Hail King Selassie I
Alpha Rowen
Penitentiary Records-Walboomers Music
September 5, 2005

Track list
  1. Hail Selasie I
  2. Red Hot
  3. Weak Heart Rasta
  4. Please Shotta
  5. New Robinhood
  6. No Chaka Chaka
  7. Stinking System
  8. In Dis War
  9. Addictive love
  10. High Volt
  11. A-Di-Oh
  12. Hot Gal Credential
  13. Babylon Bridge
  14. Days Are Numbered
  15. Fools Desire
  16. Thank You
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
"Hail King Selasie I" is the sophomore album from Alpha Rowen (formerly known as Rolex), a native of Spanish Town, Jamaica. This album follows up his debut release in 2000, the acclaimed "New Teacher" on Jet Star Records. Despite switching labels Rowen has yet again created a highly refreshing and original album, due in no small measure to his avoidance of the more commercial and well known riddims. He favours instead light rootsy dancehall riddims that blend perfectly with his melodic voice - at times strongly reminiscent of Garnet Silk.

This is one of those rare albums where just about every track is well worthy of inclusion and I even came to appreciate the merits of those tracks which, on first listening, seemed decidedly weaker. "New Robin Hood" and "Babylon Bridge" were two such tracks of which I was somewhat dismissive first time round due to their apparent simplicity. However, that these two tracks grew on me to the extent that I wouldn't now skip a single track is a testament to the consistent high quality of the album.

As the album title suggests there is a strong Rasta-religious theme, and whilst these messages are present throughout the album they never become tiresome, rather binding the tracks together and creating harmony. Tracks such as "Weak Heart Rasta" and "Fools Desire" demonstrate Rowen's intensity in his faith with fantastic lyrics and backing vocals without ever becoming too overbearing or inaccessible. Also well worthy of mention are the uncannily Garnet Silk-esque closing cut "Thank You" and the superlative "Addictive Love" which has the aura of a modern reggae classic. The religious content is broken up and counter-balanced perfectly by tracks such as "A-Di-Oh", "Hot Gal Credential" and the excellent "High Volt" all of which also prove that slack lyrics and aggressive DJ'ing are not prerequisites of dancehall music.

This is a consistent and well balanced album and one which fans of positive, intelligent, well crafted music should definitely own.