How many of you have heard that word before? “Chiliagon”. I went to Wikipedia so you wouldn’t have to (thank me later): In geometry, a chiliagon is a polygon with 1,000 sides. Philosophers commonly refer to chiliagons to illustrate ideas about the nature and workings of thought, meaning, and mental representation.
Alright… so it makes sense now! Because veteran Jamaican deejay Spragga Benz is a man that definitely has many sides and has been able to illustrate ideas ever since 1991! An’ him still ah gwaan all NOW! It has been almost a decade since Spragga debuted an album so it is quite a pivotal moment in his career that long-awaited Chiliagon drops on Friday 27th September. After almost 30yrs in the music industry it is impossible not to hail Spragga Benz as a pioneer and living legend. His sound has most certainly paved the way for many artists and placed Jamaica in many speakers around the world. I grew up listening to this talented and humble man, so imagine my excitement when I (on behalf of PRDN) got an exclusive sneak peak at what’s to come!
15 tracks… Let me give you a heads up from now – if you are expecting pure dancehall you are mistaken and / or about to be surprised (more so if you are a new listener). Prolific musician Spragga has never been one fi fala fashin (*to follow the crowd). In this album, he is still widely experimental as ever. Mixing splashes of indie rock, pop, reggae, jungle, ragga and dancehall as well as collaborating with various international artists and producers (big up the UK features!) there is bound to be suttum fi everybody to vibe to.
“Move to the Music” ft. Rebel ACA (one half of Rebel ACA and French Monkey Wrench) is a clear nod to stepping out of the box. Interestingly, Spragga takes a step back and really allows Rebel ACA to shine on his verse. Not quite indie, rock or pop – it’s unique in it’s sound with a heavy dose of London infused bars matched with stripped back Patois from Spragga on the chorus and bridge. The two collab again on “Some of us Love Rum”. (Wray and Neph anyone? Appleton?!). Once again, they bring contrast and layers but this time to a more dancehall feel with the bassline sounding like a sly nod to Freak of the Week.
If ah dancehall yuh waan then press play and get ready fi “Spread Out” (ft. Hype and Fever) The Kala-Lee brothers (Hype Hyphen and Cold Fever) are as experimental in their sound as Spragga, so this is a lively and exciting link-up of vocals and vibes. The bass is heavy and influenced by dandiya (an Indian folk dance which is performed to drum beats using various percussion instruments). The joining of the two sounds is a great representation of the brothers heritage. Some ah unuh may have heard / seen this performed at Notting Hill Carnival last year – I can only imagine some ah yuh did ketch ah wiiicked whine to dis! Like Rebel ACA, Hype and Fever feature on Chiliagon twice. But this time as producers (alongside Uncle P) with an energetic jungle riddim for“If Yuh Ready” featuring the well known North-West Londoner, Ragga and Jungle deejay General Levy.
So another “double up” I am going to mention is centred around “Differ” (prod. Toddla T). The original showcases Spragga’s effortless wordplay and storytelling over a nu-sound dancehall beat with a strong rumbling bassline. Di man can seh whulleap in just 6 seconds! 42-48 seconds on the track – I almost did fling when mi fone! (I’m forever almost dashing my phone init?! Smh). The remix… Bwoi! Let me be clear, I rate the original but the selection of artists on the remix was spot on! Sean Paul, Agent Sasco and Chi Ching Ching made this a loud and proud Jamaican collaboration. Each artist brought their own flavour to this song and the video highlights that perfectly.
“Believe” ft. Tanika and“No Regrets” are two stand-out reggae songs on this album and I can’t pick a favourite out of the two! Tanika compliments the roots feel of the trumpets and groovy electric guitar on the chorus and Spragga, on the verses, paints a picture of two people coming together, expressing appreciation for one another.
“Fulfilling – dat ah di perfect adjective, mi nuh need nuh more than you girl, mi love all dat yuh do girl. An’ even if we be togeda ova 20yrs, yuh ah guh always be mi new girl, cah you’re suh real an’ true girl” – Spragga Benz (Believe).
A stark contrast to Believe, No Regrets highlights an acoustic guitar and drum centred beat. Benz showcases his vocals on the chorus as he acknowledges that although he doesn’t want to lose his lady, she is “free to go” and there is no regrets. Bwoi, no sah ah lie mi did tell! I just listened to the choon again – ah dis one ah mi favourite outta di two reggae vibes dem! As emotional as No Regrets is, the vibe is just too sweet man! Smooth and easy-listening with a mellow sing-along melody.
Rounding this up with a last nod to the number 2 – guess who features pon di h’album again?! TODDLA T! “Wicked Love” is easily my favourite choon on Chiliagon! And noooo, it isn’t fi di reasons weh yuh tink! Yes, di lyrics dem slick and di riddim is TUFF! But honestly, this takes me right back to falling in love with ragga! Any of you ever seen Dancehall Queen? Listen, if they did a part 2 I can guarantee that Olivine’s bad bruk daughter would be trying to avenge her mumma’s dancehall failure to DIS YAH SONG! I’m not even going to gas this choon no further – mi gwine let yuh speakers dweeit fi mi!
I purposefully haven’t touched upon certain songs on Chiliagon as I want the rest of your listening experience to be free from my influence. Go in with fresh ears and no expectations… Well, no actually, expect the unexpected! I also purposefully focused on the pattern of the number 2 in this article… Why? Because although I noticed things occurring twice let us not overlook that this album, like it’s name implies, is multi-faceted in many ways. From features, to cultures, to sounds, flows, lyrics and no doubt the range of listeners it will reach.
Spragga Benz is a true icon. A real Chiliagon.