Zion I Kings strikes back with Marketplace Riddim: Zion I Kings Riddim Series, Vol. 5, an EP which follows the critically acclaimed Lion of Judah riddim compilation released by ZIK in 2015. In a 1978 interview Bob Marley described reggae music as “a music created by Rasta people…A people riddim. It is a riddim of people working, people moving, yu know?” The Marketplace riddim, especially Pressure’s title track, is a riddim and sound in this same vein. It is a riddim with an uplifting sound of people moving and overcoming the daily struggles and avoiding the pitfalls of life.
The tracks on the album are centered around the lives and struggles of people in every facet of life. Pressure takes it down to the marketplace where the “farmer man a gwaan good, fisherman a gwaan good, hustlers a gwaan good, everybody gwaan good.” His lyrics are informed and on-point with the top-notch delivery he is known for (“Bobo man a sweep down the marketplace, remember people have to walk this place”). I’m reminded of Sizzla Kalonji’s streetsweeper campaign to clean up reggae in the mid-1990s during which his Bobo Ashanti tribe fashioned over 1,000 brooms to pass out to fans with a copy of Black Woman and Child.
Akae Beka, perhaps the most innovative act in reggae today, come correct on “Described Peculiar.” Vaughn Benjamin chants knowledge in his own signature stream of consciousness style over Laurent “Tippy-I” Alfred’s brilliantly crafted riddim. Glen Washington brings his trademark vocal on “Too Much Religion.” The short set is rounded out by Lutan Fyah’s “Binghi Man A Call,” a tune which finds him in fine style as one of Jamaica’s top vocal talents.
While each of the featured artists brings something different to the riddim, it is Pressure’s “Marketplace” which truly stands out in this set. Marketplace Riddim: Zion I Kings Riddim Series, Vol. 5 is a nice introduction to the style and sounds of Zion I Kings for the unanointed. However, those who are familiar with the band should dive deeper by checking the Lion of Judah Riddim (Zion I Kings Riddim Series Vol. 4) or Jah Warriah Riddim (Zion I Kings Riddim Series Vol. 2).