Can't Stop Us-4th World
4th World's debut album, Can't Stop Us, presents an authentic brand of reggae music that takes you to the world of Steel Pulse, Third World, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. But it is reggae music with a difference. It is fresh. It is a new sound. The arrangements are startlingly different to what has come before and so catches one by surprise. It is edgy music bursting with energy. It is music infused with the excitement of youth yet seemingly informed by history and the wisdom of age. How did 4th World come up with this new sound? The band explained that they didn't set out to be a reggae band per se, much less to craft a new reggae sound. It was just that reggae was what sat best with how they live their lives and what was inside of them. Rather than pigeonholing themselves to one genre, they interpret their sound as simply the spontaneous blending of their creative energies. This openness towards music along with the fact that 4th World has three lead singers who double as songwriters and instrument players, may help explain not only the power and originality of Can't Stop Us, but the multifariousness of the music. The veteran and bass man of the band, Sylvester "Itoobaa" Peter, has a knack of fusing reggae with blues and jazz to come up with hits such as, Freedom, the title track of his solo album. Apparently, judging from Now She Is Gone and Wicked World, Can't Stop Us undoubtedly had the benefit of Itoobaa's bag of tricks. Now She is Gone has the blues flavor of a B.B. King composition and would be right at home in a blues concert or in a bar in New Orleans' French Quarters. Wicked World, on the other hand, is a deliciously arranged signature reggae tune with plenty of jazz overtones. Nijah "Cold Sweat" St. Catherine, who doubles as 4th World's Keyboardist, sings about two-thirds of the band's repertoire, and understandably so because some have said that he possesses one of the best voices in world reggae. After listening to Cold Sweat on Can't Stop Us, it would be hard to disagree. Yet Cold Sweat has admitted that dancehall, not reggae, was his first love, and it was much later, when he realized he had a talent for singing, that he got into reggae. Well, based on Cold Sweat's compositions on Can't Stop Us, the influence of dancehall, hip-hop and even R&B and funk are never far away. Not only are his songs on the album among the most up tempo, but those such as Can't Stop Us, Power to Overcome, Persistence, Runaway, and Reggae Party come with equal blends of reggae and one or more of these other genres. Perhaps the songs on the album that remain the truest to roots reggae are those composed and performed by Darrel "Eartlin" Augier, who is also the band's rhythm guitarist. Yet, as exemplified by songs like Cheating Games, Jah Puppet and Stereotype, his arrangements and lyrics seem the most apart, and his songs may represent the best embodiment of this new sound that 4th World is presenting to the world. Eartlin said that he first picked up the guitar and started writing songs at the age of fourteen after watching Bob Marley in Redemption Song, and to speed things up he signed up for a guitar class but soon dropped out because he was being taught to play Silent Night, not Redemption Song. Apparently, judging on his songs on Can't Stop Us, to this day Eartlin has remained true to his first love. 4th World's multifariousness doesn't stop at musical genre, for Can't Stop Us deals with a number of themes. There are songs like Linger, Runaway, Now She Is Gone and Cheating Games that speak to matters of the heart. There are the fire and brimstone songs, such as Wicked World, Violence and Jah Puppet, that admonish or heap destruction on evil doers. There is Reggae Party, a funky reggae tune celebrating reggae music. There is also Geetah, a sweetly flowing instrumental classical reggae track with rock overtones, composed by Marlon "Bad Kali" Florent, the band's lead guitarist and studio engineer. And then there are the conscious, defiant, fighting songs that perhaps best define the band's emotional makeup. Because to bring the world Can't Stop Us, 4th world have had to overcome the typical starving artist syndrome, naysayers who thought the band wasn't even good enough to play at St. Lucian hotels, and bookings at studios that left them with empty pockets but no recordings that met their satisfaction. In fact, according to 4th World, it was only after they pulled together their meager resources and set up a makeshift studio, that they started making headway with the album. Considering this journey, is it any wonder that 4th World named their debut album, the culmination of their struggles, Can't Stop Us? And that many of their songs are defiant in nature. Take for example the title track, Can't Stop Us: "They sold I to the merchant ship; From the bottomless pit they took I; Brought I to the Helen of the West Indies; But we come to find out they just can't stop us." Taking Blows : "I've been taking blows, licking wounds, and making foes; Sometimes I even lose my life; They bury me, but still I rise." Stereotype: "I'm not your stereotype; Not gonna do what they like; Just gonna live my life; Say, my fingerprint is different!" Persistence: "They want to see me stumble and fall; They don't want to see me rise up at all; But persistence, persistence, things about to come my way." And Power To Overcome: "Well it's a hard road to travel and a mighty long way to go; No turning back, no, no; We won't fold in disgrace; Rastafari give me power to overcome." Can't Stop Us presents the world with a conscious, authentic, rootical music that remains true to the music of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, yet it is edgy, energetic, mesmerizing music that effectively bridges the gap between the world of our reggae heroes and the world we now live in. With this fresh sound, it is safe to say that nothing can stop 4th World from reaching the top of the reggae world. Concerned that reggae is falling by the wayside, activists are lobbying the Jamaican government to compel radio stations to give more airspace to reggae. Well, 4th World's brand of reggae may well be what reggae needs to reclaim it's crown as the supreme Caribbean musical form.