Rule The Time
I Grade Records
March 5, 2007

Natural Black Track list
  1. Strech Out
  2. His Majesty
  3. Is Real
  4. Runway
  5. Sensi Tie Chi
  6. In HIM
  7. Love And Light
  8. Recounciliation
  9. Selassie I Say by Jah Rubal
  10. Rule The Time
  11. Simbal Is The Leaf
  12. Get Up
  13. Born In The Time
  14. Again A Lion
  15. Jah Love Is Amazing
  16. Come Een
  17. Hold Strain
  18. Listen
  19. Good Thoughts
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3
Since Midnite released its debut album "Unpolished" in 1997 these vanguards of conscious reggae have unleashed nothing less than twenty-five albums including sets of their own, collaborations with I Grade, Ras L, Mystic Vision, Grounation, and Lion Tribe as well as albums by Midnite Branch I, a branch off of the Midnite tree made up of Vaughn Benjamin, Phillip Merchant and Dion Hopkins. Slowly but surely the band has built a devoted fanbase and received critical acclaim from quite a few reggae connoisseurs for among other things their strong lyrical content, lead singer Vaughn Benjamin's unique vocal delivery and their refreshing, innovative musical approach of true roots music.

Thus it's hard to understand why a relative small group of reggae fans is raving about them. What more does it take before the worldwide grass roots audience recognizes and appreciates the unique and uncomparable talent of this great band from St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands? Does this band -- and roots music from the Virgin Islands in general -- has to go the same route as for example the Wackies releases, which in recent years -- more than two decades after they were first issued -- are widely regarded as bonafide classics.

Anyway, "Rule The Time" is another great album from Midnite, actually the sixth in as many years done in collaboration with the I Grade camp. From the majestic horn line intro of the opening track up to the last tones of the keyboard and the melodica in the final tune, this massive 19 track, 78 minute album is worth of hearing. It features real deep roots music, showcasing outstanding musicianship alongside the visionary vocal and lyrical powers of the extremely talented Vaughn Benjamin. The latter's vocal delivery is electrifying and he has an asthonishing thought provoking lyrical ability. It's truly amazing -- and also impressive -- how this high prolific songwriter manages to rarely repeat himself. Besides that there's Vaughn's creative musical arrangements, one-of-a-kind basslines, superb live horns on 11 tracks and some vintage I Grade modern roots production, which contribute to the unique sound on this set.

The album kicks off in great roots style with "Stretch Out", in which Vaughn Benjamin expresses his visions of healing for the serious times we live in. Other standouts are "His Majesty", a tune with an unforgettable horn line which gives joyful praise to the King of Kings, the mesmerizing "Love And Light", the poetic "Recouncilation", the Ethiopian-influenced "Jah Love Is Amazing", the innovative title track "Rule The Time", and "Born In Time" and "Again A Lion", both being intense portrayals of this current moment in time. "Good Thoughts", with Vaughn Benjamin's emotional vocal delivery and its beautiful melodica line, is a perfect track to round off as it urges the listener to listen to this powerful collection of tunes all over again. With the other tracks not mentioned herein being of equal high quality, it's obvious that every tune is worthwhile hearing.

Essential purchase for reggae fans who are on the outlook for a classic yet innovative roots sound, because they find today's reggae music very clichéd and unadventurous.