Haile Unlikely?: A review of Ah Mi Yard by Perfect Giddimani
As is the case with just about everything Perfect Giddimani releases these days, Ah Mi Yard does come as a product of Giddimani Records in association with I Grade Records. You see that more and more these days with artists attempting to take more control of their work and what becomes of it and the case could be made that Perfect has done it better than almost any of his peers as, like I said, damn near EVERYTHING he does either comes exclusively from his label or ‘in association’ with it (including Live My Life Again from six years ago now). Giddimani has also produced full riddims featuring other very talented artists including the usual likes of Lutan Fyah and Norris Man, but also favourites of ours such as Ras Attitude and even Rob Symeonn and Arkaingelle, so Giddimani Records are WELL established at this point in their own right. Perfect’s latest project, Ah Mi Yard is constructed in a way where it features both original, voiced, tunes along with their dubs and we get seven of each, in full. The first of these is Perfect’s pandemic response, Never Give In.
We were warned by the prophets
These days were coming
I don’t know what has happened, but there is something
Wanna stick with a needle
Hurt I for nothing
But I never give up, never give in
I have to say something about this song and I want to do it in a way that is respectful of the message: During Never Give In Perfect talks about numerous things in regards to COVID, including where he feels its origins truly are and how he feels we should proceed and protect ourselves [“Commune with nature, turn off the smartphone”] and he makes a lot powerful and salient points on what is a very well written track. HOWEVER, the first time I laid ears on Never Give In (and on each subsequent listen including the one I’m having right now), the thing which most stands out for me is just HOW DAMN SWEET IT SOUNDS! The sonics on this one require much more of fitting adjective than the “hypnotic” one which I would typically reserve for it. It is STUNNING and you know what I was thinking: I cannot wait to hear how its dub sounds. Big opener. The unifying title piece is in next and I was very happy when I heard in which direction the focus of it went because in saying, Ah Mi Yard, Perfect is saying THERE is my home. All of these beautiful, wonderful African places are HOME both literally and figuratively.
Perfect goes onto delve into things such as the African Diaspora and where it sits today [“I hear the barbarians calling I & I a alien”] (a most brilliant line!) and it is packaged together in this lovely vibe which doesn’t dominate the tune at all but, instead, backs it snugly – making for one of the most outstanding moments on the whole of Ah Mi Yard. Perfect then goes on to channel the great Akae Beka with Same Boat [“Imagine how significant the sentiment is!”], another lovely selection. This is another piece where one of my most immediate thoughts was to wonder what was going on with that riddim and how much I was looking forward to digging in on its dubbed version. Despite being fairly straight-forward and being and being based around a very serious topic, Same Boat is FUN! It has a very loose vibe behind it and, again, while he does manage to push something that you very well should pay attention to, Perfect also seems to very much have been caught in the moment and here we see his often downright spectacularly free-flowing nature really ignite.
Travel over land and sea so far –
And yuh caan forget bout who you are
No sell outside fi house nor car
No freak away yuh life a rum bar
BETTA YUH LIGHT UP A SPLIFF YAH STAR
Bless Africa, West Africa The Five Point Star
Marcus Garvey – the man popular
Black People so spectacular
But if we all came on the same boat
Why aren’t we on the same note?
So while it does take itself seriously in an effort, presumably, to maximize its effect, Same Boat is sure to have heaps and heaps of people like me and hopefully You happily singing right along. Hard Ears proved to be a winner, but it took a bit of time to grow on me in order to reach that point. On the surface, it is a solid selection with a nice vibe (and an extremely catchy chorus) but when I began to dig into it more and more, what grew on me, specifically, was the SOUND. Somewhere along during its middle portions Hard Ears LEVELS UP. It goes from being slightly above average to considerably better. You will find better songs on Ah Mi Yard without a doubt (already told you about three of them, actually), but Hard Ears is not to go overlooked, in my opinion. Maybe you [I] felt a little odd about enjoying the poignant opener as much as you [I] did, but you’ll have no such concerns for Woosah which is more lighthearted and intentionally so. Sometimes you need to stop taking things so damn seriously and kick back and relax and enjoy yourself.
That is at the core of Woosah and for your listening pleasure Perfect thought you’d like this nice song which comes complete on another of the standout riddims found on Ah Mi Yard and also serves as a more specific ode to music and its effect on us and the role it serves in….. just making us all feel a little better especially when we’re a little down [“A likkle bassline nah hurt yuh. I man know dat fi certain”]. Much like what I heard from Ah Mi Yard, I delighted by what was waiting on Give Me My Flowers.
Give me my flowers
Before it is too late
Give me my flowers
Before my glory days
Give me my flowers
If your love for me is rare
And everytime I think about it, that’s how I feel
I’m so big on ideology like this. When someone is dead and gone, we pay a tribute to them and that’s fine, but it’s also for US and maybe those who didn’t know/know of that person; but that individual who is gone can’t do anything with it. They’re gone. So, if you love someone make sure they know it. If someone does something for you, TELL THEM THANK YOU! You don’t want to wait too long to show appreciation when you can show it and make someone who has done good by you feel so good RIGHT NOW! The final vocal on Ah Mi Yard, How Many Mornings, is another slow burner but, in this case, it is a HUGE one. I’ll surely give Perfect his credit for what he does here but there is just… something about How Many Mornings that is so damn powerful in its feel. It is a praising piece but it’s rather broad and Perfect goes on to eventually kinda/sorta turn it into somewhat of a social commentary as well to some extent [“Say a prayer for the ones in the ghetto, living in the heart of Soweto”] but what I took from it, ultimately, is the idea that giving praise and thanks makes things so much better and the more we do it, the more it could possibly help. With that being said, again, How Many Mornings GLOWS, musically. The thing is hot! Whatever device you use to play it will be warmer when it is on!
