Greensleeves - Rough Trade
CD & Digital Album
August 26, 2008
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3/4|
Despite the review 3 years ago of Fantan Mojah's "Hail The King" being rather lukewarm,
that album heralded the arrival of a great new conscious talent in Jamaican music and this "Stronger",
his follow up album for Greensleeves is cementing his position as one of the major
conscious reggae singjays to rise in recent years. Fantan Mojah was born Owen Moncrieffe in the fruitful
country parish of St. Elizabeth, the 'cockpit country' of the Maroons (the runaway slaves long famed
for their resilience and resistance). Their unbroken link with their African ancestry has resulted in
a latent culture that has retained much of that African oriented past and this is most audible in the
music coming from the region and now exemplified by the music of Fantan Mojah. The young Owen
Moncrieffe was always motivated by music and, at the age of nine years, began performing at local
concerts winning several talent competitions while still at school. His parents soon grew to
understand that Owen's sole aim in life was to be a deejay and in order to further his musical ambitions
he moved to Kingston. He found work there as a handyman with top Sound System Kilamanjaro gaining
experience and gradually building up a reputation as he sang and deejayed over rhythms during sound
checks. Initially he called himself Mad Killer (after dancehall deejay Bounty Killer) but he was drawn
more and more towards a strictly conscious approach to music.|
In 1997 he came under the influence of cultural deejay Capleton who encouraged the youth to become known by a more spiritual name and so he became Fantan Mojah in order to clearly define his Rastafarian beliefs and to underline the serious content of the music that he felt compelled to make. His experiences as a young man growing up in St. Elizabeth had now become coupled with the aggressive urban environment of Kingston enabling him to blend an honest rural flavour with the hype and brutality of urban poverty and he began to create a music that was indelibly his and, spiritually, emotionally and artistically his new name represented his coming of age. Fantan Mojah began recording with the Black & White team a.k.a. Andrew 'Prento' Prendergast and Joseph Bogdanovich of DownSound Records in 2004 and their first seven-inch release "Hungry" across their fabulous reworking of the Tennors' 1967 'Pressure & Slide' Studio One riddim, also known (after the 1978 Sugar Minott Studio One scorcher) as 'Oh Mr. DC' i.e. District Constable, renamed 'Invasion' shot to the number one position in the Jamaican charts where it stayed for eight straight weeks followed by the also for DownSound recorded anthemic "Hail The King" over their 'Maroon'-riddim that became one of thé records of 2005. And now Fantan Mojah returns with his sophomore album "Stronger" collecting several of the singles that have been released in the three years since his album.
The album opens with a 3 minutes long strong confession of his faith in the "Intro" that like the first very upful track following emphasizes how Jah makes Fantan Mojah "Stronger" across Maximum Sounds' 2006 'Jah Powers'-riddim. The praises continue in the strong combination with Ninja Ford a.k.a. I-Ford "Jah Jah You Are The One" over the 'Overstand'-riddim that was recorded in 2007 for Ingo Rheinbay and his Pow Pow Productions before we are treated to the excellent angry and fierce "Dun Dem" over the marching 'Laminated'-riddim for GT Taylor's GT Promotion from last year and the wonderful "Can't Frame I" over Special Delivery's 'Judgement Time'-riddim laid by Matthieu 'Bost' and Jérémie 'Bim' Dessus a.k.a. Bost & Bim last year for Special Delivery. A great delivery by Fantan Mojah is combined with great riddims throughout this album and the upful conscious vibe is maintained by "Stay Positive" over the 'DST'-riddim for Katrina 'DJ Sunshine' Irons' Yellow Moon label and "So Many Problems" over Burning Spear's Studio One original 'Rocking Time'-riddim played by Mafia & Fluxy and mixed by Gussie P for France based Irie Ites Records from 2007. The second strong tune alongside Ninja Ford is the magnificent ganja tune "No Ordinary Herb" over the horn-driven 'Green Heart'-riddim for Hi Score from Sweden.
"Jah Time" is Fantan Mojah strong tune over the 'Confessions'-riddim for Shane Brown's Juke Boxx, followed by "How Can I Be Ungrateful" the excellent combination alongside often featured sparring-partner and fellow Macka Tree member Zareb a.k.a. Singer Flash a.k.a. Mr. Flash over the very nice 'Ruff Life'-riddim from Shore Jam Records" and "Most High Jah" with Fantan Mojah's extremely heavy vibrato throughout the tune over the big 'Rub-A-Dub'-riddim for Kemar 'DJ Flava' McGregor's No Doubt Records. Once more together with Zareb (as Mr. Flash) he recorded yet another great tune, the heavily dubbed up "No Mercy" for Lion Vibes over the Matt Down produced 'Ever Bless' a.k.a. 'He Prayed / Dub Organizer'-riddim, that is sheer brilliance, followed by the beautiful "Tell Lie Pon Rasta over 'The Session'-riddim - Frenchie's just released recut of Black Uhuru’s "Party In Session" (originally out on 12" on Mango in 1983) - for his own Maximum Sound. The great uptempo "Fight To Survive" is followed by the less impressive "Where Is Love" and unfortunately though "You Can Make It" is a fine tune, the last two tunes of the album don't have the same power as the other tunes. Nevertheless is Fantan Mojah's sophomore album "Stronger" on Greensleeves Records a more than worthwile successor of his very impressive debut album and it should definitely be bought by every roots enthusiast.