Sizzla Kalonji – The Scriptures (Music in My Soul)

Sizzla subscribes to the Bobo Ashanti branch of the Rastafari movement. He was raised in August Town, Kingston, where he studied mechanical engineering. Sizzla Kalonji has released over 45 solo albums and over fifteen combination albums, crossing different genres of Reggae and into hip hop. Sizzla, is one of the artists credited with leading a movement toward a re-embracement of Rastafarian values in contemporary reggae music by recording material which is concerned primarily with spirituality and social consciousness, exploring themes such as Babylon’s corrupting influence, the disenfranchisement of ghetto youth, oppression of the black nation and Sizzla’s abiding faith in Jah and resistance against agents of oppression.

With The Scriptures, Sizzla has collaborated with famed producer Lloyd ‘John John’ James, Jr., son of the legendary King Jammy, to create an album both thoughtful and intriguing. Jamaica’s finest musicians, including Jackie Mittoo, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Dean Fraser, Bobby Ellis and Vin Gordon, to name a few, join sweet harmony vocalists Fiona Robinson, Camar Doyles, Connie Francis and Sherida to produce a full, multi-layered background for Kalonji’s varied vocal stylings in a surprisingly rootsy style.

The album begins with World Cry, a soulful complaint against governments spending money on bombs and lies instead of the world’s children. The World is Watching features Peter Jackson’s succinct rap while Sizzla warns “be careful because they’re tracking you”. Sizzla praises the many beauties of living In Jamaica, where “poor people can live decent” and “things run different”.

Cleanse My Soul opens to classic reggae horns before Kalonji asks Jah to ‘wash my hands, cleanse my heart, save my soul’ – something we could all surely benefit from. Let It Be is both a personal and universal love song advising you to let go of strife and embrace love in all its forms. On Jah is My Shield we are reminded “Selassie protects your life”.

The title track could serve as an instructional guide to living by the Scriptures and praising Jah, as Sizzla sings ‘material things will fade’ while ‘love is worth more than riches’. What a Whoa is a traditional Bobo Ashanti commentary on the woes of the world against swirling guitars and tight horns. And what’s a Sizzla album without a song for mama? In God Bless You Mama he once again celebrates the role women play in keeping the world a safer and saner place to live.

Jump for Joy starts slowly, then quickly accelerates as Sizzla chants faster and faster until “we shall be triumphant” rings out over intricate guitar work. The sole true love song of the album, aptly named I Love You, is a romantic respite from Sizzla’s more purposeful works. Birthdays – we all have them so might as well celebrate them with the uptempo ska ode Happy Birthday. Since “the party’s going on and it’s worth taking”, this could easily become everyone’s favorite birthday song.

The album closes on the Zion Gate riddim of Music in My Soul, an exuberant tune which encourages everyone to know good music . And don’t we all need a little more music in our souls?

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