Akae Beka – Glory
1. Aqueduct feat. Micah Shemaiah
2. Aqueduct Dub feat. Micah Shemaiah
3. Glory feat. Kabaka Pyramid
4. Glory Dub feat. Kabaka Pyramid
1. Son feat. Mykal Rose
2. Son Dub feat. Mykal Rose
3. Still Small Voice feat. Reemah
4. Still Small Voice Dub feat. Reemah
Following the recent noteworthy releases of Showcase albums by Glen Washington (JAH Children) and Little Roy (Woke Up), Zion High Productions have delivered yet another exceptional album that adheres to the same concept, now featuring the inimitable Vaughn Benjamin. Regrettably, the incredible chanter and lyricist from Midnite and Akae Beka, known for his remarkable productivity, sadly passed away in November 2019 at the age of 50. His extensive body of work, characterized by its distinctive richness, depth, and intricate songwriting, combined with his unwavering dedication to Rastafari, has earned him a rightful place among the reggae greats.
Zion I Kings
Widely recognized for his charismatic leadership in Midnite, his later years with Akae Beka brought about a new era in his musical journey. Collaborating with the highly respected production trinity Zion I Kings, Vaughn Benjamin ventured into uncharted musical territories and pushed the boundaries of his creative exploration on albums such as Livicated, Portals, Polarities, and Mek A Menshun. A group of skilled musicians, including Roberto Sánchez, Craig Taylor, and Lloyd “Junior” Richards on drums, Andrew “Drew Keys” Stoch on keyboards, Okiel Mcintyre and Andrew “Drew Keys” Stoch on trombone, Donald “Jah Bless” Toney on saxophone, Okiel Mcintyre on trumpet, and Zoe Brown on flute, join forces with the Zion I Kings. Additionally, Roberto Sánchez and Ruel Klyve Moncrieffe contribute background vocals.
After Vaughn Benjamin’s death, numerous singles and albums have been released. The most recent posthumous release is a vinyl EP from Zion High Productions, a part of Zion I Kings, which continues to explore new and creative melodic and harmonic paths. This Akae Beka platter, called “Glory”, features four vocal tracks that showcase Vaughn Benjamin’s distinctive vocal and sound, combined with the voices and lyrics from four great vocalists in reggae music. These include Jamaican artists Kabaka Pyramid, who won a Grammy Award in 2023, Mykal Rose, formerly a member of Grammy-winning group Black Uhuru, Micah Shemaiah, and the, probably, lesser known songstress Reemah, who hails from the island of St. Croix. Choosing these vocalists for this project proves to be a wise decision, as their vocal delivery blends very well with Akae Beka’s inimitable chanting style. Furthermore, each track is followed by JAH David Goldfine’s dub mix, thus providing listeners with a complete roots reggae experience.
Akae Beka and the ‘Original Dread’ Micah Shemaiah come together to kick Side A off with the compelling Aqueduct. This opener, which shines brightly with its bass-heavy riddim and the addition of horns and flute, makes a serious impression. Following the thoroughly captivating dubbed version of Aqueduct, the listener’s complete focus is then required for the second collaboration. This time, Kabaka Pyramid joins in on the title track, Glory. Both artists deliver a noteworthy roots tune in which they praise His imperial Majesty. With the iconic singer Mykal Rose, Side B launches into flight with the mesmerizing track Son. This song exudes sheer beauty and leaves a mark of excellence. Reemah’s voice in the final vocal cut, titled Still Small Voice, comes out more prominently than what has been heard before from the other guest vocalists. Reemah adds some fire to the song and together with Akae Beka manages to turn it into one of the platter’s best tunes.
Akae Beka’s Glory is the third worthwhile release in a row coming from Zion high Productions, the label that celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2023.