot
Wait til di atta clap
Wi no deal wid rat-ta-tat
NAH GI MAMI HEART ATTACK
WI NO TEK NO PART A DAT
CAUSE WI KNOW DO WRATH A DAT
Two decades ago Gentleman demonstrated something to me that has made the subsequent time not all that shocking; and after all of these years, while they have passed somewhat quietly at times, it’s still there on Mad World from someone who has led one of THE most remarkable careers in recent times.