Chezidek – Never Stop

by Apr 29, 2023Artist, Reviews

Chezidek - Never Stop

Release Info

Label
Irie Ites Records / Evidence Music
Format
DR – LP – CD
Street date
April 14, 2023
Contact
Website Artist

Tracklist
01. Dem No Worry
02. Try
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
11. Ukraine
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)
The Harvest: A review of Never Stop by Chezidek

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!.

In regards to the album’s announcement and pre-release attention, Never Stop has been unsurprisingly impressive. I suppose it’s becoming more of a concern of an older era (where we routinely saw albums from big artists on decent labels which went entirely overlooked by all besides a dedicated handful of us) as we see a respectable level of publicity garnered prior to these releases more often these days.

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.

This one had such a chilled vibes to it that I think it may’ve gone overlooked were it not given a spotlight of its own but for anyone who gave it any type of significant listen, you quickly came to the conclusion that you were listening to something pretty special. Thinking about it now, the vibes kind of fit the nature of the song, in my opinion. There isn’t any stress here; there is a course and a method for dealing with any adverse situation (or adversary, for that matter) and that’s the road we’ll take when we get there [“Think a lucky, mi lucky, but a Jah watch over wi”]. Chezidek isn’t losing any sleep over it and he’s saying that you shouldn’t be either via this gorgeous opener, which prevails as one of the lasting biggest moments from Never Stop.
Next in is a very familiar tune which I think is actually new, at least to my ears, Try, which tests a classic riddim. This one will require a bit more effort on our part (figuratively speaking) as, as opposed to Dem No Worry, Try isn’t a call for relaxation or taking things easy; it’s a call for action and perseverance.
Dem fight mi but dem caan stop mi
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

The chorus on Try is kind of strange because I didn’t recall loving it at first but, well after I’m on to another track, I’m still singing it and not in a frustrating way at all. Try is excellent and I’m thinking the masses will eat it up as it is also a quite exciting piece to hear as Chezidek dusts off the deejaying skills to a splendid effect in the name of maintaining the proper course in life in the eyes of opposition.

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.

Jah Jah Bless, on the other hand, I’m quite sure as it appeared in a different version on an album from several years ago by the name of Irie Day. That cut of Jah Jah Bless featured Chezidek alongside the legendary Capleton, who is not on board on the track that appears on Never Stop and though you cannot replace someone like Capleton, with his explosiveness, Chezidek, solo, turns in a fine effort on a simply beautiful vibes in praise of His Imperial Majesty [“Guide our thoughts and direct our footsteps. Alla wi prayers, Jah accept. When I & I call and make a request, Jah Jah never reject. WHEN I & I CALL AND MAKE A REQUEST, RASTA ALWAYS ACCEPT”].
Even casual heads know how much Chezidek loves to sing about ganja and it is a fascination which he clearly has not sated ahead of Never Stop as evidenced by the presence of longtime favourite Bun Di Ganja. Chezidek’s blazing cut of Irie Ites’s Strange Things Riddim, Bun Di Ganja represents the first big shot from the annals of artist and label spending so much time making big tunes alongside one another and it has not lost a damn thing throughout the years here as it sounds as good as ever!
The same is to be said another past mountain of a tune carried here, the absolutely gorgeous Who I Am. This song, fairly recently, has become one of the best songs I have ever heard from Chezidek! It’s fantastic in so many ways and I’d known of it prior to then, but…. for some reason it just recently began hitting on me on such a level, which is strange but so be it! It’s so delightful as Chezidek full-on celebrates individuality and the differences that we all have. They are beautiful things and are best used bring us together as opposed to drive us apart.
Mr. Officer is another piece your eyes and ears may recognize if they’re lucky and they also may appreciate the presence of another favourite of Irie Ites, King Lorenzo (who is credited as the far less Google-friendly ‘Lorenzo’ here). Mr. Officer was a sublime social commentary with an infectious sound which, again, has not diminished even remotely over the years. Lorenzo was one of those artists like Chezidek, Lutan Fyah, Spectacular and a few others with whom Irie Ites made some of their finest work and, in 2009, the singer had his own album for the outfit, the fine Movin’ Ahead (Mr. Officer was on it as well) which is well worth your time if you have not heard it (…. and even if you have. Might be time for another spin).
Good Girl was another one that I hadn’t set ears on prior to Never Stop and although I cannot rank it as one of the biggest offerings here, it is a strong selection and one which I now have a greater appreciation for after more than a few listens. Good Girl isn’t really a ‘love song’ (Chezidek doesn’t do nearly as much of those as (TURBULENCE) you might expect), it’s more of a motivational drop for women who are living upstanding and respectable lives….. you know what; if you asked me about this one again in a few months, I might actually love it. It does have a very faint, but curious power about it. This middle portion of the album also serves up another more recent single, It’s Time which is problems!
Can hear it everywhere you are
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!

