Royal Son of Ethiopia - Sizzla

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Royal Son of Ethiopia - Sizzla

1 CD(s) - Roots Reggae - Label: Greensleeves Records, Greensleeves - Distributor: ADA/Arvato Services, ADA/Cinram Logistics - Released: 1999, 21/06/19...

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Review of "Royal Son of Ethiopia - Sizzla"

published 08/05/2007 | j088659
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 21
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About me :
Pro Tracks 1,4 & 8 are great.
Cons The rest soon get boring.
very helpful
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money

"Some Fantastic, Some A Bit Drastic"

Ok, my second Sizzla review, but each album is so different, it might as well be the first. Released in 1999 this album ‘Royal Son Of Ethiopia’ sits between ‘Freedom Cry’ released the previous year and ‘Be I Strong’ released a couple months after.

If you are not familiar with Sizzla, he is one of the most prolific reggae artists and been caught up in his fair share of controversy. He’s released over 30 albums now and has both a good and bad track record. He’s released some of my favourite albums of all time, yet he’s also come out with a couple that don’t deserve a second listen. The reason why he produces the odd poor attempt at an album is probably down to it being rushed or simply experimenting with other genres and sounds.

There is a general rule you can always follow though with Sizzla – his early albums in his career are usually good, his later albums are always unpredictable. This is one of his early albums, so it’s got a head start in my opinion.

The first track ‘As In The Beginning’ at 4:13 is a mixture of light and heavy drum beats with a bouncy bass line. The track has a kind of electric feel to it, but mystified by Sizzla’s conscious voice chanting about repatriation, righteousness and Zion. Personally I think this is a great introduction to the album and a solid track by itself, some would argue it as the best. ‘As Emperor Selassie I was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Be glorious in your powers while I sing to his own divine majesty’ – the opening line before the punchy, fiery and lively sounds really kick in.

Track #2 ‘Eastern Mountain’ at 3:47 is another electrified track, where the sounds are obviously more synthesized than ‘real’ but this light hopeful track is framed by Sizzla’s voice crying out to the youth. This is probably the problem with Sizzla, his voice is often so flawless and so flexible that it shows other sounds up when he’s singing on a poor rhythm. The lyrics are as with the rest of this album, great, but the track is really just for the vocals. It never really breaks into anything too exciting but rather sticks with a slightly jumpy drum/synthesizer vibe. I thought that this track was going to have a late arrival in terms of a bass line but it never happened.

Track #3 ‘In This Time’ features Luciano singing in his soulful way while Sizzla emphasizes the meaning of the song with his spot-on verse singing. ‘Jah gave us this world for us to wake up and live, and share the world, you’ve got to wake up and give’ – sings Luciano before Sizzla steps in. Once again flawless lyrics, but the voices choose to avoid any gruffness or grunts, making this sound like more of a plea - which indeed it is. Luciano can be compared to artists like Garnett Silk or Bushman. He has been releasing albums since the 90’s singing on rootsy tunes and popular riddims. Luciano and Sizzla make a good contrast and they managed to create a good track here using both their talents. The track length is 3:48.

‘Ripe Leaf’ is my second favourite track on this album. Sizzla sings in such a pleasing way – sharp and fast over a rapid roots bass line. Probably hard to understand for some first time listeners but the lyrics are I assure you top quality: “A lot of people don't got no good in a them and me see it, The wicked a go drop off like ripe leaf, Nuff a them no got no love in a them, how you do it ? That mean you wouldn't give the ghetto youths food fi eat, nuff a them no got no love in a them and me see it, the heathen a go drop off like ripe leaf” – taken from the chorus. The track is 3:56 and is a perfect example of Sizzla’s vocal flexibility.

Track #5 ‘Burn Dem Turf’ is good the first couple times you listen to it, but unfortunately it gets a bit repetitive. The rich dancehall influenced rhythm has the odd horn or vocal sound effect, but otherwise it just keeps thumping with Sizzla’s good, but below standard chanting on top. If you have listened to a range of Sizzla material (the 2002 ‘Blaze Fire Blaze’ album for example), you will know that he is incredible, arguably the best at producing a vicious, catchy, addictive dancehall number but this only gets 6 out of 10 from me.

