Derajah Inna De Yard Africa Review

Derajah & Inna De Yard – Africa – Review

Derajah and Inna De Yard: Africa Single Review by Mr Topple for

Derajah has gone back to his roots (in this case, his earlier musical ones) – by once again collaborating with the rest of the Inna De Yard collective across a track off their latest album.

Africa, released via Chapter Two Records and Wagram Music, sees Derajah and Inna De Yard take on the Gaylads classic, which was originally produced by Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and released via Studio One. It’s off the collective’s latest album, Family Affair – which was a retrospective of its members’ timeless work, as well as some reimaginings of Roots classics.

Here, the team have remained faithful to the original – keeping much of the arrangement the same. However, there are some differences – insomuch that there’s been a key change, plus new elements which the team have seamlessly blended in.

It opens with that imposing melodic line across various instruments, before kicking into brisk, pointed Roots. The rhythm section is the driver of the track – with the keys’ imposing bubble rhythm, working in the mid-range of their register, being dominant. The bass is also key, here – avoiding a one drop and instead opting for a repetitive riff across dotted notation that is relentless in its forward motion. A guitar skanks, but very much in the background – and overall, these three components are crucial for the track’s vibe.

However, there’s an interesting anomaly: the absence of a traditional drum section. Instead, Africa focuses on the percussion only. Bongos (or similar) patter along throughout, keeping time for the other instrumentation. A shaker does a consistent skank, driving the track forward. Chimes are briefly used for additional flourish, and a triangle steps in and out when needed.

Not included in the Gaylads’ original in this form, horns focus on the sax which here acts as a second vocal line. It comes in mainly across additional solo bridges, where it uses Jazz-like melodic arrangements to very good effect – stuttering then swaying rhythms coupled with melodic complexity, including great, running glissandos and some pleasing improv at the end. A flute does similar, with the inclusion of some well-placed blue notes, rapid fluttering, and some dextrous use of glissandos – almost akin to a human voice.

The overall engineering and mastering are very polished, too – bringing depth to the track that was absent on the original. As a reworking of the Gaylads version, Africa is musically authentic yet with additional, classy elements which hone-in on the Motherland as well as Jazz.

Then, Derajah’s vocal is superb. It’s a complex performance to take on, filled with intricate rhythms and complex lyrical construction, but he pulls it off with aplomb.

Across the verses, he focuses on the delivery of the rapid-fire lyrics by adopting a singjay style, maintaining an unfussy melodic line. All this was not on the Gaylads’ original, so Derajah has self-styled these into Africa, and they fit perfectly.

But the choruses are superb, again faithful to the original, with some full-throated vowel sounds coupled with additional vocal layering and harmonisation. It’s a superb set from Derajah, showing him at the peak of his powers.

Overall, Africa is superb. All the performances are first-rate, with the sax, flute, and Derajah’s vocal particularly standing out. It’s a timeless track given a fresh feel, here – and if it wasn’t a classic already, it now is.

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Derajah & Inna De Yard – Africa Review by Mr Topple / Pauzeradio PR Services (7th July 2023).

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