Perfect Giddimani - Photo (C) Teacher
And then there are the dubs. As I mentioned (or at least I hope I did), I was REALLY curious about the sound of the dubs of quite a few of the dub versions of these tunes and likely none more than the opener which is now Never Give In Dub and it did not disappoint. What is wholly gorgeous initially hits an even higher peak around two minutes in when this kind of stuttering sound (I am hopeless in attempting to describe this but the song should be right on top of this paragraph, you go to two minutes and you’ll hear exactly what I mean) chimes in briefly. It is DEVASTATING! I go back to that part so often when I listen to this track – it is absolute candy! When it does give way, what remains seems to be an ever so slightly more chilled cut of the early stages, making for one dazzling composition – my favourite on Ah Mi Yard.
Ah Mi Yard Dub is built on a foundation best remembered by its lyrical impact for me, but musically it has no difficulty at all standing on its own and, in fact, it thrives. The vibe here is just so delightfully EASY just as you would hope it would be given the familiarity and comfort that was so crucial in backing Perfect’s message. Same Boat Dub doesn’t do anything too special, for the most part (and that sounds bad, but hear me out) (well it doesn’t sound “bad” (it sounds mediocre), but I’ll make it better, give me one second) but what it does do is to IMMEDIATELY find its peak and remain there throughout. Even with what comes just ahead of it (and despite the fact that I favour at least one of them, if not both, over it) as soon as Same Boat Dub comes in I get HAPPY. My head starts bobbing and I get this excellent vibe. It does hit such a nice level of consistency that I think its creators knew PRECISELY what they had on their hands so they just allowed it to play and what resulted was a piece over a minute longer than the vocal version! Again, you’ll find more dynamic and catchy material here, but Same Boat Dub may hit you in places that even stronger tracks cannot.
I hate to say it because of the fact that I so enjoy it on the original version, but Hard Ears Dub didn’t…. do much for me! Of course the musicianship is top notch (that goes without saying… even though I just said it) and it does have its moments — especially when things get more streamlined — but there seems to be so much going on with Hard Ears Dub that I found myself struggling to find THAT one sound which I gravitated towards and stuck with, there almost seemed to be like three or four of them I had to sift through to arrive there. No such issues were present on Woosah Dub (just as a said on the original. I LOVE when I can make parallels like this one! I’m a nerd!), however, which builds upon (and it sounds like it has a GOOD TIME doing it) the wonderful simplicity of Woosah by just continuing that strong and simple vibe. Particularly during its latter stages (after it’s nice and warmed up), Woosah Dub SOARS and hits one of the highest highs that you will find on the entire album.
Give Me My Flowers Dub has to sacrifice the punch of the lovely ideology of the version with lyrics and it doesn’t rank as a favourite of mine on Ah Mi Yard (it almost has a Country sound to it at times and it doesn’t ‘repeat’ enough for me (almost surely that’s a poor usage of that term, but it’s close as I can get. It changes too much is what I’m clumsily attempting to say. Right when I enjoy it, it changes again)) but, again, what you will find is world class players of instruments which is a quality that shines through even when you do not LOVE what you hear.
Sending us out is certainly another highlight in How Many Mornings Dub. This piece has a certain amount ‘firmness’ to it and it is ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR! What an incredible vibe it produces and sitting here listening to it now (at 9:20am) and I’m feeling every bit of it! I also want to mention that I generally like to pay attention, on dubs, to specifically how much vocals they do use when it’s like this – different versions of an original with words, because I think that, like different sounds, the words can also add to the general FEEL of the vibe and what they do with How Many Mornings Dub, is nearly perfect. You will hear from Perfect relatively consistently throughout the first half, but he is nowhere to be found later on and, at least for me, that is a very cool way of showing a progression or an evolution of the vibe.
Overall, I WANT MORE! That’s the “prevailing thing” I’m left thinking about in regards to Ah Mi Yard. Technically, I suppose they did the right thing as albums which’re twenty songs or so in length are almost always just too damn long and bloated, but not only could they have done that in this case, I think they should have. Had they gotten this one to ten original vocals and then ten dubs on top of it…. I mean…. that would have been a very nice thing to do. Judging it just on what it is, however, and we still have a very strong release here. I spend so much time in attempting to describe Perfect’s spontaneity because I feel like it is not only one of his greatest traits as a musician, but it’s also one of the coolest talents in the genre right now. You simply cannot be sure what that man is going to do when he goes into a track – I don’t even know if he has an idea. Maybe he writes the tune and then decides how he will delivery it at a later point; but whatever the man is doing it is FLAMING for him these days and Ah Mi Yard is even more proof of that. Giddimani and I Grade Records and the Zion I Kings all come together produce a winner on the lighter side, but a winner without a doubt still.