Pressure Busspipe’s Rebel with a Cause was one of our favorite 2019 releases, a superb and musically complex LP which paired the St. Thomas singjay with peers and colleagues from Jamaica (Sizzla, Jah9), the U.S. Virgin Islands (R City, Reemah) and beyond (rap legend Redman).
Amidst many highlights, “Jah is Real” with Protoje was a standout, with two of latter-day reggae’s most reliable voices combining on a jazzy and deeply soulful cut produced by Zion I Kings. The track shows off the impressive range of that multi-national production team, with a proper keyboard solo courtesy of member Drew Keys.
As Pressure explains, he and Protoje have a history going back to the early days of their respective careers. “Me and Protoje go way back from 2009 when we were working with Don Corleon Records and you know Protoje used to always come around the studio and vibe with us,” Mr. Busspipe says. “I think it was like my third tour [when] Protoje came out with his first album, The Seven Year Itch, and opened for me on tour.”
Some six months after Rebel with a Cause arrived, come visuals for “Jah is Real.” The ethereal video, directed by Protoje’s creative director Yannick Reid and illustrator Ikem Smith, was shot during Pressure’s visit to Jamaica in February. We hope it will give this slept-on gem the second push it deserves.
“When I first heard ‘Jah is Real,” it gave me goosebumps,” Yannick Reid tells us by email. “I immediately wanted to create the video for it. I asked Protoje to reach out to Pressure’s team on my behalf and I was pleasantly surprised when they obliged. My vision was to depict the ethereal feel of the song, and to show that cosmic power in the visuals. I knew I had to link Ikem to help put it together, as he is an amazing director and great with practical and visual effects knowledge to create the otherworldly scene seen in the video.”
Adds Ikem Smith: “The song had this very moody, ethereal thing to it and because I’m a nerd, my thoughts go to space really often. I thought it would be great to give a sense of scale of the universe and its relation to our existence. I likened it to cosmic horror. Yannick brought the staging of Pressure and Proto and the images of Haile Selassie, the Lion and specifically H.I.M’s visit to Jamaica in 1966. We did a lot of practical effects on set, with the smoke over the water and creating the heavenly lighting.”
LargeUp yourselves on a job well done, gentlemen. This one reminds us of the imagination and magic we recall from the glory days of MTV in the ‘90s – not a typical 2020 job in the least.