The Start of a Beautiful Relationship???: A review of Everlasting Doors
Meet InTrinity Records. When I saw the name (cool name), I thought to be vaguely familiar and, perhaps, that was just due to the frequency of the usage of word ‘trinity’ in Roots Reggae music; but subsequent research proved that I had previously come across the work of the California based company. Five years ago the great Lutan Fyah pushed an EXCELLENT ganja tune by the name of Legalize The Herbs which just so happened to come via one InTrinity Records [“If you legalize di herbs, who is going to benefit?”]. That song was EXQUISITE! It featured a riddim highlighted by gorgeous horns and it found the chanter, himself, in a fine form. I am someone who, as you might know, is routinely impressed by Lutan Fyah (I think he is one of the finest lyricists in all of modern Reggae music) and, as far as ganja songs go (and he has dozens of them), Legalize The Herbs was probably one of his better of the type.
Now, half a decade on, InTrinity has returned and, this time, has done so on the strength of something that I’ve had my eye on for a few weeks, because I have had a really good feeling about it. Everlasting Doors is a thirteen track compilation release (coming digitally via Zojak Worldwide) and though its tracklist featured absolutely nothing familiar to my eyes, something told me that what was to come was to be of a VERY high quality (and that would have been even before I made the connection to Legalize The Herbs as well). Surely the roster of vocalists had something to do with it — as we’ll get into in just a moment — as did the cover which would kind of remind of old-school Midnite album cover art and, for the better part of the last month or so I’d say, I’d been well looking forward to hearing just what Everlasting Doors was all about. That cover is to the credit of an artiste our readers should be familiar with as, once upon a time, the very same Sil Cunningham illuminated our 2014 album of the year, The Sound.
Here, InTrinity has assembled a healthy mixture of about four or so well known artists to instantly grab your attention with lesser known types and up and comers and, wonderfully, Everlasting Doors also features one name with whom I am COMPLETELY unfamiliar. The album has a few different riddims spread out amongst its tracks and those riddims feature the handiwork of some very familiar players of instruments including Laurent “Tippy I” Alfred of I Grade Records (I think that I am at the point where I can just recognize his work. I thought Tippy was involved with this one and if you want to talk about compilations, there’s always the supernova, somewhere out there, by the name of “Joyful Noise”) and Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, so you have immense talents behind the scenes to go with those in the foreground as well. In the fore-est of the foreground (did you catch that??) of InTrinity Records’ (apparently headed by on Lawrence Mendoza) big brand new compilation, Everlasting Doors, is an Intro which is absolutely GLORIOUS musically. It is a beautiful (and HEALTHY and more than four and a half minutes in length) track playing behind several things — including the words of His Imperial Majesty — and it is one of the single best experiences on the entire album in my opinion (the horns on this tune!).
Our intro makes way for the first vocal selection for one of the heaviest hitters here, Pressure Busspipe, who shines with the praiser, L.O.T.W. [Light Of The World]. This song has a very easy vibes about it and it actually has portions of it (like the concept of the song and the chorus) which seem like they were meticulously planned out, while others of it very much comes off as a VIBE and something that Pressure worked out on the spot. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding its creation, L.O.T.W. is a crystal. It is LOVELY!
Another of the biggest names here, the abnormally gifted Iba Mahr, comes through next and he’s also soaring courtesy of his first of a pair of efforts Kings and Queens. This tune CAUGHT ME! There is a very sweet simplicity to it which comes blaring through (on the same riddim as the aforementioned Legalize The Herbs from the Fyah) pretty much immediately and it’s only grown in stature on me during the time I’ve had with it. What I’ve taken from it in terms of the message is how important it is to live up to STANDARDS in life and also how we must all do our part in the world. Men, Women, children…. animals, plants – we all have roles to play which can improve the world.
Jumping ahead, later we come to another big effort, the delightful Only Girl, which is Iba Mahr’s second walk through dip on Everlasting Doors. This one is fairly straight-forward but that term is basically lost when used in description of Mahr’s music because of his captivating style of vocals; so from a sonic point of view, you’re going receive something from Only Girl that you won’t on “fairly straight-forward” love songs from pretty much any of his peers. I was very happy to see this one included because, while you typically do not associate such songs with Roots music, inherently, if you really think about it, they’re almost always included in lots like these (compilations, riddims, whatever!) and when they are of such high quality, they not only fill a void and provide a nice changeup, but they actually can sit amongst the very best a project has to offer. Going back to the beginning of the album, we arrive at what is my single favourite selection that you’ll find here, unsurprisingly, Ina Ya Joy from Akae Beka….
Watch the reconfiguration of the topography
I tell you, there’s a new world I’m in
According to the move, you see bigga trust move
Is a new world running
Linking for prosperity, protection and privilege and everything gone in
Operating unseen and sudden
What would you do?
