New reggae music preaches African unity
“Chiggae” is the debut Amharic language album from Hailemichael Getnet, better known by his stage name as Haile Roots. The 31-year-old singer came up with a display of real roots, showcasing compelling, melodic riffs and interesting lyrics. The 13-track album, arranged and composed by Elias Melka, takes you on a journey of love, righteousness, empowerment, and is filled with rhythms that blend perfectly with his incredible voice.
Haile first came to attention years ago when he was featured in Teddy Afro’s ‘Bob Marely’ and he later released a single track tilted ‘Yes I’ that he played live at Juvents Club and Millennium Hall. That single track is included in the newest album under a different title, Ethiopia.
Recorded in Addis Ababa’s Begena Studio, the new album is engaging and entertaining collection on issues of solidarity, unity, exile, loss of youth and transcending bitterness. Jamaican and Ethiopian stars ranging from Luciano to Mikey General and Eyob Mekonnen have been featured in the album. Continental drift has rarely sounded funkier.
Album opener “Woudnesh” is an encouragement for women and affirmations of faith in the power of the human spirit. The singer appeals to young Ethiopian women to be strong in the face of sexual exploitation, and material obsession. Life’s challenges can be met, he says.
The title track Chiggae is a hybrid of the Ethiopian chikchika and Jamaica reggae, putting a distinctly local spin on the reggae form. The lyric goes
Leave me alone sadness and sorrow
The sun will shine tomorrow
No more cry and sad life again
I will be stronger than my pain
The relative manner provides the ample story telling for that particular thing that has happened to us all. This is particularly evident in the sixth track, “Yetefa yigegnal,” where the claps summon the urgency required to claw forth the truth for the prospective listener. “Melkam Yamarech,” showcases the singer’s romantic side.
The twelfth track “Harambee” (which in Swahili means unity) also shows strength in arrangement. It has a very nice atmosphere and the instrumentation progresses enough underneath it to give you a sense of development.The message calls for creating the environment for African to move together as one people. “The more we realise what we can do together as a unit, the farther we will get as an African nation,” he says. The lyrics go
Weh need so much love inna Africa Land
Righteousness di way fi all human kind
No more tribal war no more confusion
One love my people one revelation
Overall, “Chiggae” is one of the better contemporary reggae albums to be heard in a while, with its evocative songwriting and neat production. His homilies about peace, hope, love, unity are sincere, delivered with power, accurate time and pitch.