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Kabaka Pyramid on Kontraband, working with Damian Marley

KONTRABAND: Seani B caught up with Kabaka Pyramid at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica

REGGAE AS a genre always has, and always will produce amazing singles. In days gone by it was the ability to produce this consistency throughout a 12- or 14-track album that separated the real players from those who were just passing through.

Recent times have seen this pursuit of completing a crafted body of work resurface. Last year was a bumper time for the reggae album – sets from the likes of Damian Marley and Chronixx raised the bar, and the trend seems to be continuing.

This week sees the debut album release from Kabaka Pyramid. Titled Kontraband, it follows a series of highly rated mixtapes and freestyles, as well as a batch of singles which has brought him to international prominence.

Executively produced by Damian "Junior Gong" Marley, the album has been in the pipeline for over three years, and it is finally ready to be unleashed.

I sat with Kabaka at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston and he exclusively broke the album down to me in his own words.

Kontraband – “Working with Damian is a joy – even as executive producer he still allowed me to bring forth my ideas and suggestions, and you quickly get to know what he is feeling and what he isn’t! This track is fitting to be the title and lead track.

“We go back and forth and it has a real cross hip-hop and dancehall feel to it. We both love the different genres so it felt right.”

Everywhere I Go – “Many of the things we do come from an organic vibe. I started to play the guitar and Damian came in and added to it on the drum machine.

“He began to sing a harmony and recorded that before Chris Ellis came in and added to it. Young Pow (Grammy-winning producer and keyboard player) came in to add his parts and boom, that was it.

KOMIN’ AT YA: Kabaka Pyramid has been working alongside Damian Marley for his debut album, Kontraband, which has been in the pipeline for three years

“The added touch is having Protoje coming in and blessing it up. It’s one of the most powerful tracks on the album.”

Make Way – “This features my brother in music, Pressure Busspipe, and was produced by Protoje. Proto is doing some great work as a producer with himself, Sevana and the whole InDigg team.

“I wanted to write something for the young people – something that gives them an opportunity.

“There is a lot of negativity, and the young people need a chance.”

Can’t Breathe – “I was watching Lauryn Hill’s Unplugged and it tapped me into a songwriting mode to be able to write with full emotion, and that is how Can’t Breathe came about.

“The problems we face affect everybody, and I wanted to get how I felt fully into this song with passion, emotion, consciousness and reality.”

Kaught Up – “It’s a different sound. I’m speaking to the ladies! Throughout the years I haven’t had a chance to show the different sides of me. This al- lowed me to show my Afrobeats side – Afrobeats are cousins to dancehall and Jamaica is loving it right now.

Borders – “When you start to check the numbers of people trying to go from one place to another in search of a better life you see it is mostly males, because, unfortunately, so many women and children lose their lives on the journey.

“The stigma that is attached to them – that they are rapists, murderers or terrorists – is huge, and when you check it the majority aren’t anything like that. All they want is a better life.

“We have to change the mindset and I wanted to get the listener to put themselves in the shoes of the people involved. As Rastas, we say ‘One Love’, so we also say ‘One Nation’ and ‘One Human Family’, regardless of colour. Some people see others as less because of their colour, but it’s time everyone sees everyone equally. The whole plot of the earth is based on migration – it’s not just an isolated thing, we have to think on a global level.”

It’s so refreshing to hear an artist speak his mind so eloquently and impassioned. The album is a force – make sure you go out and support it.

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