Multi-hyphenate musician Dre Island releases his 13-track debut on his namesake Dre Island Music imprint, along with New York-based DubShot Records. The album, Now I Rise, is a potpourri of life songs, love songs, redemption songs, and motivation songs.
The stirring Be Okay, which the artiste also produces, showcases haunting vocal performances from Dre Island and guest Jesse Royal. The duo’s message, on the track, laments the existence of an institutionalised cycle of injustice, that continues to portray the false narrative that rewards from ‘broken systems’ will be reflective of inputs.
“You say that slavery is over, so, why we’re still fighting to be free?,” the song pointedly questions, while being mindful to encourage “as sure as the sun shall shine, we all, one day, gon be fine.”
Similarly, Never Runs Dry motivates with lyrics such as “ban yuh head, mama seh ‘son nuh cry, cause yuh river will never run dry‘,” while, also, reminding that “well, ah riot ago bruk, when di cups dem full up.”
On the less militant and more intimate Favourite Girl, Dre Island competently merges traditional R&B stylings and some trap elements with reggae. “You ah di one weh mek mi think bout di ring. You ah di queen that was made for di king,” one line from the track expresses.
Meanwhile, the thought-provoking My City is, also, a love song, but one that chronicles the complex textures of the relationships between residents and their inner-city neighbourhoods across Jamaica.
“I love my city… you brought me up to be this man that i am today” the songwriter sings while juxtaposing lyrics like “days and nights I could not sleep… shots rang out on repeat,” to pay homage to the descriptively tough environs.
The inspirational We Pray, with guest Popcaan, is a welcomed mentor, which encourages perseverance and determination, and adds a redemptive component to complete this initial full-length effort from Dre Island.
“We rise to the top, ’cause we know what it takes. Through it all, we survive, yet still hold faith, unchangeable.”
The album also features guests Chronixx and Alandon.