Forever Judah is a compilation album released from the Jah Ova Evil reggae camp. Submitting a tight mix of roots artists from the family, the seven artists heard here show great promise for current success and future growth. Often compilation albums can come off as disjointed, but Forever Judah avoids that cliff by bringing artists of equal skill together. Forever Judah marks a period of vibrancy for the Jah Ova Evil family, while also marking a moment of constructive sadness.
Alty George Nunes III, aka Lil Joe, aka Jah Ova Evil (J.O.E.), passed in February of 2011, leaving behind a record of artistic growth that demanded to be carried onward. The Jah Ova Evil record label formed through the catalyst of his passing and forwards messages of hope and progress, while showcasing a team of talented artists. Lil Joe’s “Belly of di Beast” (sounding vocally akin to Chronixx, at times) crowns this compilation, standing as the first track. A hard hitting roots vibe, Lil Joe’s is an undeniable sound that ended too quickly, even if its legacy has become one of growth for like-minded artists.
The Gideon’s hard accent (born in Port Antonio) and approach fall like a sledgehammer on his three tracks: “Roots Rock,” “Children of Israel,” and “Highest.” Bringing messages of necessary social responsibility and growth, his delivery dances over roots/dancehall hybrid riddims that move any room they fill.
East Kingston, Jamaica’s DXL (“Uncivil Rest,” “Strive,” and “Roll it Up”) is a lyrically unforgiving soldier pushing for conscious action in a world that doesn’t always steer that way. From deep, social agitation issues to the criminal caging of ganja smokers, DXL refuses to lighten the delivered payload.
Selah (“Badadeng,” “Spread Love,” and “Haile Jah”) has a sound that is light and bubbly, a sound sure to make the listener vibe through any room. “Haile Jah,” one of the album’s highlights, is one to receive multiple spins. Nicole Miller (“Sweet Thing,” “Jahlove”), Jahwawah (“Your King is on the Way”), and Hempress Sativa (“Jah Live”) round out the album solidly with their own action-ready voices.
Forever Judah is a ringing tribute to a man who inspired many to continue the necessary march of bringing roots reggae to the masses. Even when a bedrock soldier falls, the war doesn’t end. Someone picks up the movement and carries on, surely as J.O.E. would’ve preferred, and surely as these sounds are necessary ammunition in the trod against Babylon.