Queen Ifrica ‘Montego Bay’ (VP) 4/5

queen-ifricaSinger Queen Ifrica is an interesting artist at several levels. Most obviously, she is a woman singer who performs in the roots vernacular and that is a fairly rare commodity and she does so singing in the sing-jay style reminiscent of Eek-A-Mouse. Secondly, the singer appeals to reggae fans across sub-genres and is equally at ease in dancehall and lovers as in roots. Thirdly, Queen Ifrica is the daughter of ska legend Derrick Morgan (though only knew him from her twneties onwards) and as such has an impeccable musical pedigree. The album is a varied and thought-provoking set. Immediately attracting attention is ‘Don’t sign’, a reworking of the Studio One riddim (best known as ‘Movie Star’)produced by Donovan Germain. Ifrica’s vocal delivery reveals a mature voice and one that is capable of adapting to both traditional and modern styles. The first single in the market place, ‘Lioness on the rise’ is included and is a lilting, surefire hit, once again produced by Germain for whom Queen Ifrica recorded in the early 1990s. For roots fans there is much to commend and the percussive opener ‘T.T.P.N.C.’ is in fact a tribute to the Nyabinghi centre in Montego Bay. This is Africa’s way of expressing gratitude to the Rastafari community where she was raised. Pared down production and nyabinghi drumming feature on ‘Calling Africa’ which is a message-laden song with a lovely gospel chorus. Another classic riddim, namely the Satta Massagana, is revisited on ‘Coconut Shell’ with a thoroughly modern accompaniment. In a more romantic vein the lovers rock inspired song ‘In my dreams’ is a catchy take on the sub-genre. All in all a fine debut for VP and one that gives Queen Ifrica plenty of scope to explore the evolution of Jamaican popular music in its myriad forms.

Tim Stenhouse