Bless Noble
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Bless Noble

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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"I‘In The Lion’s Den’: A Review of “We’re Not Alone” by Bless Noble"

Although it is the faces and the names of the artists which are on the covers of albums and posters, it is the work of excellent producers which is just as crucial to making music, and arguably even more so, particularly when looked upon from a historical perspective. This is the case in all forms of music where there is just a select group of names who’ve managed to distinguish themselves and when that happens from the standpoint of a producer, the results are almost overly impressive in so many ways. This is well the case in Reggae music as our music, even though it is so global (which even adds to what I’m about to say), is somewhat ‘fractured’, thus it’s very easy to make connections in terms of who worked with whom and who was influenced by whom and with certain producers, their ‘lineages’ are downright ridiculous. There are artists, admittedly, who also have had such an impact in terms of keeping the progression of time rolling in the way of younger talents – the name Bounty Killer immediately comes to mind – But such work, and particularly on that level is few and far between. However, should you name almost any reputable producer, chances are there is a line of artists (and maybe even other producers) who come from that maestro. Of course I’m drawn to my favourite label of all time, Xterminator, and its operator Philip “Fatis” Burrell. Hopefully I need not go too far through the successes of names such as Sizzla Kalonji, Luciano, Mikey General, Turbulence and Chezidek as vocalists who have made a big impact on modern Reggae music and continue to do so and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. What gets even more interesting is when you look at things such as Sizzla’s Judgment Yard and Turbulence’s Higher Trod Family and you have to think that, regardless of their own prominences, they are, in fact, ‘grandchildren’ of Xterminator in a sense. Furthermore you can go through King Jammy’s line and his is one which is far more ‘normal’ because it is his actual progeny and DEFINITELY Donovan Germaine and Penthouse Records who, besides playing a major role with artists such as Buju Banton and even Beres Hammond, also gave to the world both Dave Kelly and Steven ‘Lenky’ Marsden – Pillars of modern Reggae and Dancehall production. Still, I am fairly stressed to find a person quite like Tuff Lion in modern Reggae, whose musical lineage arguably includes the cultivation of the current state of an entire subgenre.

Virgin Islands Reggae. Name a Reggae artist from the Virgin Islands – Go ahead, I’ll give you a moment. WHOEVER you name, if they’re remotely prominent (and I can name you more than a couple who aren’t, but still qualify), they’ve almost certainly worked, in some capacity with the musician/producer/arranger/writer/engineer wizard that is Tuff Lion and it isn’t only artists, most of the producers that I know of have worked with him as well and you’ll find nary an album from VI artists which doesn’t have his name on it. So, when such a man sees talent in someone (and mind you, he’s also seen talent in me and has probably given me the greatest compliment ever from since I began writing), I almost feel it a duty to check out that “someone”. Meet Bless Noble: The latest “someone” Tuff Lion has seen a talent in. I never delete emails (or rarely ever), so I still have it [dated February 26, 2010] – A message sent to me by Tuff Lion where he referred to work done with an “unknown” Bless Noble as being “rich with culture, common sense and good feelings” and that it has “the potential to be a game changer”. Those are well lofty levels to live up to for such an unknown as Bless Noble but, again, given the fact that the Tuff Lion saw and heard something in him, going in my expectations are to the point where if I am not about to hear something TRULY special, then what I am about to hear is something which is just going to be so solid and well put together that something genuinely special isn’t too far off. What little I do know of Noble is that, unsurprisingly, he is a native to St. Croix and apparently he’s pretty young (hopefully older than me, however) but has been on the scene for awhile now. Trying to trace back my memory, I couldn’t actually recall seeing his name on any mixtape or guesting on any album but, perhaps that’s due to Noble’s current locale (I think) being based in the Eastern US, which coincidentally is also the location of the Tuff Lion’s Virginia based Outpost Music Workshop which does nearly all of the instrumentation and production on what is, essentially, Bless Noble’s ‘HELLO’ to the wider Reggae listening world, his debut album, ”We’re Not Alone”. I would tell you to not let the extraterrestrial like title confuse you, because if you take it in that manner what you are going to hear on the album – That STERLING 100% Virgin Islands Reggae sound – won’t exactly match up for you. What will match up however, regardless of what you’re expecting, is the very solid nature of the album, which is emblematic of not only Tuff Lion’s work (and it is TRULY excellent work when a producer can take what is arguably his greatest quality and infuse it into the body of work of just about every artist he works with) but, when done well, the entire scope of Virgin Islands Reggae – While you may not be totally in love with everything you hear (and I’m not), whatever criticisms you may have won’t be for a lack of craft or a lack of effort given to a particular project. For his part, I’m surely not going to attempt to speak for Bless Noble at all, but simply based on his output on ”We’re Not Alone”, I would imagine that he thought a great deal of the opportunity afforded him and it seems to me that he made the most with it as the album proves to be yet another very positive result in a very long line of projects bearing the tag “Produced by Tuff Lion”.

