‘A Matter Of Time’
Mr Bongo records
· June 29th: CD, download and stream
· 3rd August: vinyl
Protoje is a forefront figurehead of an exciting resurgence of conscious, organic music in Jamacia known as The Reggae Revival, but with over 13 million streams last year and over 156 million YouTube views, his popularity has transcended any particular genre.
This powerful songwriter and philosophical thinker articulates the righteous anger of an emerging generation and has rejuvenated the decaying art of socially responsible, mentally stimulating messages through witty wordplay and poetic language.
His forward-thinking new album channels a wide array of styles and sounds from reggae, dancehall, dub, hip hop, and even to rock into a cohesive and original whole. It maintains the essence of Jamaican roots music, whilst pushing the envelope in multiple new directions.
On ‘A Matter Of Time’ Protoje continues the fruitful creative partnerships with producer Winta James and fellow roots king Chronixx, both of which began on the 2014 smash single ‘Who Knows’.
From the orchestral intro and Ethio-jazz-meets-ska of album opener ‘Flames’ (featuring Chronixx) it’s clear this isn’t your average reggae album. Next up is the cool ‘n’ deadly ‘Blood Money’, which has already blown up in clubs across JA, New York and London.
The vocoder-heavy skank of personal empowerment paean ‘Mind Of A King’ segues version style into companion piece ‘Like This’, making for an anthemic double set.
‘Bout Noon’’ sculpts dusky, laid back hip hop into a sonically fresh groove – a style continued in title track ‘A Matter Of Time’, whose killer beat merges into one drop with heavy bass and eerie warped violin.
A personal favourite of the artist, he expresses gratitude for blessings on the uplifting, super catchy and horn driven ‘Lessons’, before dulcet toned vocalist Mortimer guests on the soulful, lilting ‘Truth & Rights’.
‘Camera Show’ cleverly links celebrity culture, sexism, politicians and social media to the demise of civilisation, with its “falling falling” refrain ensuring the album ends with pathos and poignancy.
Although referencing people and issues from home, including fellow musicians Peetah Morgan and Alkaline, first Jamaican prime minister Alexander Bustamante, assassinated political activist Hugh Shearer and-state sanctioned violence against Rastas during the Coral Gardens incident, the record’s themes are easily relatable to all.
Politics, corruption, religion, pollution and inequality are all combated, but are balanced with positive assertions on childhood, education, family, keeping spirit alive and philosophies on living well. “I have no idea what you facing, but on some plane we all go through the same things, so I'm a send these thoughts to you with nothing but love,” he states on ‘Like This’.
He has sold out headline UK, US and European tours, and is a firm favourite at festivals throughout the world, performing at the likes of Glastonbury, Coachella and Afro-Punk. He is the first reggae act to be booked at Reading and Leeds for years, giving yet another indication of his cross cultural, universal appeal.
Protoje is an artist acutely aware of the passage of time, as evident by his previous album titles ‘7 Year Itch’, ‘The 8 Year Affair’, ‘Ancient Future’ and now ‘A Matter Of Time’. He describes time as “our biggest currency, which there’s never enough of” – but one thing is certain – is that his time is now.
1. ‘Flames’ feat. Chronixx
2. ‘Blood Money’
3. ‘Mind Of A King’
4. ‘Like This’
5. ‘Bout Noon’
6. ‘A Matter Of Time’
7. ‘No Guarantee’ feat. Chronixx
9. ‘Truths & Rights’ feat. Mortimer
10. ‘Camera Show’