May 23, 1999
Royal Son Of Ethiopia
Very occasionally a new voice emerges that's so powerful and rich it runs all competition into the sea. [a]Sizzla[/a] is such a talent....
9 / 10
Very occasionally a new voice emerges that's so powerful and rich it runs all competition into the sea. Sizzla is such a talent.
Just 22, this young Jamaican has already revolutionised modern reggae by infusing his music with a spiritual depth long since missing from the cutting edge of the genre. Now, on album number six (oh yes), Sizzla is fully equipped to spread his awesome influence globally and rip right through the mainstream. 'Royal Son Of Ethiopia' gloriously showcases a talent as exciting as any to emerge from Jamaica's fertile turf: certainly he is the most blessed reggae artist to emerge in this reviewer's lifetime.
Miguel Collins - as Sizzla was born to strict Rastafarian parents in August Town - spent his formative years on the sound systems that so inform the youth of Jamaica, and it's his roots on this raw platform that Sizzla draws on to project his hardline Rastafarian lyrics. But, as you can hear on the quivering 'Ripe Leaf', or through 'What Does It Worth?''s melancholic pump, or above all on his duet with Luciano for 'In This Time' (a breakthrough worldwide radio hit, for sure) he sprinkles his anger with enough melodic sugar to make this message palatable even to his enemy.
And if you're reading this somewhere in the West, then his enemy is you. Not since Chuck D and Public Enemy has a lyricist fixed the history, traditions and monetary values of the West with such spirited venom.
His main beefs are the West's corrupting influence, the poverty of ghetto youths, his call a simple one: rise up and fight for what's been taken by Babylon. As he sings so stridently on 'Babylon Homework': "Queen Elizabeth, nasty Babylon/So presumptuous to misjudge us!". His message remains intense, yet joyously imparted throughout.
It's perhaps portentous that during a year in which rock music has proved so tame and tired, Sizzla has recorded his most vital album. Here is a fearless, extravagantly gifted young musical warrior in the mould of Marley, Dylan or Chuck D. His time is surely nigh.
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