I'm a big music fan, and
listen to all types of music, but have a special love for reggae. The first album I ever
heard was Bob Marley's "Survival" when I was just 9, and it introduced me to a
new world...a protest against the oppression of the black people and a cry for the unity
of black people in Africa, Jamaica, and the rest of planet earth. I was instantly
Now comes Midnite's Ainshant Maps, and they have
expanded on this vision with an album that re-defines "rebel music." Midnite
manages to make one of the best reggae albums of all time, topping even their own,
unbelievably great catalog. Resistance, rebellion, and rejection of Western philosophy are
themes which, if you're familiar with Midnite, should not come as a
"Ainshant Maps" is also musically and rhythmically perfect, and
its fueled by the same rage that Marley sung about so long ago. In "Livity,"
Vaughn Benjamin sets the tone: "Look Ya See. look and see. Me no shy about nothing
weh a pain me. For as long as ghetto people still a hear me."
In "Abadan Abyss" he rejects Western religions: "Drastically resistant to
Rome. With them christian demographics. Them falsify blue eye the black christ with them
ethics. Them still pon them state. Them still have the false image, deceiving the nations
with it. Deceiving the nations with it. In a de lying pathological chronic epidemic. The
sermon is a death threat clinic. Talking bout the devil's system, and them working for it.
Man who standing up against it getting hurt for it."
"True King" rails against the
glorification of violence in the greco-roman/Judeo-Christian tradition: "Everything
fe dem a gunnery, riddle is a word or shot, same time, softly, Literary canon dem a tell
you literally. Magazine could be reading or a rifle steady."
"Judgement for Sentence" expands
further on the price one pays for going against the grain: "So who testified at my
secret trial. So who amplified when your digits were dialed. No. I'm not innocent nor
guilty no. Hypocrisy judgmental is the plea I enter."
The consistency of "Ainshant
Maps" puts it over the top. Soulfully mixing elements of roots and
dancehall, Vaughn is at the absolute peak of his vocal powers, and brother Ron Benjamin
has never produced a musically finer album. Going from smooth one drop roots to more
organic sounds, the shift is seamless.
The result is stunning, and never more
evident on "Knocka Fia", a great tune with a slow, sinister skank, crazy dub
effects, and then Vaughn coming in with: "Me never stop praise Jah me six string
Yamaha. Please fe tell I who blood seed you is working for. You get burned in you tell you
knocka fia. Look it to Jah house as a first time buyer."
The allegory and poetry that Vaughn uses
while never repeating himself is amazing. Especially given the trite lyrics and pop
stylings of so many other roots bands.
Somewhere, Bob Marley is smiling.
Ainshant Maps can be seen as a companion
piece to Scheme a Things and if you had to choose, this would be
the more vital of the two (although theyre priced moderately enough that you can get
both). It starts a bit slow literally
and figuratively with the minimalist acoustic guitar of Praise Jah, but
quickly picks up with blistering roots tracks like Drought, Judgement
for Sentence, True King, Ainshant Maps, and my personal
fave, Knocka Fia. - More