Internationally known Gospel reggae artist Papa San has always been in the forefront with the music he has created. Whether it was before his salvation in the Dancehall scene, or afterwards, teaming up with many big name artists all over the gospel genre, there is no denying the God given talent that Papa San has to make awesome music. His presence in the industry is well over twenty years, and since he is known as Jamaica’s fastest lyrical artist, his name garners respect across the music world.
So, when I heard his most recent collaborations with Lecrae on Church Clothes 2, I was anxious to see what this brother had cooking up. Released on his own indie label, Beloved Records, One Blood was a project that was created with purpose and vision. Allow me to breakdown the many high points of this phenomenal Gospel Reggae Album.
One Blood is a common subject, or overall phrase, in Jamaica’s culture, referring to how we are all united in a way that is greater than our ethnic differences, differences of opinion, or genders. DJ Wade-O interviewed Papa San on his radio show a few weeks ago, where he gave a bit more insight as to why he called this project “One Blood.” To paraphrase, Papa San called it “One Blood” to reference the fact that once saved, we are all connected by the blood of Jesus Christ. Our pasts are destroyed and we are connected by the blood that Jesus shed on the cross to save us.
Whether it has been used or not, this is the perfect premise for an album in the genre, or any sub genre, of Gospel music. The unity that we are to display in Christ is supposed to break boundaries, and while differences in personalities will still exist, we should be able to come together for the sake of our savior. So, the album concept is enveloped in the components of the album more so than the order of songs or lyrical content. There are a handful of great features sprinkled throughout the album from all types of Gospel genres.
Within the first four songs, Papa San collaborates with three genres! The album opens up with an uptempo hit called “Step Up” featuring Da’ T.R.U.T.H., which is quickly followed by a dance tune featuring Fred Hammond called “Your Eyes Are on Me.” Then, it switches back to CHH with a collaboration with Lecrae, and follows up with one of the more poignant collaborations on the CD – the title track “One Blood,” which features his past Dancehall rival, now saved believer, Stitchie. That collaboration alone shows how God’s redeeming power can unite even those who have directly competed against each other in the past.
What to Expect
It was hard for me to pinpoint what points to hit on with this album. As a reviewer, I always try to review an album and keep as much of my personal views out of it; to convey the truths of the album above my personal bias. But you know, as a lover of Gospel Reggae/Dancehall, and someone who loves it enough to know when it’s not done right, I’m going to keep it real with you: this project is amazing. It’s Gospel Reggae from one of the quintessential artists of the genre of our generation, so automatically the music is going to be on point. But even beyond the music, the songs themselves are great songs. I’m one who loves being able to dance and worship at the same time, and I get my fix with this One Blood project.
The features on the project are all well placed. They do not feel like they are interfering with the flow of the album or that they are included just to get the artist’s name to help it sell better. Some of the best high points come from the collaborations with other Gospel Reggae artists: Stitchie, DJ Nicholas, and Sherwin Gardner. The authenticity of their artistry drips from these songs in particular. The tracks are unique enough that they don’t blend together when you listen to it straight through, unlike a few other gospel reggae projects I’ve heard before. It’s an easy listen, and a great one at that.
If I had to pick my absolute favorite track, I still wouldn’t be able to do it. I have two songs tied for that spot of “Currently most played” on my iTunes. The first is “Your Eyes Are On Me” with Fred Hammond. What song with Fred Hammond ISN’T good? But seriously, when the song came on during my first listen through, it made me stop in my tracks and sing along with it. A song hasn’t gripped me like that in a long time. However, that was before I heard the song featuring Israel Houghton called “Revival.” That song is some serious fire. Both choruses cry out to the Lord in such a way, that I play it before I head into my church services to get my spirit ready. But then again, most of the songs are like that, so once again, it makes a decision for “favorite song” difficult.
With an album like One Blood, Papa San has added another brick to his already cemented place in the building he has created within Gospel Reggae. This project is a great collection of songs full of love for the Lord, filled with hard working collaborations and relationships with artists across the spectrum, and propelled by the soulful dancehall rhythms Papa San is known for. I have nothing but positive words for this album. I highly recommend picking this project up and adding it to your collection as soon as you can. What a way to support the ministry of Papa San but to come together as “One Blood” and worship along with a CD created for the purpose to unify the body of Christ.