Chezidek – Never Stop
Irie Ites Records / Evidence Music
DR – LP – CD
April 14, 2023
03. Who Fool You
04. Jah Jah Bless
05. Bun Di Ganja
06. Good Girl
07. Who I Am
08. It’s Time
09. The Game
10. Chezidek feat. King Lorenzo – Mr. Officer
12. Bad Out Deh
13. Chezidek feat. Queen Omega – Kill Dem
14. Chezidek feat. Queen Omega – Kill Dem Dub
15. Who Fool Dub
16. Try Dub
17. Dem No Dub
18. Bun Di Ganja (Original Mix)
It was nearly twenty-one years ago now when I came across a very solid debut album called Harvest Time, from Philip “Fatis” Burrell and the Xterminator camp for a singer with a most unusual voice from the sweetest place on earth by the name of Chezidek. Though I was all kinds of impressed with what I would hear on that set, I think I would’ve been pretty surprised had you told a not quite twenty-one year old me that not only would I still be listening to Chezidek’s music a couple of decades on (that part wouldn’t have been too surprising, actually) but that all of those years later, he would grow into someone whose music I held in just about the absolute highest esteem (at that time, i would’ve surely thought that about Chezidek’s Xterminator labelmate, Turbulence… who fell in love with love songs one day and never came back).
I would have been even less convinced three years following that debut when Chezi’s sophomore effort, the wildly perplexing “Rising Sun” reached (let’s see if it’s still weird; I haven’t heard it in awhile…. YEP! Still is) and I don’t want to make the case that it has been completely ‘smooth sailing’ over the past twenty years — it has not — but given where he’s arrived on this day in 2023, though I’ve never met the man and likely never will, I am proud of the artist that Chezidek has developed into.
His name is one just a handful of others (one of which definitely appears on this album) whom I fairly frequently find myself just looking up to see if I’ve missed anything in the way of new releases because I am that convinced that anything that they drop is at least worth hearing and, potentially, downright special. He is one of the genre’s heaviest of hitters in terms of actual quality, at least as far as I’m concerned.
Chezidek’s musical relationship with Irie Ites from France dates all the way back to 2005 at the latest, so we’re nearing two decades of them working alongside one another and we’re fortunate that, as the first third of 2023 comes to its conclusion… CHEZIDEK AND IRIE ITES HAVE FINALLY MADE AN ALBUM TOGETHER! The album continues to build on what has already been a remarkable year for Reggae albums, following releases from the likes of Queen Omega, Anthony B, Chuck Fenda, Mykal Rose, Jah Mali and others.
Recently Irie Ites from France has been back on their grind as well in releasing new riddim projects such as the Ina Struggle and ASAP, as well as an album for a delightful Horace Andy influenced singer from out of Spain, George Palmer, and Irie Ites has also been working on remastering and re-releasing quite a bit of their outstanding back catalogue as well (and when you really begin to get into the work those people have done over the years, it is damn impressive!).
It’s been business as usual as it has seemingly always been for Irie Ites. Listening through Never Stop did several things for me. It made me nostalgic at times and it also continued to build upon the outstanding new material that we had heard just ahead of the album’s release. If you’re not doing anything else at the moment, I’d love to tell you about it!.
Even with that being said, however, even before laying ears on it, I knew that Never Stop came from a first-class design; featuring a number of highlighted singles ahead of the release date and a steady reminder of what was to come. Thankfully the music does not let it down at all and getting it started is what I believe was the album’s initial single, the golden negativity-expunging Dem No Worry which popped up back in late January.
Try trick mi but dem caan trap mi
Place slippery, but dem caan drop mi
Cause Jah Jah is guiding I
I seh dem try blacklist mi pon hitlist
But every obstacle ahgo get dismissed
And mi seh Jah Jah, You art I witness
I seh dem just cant stop mi now!
Neva stop, neva neva stop
Try, try, try, try!
The battle hard, but the victory’s mine, mine, mine mine!
Dem ah fight mi, think mi nah know dat
Dem nuh like mi, think mi nah know dat
Set trap inna mi way lke roadblock
DEM CUT DOWN DI TREE, BUT IT GROW BACK
Every blow dem ah throw, mi ah throw back
What I believe was the final pre-album single, the very interesting Who Fool You comes near the head of Never Stop as well and it finds Chezidek revisiting another very fruitful link as well. I previously mentioned the Timeless drop from a few years back, it was done alongside the Ligerians, who also guest on Who Fool You as well. This tune is just HEAVY! From that perfectly rigid one-drop carrying it, up to Chezidek’s vocals which move around it so fittingly, Who Fool You is a fully gorgeous composition and one which should find a large audience especially with the more seasoned of fans, as Chezi says that things are not always as they appear. I thought Try sounded a bit familiar but I’m probably wrong on that.
Listening to the voices everyday youth, star
Never let the system tear you apart
Ah seh a revolution soon start!
Dem think a peace and safety and ah lay back
Di promise and di prophets all find a way back
Seh all di downpressers ahgo get a payback
DI WARRIORS DEM NAH STAY BACK!
Di Empress dem clean di youth dem safe intact
A fi wi liberation dat
Wi climbing to di highest of heights, wi nah stay pon flat
A SEEKING WI REDEMPTION DAT!
Wi gonna burn dem down, wi gonna burn dem down
It’s the time!
It’s the time!
Call the president, tell him:
No more bombs and no more shelling
NO MORE SHOOTING WHERE PEOPLE DWELLING
And all di long-range missiles that you selling
It only add more to di blood-shedding
Seh it’s the wrong direction weh yuh heading
How much innocent life lost already?
It haffi done
It haffi done
It haffi done
It haffi done
I waan yuh build back di bridges
Tear down di fences
Forget di evil – back to yuh senses
Innocent life lost down in de trenches
Woman & children, living in tents
Seh di consequences
Whole world ah feel di consequences
Death & destruction: consequence
They’ve been bombing hospitals, schools and churches
Kiling di people, they show no mercy
Villages empty, towns are empty
Cities are warzones
There is no ending
In this case, in particular, what really stands out is just how bright the song is (and I’m still doing it). There is a joyfulness here standing on top of everything else! No, things aren’t perfect (and they never will be) and they aren’t how we would like them to be right now, but certain things exist and are in place for us all to be thankful for and to enjoy [“Without life, mi seh nothing can work”]. Also, I have no idea who they are but I do give a credit to the backup singers who, although it is subtle, really add to what turns out to be one SWEET vibe.
Surely won’t miss yah, ahgo meet yuh
Listen to the musical teacher
The statutes, laws and ordinances – is that is what mi feature
Thou shall not kill, it is said by The Creator
The leaders have no love!
That mean seh dem a hater
Dem breeding hate and fraction
Worshipping their saviour
Rejoice in shedding blood,dem nuh respect how they make yuh
Dis prayer coming differently, it’s hot like the equator!
I am no dubhead, I am far from an expert on the topic in any way, shape or form, but I just knew that Who Fool You had a sound which made it a perfect candidate for such a mix. It has a certain ‘density’ to it that I typically am attracted to and I got nowhere into before it brought a smile to my face! Clocking in at only five seconds north of the original version, it even sounds like so much more, making it not only the finest dub on Never Stop, but amongst the very best altogether. Try, relicked as Try Dub, and the opener which is now Dem No Dub round things out, providing a notable contrast between an old school sound with more of a modern one and the latter actually manages to also place itself quite highly on the release in my opinion.