In The Streets Of Africa

Artist: Richie SpiceTitle: In The Streets Of AfricaRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Metanoya Z. Webb

An ambassador for Jah, who claims responsibility for “all di youth dem worldwide.” Richie Spice is to roots reggae what Marcus Garvey was to the fight for freedom: persistent, courageous, focused and strong.  Whether it’s liberating the minds of African descendants on the vicious streets of Jamaica or uplifting the spirits of suffering souls directly on the continent, his music has a mission.  And it’s far from the conceit of a selfish meditation. Humble yet powerful, shy but extremely wise, Richie cries out, condemning everything from social ills to bad mind people on his new release, In The Streets to Africa (5th Element/VP).  Simplicity makes the message clear and consistency makes the album’s 16 tracks nourishing, yet quite easy to decipher.  He earned respect on his 2004 debut, Spice In Your Life with conscious one drop anthems like, “Earth A Run Red,” “Marijuana” and “Blood Again.” But this St. Andrews bred, scratchy falsetto, continues his spiritual journey on In The Streets to Africa, singing songs of  “righteousness and encouragement,” something he deems the people need now, more than ever. “Rise get up…rise stand up now…rise get up…brush off yourself and come…(“Get Up)” are the lyrics Spice, 35, chants to usher in his sophomore ragga collectable, empowering listeners from the very first track, while establishing an authentic roots tone.  Following are healing rebel ballads like “Open The Door” (Jah Love riddim) produced by Hot 97’s Bobby Konders and “Motherland Calling” a plea to end global war and free Jah Cure, an imprisoned Culture singer, notorious for “True Reflections,” one of many heartfelt redemption songs this talented artist recorded while serving his bid in Jamaica.   Effortless, tunes like “Sunny Day” and “Take it Easy” bring you back to a time when reggae music was pure.  Richie’s preachy vocals combined with sing-a-long, one drop melodies, will definitely leave listeners with a free spirit. Richie’s romantic side is exposed on several lovers rock cuts’.  On current hit, “Brown Skin,” (reggae super producer Don Corleon/ Heavenly riddim) Spice sweets up the ladies while embracing the many beautiful shades of black woman.  “Hey brown skin/ girl I want to wrap and a lock you in my arms…Brown skin/ woman I love the vibes, I love the spice I love the passion you bring…In every way/You make my day/You know I want you for myself…”Thoroughly absorbing his wisdom on this project and looking at the current state of our disillusioned world makes it hard to disagree with the plight of this Rastafarian prophet.  

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