Grrrr! The time is now to make some big changes in the world and that is the core sentiment behind this chunk of absolute deliciousness of a social commentary. I missed it? I knew of It’s Time and I thought that I’d climbed all over it but… I mean…. I didn’t know it was like this. This is something else.
Speaking of social commentaries, Chezidek also takes about four minutes to give his opinion on one of the biggest occurrences in the world over the past year or two on Ukraine. There is a certain simplicity that this one has that I well appreciate. Chezi doesn’t approach it from the standpoint of a political scientist or even someone directly involved, but he gingerly makes the point that such a happening is the concern of the entire world and that things need to change.
So call the general, tell him:
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
Consequences
Whole world ah feel di consequences
Consequences
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

It hasn’t been a ‘popular’ topic in Reggae music that I’ve noticed so, just in theory, I’m happy that Chezidek chose to make a song about it and it doesn’t hurt that the results are of such a high order as well. The Mafia & Fluxy laid Down In Jamaica Riddim [“Caught up inna bad traffic! It’s like a money racket!”] backs Bad Out Deh which also features the handiwork of the legendary Mr. musical everything, Dean Fraser (you know how respected you are when you do not utter a single word on a track and get an official credit as a featured artist). Another beaming piece about the state of affairs in the world, like….. just about all of the other tunes you will find on this album, Bad Out Deh shines (did you catch what I did there? Did you???).

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.

The final offering (technically) from Never Stop is problematic for me. I have issues with it. Kill Dem just so happens to feature Chezidek alongside the wholly incomparable Queen Omega! What! HUH! Stop playing with me! Fresh off releasing my choice as the sitting album of the year Freedom Legacy, Queen Omega makes an explosive appearance on another one of the top contenders and she does so with her typical flare and genius.
Alright, alright mi seh one day, yuh judgment ahgo reach yah
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 had seen what turned out to be a very basic and somewhat confusing tracklist for Never Stop and though I’d seen a tune called Kill Dem, I had no clue that Queen Omega was apart of it and when I finally did see that she was on board, it made a set that I was already well anticipating even more promising, if that were possible. She doesn’t disappoint (she never does) and neither does Chezidek (ditto).
While the physical version of the album stops right there, the digital version of Never Stop also brings in more material. Of significant interest would be the presence of dub versions of four of the songs I just told you about with the very first, fittingly, being Kill Dem which is now Kill Dem Dub. When I saw this, there was one track which stood above the rest that I was hoping Irie Ites had taken the time to do a dub of and sure enough it comes in second as Who Fool Dub.

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.

Lastly, and curiously, also present is another dose of Bun Di Ganja. On the digital list, the first tune is Burn Di Ganja – Edit and this one is just Bun Di Ganja which makes me think that one is just the remastered version while the other is the original. They’re very similar, I hear no appreciable difference but apparently someone (or maybe everyone) at Irie Ites really loved it and… you can’t blame them for that. I also want to mention that there are several Chezidek/Irie Ites creations that did not make the cut here and while, clearly, they couldn’t have included every single song they’ve ever done and still have room for new material, I was wondering why something like Powers of The Lion was absent…. but maybe that’s just me!
Overall, despite the extremely high and, perhaps, borderline-unfair expectations I had going into it, Never Stop still manages to impress and it does so in a way which isn’t full of tricks at all. If you’ve enjoyed much of Chezidek’s output over the past twenty years or so, I can all but completely guarantee that you will enjoy it as well. Furthermore, it also comes through in stereotypical Irie Ites style. If you know what they do, you know that quite a bit of it has more of an older Reggae/Dancehall sound; it is what they’ve always excelled at and they do it just as good if not better than any modern Reggae imprint going today; so if you like what you’ve heard from them regardless of the vocalist, Never Stop is also going to work for you.
I would also place the release in the upper portion of the catalogue of the artist; he has made finer, but not many and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the quality of this one, like several of its predecessors, only get better with time. If he has shown nothing throughout his career, Chezidek has well demonstrated a ‘rising durability’. His music not only ages well – it seems to get stronger. Never Stop will be more of the same within a career which has been so much fun to watch, looking back, and is as “strong” today as ever. Well done.
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