True to their roots and sound, California-based Tribal Seeds’ fourth full-length release, Representing is doing just that. With an array of cameos from some of the most prominent artists in reggae music today as well as featured verses from their own members, this self-produced, 12-track flagship of modern reggae music helps to bring a refreshing sense of international unity and love to an often oddly-divided genre of music.
The title track comes in like a war cry from a raid party with the pounding of primal drums ushering in pan flutes. A deep steady bass line drives the song into a head-nodding groove. Every time singer Stephen Jacobo comes back with “I and I Representing” and the band hits a crash accent on the next beat, I want to stand up and salute Jah even though I’m not a Rastafarian! The popular St. Croix rootsman, Vaughn Benjamin (Midnight) completes the international roots feel of the song with a verse pleading for unification – one by one. This song will be “representing” Tribal Seeds in my head for some time to come.
The title track comes in like a war cry from a raid party with the pounding of primal drums ushering in pan flutes.
The second track, “Rock the Night Away” picks up the pace a bit, featuring a verse by founding brother Tony-Ray Jacobo, a.k.a. “The Maad T-Ray” and an energetic 16-bar organ solo, highlighting some of the musical wizardry that is E.N. Young. “Moonlight” and “Lonely Night” show off a little more of his talent on the piano, but his contributions to the album don’t stop at performing. E.N. engineered and mixed Representing as well, giving us a small taste of his talent on the other side of the console – a skill he has been independently exploiting in recent years through his own growing record label, Roots Musician Records.
Some of Tribal Seeds’ biggest hits are love songs and this album has plenty of potential for more such hits. “Fill it Up” is so catchy that my 6 year-old daughter was singing along with it the first time she heard it. Featuring another band of brothers, New Kingston, and Tribal Seeds’ own Ryan Gonzalez a.k.a “Gonzo, ” this track is already being repeated on reggae playlists around the world. In fact, I recognized it immediately, realizing that I had, indeed, already heard it. “Don’t Wait” and “Night & Day” are two more love songs with hit-potential and “Lonely Nights” brings the familiar synth pads back into the mix for another epic-sounding love anthem.
It’s almost always a blessing to hear the styles of other artists coming together. Representing features several cameos that are a delight to this reggae fan. Kyle McDonald lovingly rules the province of track number four on this album, entitled “In Your Area”, bringing the distinct flavor of Slightly Stoopid to the table. The legendary Don Carlos shows up on “Blood Clot” and Mykal Rose makes his mark on one of my favorite tunes, “Herbstock” – the only song on the album in which drummer Carlos Verdugo employs a thumping steppers rhythm. Features such as these demonstrate the love and respect that Tribal Seeds have earned in the industry.
All told, Representing truly represents Tribal Seeds. Their sound has helped define the California Roots reggae-rock “movement” since its inception and I’m sure will continue to lead the charge for several years to come.
Preview and Download Representing
- Representing (feat. Vaughn Benjamin)
- Rock the Night (feat. Maad T-Ray)
- Fill It Up (feat. Gonzo & New Kingston)
- In Your Area (feat. Kyle McDonald)
- Blood Clot (feat. Don Carlos)
- Undercover Lover (feat. Gonzo)
- Night & Day
- Herb Stock (feat. Mykal Rose)
- Don’t Wait
- Lonely Night
Tribal Seeds – “Fill It Up” (feat Gonzo & New Kingston)
Released: May 13, 2014
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.