Who is Kabaka Pyramid? Don't be surprised if you hear people asking that question over the next several months. Arriving with Rebel Music, his free debut EP on Bebble Music, Kabaka Pyramid sounds like a smooth fusion of Damian Jr. Gong Marley, Gappy Ranks and Jahdan Blakkamore – in other words, a strong DJ with street-wise swagger and mainstream potential. His confident vocal presence and crisp backing riddims make this is one of the brightest new reggae offerings of 2011.
A thoroughly a 21st century artist, with a web presence on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp and links with Don Corleon-endorsed artist Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid's music is also solidly built and blends hip-hop rhythms with melodious reggae one-drop riffs. In between the cracking drum programs, innovative keys and samples is Kabaka's vocal flow, one that gallops ahead of the beat, then settles back in time for the choruses.
The EP starts with a bang on the Steel Pulse "Blues Dance Raid"-sampling "Feel Di Vibes," a joyous party anthem that celebrates all things good: herb, women and music. If the riddim sounds a little familar, it's because J. Cole and Kanye West's "Looking for Trouble" also lifts from the Steel Pulse tune, but "Feel Di Vibes" is a better fit. Title song "Rebel Music" is an 85 BPM jam with a groove similar to "Welcome To Jamrock" – serious lyrics that indict the poor state of music and offer biographical details into Kabaka's sober livity – "I used to bun the weed a lot, now I try and read a lot" he sings.
The EP's middle tracks, "Prophecy" and "Betta Muss Come" lean more toward hip-hop but still feature a decidedly Jamaican feel – like an update on The Fugee's The Score album or the roughneck reggae-infused hip-hop of Brooklyn's Smif N Wessun. The aforementioned breakout artist Protoje appears on "Warrior," which has Nyahbinghi drumming and lush, cinematic synths reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's evocative productions. The song is a positive example of how taking risks can pay-off in Jamaican music.
Kabaka Pyramid is offering Rebel Music – the full 10-song EP for free right now. If you want a taste of the future, visit this Pyramid.