As far as his style, I would say that the artist definitely has elements of both a singer and a chanter. He seems to do both, although I’d probably lean towards straight chanting as being his greatest attribute in terms of his delivery. Also, while I’d say that his command of MELODY isn’t great, what he lacks in that aspect, he more than makes up for in pure INTELLIGENCE as there is some very SMART sounding vibes and messages on this album. Such astuteness immediately makes its presence known from Bless Noble on his very first album, ”We’re Not Alone”, on the track which gets things going ‘Find A Way’. RICH! If I needed to borrow musical money I might beg it from this tune because it is absolutely wealthy with nice material. The tune reveals a very interesting ‘hitch’ that Noble has in terms of his lyrics that I heard and that I previously merely referred to as ‘intelligence’. There’s just something about this song which is definitely on a vibes that I’ve heard before . . . But just a LITTLE off-center in terms of how it is crafted and that’s a good thing that Noble has a different musical take from so many others – Very refreshing. While the opener is clearly a highlight for the album, it is, in my opinion, topped by the second tune, which brings in a big bit of pulsing and force as Bless Noble tells us to make sure to let ‘Meditation Rule’. If I’ve managed to read correctly (and I almost certainly have not) this tune is the album’s first official single and justly so. At its core, it is a praising tune – Giving thanks and praise to His Imperial Majesty – but it takes so many interesting twists and turns to get there, with the unifying and prevailing sentiment being to give thanks and praise and to do so by making sure to be firm in your meditation. For someone like me, I could spend days analyzing the lyrics of this one (“make sure your meditation rule in dis yah meditation school”), but I’ll just leave it by saying that the tune is ultimately my second favourite on the whole of the album. Next in is ‘Eat & Live’ which is another very RIPE song to my ears. It seems as if Bless Noble is trying to focus literally being healthy in the body. He even mentions HIV (“HIV is just a lack of knowledge”) (MOST interesting). But in the way it’s written you can take the ‘food’ of the song as food for the brain and not necessarily the body (or you can take both of those as being the same thing!). So, for people like me who absolutely live to be overly-analytical, the first third of this album will definitely keep us ‘eating’ for much time to come.

As I said, it was a completely evident general level of intelligence which struck me from Bless Noble on ”We’re Not Alone” and this is never more apparent to my ears than on the album’s finest moment altogether, ‘Road To Perdition’.

“Under attack
Babylon under attack
For the youth that they stuck
On the guillotine rack
Under attack
Babylon under
Thunder. Lightenin
From The Most High cherubim”

Theoretically it is a song not unlike hundreds, if not thousands, that you’ve heard before – With the construct of babylon headed for its impending doom – But Noble just adds the appropriate amount of himself to the vibes to make them go in such a way that it literally sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before (even the title, although pretty obvious, is just so refreshingly different). And on top of that, from a strictly sonic degree, it is a lovely tune and one of the most pleasing on the album. HUGE HUGE tune!

I was very interested in hearing the title track here and increasingly so after spinning through just a few tunes and coincidentally, in terms of the message, it actually follows ‘Road To Perdition’ in a sense. What Bless Noble seems to be saying with the track, which was so important to him that he named his album after it, is that because there is this ultimate force which is with ‘us’ that babylon shall soon reach its corrupted end. It’s such a full song, however, that I could play with this one and have fun and I would definitely suggest you do just that before making up your mind about how you feel on it. I’d also say the same about ‘Already High’ one of the best tunes on the album, although the pace of that tune probably makes it more directly appreciable. The tune is yet another very unique one because I approach it about to label it the ’obligatory herbalist tune’ on ”We’re Not Alone”, but there is nothing ’standard’ about this tune. Noble literally seems to LEAP the song out of its normal bounds by something as simple as the chorus.

