“Kontraband” – Kabaka Pyramid

Kabaka Pyramid


Ghetto Youths International / Bebble Rock Music

Out comes another mind-blowing album out of Jamaica. This little island always seems to be ahead of the curve and has been on the cutting edge of what’s new and hot in music for decades. The foundations of hip-hop lie in the Jamaican dub artists of the 70’s. Jamaican dancehall had a huge influence on the world of reggaeton. And in today’s era, they are continuously pushing the barriers of music with new and modern styles and rhythms.

This new Kabaka Pyramid album is pure fire. Produced by reggae legends Stephen and Damien Marley, it is a virtual tour-de-force on the scene. Everyone I know that keeps up with reggae has been cranking this one in the car non-stop. Numerous singles dot the radio airwaves. This album is hot.

The first few tracks come out swinging hard. The tracks have a lot of punch, the vocals are intense and the beats are strong. The album is full of political commentary about social justice, inequality, and fighting hard for what’s right. There’s a passion and energy that’s absolutely contagious throughout.

After the initial firepower of the first three tracks, the hooks really start to dig in. On “Can’t Breathe”, I can’t help but be moved by the power of the vocal lines “I can’t breathe / In this suffocation / People living inna sufferation / Me can’t breathe / I feel claustrophobic / In a system with no economic growth / I feel like I can’t breathe”. Memories of Eric Garner can’t help but cross your mind with the emotional pleading in this track.

“Borders” is another powerful track. It’s a heartfelt pleading for society to do something about all the people living in crisis around the world, searching for a better life. Kabaka Pyramid’s voice is so thick with feeling and has a real power over the listener. This one really strikes me in the feels, and the hook is so catchy it’s hard to stop singing once the song is done.

There are a few nice cameos on here too. Rising star Protoje hops on a verse for “Everywhere I Go”, a track addressing pollution and environmental issues. Chronixx is heavily featured on the next tune “Blessed is the Man”, a hypnotizing holy number with an electric beat and a mesmerizing melody.

The album ends as strong as it begins with other great songs like “I’m Just a Man” and “All I Need”. Some of my other favorites are “Meaning of Life”, a song questioning the possibilities of life after death and reincarnation, and the title track “Kontraband”, a hard-hitting and direct scorcher delivered by Kabaka Pyramid and the legendary Damien Marley.

If you are any kind of fan of modern reggae music, dancehall, or if you just enjoy the latest cutting-edge trend-setters, this album is for you. It is so well written and produced I would be shocked if it didn’t win the reggae album of the year. And he does it representing the ideas of truth, justice and spiritual uplifting. “Kontraband” is a real gem.

Tom Matthew

Two Ton Music