By Brian Rill
Psalm 68:4 King James Version
Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name Jah, and rejoice before him.
Jah Kings are an authentic reggae band from Crestone, Colorado. The music’s magic manifests from the start with an indigenous anthem called South Africa. It’s followed by Critical Mass, a funky Jamaican groove that spurs the growth of dreadlocks, much like an old Bob Marley tune. This Rasta CD has many hypnotic rhythms and catchy guitar riffs with notes jangling like coins in paper envelopes held up to one’s ear. The African drums and wild rhythms of Unite showcase an upbeat song highlighting the vocal style of Alexander Kofi, with his deep, longing vibrato. The tune Our World features some scat-style vocals from Kofi, who switches from a harmonic cadence on the chorus to a quick, rhythmic rap style in the verse.
Blessings of JAH RasTafarI, the Jamaican god, grace this compilation, raining down heavenly fog from above the listener’s mind. The band mates move together like bodhisattvas praying. They all follow the dusty road of dharma through the harmonious cycles within the speakers of a stereo. The lotus blossom in this scenario is the medicinal nature of this music. It flows like a river of serotonin into the bloodstream through the ear canal.
Alexander Kofi Washington is the front man and founder of Jah Kings, hailing originally from Gary, Indiana. He transformed from a successful track and field star into a spiritual warrior after his involvement in West Africa with an outreach program called The Ghana Joseph Project. Drawing on his deep Native American and African roots, he then found his spiritual purpose. Making music while spreading a message of love and world peace has been his calling for over 20 years. His 2002 album Love was nominated best reggae album in The Chicago Music Awards. The same year, Mr. Washington was also nominated for best reggae performer.
In the song Change, Kofi speaks of the axiom “Change is life even though it’s uncomfortable its all right, just relax and breath, man.” Because “Jah Jah is and Jah Jah flows.” Speaking from the heart of the primordial human being, the message from Jah Kings is deeply spiritual and enlivening. The motion of the music seeks to unite all brothers and sisters of the African Diaspora, a collection of peoples all over the world who originally came from the sub-Saharan continent and are now spread about searching for a homecoming.
A smooth-flowing band with a hard-hitting message is what you will get from Jah Kings. Other members of the Kings include Nathan Firestone (keyboard, vocals), Diego Sanchez (bass) and Arnie Alba (percussion, native flute). Alexander Kofi recently signed with Seven Day Records and has personally opened for legends such as the Four Tops, Journey, Foreigner and the late, great Bobby Womack. With a highly professional and inspirational message, Jah Kings explodes from the stereo with light and love. If you’re a reggae worshipper or just an eclectic music lover, this album is for you. Let the musical medicine infiltrate your brain and move your body to the ebb and flow of this gracious beat. I’m not a doctor, but I do know a thing or two about Jah life.
Brian Joseph Rill is a detective, teacher and activist poet. He was voted Salida’s Best Musician in 2009 and is an award-winning Latin songwriter.