Hempress Sativa – Charka
02. Sound The Trumpet
03. Give Me Loving feat. Albert ILawi Malawi
04. Ghetto Life
05. The Best
06. Take Me Home feat. Kelissa
07. Ganja Hustling feat. Keida
08. Top Rank Queens feat. Sister Carol & Sister Nancy
09. Strickly Roots
11. Time Has Come
12. None But Jah
Multi-faceted Jamaican artist Kerida Johnson, in reggae circles known as Hempress Sativa, made a powerful impression with her debut album Unconquerebel. About six years after the release of this well received and highly acclaimed album, she finally releases her sophomore album, Charka, continuing to showcase her music works in a bold and fierce manner. This release has been highly anticipated by fans who will discover that the long wait has been rewarding. Similar to the debut set, the creation of Charka involved a partnership with producer Chris Lion from Conquering Lion Records, who has his roots in the renowned Conquering Lion Sound from the Parish of Manchester in west-central Jamaica.
The Opening Part
Hempress Sativa, known and admired for her soulful vocals and thought-provoking lyrics, delivers an album that reflects her journey and encounters in various stages of life, delving into subjects such as love & affection, self-awareness, and social justice. Charka consists of 12 tracks, showcasing her distinctive blend of roots reggae infused with traces of dub and dancehall sounds. Right from the start, the powerful Freedom, with its slowed-down instrumental, establishes its commanding presence, immediately making clear that this roots songstress won’t take no prisoners. This opening track captivates listeners from start to end, and its captivating sensation carries over to the following track, the previously released single Sound The Trumpet, which has been produced by JahLanzo. As the dub elements come into play during the latter half of the track, the whole listener’s experience becomes a profound meditative journey. Next comes the wonderful sounding song Give Me Loving on which she is joined by her father, Albert “Ilawi” Johnson (veteran singer, musician, and selector of Jah Love Sound System). Further down on this album, there are several other combination tunes included, which feature female artists Kelissa, Keida, Sister Carol, and Sister Nancy. Hempress Sativa sounds absolutely amazing during the moving Ghetto Life, a huge song that reflects on her upbringing in the ghettos of Mona Common, St Andrew.
The Remaining Part
The following two tracks lead the listener towards a different musical path. The Best, which incorporates spoken words from Hempress Sativa’s mother Doris Ricketts, is supported by a contemporary-style riddim that ultimately lacks a strong impact. Similarly, the Afrobeat-infused riddim utilized in the collaboration with Kelissa titled Take Me Home falls somewhat short of leaving a lasting impression. It’s the lyrics and vocals, in particular, that nevertheless make these songs worth listening to. The inclusion of a song like Ganja Hustling comes as no surprise and fulfills all expectations, showcasing a return to the artist’s signature style. Hempress Sativa takes veterans Sister Nancy and Sister Carol on board for a well-done interpretation of Althea & Donna’s 1978 hit tune Uptown Top Ranking called Top Rank Queens. Across a Roots Radics style dancehall riddim, the three songbirds elevate the tune to a whole new dimension. Lyrically and musically, Strictly Roots continues to refer to the sound created between the end of the ’70s and the beginning of the ’80s as the riddim comes in rub a dub style. Next up is the incredibly profound Wisdom (is better than silver & gold), a song about artists in the music industry who sacrifice their integrity for the allure of fame and fortune. Its lyrics and memorable riddim is bound to linger in your mind. Finally, we reach the conclusion of the album with two exceptional deep roots tracks that reinforce Hempress Sativa’s undeniable talent. The songstress’ vocals shine brilliantly over the underlying riddim of Time Has Come, while None But Jah, a tribute to the Most High, brings the album to a triumphant close.
Overall, Hempress Sativa’s album, Charka, is truly exceptional and should not be overlooked!