Hey, you can’t say “nothing”
Even politician cannot overthink
Go inna yuh joy and live
Go inna principle and live
THERE IS A SCRIPTURE THAT SPEAK OF THE EFFECT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Quiet assurance, assurance blessed
Go inna yuh joy and live
WITHIN SERVICE IS THE HIGHEST OF OFFERING
Go inna yuh principle and live
Differentiate between compulsory and prerogative
Between law and leisure – live
WORK IS A LAW OF PHYSICS
Go inna yuh joy
Inna yuh joy
The people want an answer
But the historical precedent was set so rotten
IT WOULD TAKE COMBINE OF ALL THE OCEANS OF FORGIVE
THIS TIME YOU IN AFRICA, DO THE RIGHT THING
Infrastructure and economy and principle leadership
Great internal corruption quagmire exist
AND DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED
Go inna yuh joy and live
TEARS! Let me tell you about allllllll the fun I’ve had with this wonderful tune! ‘FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE! GO THERE AND REMAIN AND UNTIL YOU FEEL LIKE LEAVING!’, that is the idea behind this one. Vaughn Benjamin says that, with everything going on in the world — all of the negativity (“it would take combine of all the oceans of forgive”) — that we need to find things (and places and people and whatever), that bring us joy and comfort us. TEARS! – or
did I say that already??
As I said, part of my curiosity with Everlasting Doors had quite a bit to do with the collection of vocal artists InTrinity had assembled to voice the music and, along with the big three that I just told you about (and a couple of others I’ll tell you about shortly), it also featured some names that you will want to make a mental note of going ahead. Such a name and one with whom I had a little prior experience with was Noble Culture who, like Iba Mahr, also gives us two cuts on the album, InfraRed and Look. Though I know next to nothing about him (I do know now that he is also from California), I have come across NC’s music, here and there, over the past half-decade or so. Most notably, there was tune by the name of A New Day that I heard for the first time maybe a year ago and thoroughly enjoyed it and, just a couple of weeks ago now, he dropped a brand new single by the name of The Reckoning which is just sublime and well worth listening to. Because of that, I should not have been surprised (and I wasn’t) at the quality of his work on Everlasting Doors. Noble Culture has this very nice and laidback type of sound to him and it is the most immediate characteristic which comes through in his music and it works well for him. To my opinion, by the slimmest of margins, the preparation anthem InfraRed is the better of his two but, for its part, Look isn’t very far behind at all… and if I don’t hurry up and change subjects, I’m probably going to have to go back and rewrite this because I think I might be changing my mind and I don’t feel writing it over dammit!
Clutcheye is another name that barely caught my attention via having some previous knowledge of his work. In the case of the big voiced singer (who used to go by Tony D Clutcheye), I knew of him because a few years back he released a song called Rise Up which featured Sizzla Kalonji [“Rise up. This is not the time to be sitting down. The poor and less fortunate, that’s who they’re beating down”] and they had a nice video for it and everything. It was a really solid selection in its day (and it still is). Clutcheye, dropped the “Tony D” on his name and he’s continued right along here with My Testimony. Utilizing that same riddim from Legalize The Herbs and Kings and Queens, My Testimony is a very simple, but nearly spectacular praise and I’m of the mind that there will be quite a few people walking away from this set having heard him for the very first time, wanting to hear more of Clutcheye (he has at least a pair of albums for you to dig into right now, My Story from 2017 (which features Rise Up) and Conscious Connections from just a couple of years ago now).
Then there’s a revelation. There is an artist on Everlasting Doors whose name is COMPLETELY new to me. I heard a Jasmine Starr on Wings and I got chills! She minded me of someone from whom I have not heard new material in AGES but is responsible for making simply one of the greatest songs I have ever heard, a woman by the name of Empress Cherisse and the tune in question is Upper Room [“I don’t have to wonder who’s seated in the Upper Room”]. Jasmine Starr, like Empress Cherisse before her (although she sounds stronger, it may be the case or the recording just may be better) is HYPNOTIC! Her voice is so beautiful, so CLEAR and so… perfect for Wings that I probably listened to it maybe five or six times before I got around to actually dialing it lyrically. When you do take into account that it is a very well crafted composition — musically and lyrically — what you have is a drop making me seriously reconsider my choice for the top moment of Everlasting Doors.
Give I the wings to fly high
The wings to fly
Give I the wings to fly high
The wings to fly
Why is it that since I was a child, I’ve been so afraid?
