Reality TV alumnus Romain Virgo has become a genuine success since winning Digicel Rising Star, Jamaica’s equivalent to the popular [Insert Country Here] Idol series. Under the guidance of revered producers Shane Brown from Jukebox Records and Penthouse Records’ Donovan Germain, The System has big shoes to fill as a follow-up to Virgo’s acclaimed self-titled debut.
Opening with the title track, the 21-year old singer describes the pain faced by people living in the ghetto such as lack of opportunities, money, increased gun crime and sexual abuse whilst pleading with the people in power for assistance. Pretty grim stuff to open an album with. Being the voice of the hard-working people is the order of the first few songs including “Minimum Wage,” “Another Day, Another Dollar” and “Food Fi The Plate,” all of which detail the everyday troubles they face trying making ends meet.
“Food Fi The Plate” and successor “Dem A Coward” both utilise the same rhythm track — whose name I can’t recall in my time. “Dem A Coward” and its successor “I Know Better” both deal with avoiding the temptation to fall into a life of crime, while “Ray of Sunshine,” “Fantasize,” “Fired Up Inside” and “Broken Heart” all cater to lovers.
Despite relentlessly playing it last year, sweet love song “I Am Rich In Love” is still my favourite song from the set. I think that says more about the strength of the song than it is a criticism of the album. The System proves a solid follow-up, sidestepping the sophomore jinx with ease. Oh, and in true reggae fashion, the album features a cover of Adele‘s “Don’t You Remember.”
However, my sole criticism is that quite a few songs (some of which lack pronounced basslines) hang at the same mid-tempo BPM making it harder to hold my concentration on first couple listens. Something dancehall-inspired with a feature would have been a treat. Also, more uplifting tracks that give hope and strength like “Press On” would have bolstered the LP.
Overall, The System is a balanced effort catering to the different fans of reggae, be it lovers or fans of reality (social-commentary) from a regular guy who shares similar feelings on everyday struggles. Guaranteed to get the tours in.