Kerida Johnson aka Hempress Sativa recently unleashed her debut album called Unconquerebel on the 7th January 2017 – a significant date in Ethiopia (and especially the Ethiopian Orthodox Church) which still use the old Julian calendar and marks the date for the celebration of Ethiopian Christmas.
The thirteen track album has been carefully crafted by Hempress Sativa and Executive Producer, Chris Lion for Conquering Lion Records and had a simultaneous digital and vinyl release on 7th January 2017. Recorded primarily between Axx Studio and the legendary Mixing Lab Studio the album features a stellar line up of musicians including, but not limited to Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Errol ‘Flabba’ Holt, Robbie Lynn, Kirk Bennett Ian ‘Beezy’ Coleman, and Devon ‘Abdul’ Bradshaw.
Making the music accessible on all media platforms has been a key to the release of Unconquerebel given the background of both Hempress Sativa and Chris Lion as is the dominance of live instrumentation throughout the album.
Hempress Sativa was born to Rastafarian parents Doris-Ray Johnson and legendary drummer/ selector Albert ‘Ilawi Malawi’ Johnson of the Jah Love Sound System. It was her exposure to music at home that sharpened her skills and has manifested today in her expressive writing and delivery and is portrayed so clearly in sound system favourite ‘Rock It Ina Dance’ which was one of the first songs lifted off the album in 2016 on 7” vinyl in collaboration with buyreggae.com. The song appears with a brand new stop-start mix by Hopeton Overton Brown aka ‘Scientist’ and is guaranteed to get a forward anytime it is played by sound system selectors/ selectresses.
One of the first songs I recall listening to back in 2013 featuring Hempress Sativa was ‘Dread At The Control’ on an update of the enduring Ansel Collins Stalag 17 riddim put together by Micah Shemaiah featuring an all star line up also including T.J. (Likkle Briggie), Jahkime (Eesah), and Infinite.
‘Yes I’ve been rocking to this beat; from mi mami belly, Ilawi selecting the records DJ a Brigadier Jerry, from flash ’it in a Jah Love dance A gallop like a donkey”
Following the theme of sound system and an ode to live toasting is ‘Boom (Wah Da Da Deng)’ with the opening line ‘Well in come the Unconquerebel your highness Hempress Sativa the lyrical machine when the lioness roar no dog bark kick it off…’ –what follows next is pure fyah and gives the listener a glimpse of a live roots session in Vineyard Town at Jah Over Evil HQ’s. Italian Producer Paolo Baldini gets production credits on this sure fire hit.
‘Natty Dread’ has an underlying 70’s feel to it with a bouncy skanking riddim featuring live instrumentation and the inclusion of the only guest on the entire album Joseph Jackson aka Ranking Joe –a legendary DJ who started out as Little Joe recording his first single ‘Gun Court’ for Coxsone Dodd over the ‘Mean Girl’ riddim back in 1974.