Words by Kieran K. Meadows—
Thanksgiving might be over but one of the Caribbean’s most consistent reggae labels, St. Croix-based I Grade Records, has given its fans another reason to give thanks. “Same I Ah One,” the first single from its forthcoming album Beauty For Ashes with Midnite, is available as a free download for this week only.
Along with Midnite, I Grade has spearheaded the strong conscious roots music movement out of the Virgin Islands for the last decade. In fact, the handful or so collaborative albums between Midnite’s lead singer Vaughn Benjamin and I Grade under the banner Midnite – I Grade have been among the best of Midnite’s more than 40 LPs to date. Set for release in early 2014, Beauty For Ashes is the first such release since 2007’s Rule The Time, an album which now costs up to $60 on Amazon — for the CD, not the 12-inch vinyl that I Grade has also released for each of these projects. If you’re just getting familiar with their deep catalog, catch up with the albums Nemozian Rasta, Assini, and Let Live.
Along with vocals from Benjamin, “Same I Ah One,” features Pressure Buss Pipe, the St. Thomas vocalist best known for his work with producer Don Corleon. Pressure, who has appeared on various I Grade projects virtually since the label’s launch, finally has an album in the works with the label; its first single, “Run Away,” dropped in October.
“Same I Ah One” picks up where “Run Away” leaves off, with a sound sure to leave roots enthusiasts quite pleased. Produced by Zion I Kings (made up of members of Zion High, I Grade, and Lustre Kings), the heavy, dubbed out rockers riddim is anchored by veteran Squidley Cole on drums, with other instruments provided by I Grade co-founder Laurent “Tippy I” Alfred, “Jah David” Goldfine, Andrew “Moon” Bain and Padraic Coursey, and horn arrangements by Balboa Becker. The track is being released as part of an EP by the same name which includes remixes of the tune and two new songs featuring Lutan Fyah and VI’s Ras Batch, respectively.
For a further taste of the vibes here, check out this video from “Dub In The Fishmarket II,” a nighttime gathering held at the oceanside fishmarket in Frederiksted, St. Croix. Along with Lutan Fyah and Vaughn Benjamin mashing up the place, it features Pressure leading off with “Run Away.” Watch below, and check out other video from the sessions here.