In the Old Testament’s Book of Judges Gideon led Israel to victory over the Midianites, who dwelled in the southeast of Palestine, with a small army equipped with only trumpets, lit torches and jars to conceal the torches’ flames. Following Gideon’s instructions, his three hundred soldiers blew their trumpets and smashed their jars as they shouted “as word for the Lord, a sword for Gideon”. With that, the tens of thousands of Midianite troops fled in fear. Armed with just a microphone, one-drop rhythms and purifying lyrical flames, singer Richie Spice is the Gideon of contemporary reggae.
The publicly declared “prince of fire”uses culturally uplifting, spiritually fortified words to defeat the negative content that informs much of popular (Jamaican) music. Fittingly, “Gideon Boot” is the title track of Spice’s brilliant fourth album. Recorded over the timeless “Johnny Too Bad” rhythm (taken from The Slickers 1970s hit of the same name, popularized in the film “The Harder They Come”) the song details Spice’s strategic plan for delivering his musical sermon to an awaiting global audience. “I need a Gideon boot and a khaki suit to stand out inna Babylon and defend the truth/ I got a strong reggae beat with a mic in my hand fe lead out de youth dem outta destruction and let de people know right from wrong.” Just like the singer’s previous albums “Universal”, “Spice In Your Life” and “In The Streets to Africa”, “Gideon Boot” contains inspiring messages specifically aimed at empowering vulnerable youth. Spice confidently juxtaposes his songs of valor with unity themes (“Living In Love”, “Getting Harder”) and the importance of staying focused (“Make Up Your Mind”, “Hang On In There”). Spice’s flawles vocals effortlessly scale the high notes then smoothly segue into scatted improvisations as he weaves intricate, evocative melodies throughout this exquisite 15-track set that is certain to carry his name to unchartered territories for Jamaican music.
The traditional Rastafarian Nyabinghi drumming that dominates the opening cut “Babylon Falling” heralds the seriousness of Spice’s musical mission. “World Is A Cycle”, sung over producer Arif Cooper’s haunting “Guardian Angel” rhythm, is, as Spice explains, “a song for the children and for the parents saying be careful because what you do can fall right back on you and your kids.” Also included is the current Jamaican hit “The Plane Land” which display’s Spice’s superb story telling skills. The song’s lyrics detail the frustration that oftentimes accompanies post 9/11travel. “Saddle up myself fe take interrogation…tek off mi shoes, tek off mi tam, if they ever find you with a spliff yu gone another land.” “It is a song everyone can relate to if they travel,” notes Spice, “and if they don’t travel, they will learn this is what we go through as entertainers as we go to other countries.” Since 2004, when his apocalyptic single “Earth A Run Red” became the year’s most popular reggae song, Richie Spice has performed throughout the world, insuring that cultural roots reggae isn’t relegated to a bygone era but continues as a thriving, evolving musical genre. Born Richell Banner in the Kingston, Jamaica suburb of St. Andrew, Richie Spice hails from a musical family that includes his older brother Pliers (from the deejay/singer duo Chaka Demus and Pliers of “Murder She Wrote” fame), singer Spanner Banner and deejay Snatcher Dogg. It was Spanner Banner, (best known for his mid 90s hit “Life Goes On”) who first brought Spice to the recording studio; the hopeful singer, admittedly, couldn’t manage the rigors of professional recording but the opportunity opened his eyes to the proficiency required to succeed in the reggae industry. “That experience show me that to reach anywhere there is a lot of work to be done,” Spice reflects. Spice continued working towards gaining a foothold in the music industry and shortly thereafter he met veteran producer Clive Hunt who produced his breakthrough single, the engaging lovers rock tune “Grooving My Girl”, still one of the most popular songs in Spice’s repertoire. “Grooving” was initially featured on Spice’s 2000 debut album “Universal”, as was the song that would make him a household name in Jamaica, “Earth A Run Red”. Since 2004 Spice has become one of reggae’s most in demand talents and the recipient of numerous awards and accolades.
He received the Most Cultural Artist Award at the 13th annual South Florida Reggae Soca Awards in 2005; he was voted the Male Singer/Singjay of the Year at Jamaica’s IRIE FM Awards in 2007 and following his performance at the first annual “Black My Story” concert held in Kingston on Feb. 2, 2008 Spice was honored for his positive musical contributions. His 2004 album “Spice in Your Life” was listed among the year’s best reggae releases by the New York Times; “In the Streets To Africa”, released in 2007, reached number 6 on the Billboard Reggae chart and one of the album’s biggest hits “Youth Dem Cold” peaked at number 59 on the Billboard Top 100 Singles Chart and ranked at number 29 on Vibe Magazine’s Best 44 songs of 2007. Now with the release of “Gideon Boot” even greater recognition is assured for Spice’s talent, as is the expansion of his international fan base. “I’ve always had a wide meditation of having my music go out there to the world because I know it can go far,” says Spice. “But it is very hard singing of righteousness in the world. When you sing of good you will find that evil rise up and try to dominate good. But I will continue the fight, go out there and have people hear what I am saying.”