Sunday, 24 February 2013

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Protoje’s captivating, lyrically potent 8-Year-Affair

Time is consistently a dominant concept explored in Protoje’s creative output, from his groundbreaking mixtapes to his stellar full-length debut, 2011’s The 7 Year Itch. Now comes his terrific and newly-released sophomore record, The 8 Year Affair, a compelling 14-track set featuring eclectic production work by uberproducer Don Corleone, clever lyricism, and absorbing messages that speak directly to our age of spiritual warfare and the increasingly devastating impact of globalization. 

What I find most appealing about the record, however, is the carefully crafted mélange of rootsy tunes (conscious and controversial) and love songs (often wonderful and well-written), the type that endeared Protoje to fans when he made in his initial dent in the cultural consciousness a few years ago. 

Best of all among the lighter tracks are “Someone Like You,” an enchanting, radio-ready single on which he and Tessanne Chin make for tuneful sparring partners, while setting the stage for such standout cuts as the tender, repeat-worthy “Hold You Now”; the supple invitation “Come My Way”; and the groovy “Around the World,” with a hook supplied by Chris Watts. 

As for the far grittier side of the album, Protoje proves that he’s equally interested in speaking to our harsh Third World realities (on cuts like “Kingston Be Wise”, “This is Not a Marijuana Song”), the wide-ranging scope of human relationships (“Who Dem A Program”), not to mention the current state of our homegrown music as examined on “Reggae Revival” (featuring Romain Virgo), on which they pose the question, “How reggae music fi dead?” 

The 8 Year Affair should definitely resonate with listeners of all walks. Not least because in addition to highlighting societal ills, the artiste, in his own way, offers a blueprint for the way forward. The result is a hugely enjoyable listening experience, as we accompany our capable protagonist across a landscape of captivating rhythms and rhymes. Is Protoje a reggae legend in the making? Time will tell. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+ 

DOWNLOAD: “Someone Like You,” a dreamy duet with Tessanne Chin, and “Reggae Revival,” a potent winner featuring Romain Virgo

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