The highly-anticipated full length album from Jah Cure has now been finally released, his first since 2009’s Universal Cure album. The World Cry album was first announced for release in early 2011 and many of the songs were completed in 2010. As for its classification as a reggae album, there is more of an R&B sound throughout the 14-song set released in partnership with Miami’s SoBe Entertainment who have also been acting as management for Jah Cure for the past few years, first signing him after his 2008 release from prison where he served 7 out of 15 years for a rape charge.
The vocal quality that Cure is known for – that slightly atonal, mysterious, haunting style from the Free Jah Cure era is not as prominent here, with many songs sung in major keys, in a soulful versus a reggae style. Themes center primarily on love and relationships, some of which are presented in the context of his controversial rape case and subsequent incarceration. One exception from these themes is World Cry a dramatic pop-styled tune with a music video to accompany it, part of the download package sold with the album. The video is a tribute to our world, with several segments of natural footage; icebergs, waterfalls and mountainous terrain with shots of children from varied cultures and economic backgrounds interspersed. The lyrical content outlines the problems of the earth, pointing fingers at “politicians telling their lies” and the recent unrest in Egypt and Libya, complications from Iceland’s volcano, the magnitude of Japan’s largest earthquake and the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Noted is that the lyrics to the album version of World Cry are markedly different from the single released last year by the same name that featured guests MDMA and Keri Hilson. [WATCH THE “WORLD CRY” VIDEO HERE]
The release opens with Nothing Is Impossible which is a testament to his life story and post-prison ascent as one of Jamaica’s top artists. The tune Can’t Wait sounds like it could be an Usher song, down to the message about a guy that can’t wait till his girl sees how much he has changed since they last talked two months ago. He brings up the case against him in this context, and takes the blame for his shady past asking his love interest to believe him. He brings up the parts of a relationship that involve trust, negotiation and actual proof, citing all of the times he made trips to visit his love and money he has spent.
The tune Before I Leave is classic Cure with minor key vocals, an infectious hook and moody lover’s vibes. This is indeed a big tune that has shown up on mixes and in the dance since it was released in 2010. With lots of straight ahead examples of what type of sex will happen before he leaves, Cure exemplifies the current tendency toward graphic lyrics in reggae on this one.
A more PG-rated scenario is found on “Unconditional Love” – a syrupy-sweet ballad that was a huge hit in Jamaica. The version of the song here has a Latin guitar added to the rhythm and an undertone of female spoken word vocals translating the lyrics into actual Spanish by his SoBe entertainment label mate Phyllisia. She has toured with Jah Cure singing support vocals and teaming up with him on this duet. Perhaps the intention on the song is to reach out and cross-over to the huge Latin music audience as is evident in the characters featured in the music video. Cure points out, “she is not looking for diamonds, not digging for gold, she’s looking for unconditional love.” The theme of love resumes on Only Vice which is one of the few reggae riddims on the set, a vintage sounding one drop, with horn lines and a lengthy instrumental breakdown the artist’s voice soars beautiful over, true to his classic form.
The song with the most mainstream, crossover potential on the release is Choose Up which features R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan, the theme centers around a question, a story of a love triangle where Cure asks “Whose it gonna be him or me?” Sullivan delivers her jazz-influenced powerhouse response, somewhat unsure, with thoughts of him infiltrating her mind when she is with another.
Another combination Like I See It is with Mavado, Gully style, the possible captain of the hip-hop crossover team. A definite MVP on this song delivering just one line, Mavado’s gloomy hustler reality plays out by his compadre. Cure has fun with hip-hop style singjay lyrics chanting the lamentation, “We don’t need no visas to come through your speakers” and with a nod to the gangster and Gully roots, “Every ghetto, every gully, every lane“… “we put the “G” in Kingston.” Apparently hip hop artist Rick Ross was on another version of this tune released back in 2010.
On Reach Out the rhythm has a syncopation that is reggae, but the keyboard sound is like an accordion, lending an almost Gypsy or tango feel to the song. The vocals are classic Cure, atonal and minor in key, with a strong chorus filtered through an airy processor. This one has some crossover potential too with lyrics that ask for us to open up our arms and reach out to those in need. He scolds those that must have too much pride, unable to sacrifice as he wonders how they sleep at night.
Another welcome reggae vibe and diversion from the gal tunes is found on Save Yourself which uses a snippet from The Gladiators Bongo Red as the intro and reconstructs the rhythm. Apparently this song was written in 2010 in response to the rash of reggae artists losing work permits and travel visas at that time as the lyrics remind, “you’ve come this far, you don’t need no help.”
A poppy rhythm with lush harmonies are front and center on the grateful Praises to Jah which also features Phyllisia who truly has some strong pipes. This is an honest message, a reminder of where the Cure has come from and an inclusive refrain that explains, “you might know him by another name, but you still have to give praises.” Jah Cure reveals the reality of prison life on All By Myself again recorded over a straight-ahead pop ballad groove singing “So many days I had a vision of me breaking out, but I decided to be strong and just sweat it out.” There is an interesting ad lib at the end, part of the lamentation…as the song closes with “Only God can judge me.”
Back in September of this year, the label released a version of the song as a free download with the late 2Pac, a mash up with Jah Cure and 2Pac‘s “Thugs Get Lonely Too“. [DOWNLOAD ALL BY MYSELF feat. 2PAC HERE]
There is a bonus track Only You which is an ode to his 2011 bride Kamila McDonald that was released on his wedding day in August 2011. This is such a sweet delineation of all of the benefits that being “wifed up” can provide, a person to help make decisions, his true love that helped bring him through the storm.
Jah Cure‘s voice is unmistakable, his standards are very high and this package has a significant amount of work and time in it. It also has a lot of him in it, his love, his past, his wishes for the world, his role in the current reggae scene, all come together in a definitive concept album, one that he and his production and management team have perhaps visioned as some sort of pop-crossover springboard.