Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Assini
Midnite-I Grade Collaboration
I Grade Records
CD
10 - 10 - 2002

Track list
  1. Old Robe
  2. Worker Be
  3. Balance
  4. Ises
  5. Reminder
  6. Blaze Up
  7. Highly
  8. Humble Wah?
  9. Womb
  10. Good Remnant
  11. Dry Bones Live
  12. Mouth Of Ancients
  13. Safe
  14. Piranha (Come To Feed)
  15. Sing Ye
  16. No Fear No Sorrow
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Hailing from the Island of St Croix, Midnite is one of the most promising roots reggae bands of the millennium. They are vanguards of conscious reggae who represent the King's and Queen's music to the fullness of Jah. Midnite's profound and innovative lyrics are sincere and deeply rooted to present the other half of the story. Lead singer Vaughn Benjamin's electrifying voice seems an amalgamation of many great voices in reggae--soulful, chanting, edgy. Vaughn's potent lyrical style and his brother Ron's exquisite keyboards and musical directorship form the nucleus of this musical quintet, which includes fellow St. Croix players Dion Hopkins (drums), Philip Merchant (bass) and Abijah (guitar). Midnite weaves the cultural lyrics of "old school" roots music with modern day experiences to create a unique listening encounter. Reggae - naked and raw is an apt description for Midnite's "classic roots" musical style, in which they forgo the frills of extensive remixes, overdubbing and other musical refinements. "Unpolished" is the suitably named title of their debut album released in 1997, while the band was located in Washington, D.C. In 1999, Midnite linked up with Wildchild! Records for their second release "Ras Mek Peace". Incredibly, this album was recorded using only two channels and was mastered without any reverb, filtering, compression or equalization. Songs like "Hieroglyphics", in which graffiti is likened to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, showcase the intelligent songwriting that pervades all of Midnite's works. Following the release of "Ras Mek Peace", Midnite returned to live in St. Croix so that they could work with the local musicians and make recordings at their African Roots Lab without any outside interference. The fruits of these labours can be found on Jubilees of Zion, which was released on their own independent Midnite Roots record label. The follow up "Nemozian Rasta' was released in 2001, the title 'Nemozian' referring to the Greek goddess of memory who gave birth to the Muses. Armed with a firm foundation in Jah Rastafari, their natural talents, and a strong and uncompromising musical vision, Midnite champions an old-school sound that is right on the cutting edge of modern roots music.
'Assini' is Midnite's fifth album and also their first release in 2002, already followed by two more cd's entitled 'Seek Knowledge Before Vengeance' and 'The Cipheraw'. This 'Assini' set could be regarded as a kind of 'Nemozian Rasta Volume 2', but only if you listen superficially. Vaughn Benjamin and Laurent "Tippy" Alfred arranged the album and they created an atmosphere on 'Assini' which is more or less hypnotic and darkish, we would call it a 'dwelling' sound. The 'Assini' set should be called a concept album, because the sixteen tracks found here form one musical, thematic and lyrical entity. The influences of soul/hiphop have vanished, it's a bare and almost raw drumm, bass and guitar reggae sound. The album includes such compelling melodies as Worker Be, Ises, Good Remnant and No Fear No Sorrow. The unique -emotional- vocal delivery of Vaughn Benjamin will not leave you untouched as he's one of the great voices of contempary reggae music.
Musicians involved here are : Bass: Kenyatta Johnson, Phil Merchant, drums: Phil Merchant, Dion "Bosie" Hopkins, Donnie Dread, guitar: Laurent "Tippy" Alfred, keyboards: Ron Benjamin, Laurent "Tippy" Alfred, Donnie Dread, vocals: Vaughn Benjamin.
If you missed 'Nemozian Rasta', well..here's you second chance..check this one out!