Track #6 ‘What Does It Worth’ takes on a sadder tone on a more down tempo gloomy track. From the chorus: “What is this world without love? Put away your distrust and your grudge, words without work is not enough, and everyday you make a try the journey get tough”. The slower pace is OK for this track and as you see, with meaningful lyrics again. A bit different from the previous track, but I do not think it’s a tune to be played time and time again. It’s good to hear it once or twice to absorb the lyrics but it just isn’t that interesting.

Track #7 ‘A Wah Dat?’ at 3:57 is a very standard track supported by the odd ricochet sound effect. Singing on a very plain bass line, once again this track is good but only for the lyrics – which are interesting and worth a read. Unfortunately good lyrics alone don’t make this track stand out from the crowd and its potential is blunted by the uninteresting music.

Contrary to the last track, track #8 ‘Babylon Homework’ at 3:42 is my favourite track and boasts a fantastic musical and lyrical quality. Sizzla really sings this one well, chanting down the wicked loud and clear on top of a rhythm that fully compliments the twisty turny vocals – stopping and starting with perfected timing. The chorus goes: “Nothing inna Babylon nah work, watch the inequity have to get up and splurt, not even a wicked man can serve, Rome catch a fire cause deh Vatican thirst, nothing inna Babylon can work, things get lock off and them a dead fi pure thirst, not even a wicked man can serve, yow, desolation to the earth”. The track perhaps sounds better once you’ve heard it a few times, but it really is good quality. The bass line is just sublime, it’s just a shame some of the other tracks didn’t work this well.

‘Oh Children’ is track #9 and crying out to the children with teachings of Rastafari. The musical quality is good, and the pleasant (although obviously synthesized) sounds are quite interesting, but this time the vocals don’t quite fit comfortably. The song just isn’t catchy or addictive. It flows nicely, but like a few other tracks, a bit too boringly.

On a well known rhythm, track 10 is slightly better, taking ages to actually break into bass line. At 3:59 the track hears Sizzla singing first class lyrics over a jumpy, start-stop rhythm but sadly the track is let down by not really breaking though with anything. It never really feels like it gets started and then before you know it, it ends.

The next two tracks ‘Mental Chains (3:48)’ and ‘True Hearts (3:33)’ are also letting down the end of this album. Although they are not bad, they just don’t shine. True Hearts has a nice feel to it, but once again, it soon goes flat.

The last track is a remix of track #7 ‘A Wah Dat?’. It’s OK, but nothing more than that. It sounds better than track #7 simply because the vocals match the music a bit better, but is not really worthy of much praise. I think 3:55 could have been better spent.

I read another opinion claiming that this album was ‘top heavy’, and is let down by the latter half. Apart from track #8 this is true. There seems to be a lack of heat and enthusiasm in the music (not the lyrics) for a few tracks and if you know Sizzla, then a little bit of fire in the sound goes a long way.

The album was produced by Phillip Burrell and released by Greensleeves – the sound quality is as good as it gets. Although it has some really good tracks, the album is not consistent and does have its let downs. I found that I enjoyed a few tracks the first time round and now I only ever listen to those tracks because they are great while the rest are rather poor.

As a conclusion, I think the album does sadly have a few weak links but never the less, on the reggae scale, these 13 tracks are original and being one of his earlier albums, it would always be a safe bet. Its real plus point is the lyrics – utterly superb, although for the non-reggae-regular a little hard to understand first time round.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a first album for anyone new to Sizzla, instead go for ‘Praise Ye Jah’ released in 1997 at the start of his career or one of my personal favourites ‘Rise To The Occasion’ from 2003, both very different. If you are a Sizzla fan, and looking to fill up a gap in your collection, then yes, get this just for the pleasure of listening to tracks #1, #4 and #8.

You can listen to track clips at:

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Comments on this review

  • torr published 10/05/2007
    Alas I know nothing about this kind of music, but this reads like a first-class review. Duncan
  • j088659 published 10/05/2007
    Yeh he was in a bit of controversy with some lyrics somewhere along the line.
  • l-m-n-o-p published 09/05/2007
    Is this the guy who got into trouble because some of his songs were encouraging killing gay people?
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1 CD(s) - Roots Reggae - Label: Greensleeves Records, Greensleeves - Distributor: ADA/Arvato Services, ADA/Cinram Logistics - Released: 1999, 21/06/1999 - 601811125526

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EAN: 601811125526


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