“Joyful days bring joyful nights
Joyful ways to live a joyful life
Go mek some joyful youths, with your joyful Wife
Dem caan destroy my joy wid no more trouble and strife
It’s not awful to be joyful, and kindhearted, to people
So let joy lift you up when you’re down
Put a joyful smile on your face, don’t wanna see no crown”
-Ras Attitude from ‘Joyful Day’
“Well I say: ‘Who give I & I di victory?’
JAH!Full manifestation of complexity and all simplicity
JAH!Haile I Selassie I: The Might & Power of The Trinity
JAH!And maintain to a bloodline of an Ancient Monarchy
JAH!Ithiopia taught this world about royalty
Still dem waan come now change di reality”
-Batch from ‘Zion Kingdom Come’
It’s probably impossible to count just how many stories are intertwined with one another – even in something as ‘fractured’ and ‘obscure’ as Reggae music. I can’t actually recall the last time I read a bio which didn’t include, in some way, an artist receiving a relatively sizable help from a next artist (maybe I Wayne or Gyptian from off the top of my head). Generally speaking ‘opening the door’ in Reggae music involves knowing someone (or knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone) who has the keys and are themselves, already, on the ‘inside’. Still, there are definitely some links which really stick out amongst the rest and for various reasons. Of course there’s Chaka Demus & Pliers – Probably the most well known duo in Reggae history. There’s Damian & Stephen Marley and Isasha & Million Voice and other groups of well known and established siblings. More still, even if origins don’t directly relate, for a variety of (mostly awful) reasons, the careers of Beenie Man & Bounty Killer will seemingly forever be associated with one another.The one which we’re going to take a brief look at today, however, may just be one of the most interesting of them all. I kind of relate Batch & Ras Attitude to the wonderful structure which we’ve most enjoyed from another venerable esteemed duo in the music, Luciano & Mikey General because they certainly seem to share so much (if I recall correctly, the story is that Batch played in Cruzan Gospel singer, Harella Goodwin’s band – Harella is the Mother of Michael Goodwin, bka ‘Ras Attitude’) in common, not the least of which is this ‘bigger picture’ musical mission. I don’t know if they sat down one day and mapped everything out and planned it, but recently just vibing so much Batch and Ras Attitude (particularly the former), what I started to hear was just how similar they are . . . But similar in a different way (that makes no sense). What I mean is that they compliment one another so well, even outside of being linked, that it’s almost like their music is two parts of the same prevailing message. Let’s take a look!
Between Ras Attitude and Batch, Attitude is definitely the more dynamic and the one with the . . . Attitude! What he has shown in his music is certainly something more along the lines of traditional modern Jamaican Roots Reggae and between himself and Pressure Busspipe, I think they were the first two who I really looked at from out of the VI who was making that ever so small ‘crossover’ from the more typical vibes which you were hearing from Virgin Islands Reggae music. Attitude put his own spin on it; he brought a completely different dimension after that as well when he, especially through the “Holding Firm” album as well as the “Royal Lionage” album, showed himself to have quite the singing voice as well. This was very powerful material and when combined with his delivery, really what you have between those two albums are just special vibes. He had well shown potential in his first two albums,”Happiness” and “Love Life” (the latter of which birthed what may be still my favourite Ras Attitude tune, ‘Ithiopia Alone’) which would lead into the aforementioned two which were followed by “Trodding Home” which gave him the title track, probably Ras Attitude’s biggest hit to date. His latest release, “I Meditation” is just the complete package. By the time he’d arrived to that point, regardless of boundaries and origins, he was unarguably one of the most POLISHED artists in all of Reggae and one would only hope for even more progression by the time the next album comes (which . . . Next year???).
‘Know Who Is Jah’ [“Royal Lionage” album]
As I said, the base is a very dynamic one, but if you allow Attitude’s flash to distract you, you’ll miss out on a lyrically very talented voice as well. His approach is very natural, but all encompassing. You often hear about how artists don’t like to write lyrics down and while normally that isn’t something that I’ll support, if it is Attitude’s case, I’m firmly behind it. For his part, what I’ve noticed is that he tends to focus more on the intangible. Some of my own favourite Attitude tunes like ‘Ithiopia Alone’, ‘Shelter Me Oh Jah’, ‘Know Who Is Jah’ and ‘Let Jah Be Praised’ all come from a very spiritual place and solidify themselves within this ethereal arena and all are SPECIAL tunes.
Where Ras Attitude may very well come through and dazzle his listener into not having the greatest grasp on his lyrics, with Batch, what is being said is the main attraction. As I’ve gotten older (and yes, I am old as anything now at an awful THIRTY years old) I really do count Batch’s music as something, as a whole, which I am now able to appreciate so much more than ever before. The PRIME example of this is the “Jah Guidance” album, but it pretty much well spills over into everything he did up to that point. That album, in particular, has grown on me IMMENSELY! I can remember the first time that I heard it, literally detaching myself from it from a lyrical standpoint – in pretty much every way, actually – and just took it in as a musical experience. Literally I was wishing that Batch had held onto the music for the simple purpose of voicing Ras Attitude on it at a later point. These days? Probably over the past couple of years or so, I’ve yet to listen to that album and NOT take something new from it every day. The man is a BRILLIANT writer and he’s able to both encapsulate the tangible and the intangible. Also, I should stress the term ‘intelligence’ in the case of Ras Batch. His music comes through as a lesson in Black history, redemption, social science and areas in between. In my mind, this man is traveling to universities around the globe as a guess speaker on the subjects and really just pushing progressive knowledge into the ‘proper’ channels.
‘Green Gold’ [“Who You Are” album]
Furthermore, you’re not likely to find a better lyricist on the subject of ganja anywhere. Batch throws his all into tunes such as the MASSIVE ‘Green Gold’, ‘Marijuana Fi Blaze’ and ‘Centripetal Smoke’, which aren’t your kind of Reggae standard “bun di herb, blaze di chalice” type of songs, but really place the herb into this type of ultra-accepted type of social connotation. There is simply no one like Batch on the topic today in my opinion.
And finally, just as you shouldn’t ignore the substance behind Attitude’s flare, you also shouldn’t label Batch as a BORING artist. Doing so is to ignore another dimension of his music – His AWESOME presentation. Some of my favourite tunes from his catalog are also some of his more ostensibly attention-grabbing. Take songs like ‘Hail The King’, ‘We Nah Lose’, ‘Sane Cry’, ‘Ah Rulah’ and several tracks from the “Jah Guidance” album. They may not be the type of thing you’ll find on “I Meditation”, but they aren’t these crawling type of tunes – They definitely do have dynamicity (yes, that is a word), albeit a very sagacious level of it.
Batch & Ras Attitude will likely always be linked and for great reasons. Besides their origins, Batch, a master producer/arranger/instrumentalist, has produced a great deal of Attitude’s work (and released his first two albums on his own Sound V.I.Zion imprint) and a great deal of his own as well (and for a variety of other artists, including Midnite). However, when you really take a deeper listen to the works of both, you’ll hear this beautifully existing and NATURAL message which they both have. They are very different, but you do hear so much of one in the other and it goes as deep as the very ideas of their songs.
One of the greatest duos in the history of Modern Reggae Music.
Source: Achis’ Reggae Blog