Afraid of losing love
Afraid of losing life
AFRAID OF WHAT’S INSIDE
To my heart, your melody
Carry I & I all the way
Carry I & I, carry I & I all the way
Higher than the clouds in the sky, your love calls to I
It leads the way
The remaining ranks on the album are filled by a potential future star, a bona fide legend and a pair of truly grizzled veterans in the music. If you are not acquainted with one Aza Lineage (not to be confused with Aza Sefu) (biggup the sword) and her music, you’d be very wise in making Pa Da Pa Pa your introductory point because, like much (pretty much all of it) of her output, it is STERLING. Essentially a social commentary at its core (or maybe a ‘social observation’ may be a better way of describing it, actually), Lineage presents this very clever chorus (which is just the song’s title sang over and over again) as kind of a representation of how time continues to pass along. THE SONG WILL PLAY ON and people will suffer, people will thrive, we’ll love, we’ll hurt, we’ll do everything we do… and the riddim will continue, endlessly. There’s a point on Pa Da Pa Pa, about one hundred seconds in [“I beg dem stay focused and don’t bruk no fight”] where it just ASCENDS! It gets even more beautiful than at its beginnings and it never really relents after that. I make that point to illustrate the fact that it is, somewhat oddly, a trait that I have noticed previously in Aza Lineage’s work (check how she slowly zeroes in on Kill Them With A Sound and she also did it on Melody. It constantly seems like that first verse is a warm-up and she’s in a devastating form by the start of the second). It almost seems like she’s a bit of a ‘slow-starter’ (in the sporting sense), but when she tunes in and warms up – PROBLEMS!
“Grizzled veterans” Sammy Dread (who’s always looked a little like Beenie Man to me) and Kolumn (a name I haven’t seen in a very long time but, as it would turn out, apparently he’s been quite active on the California Reggae scene) also make respective solo appearances on Everlasting Doors, with Dread’s My Saviour and Kolumn on Strange Things. The former is a nice and mellow praising tune which you can, literally, listen to endlessly. Just sitting here, writing this portion, I’ve had the very healthy piece on repeat and I think I’m on my third or fourth playthrough at this moment. It does not at all really seem to be anywhere near its more than five minute long play-length. Strange Things is solid. Taking on the same riddim from Starr’s Wings, Kolumn mines gold on an offering where things…. just don’t quite seem to line up as they are supposed to. Kolumn really gets into Strange Things, you can tell that he definitely enjoyed himself while recording it and had a great time – a quality which comes pouring through on the results (he literally just makes noises for much of the time while not singing!) which’re amongst the most UNIQUE on the album. Lastly, Anthony B blesses Everlasting Doors with the inspirational One Day.
I’ve been through trials and tribulation
Everyone haffi face dem own revelation
Experience is di greatest education
So I & I nah lose I meditation
MEMBA IT TAKE UNITY TO BUILD A NATION!
AND ONLY LOVE CAN CREATE A SOLID FOUNDATION!
All I ever ask for is a helping hand and a Selassie I, alone, mi come from
So I seh:
Don’t matta what people say
My hope and faith, they cannot take it away
I know I’m gonna make it one day!
Hypocrite no stop set trap in my way
But Jah Jah send Your blessing, it, no man can delay
I know I’m gonna make it one day!
While I am certain that One Day
was recorded years ago at this point, just with it being new to my ears, it continues a MIGHTILY impressive run of new material that Anthony B has been dropping as of late — it is OUTSTANDING — as he has found such a wonderful form at such an advanced stage. His is one of the biggest (arguably THE biggest) on the album and you’d expect him to turn in something sizable and, as usual, he does not disappoint.
I do feel compelled to pay a credit here because I often find myself criticizing the exact opposite when I do not find it on an album. Everlasting Doors is thirteen tracks and nearly an hour in length. That means that your average track length is slightly more than four and a half minutes, which is DAMN SATISFYING! Too many times we see albums where the average is close to half of that and, especially in a genre such as Roots where that message may take a time to build and soak into the listener, at least in my opinion, longer tunes where you can appreciate both lyrics and music make for a healthier musical experience so a credit goes to InTrinity for that.
Overall, oh yeah – they also get credit for making a terrific project as well. Hopefully it doesn’t take them another four or five years to get a new project out and they don’t ultimately fade away like so many other labels have throughout the years (and we’ve lost some really good ones, like Philadub and Itation Records) (you remember Itation???), because I THINK I’m feeling something potentially special in Everlasting Doors
Regardless of their future, however, I can give a big recommendation of this album to any fan of Roots Reggae music, new or old. For that more ‘seasoned’ fan (all of our old asses), it definitely does a great job or capturing that DEEP and more MATURE element of the music which should appeal to you (you need not look further than the fact that it contains a Vaughn Benjamin song as evidence of that) and it will also just entertain you musically, opening itself to newer fans as well.
I can’t tell the future (and wouldn’t want to even if I could most times) but I’m hoping that, years from now, I look back at Everlasting Doors as an introduction to a label, InTrinity Records, that has gone on to do major things; as if this is any indication to what they are capable of, I see no reason why we shouldn’t be listening to them for years to come. VERY WELL DONE.