SkillinJah – Champion Sound
1.) Intro (Feat. Jah Pilot & Hassan)
3.) Signs (Feat. Nowlege & Josh Heinrichs)
4.) Champion Sound (Feat. Lance Sitton, Soulflya & Youthman)
5.) One Tonic, Two Shot (Feat. Joel Castillo)
6.) 5, 10, 15, 20
7.) Road Runner
9.) Stand Strong (Feat. Mikey Steppa & Nowlege)
10.) Big Sound Killin’
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Record Label: GanJah Records
Official Website: SkillinJah Website
When you think of reggae bands, you would almost put money on them being from California, or maybe one of the many Pacific Islands, Jamaica, or even the East Coast. However, tucked away in the Midwest region of the United States is Missouri, which gave birth to not only a reggae band, but a dancehall-reggae artist, SkillinJah. His newest album, Champion Sound, dropped on GanJah records, and it features the voice of Josh Heinrichs, who should be a familiar name for all.
The album’s length is only ten songs, and one of those tracks is a short intro for listeners to learn that the band is from Springfield, Missouri and that they released the album through GanJah Records. It’s typical for dancehall reggae bands to do call-outs like this one so this particular track seemed like an appropriate prequel for what was to come.
One of the most important distinctions of this album is that the use of keyboards and electronic effects is prevalent throughout the whole album, from the rhythm to the bass to any other special sounds the band uses. Listeners should be forewarned if they do not have an appreciation for electronic effects; this album is full of them, but they are used appropriately and creatively.
The very first song that stands out is “Signs” (Feat. Nowlege & Josh Heinrichs). SkillinJah’s style, aside from being dancehall, has a very hip-hop flair to it as well. As a result, the combination of the band’s vocalist style with the soothing voice of Josh Heinrichs produces a good mix that listeners are bound to appreciate.
Next up is “Champion Sound”, which features an electronic percussion section that is too staccato, meaning short, that some folks might not find too pleasing. Worthy of mentioning in this song is the presence of Portuguese in the middle of the song. This gave the song a bit of an international reggae feeling.
SkillinJah has been around for almost 20 years, and his experience is shown in the second portion of the album, in tracks such as “Road Runner” and “Murderah”. The lyrical capabilities of this artist is also showcased in the two tracks mentioned above. The lyrics are creative, and they flow well overall. I also guarantee you that this is the only reggae band to ever dare sample the Warner Brother’s Road Runner sound and get away with it; their inclusion of the bit was certainly playful, and it didn’t seem out of place.
On the topic of samples, the intro and end to “Road Runner” is also sampled, and its presence gives the song a feeling like it was recorded a long time ago, which in the dancehall world is not a bad thing. “Murderah” is a call-out to countries in the world that are guilty of murder. While the word “murderah” is repeated many times, it’s done so without it being bothersome, unlike the second track, “Fast,” which wasn’t able to get away with the same honorable distinction.
Overall, this album stays true to its dancehall roots, and for fans of dancehall reggae, this would certainly be a good album to listen to. Although dancehall is such an important aspect of reggae music, I don’t feel as if the general public who might be unfamiliar with dancehall reggae, yet familiar with other types of reggae, would appreciate this album too much. Nevertheless, props should be given to SkillinJah as he works his way up to try and reach the masses in an effort to spread his dancehall reggae music.
Written & Reviewed By: Juan Barragan
[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]