“I’m already so high
And you want to take me down”
To me, that’s a social statement because he’s using against those who fight against herb, but he does it so casually that you almost miss the significance of it and the subsequent tune built around it is just as nice. And speaking of casually mighty lyrics, on ‘Vital Draw’, which is absolutely brilliant, finds Noble going in a very Vaughn Benjamin-esque direction (you can literally skip to any point during the tune and hear just a random, powerfully poignant lyric). And the album ends with ‘Nothing Yet’, which has a riddim which grew on me very quickly – The thing is LUSH! The gorgeous one-drop composition provides a perfect setting for Bless Noble to efficiently end the album by tell the corrupt system and its leaders that the best is yet to come!

I saved two songs to mention last because I feel that they kind of go together to a degree because, at least ostensibly, they are the ‘love songs’ of the album (but of course, that doesn’t mean the same thing to Bless Noble that it does to almost everyone else). First is ‘Destiny’, which is probably my least favourite tune on the album and the second songs is ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’. In the case of the former, the problem I have with the song is that it seems to lack some serious FLARE to it and when you take that and compare it to the latter, which is actually supposed to be the kind of ‘lamenting’ love tune of the two, you hear the difference. Definitely ‘Destiny’ isn’t a BAD song (no song on the album is), but I think that as Bless Noble goes along he might attempt to work on doing more with melodies, particularly over Tuff Lion riddims which require the artist to put forth their absolute best, each and every time out.

Overall, definitely call Bless Noble the latest fantastic find from Tuff Lion and, even more importantly, the latest in a loooooooooong line of top notch talents to emerge from out of the VI. As I said, the album is really on a heavy Reggae vibes, so while I wouldn’t particularly recommend it to listeners who are new to the genre in general, I would also probably say that it would really help if you’re more familiar with Virgin Islands Reggae as well. Also as I said, Noble really packs on the intelligence so, a ‘newer’ listener in general may just be completely lost (I do this everyday and I had to REALLY dig into ‘Nothing Yet’ to grasp it), as where a more experienced and mature head should, after a certain amount of time, see Bless Noble and ”We’re Not Alone” for the potential goldmine that they actually are. I’ll be very interested in watching Noble’s progression as well. It’s so interesting that he makes the type of music that he makes and, apparently, is situated in the eastern US, despite the fact that the hotbeds of audiences for his vibes are in the Caribbean, of course, and in the western US – So watching him go along, specifically in terms of popularity, should be something to see indeed as, perhaps he can increase the genre’s visibility or perceived visibility in his region. Yes. He’s that talented and I think he’ll get even better. Well done.

Rated: 4/5
Outpost Music Workshop
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We're Not Alone 2011



Hailing from Cruz Rock (St. Croix, US Virgin Islands) Bless Noble is a vanguard representative of the new conscious roots reggae movement currently ablaze in the Virgin Islands and reaching the corners of the earth and beyond. Profound, intelligent, natural, effortless and mystical, his music is the assurance of the good and the glorification of the Creator.

Thoroughly engaged in the intellectual, economic, cultural and spiritual developments of the times, Bless Noble offers an international and universal brand to the VI conscious roots reggae movement. Bless Noble eschews the traditional entertainer-artiste paradigm so common in reggae music and sets a standard of activist-artiste, wherein the purity of the message and the music reassume primacy in the true work of the independent artiste and in the modern roots movement. In this vein Bless Noble aka. Caleb Prescott lectures in vanguard African circles worldwide from the Virgin Islands to New York, to London to Zimbabwe on various topics from mysticism and meditation to the reclamation of sacred musicality.

Grounded in due adoration of the Most High Creator God, Bless Noble’s music, declares its universality. Entrenched in the VI roots movement, Bless Noble’s music declares the relevancy and urgency of this new wave of music to world and universal consciousness.

During the early years in St. Croix, Bless Noble was exposed to the explosion of roots conscious music reclaiming the dignity of African culture as reggae. This roots reggae explosion created a system of alternative education for all who desired to learn and develop from the messages imbedded in roots music. Bless Noble has collaborated and recorded with Various Virgin Islands artists from De Apostle to Vaughn Benjamin. He has performed across the world from Atlantic City to, South Africa, to New York and has graced the stage with such artists as Lutan Fyah, Beenieman, Junior Cat and Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mutukudzi.

His debut album project produced by the legendary Tuff Lion of Outpost Music Workshop “We’re Not Alone” represents a turning point in Virgin Islands reggae where the natural global sophistication and universal vibes of the VI combine explosively with alchemical musical manifestations of Tuff Lion to sketch an image of VI music which is completely different and completely new like an x factor. This work has a spiritual edge to it that is undeniably potent and equally alluring. It is equally a return to the source of reggae and a step forward to the ultimate goal despite modern challenges.