The definition of ‘rebirth’ is “a period of new life, growth, or activity; a revival”. And when an artist whose career already spans over two decades is beginning a new chapter, then that noun is often appropriate. None more so than in the case of Naptali.
Raised in Clarendon Parish, Jamaica, Naptali took the Hebraic biblical name after working with the legendary Luciano; someone he cites as being pivotal in his own humble beginnings as an artist, back in the early 2000s. Two decades of music followed – not least seeing him work with his mentor on the 2013 album Qabalah Man, but also the incomparable Ras Muhamad, duetting across the stunning track Farmerman. Countless songs of his own, and across riddims, were lovingly produced in the intervening years.
Perhaps one of the highlights of Naptali’s illustrious career has been the 2013 song Take a Look. Such is the calibre of his work that while he never officially released it, thanks to Canal do Reggae 1.7 million people listened to, and heard, Naptali’s blunt yet dignified, powerful and moving message.
As he muses in the song:
I’m so far away
From dem and those who wish my life in danger…
I have to give praises
And to me King, Rastafari…
This strength of mind, trust in Jah and humble self-confidence sum up Naptali’s approach to everything he does in life. A committed Rastafarian, his spiritual beliefs drive not only the path he treads both personally but also in his music. Highly conscious, Naptali has been given the skill and ability to relay complex messages in a way that everyone can understand and relate to. His ability to create almost poetic lyrical content sets him at the highest plains with many other contemporary artists.
But Take a Look also encapsulates Naptali’s natural skill as a songwriter. The attractive and intricate composition has all the classic hallmarks of Roots; his natural musical home. But Naptali always wants to bring further, delicate yet challenging sounds to his audience. In Take a Look, this is shown through the clever string arrangement; working on quaver and semiquavers, giving the track momentum but also a sense of richness. The additional synth buzz rolls serve to add to this driving feel – creating a sound unique to Naptali, and being musical anthropomorphism of the subject matter: ‘I will tread my path in life, unwaveringly, thanks to Jah’.
Naptali has one of the most recognisable voices to come out of the Roots movement, too. He has a gorgeous timbre, which sits comfortably in an upper baritone and full tenor range. More recognisably Soul than Roots, due to its source being within his chest, not his throat, Naptali effortlessly performs melodically intricate vocal runs, while maintaining a delicateness. But equally, he has a controlled and skilled use of dynamics, which intuitively represent the lyrical content he is delivering. His harmonising (or, as he calls it ‘colouring up his voice’) is completely natural and a rare skill. This, combined with a natural, rhythmic singjay, put him on a par with some of the greatest Roots artists of recent times.
But recently, Naptali’s rebirth began. He’s found a new artistic home with Anotha One Productions. The label, in conjunction with House of Riddim, released the critically acclaimed Meditation Riddim in 2019. On it, they joined forces with Naptali across the interpretation called Save the Youths. Once again, he shows his incomparable flair for lyrical delivery, giving a searing and moving message across Anotha One’s well-constructed composition.
Since then their relationship has blossomed. And Naptali and Anotha One are set to shortly be releasing his first album for a decade, accompanied by his Save the Youths band. It will showcase the power house that their combined talents will create. 2020 looks set to be an exciting and powerful year for this most special and gifted of artists.
Naptali has indeed been blessed with a special talent. His uplifting vocal sound and tone, coupled with his poetic lyrics, make him one of the most endearing artists to emerge in recent years. Now, the world will see even more of this humble yet renowned man. Naptali Biography written by Steve Topple/Pauzeradio.com PR Services, 2nd June 2020.