New Kingston – Kingston City
2.) Mystery Babylon (feat. Maad T-Ray & E.N Young of Tribal Seeds)
3.) Who Tell Them
4.) Can’t Stop a Man
6.) You Are Mine (feat. Kimie Miner)
7.) Good Luck Charm
8.) Protect Me (feat. The Wailing Souls)
9.) Certain Girls (feat. Sugar Minott)
10.) Key to Life
11.) I Believe in Me
12.) Conquer Dem (feat. Sister Carol)
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
Record Label: Easy Star Records
Official Website: New Kingston Website
New Kingston formed in 2006 in the basement of their Brooklyn home, when brothers Tahir (keys), Courtney Jr. (drums) & Stephen (guitar) began covering music by the likes of Bob Marley, Earth Wind & Fire, Dennis Brown, Michael Jackson, The Whispers and many more. The three brothers, under the watchful eye of their father (and bassist) Courtney Panton Sr., called themselves New Kingston to appropriately reflect a combination of their Jamaican heritage and their present lives in progressive New York City. The musical styles of both places informed their sound and songwriting. Their latest record, Kingston City, includes 12 songs featuring guest appearances by members of Tribal Seeds, Kimie Miner, Sister Carol, The Wailing Souls, and legend… Sugar Minott.
New Kingston’s third album, Kingston City, released on Easy Star Records, is a mix of roots, dancehall, R&B and hip hop influences. Kingston City presents itself as a very well produced album blending classic reggae sounds with more modern elements while remaining to sound original and new. This album is the pairing of exceptional musicianship and excellent production along with a guest-list of talent that reads like a reggae legacy spanning decades of genres.
I have always believed that the recording studio and the stage are 2 totally different forms of expression for a band; the latter being a literal representation of a song while the former is a new world to explore music without limitations. The album kicks off with, “Today”, the conscious snapshot of struggles with violence and hardship, especially amongst the youth. “Mystery Babylon” is a song of warning, speaking about the fallout and temptations of Babylon while pushing through life. If I am not mistaking, there is a little nod to the Israel Vibration tune “Rude Boy Shuffling” that was snuck in there.
“Who Tell Them” is a positive toned ganja anthem which may be the most accessible and energetic track on the album. This is a really catchy track complimented by beautiful backing vocals and a hook that will stick with you for days. “Can’t Stop a Man” is another big tune, reminding me a lot of Stephen Marley’s production style mixing Hip Hop beats and funk guitars with toasting and solid hooks. “Honorable”, I have to say, I love this track and I feel like this is going to resonate with a lot of fans. The feel of this song pulls so far back, opening huge pockets that grooves tough.
“You Are Mine”, “Good Luck Charm” and “Key to Life” all showcase the strong R&B/reggae fusion influence of New Kingston. These tracks are a little soft for my taste, but they are solid tunes that lovers of more soulfully inspired reggae cuts will appreciate. This is more of an issue of personal taste than a critique on the body of work.
“Protect Me” (feat. The Wailing Souls) is another highlight of the album with its faith based lyrics and roots rhythm. This collaboration with Grammy nominated Wailing Souls is another example of how much there is to be respected on this release.
Sugar Minott, the late, great singer takes the lead on the 80’s style dancehall track, “Certain Girls”. I am dying to know the origin of this song as Sugar Minott passed away in 2010 and I am wondering if they sat on this track for over 5 years, or if this is one from the vaults? Finishing hard and going strong till the end, “Conquer Dem” bubbles behind the distinct chatting style of Sister Carol.
Kingston City is beaming with positivity, messages of faith and expressions of love, pulling in guest appearances by some of the cornerstones of reggae. There is something for everyone on this record, but at times, softer with the R&B flavored tracks that leave me wanting more of the harder hitting numbers like “Today”, “Mystery Babylon” and “Conquer Dem”. With that being said, New Kingston has an incredible range and I would imagine the diversity in sound comes from the diversity in their own personal tastes. New Kingston has powerful voices that sound at home. Whether toasting or singing 3-part harmonies, this fusion of sound may be just what reggae needs right now. This is a band that has cut its teeth on the road backing some big talent, honing a style that might, at times, hint at being formulaic, but New Kingston is able to breathe unique life into the music, claiming their own sound.
Written & Reviewed By: Tommy Dubs
[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]
WATCH: New Kingston – “Can’t Stop a Man” (Lyrical Video)