I encountered Cali P back in 2015 through his Healing of the Nation album. I liked the next album too, and the collaborations with Shanique Marie of the Equiknoxx collective and dancehall legend Capleton.
I found about the special project, Vizion, thanks to Riddim Magazine and listened to this collaboration and loved their 2 EP’s, 8 music videos, the great art direction of Jonathan Moritz, photos from Niculai Constantinescu, the whole energy emanating from the two artists working together. Truth be told, in today's music culture you need to make a music project more complex than just a music album.
For more personal context, I was mesmerized ever since I first heard reggae fusion in 2007. TEKA & Cali P remind me of how I was blown away by the eclecticism of Sizzla Kalonji and Turbulence from Jamaica and then in New York where Bill Laswell and Sly & Robbie were working with Shabba Ranks. Vizion takes me back to that great energy of Jamalski and Mad Lion on rhyming over hip-hop riddims.
TEKA is a lover of analog vibes. You sense that in his productions, riddims, and collaborations. What kicked off his collab with Cali P was a Migos Remix.
Cali P's family musical background has transformed him into a fearless deejay and rapper with a strong, enthusiastic vocal delivery. Starting 2005, he released five albums and 24 vinyl singles and EP's on labels such as Nation Music, Hemp Higher Productions, One Love Records, and others.
Innit opens the Vizion album with a straight reggae dub riddim that sets the tone of the marijuana haze flow of the record. TEKA is in full swing, with the bass pumping, drums kicking in proper style, offering the perfect bedrock for Cali P's lyrics. They are about to make it to the top of the music industry. Once you reach that, you're exposed, your face appears everywhere, and you become a poster boy. You might lose your freedom.
“Africa love it/Everything happy/You did it, did it/ Thing get huge now innit/ I used to see you sometimes/ Now I see you every minute”
What I love about Cali P is his interest in deep socio-political messages. On Innit, he names one of my favorite dub poets, Mutabaruka. You must have known him from his fire tongue and words of power against the Babylonian system and the way our lives are governed by politicians.
Heartbreaker changes the mood: this is auto-tuned dancehall lovers rock. I just love the drums TEKA did on this song because they seem recorded live with a drummer and produced beautifully with synths and wobbly bass to lift Cali P's wailing story. The narrative is about feminism and the sentimental rollercoaster most women face in the face of toxic masculinity.
Hit Like Gunshot has some smooth synth riffs and a very addictive-focused groove. This is reggae fusion by TEKA at his best. I love the message too, Cali P goes into a political rant about the events that lead to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Where is the justice/ For those who die?/ It happened today/ It happened in May”.
The guitar riff on the tune is the perfect highlight for Cali P to paint a picture about the decaying state of humanity and the backlash abuse and racism deserve.
Care For Us has some great nyabinghi drumming as the pulse guiding the melody. Following Hit Like Gunshot properly, Cali P's message is one of pointing towards colonialism and racial hatred, of programmed generations that have limited education and chance: "You ain’t for the people/ You don't care for us/ You don't really care about us." TEKA drops some great synths in the outro, proper science fiction soundtrack stuff.
Rise Up & Shine (ft. Stonebwoy & Seun Kuti) changes the vibe. This is an African affair with a splendid afrobeat funky riddim as the background, great vibraphone, and dancey drums. Lyrically, the three musketeers are painting a picture of faith in divinity. Another dynamic is given by the constant struggle Africans are facing all over the world. Both Stonebwoy and Seun Kuti are locked in the groove and keep their flows on the same wavelength with Cali P, they seem brothers, and none is disrupting the melody with their interventions. When you get a feature like that on American hip-hop records, let's say from Kanye West or Drake, by Buju Banton or Popcaan, they add some sort of unleveled exoticism. In my opinion, they are premeditatedly highlighted, almost exploited. On Rise Up & Shine, Stonebwoy and Seun Kuti are accurately aligned and in tune with the composition and message so big up.
Congo Natty is another chill dub reggae riddim with a great synthesizer hook drawing you into a skanking dance mood. Cali P is quite melancholic on this instrumental, with the lyrics sounding almost like an improvisation, which is great because the whole song is an invitation to go with the flow.
Crazy hits hard but maintains the mellow vibe set up by the last tune. This is a wonderful love song with both TEKA and Cali P in lovers rock flow again. “Steady like a rub-a-dub riddim/ Yeah we bubbling it." Cali P makes it feel easy, a hard job to do in this musical genre.
"Inspiration to my song/ Yes you make me strong."
This is an honest song about the evolution of a relationship: one of the hardest things to do, open up your heart and soul on record and transform it into a song.
Baddest is the first song released in the Vizion EP I project, back in 2018, and it hasn’t aged a bit in this industry of programmed obsolescence. TEKA’s riddim has a very subtle hazy feel. Badness is about coolness, being a true rudeboy, not running around spreading wrongdoings. Lyrically this is a shout-out on all of Cali P's afrobeat, reggae, and dancehall inspirations, both female and male: Miriam Makeba, Hempress Sativa, Sister Nancy, Shabba Ranks, Chronixx, and many others.
"Big up badness a man dem/ Badness a gal dem/ Born superstars coming from nature/ And representing more than paper."
Girlfriend is one of the dancehall gems on this album with a glitchy production by TEKA. The synths wobble and bubble with splashes of strings. Cali P's flow is fun and rhythmic, and you really get to enjoy his technique. In the chorus, on the other hand, the Sativa haze is very much at home.
“You a di passenger/ My a di chauffeur/ If it drives you crazy/ Man a put pause”, lyrics with a heavy, heavy flow. All drummers should deejay and rap more often!
When Things Go Up comes back to the reggae dub vibes but with great gunshot samples and superb female choir backing vocals. Cali P has a steady energetic flow with a great chorus:
"When Things Go Up/ Some try to bring it down/ As a problem is on/ The next problem come."
TEKA's hook on this one is a very cool synth that simulates the old-school horns and brass of The Skatalites creatively.
Life Lesson has an urgency to it, both lyrically and production-wise. The dub in the style of King Tubby is there, and Cali P rides it properly like Sizzla Kalonji used to do when his output was strictly dancehall. The mechanic chorus is then broken by some excellent wailing and chants. I can hear a dub version in my head with only those vocal melodies.
People Want More is probably my favorite tune on this album. Not only it's a splendid ganja anthem, but it has both a ludic flow of Cali P and the fun party-style production by TEKA.
"Sell it, sell it/ Buy a couple Range Rover/ It’s insane, I’m high like a plane/ People want more, people want more/ High grade."
Plus, the video is a diverse cinematic production experience, the funniest green screen job ever, with fluffy clouds and airplanes included!
When You Hold Me has this strong synth hooky riff borrowed partially from the Gorillaz tune Feel Good Inc. I don’t think Damon Albarn will sue TEKA & Cali P. The whole feeling is just as Noel Gallagher from Oasis used to brag: "It doesn't matter where you steal it from, but how you steal it." Great work TEKA! Cali P returns to lovers rock mode, and this is a very welcomed finishing touch to a record of sound and vision. "I love it when you hold me/ Feeling that this love control me"
This album deserves to be on vinyl! Fast! Cali P’s performances are sublime, but more, as a dubhead, I would love to hear a full dub version of Vizion in Dub by TEKA with snippets of Cali’s voice.