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Kabaka Pyramid, Iba MaHr & Bebble Rockers in Pursuit of Reality – Review & Photos at SOBs NYC
By Grace Vanriel & Photography by Anil Batra for Reggae Reflection
Sunday July 12, 2015 – Roots and Culture artists Kabaka Pyramid and Iba MaHr backed by the Bebble Rockers band headlined Sounds of Brazil (SOB’s) in downtown Manhattan to a large multicultural crowd of attendees. It was the last stop on their ambitious “Young Lions” US tour that kicked off on June 11th in California making its way through twenty-four stops before ending in New York City; and by the enthusiasm of the crowd, New Yorkers were ready.
Iba MaHr kicked of the show giving us a full 50 minute set that felt to this listener like a Reggae/Soul/mini Jazz infused afrocentric consciousness that artfully turned words into elongated meaningful sounds filling the air with a warm flavorful flow. Born Mario Greaves in Jamaica West Indies, his stage name holds significant meaning to the conscious crowd and Rastafari; ‘Iba’ means humble and calm and ‘MaHr’ is a shortened version of a territorial division in Ethiopia called “Mario of Harar.” Having never heard MaHr’s music, I gave myself a few songs before settling in and before long I was glad that I had taken the time to catch his set which never once diminished in interest or vitality over the next fifty minutes. His was an intelligent presentation that filled the room with positivity and emotion and when he sang his current hit “Diamond Sox” and the audience went wild, I went wild right along with them! If you’re not yet familiar with Iba MaHr’s music the time has come to start listening. To get a true feel about the messages he’s progressing try listening to one of his earlier songs like “Love Thy Neighbor” (which I think came out in 2012 ). From there move to “Great Is H.I.M.” on the popular Rootsman Riddim and then to one of his latest releases, a hot new song called “Travelling.” I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of his freshman album “Glory of the King” (VP Records) set for release sometime in the very near future.
Described as an artist with “a unique musical style blending the lyricism of Hip hop, with the energy and melody of Reggae and Dancehall”, I admit that description seemed ambitious and had me curious to hear Kabaka Pyramid on stage. No matter what, how an artist records with the benefit of studio technicians versus a live on stage presentation is for me the make and break for any artist because the question is, can the artist hold up without the benefit of studio technology? As I waited for Kabaka (born Keron Salmon) to take the stage I admit that I wondered if he could indeed blend three musical genres and make his set interesting enough to hold my short attention span. It didn’t take long to discover that both his music and energetic performance style was a spellbinding treat to the ears that inspired you to listen to the melodies and watch his different style of relaying his musical message. During the evening Kabaka sang one of his highly rated songs called “Warrior” adding Hip-Hop verses (complete with use of a spot-on yankee [American] accent, which was the favorite song for me and my friends in attendance. Oh yeah, Kabaka can blend and he most definitely proved that he could. Loving the audience he artfully moved through his performance setting off magic energy sparks on the stage; during his generous set he also evoked music in respect to artists who inspired him like Bob Marley and Sizzla, letting loose tribute songs originally recorded by both Reggae icons.
Kabaka Pyramid and Iba Mahr share the stage
Kabaka Pyramid and Iba MaHr ended the show together on stage going tune for tune and that was fun! As I watched them enjoying the music together it dawned on me that this is what Reggae is supposed to be all about…love and unity not badmind and competition. If this is the next generation of Reggae artists, you can bet I’m ready for the new dawning. I believe that part of the reason the tour and both artists did such excellent jobs is because they believe their messages and the power that has been given to them is great and endless. They did not just come to entertain, they came to enlighten and that’s just what they accomplished. And, although I don’t yet know their individual names it would be horrible if I didn’t mention the excellent backing band called “Bebble Rockers” because they were so on point you couldn’t separate them from the notes they played or the singers…they were an instrumental part of the magic, and they were tight. The New York leg of the tour was presented before one of the toughest audiences found anywhere in the world and those young lions came and conquered and it’s my prediction that the next place they are headed is to super-stardom!
Grace Vanriel is the founder and CEO of the Live Reggae NYC network and co-founder of The Reggaeholics Movement to preserve and promote Reggae music as a traditional Jamaican art form; she is a freelance writer for Where Itz At Magazine, Senior Correspondent for ReggaeReflection.com, CatchTheVybe.com, TheReggaeVibe.com and the Assistant Caribbean Editor for CitiLyfe.com (online and print).