Since the Roots Revival Movement started to gain notable attention world wide, we’ve seen the emergence of quite a few powerful female reggae artists including Jah9, Kelissa, Kristine Alicia, and Xana Romeo to name four. And now there’s another female artist out of Jamaica who’s surely going to take her place in the male dominated reggae arena. We’re talking about Kerida Johnson aka Hempress Sativa, who was born to Rastafarian parents Doris-Ray Johnson and Albert “Ilawi Malawi” Johnson, the legendary Jamaican drummer and former selector of the Brigadier Jerry founded Jah Love Sound System.
Dubbed “Hempress Sativa: Your Highness”, this extraordinary young talent comes up with a debut album that fully displays her musical agility as a melodic singer/singjay and skilled lyricist. After only one listen it’s obvious that Hempress Sativa is an artist to definitely watch. Her album called “Unconquerebel” has been produced by Christopher Mattis, with furthermore contributions from producers DubRobot (“We All”) and Paolo Baldini (“Boom (Wah Da Da Deng)”). Responsible for the live played riddims are some of the finest Jamaican muscians such as Kirk Bennett & Courtney “Bam” Diedrick (drums), Errol “Flabba” Holt (bass), Devon Bradshaw (bass & keyboard), Robbie Lyn (keyboard), Earl “Chinna” Smith & Ian “Beezy” Coleman (guitar), Courtney “Bubbler” Edwards (organ) and Stingwray (tumpet, flugelhorn & trombone), while tracks are mixed by Scientist, Dubrobot, Devon Bradshaw and Earl “Chinna” Smith.
Hempress Sativa impresses mightily on the opener “Revolution” , a true roots killer recorded at Mixking Lab Studio in Kingston, Jamaica. Besides Hempress Sativa’s vocal prowess it’s Errol “Flabba” Holt’s bassline, Earl “China” Smith’s guitar play and above all Stingwray’s horns that add magic to this rebellious tune. Next comes “Jah Will Be There”, perhaps not as strong as the preceding track but nevertheless definitely worth hearing. The infectious “Rock It Ina Dance” has an old skool dancehall vibe and might be inspired by her father’s involvement in Jamaica’s sound system culture. All in all a solid tune and a joy to listen to. Long time reggae fans will instantly know that “Skin Teeth” is an adaptation of Horace Andy’s Studio One classic “See A Man’s Face”. The more you hear this song, the better it gets. The spiritual “Heathen Wage” is a mighty piece with again Stingwray’s majestic horns play giving this stellar tune an extra dimension.
“Fight For Your Rights” is a decent message tune in which she adresses to the people who live in the Motherland. It’s followed by the excellent anti-war song “Peace”, before a different mood and vibe comes with the DubRobot produced “We All”, a captivating tune with a serious message. With “Twisted Sheets”, Hempress Sativa comes up with a cleverly done herb tune, while the skanking “Natty Dread” sees her collaborate with veteran dejay Ranking Joe in fine style. “Boom (Wah Da Da Deng)”, for which Hempress Sativa teamed up with Italian producer Paolo Baldini, creates pure dancehall excitement and is one of the album’s highlights. The other, softer side of the songstress comes to the fore on the gorgeous love song “Black Skin King”. The album comes to an end with “Made I Whole”, a meditative roots song of sheer beauty.
Review by Mr.T at Reggae Vibes | Jan 7, 2017 | Artist,