Independent rapper Five Steez has released his new digital 8-track EP, ‘These Kingston Times’, on Bandcamp, iTunes and other outlets. The project, which captures the modern tale of the Jamaican capital, Kingston, comes after the release of two singles this past summer – ‘Deadly’ and ‘Welcome’ – the latter having its music video launched online in September (watch it here).
‘These Kingston Times’ begins with the appropriately titled single, ‘Welcome’, on which Five Steez introduces the uninitiated listener to ‘yard’ over an uptempo head-nodding beat with a Jamaican sample used in the scratch hook. On the title track, ‘These Kingston Times’, he recalls some of the city’s fallen dons – figures legitimized by legal business interests and powerful political connections.
‘Wild West Indies’ follows and Steez, accompanied by some haunting music, takes aim at not only his country’s weak leadership, but also forces, past and present, that have exploited his nation and the wider Caribbean. The tone changes somewhat on ‘From the Ground Up’ as he rallies the troops with some fiery lyrics supported by a dusty and grimy instrumental.
‘The Starting Five’, the EP’s fifth track, is the only song with guest appearances, featuring four other rappers from Kingston – K. John, Kash Kapri, France Nooks and Nomad Carlos – all delivering verses one after the other. On ‘Deadly’, Five Steez lets everyone know he’s ready for the stage, over a classic breakbeat mixed with a vintage Reggae flavour and signature Dancehall chant.
The project nears its end with ‘Night Streets’, which features Steez, with a light jazz backdrop, pondering his own life in Kingston and his mission in music. ‘These Kingston Times’ finally closes with ‘Untold Stories 2’, the dramatic sequel to a stellar narrative on the artist’s 2012 debut album, ‘War for Peace’. Steez continues the tale, injecting more suspense and action, while leaving the listener with just as much mystery at the end as he did with the first.
“I wanted to paint my city the way I see it, and in a way I’ve never heard the story told before in music,” says Five Steez. “Since Hip Hop’s genesis with DJ Kool Herc, there has always been a Jamaican influence and involvement in the genre, but you’ve never heard about actual life here in ‘yard’, as we affectionately call it. It’s a new perspective in Hip Hop, but parallel to that of urban environments worldwide.”