What Makes A King?
Afrikan Roots Lab
February 14, 2010

Track list
  1. What Makes A King?
  2. Emotions
  3. Native Story
  4. Give Her Her Due
  5. Jah Bless Her
  6. Shine
  7. High Places Of Anu
  8. Dem Gone
  9. Neat And Nice
  10. Stagnation
Rate this album!
Cast your vote below.

Essential -Votes: 88-
Very Good -Votes: 22-
Good -Votes: 3-
Average -Votes: 2-
Disappointing -Votes: 1-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 116
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Since Midnite, fronted by lead singer Vaughn Benjamin, emerged on the scene with their debut album "Unpolished" in 1997, the band has released thirty-four studio albums. A truly stunning amount of album considering the fact that they have been produced in a 13-year period. There's no band and certainly no more than a few artists in the history of reggae music, who have been equally prolific as Midnite. And there's definitely none of them who has managed to maintain the above par quality standard of the music and lyrical content, like Midnite (or perhaps it's better to say Vaughn Benjamin) has done with almost every album they have put out. To be honest, and any true Midnite fan will have to admit it, not all of their albums can be qualified as excellent, outstanding, or first-rate. However most of them which can't be labeled as such, are at least solid albums, by and large because they contain enough material worth hearing.

Undoubtedly one of the reasons why Midnite has been able to deliver so many great as well as interesting albums are the many collaboration sets they have recorded. Teaming up with diverse production houses and musicians like e.g. Lustre Kings, Youssoupha Sidibe, Natural Vibes, Rastar Production, I Grade, Desmond Williams, Lion Tribe, and Mystic Vision, made it possible to work with various influences and a variety of musical styles, however without ever neglecting their own musical identity.

After having released collaboration albums such as "Suns Of Atom", "New 1000", "Rule The Time", "Infinite Quality", "To Mene", and "Supplication To H.I.M." to name six, the brand new "What Makes A King?" set is the first non-collaboration Midnite album in over five years! And again Midnite comes up with an album that features a great mix of superb vocals, solid riddims and excellent lyrics. The latter are strongly inspired by Benjamin Vaughn's visit to his place of birth, Antigua (ANU). Things get started with the wonderful title track on which Vaugh Benjamin is solely accompanied by piano, acoustic guitar and flute.

"All you nations, a question... What makes a King? What makes Prospering? All you rebellious, evidence stance of events facts... don't leave it unsound; JAH is merited all eight names.. in Atlas yolk. All Earth descendants and influences, HIM on Earth who maintain the Grid of togetherness,... specializing in slow bonding perceptions, the gathering mask come tumbling, witches and sorcerers they labeled them. In the immediate society, look within... If it isn't true...then go fix the wrong way you made people think..."

Next comes the solid "Emotions", a tune with full instrumentation which preserves the mood that is created by the opening track. It's the perfect follow-up and a good stepping-stone to the great, more powerful sounding "Native Story". Then drops in one of favourite tracks, the outstanding "Give Here Her Due", actually one of the songs of this album we can listen to over and over again. "Jah Bless Her" is a thoroughly solid effort, followed by the heavenly sounding "Shine" which creates a strong spiritual vibe. "High Places Of Anu", a roots killer, is another standout. Driven by an awesome riddim it brings forth the very best of Vaughn Benjamin's vocal and lyrical abilities. And it doesn't stop here as "Dem Gone" proves to be a matching effort. "Neat And Nice" doesn't grab you instantly, but in the context of this album the tune has its merit and certainly grows on you. The awesome "Stagnation" rounds off this very enjoyable an entertaining Midnite album in great style

By now Midnite has more or less established its name in the US, but the band still has to become a force to reckon with in Europe. Hopefully this release in combination with their appearance on the European 2010 Summer festivals will help them to achieve this, because Midnite is the cutting edge of modern roots reggae and thus deserves to be heard by any self-respecting reggae fan.