With the release this month by VPal Music of his first full album, Jamaican artist Tydal takes a front-and-center seat among the young warriors of reggae music. Produced by Master One Productions, the album, Mission Incomplete, has (a daunting) nineteen songs, but those who stay with it will be continually impressed and rewarded for their efforts. Powerful, strong reggae by the singer from St. Mary parish is present in all the songs—it is a surprisingly consistent effort and the quality of songs does not lessen as the listener probes deeper and deeper into this compilation.
And in fact, this is a kind of compilation. Tydal, aka Navardo Graham, has been cutting his chops four years (and more) in the reggae music world. With a number of well-received songs and his 2014 EP Journey of a Young Warrior, Tydal has amassed a significant body of work and a growing fan base. Many of the songs on Mission Incomplete have associated videos you can catch on YouTube. The fans are there so it is high time that all of Tydal’s work gets put into one place. With Mission Incomplete, Tydal takes his place alongside artists like Chronixx and Pressure as one of the young lions of reggae music.
Tydal is a modern man, winding his way through the vagaries of modern life. His concerns are those of many of his age. His hard-hitting and call to revolution Silent Warrior (on Psalm 41 riddim), along with Burning, Draw di Line, and Coward express frustration and anger at the poverty and violence of the modern world. Special note is due to Ballground, a true story of a young boy killed by a “gunshot pon di ballground.” This song a touching and sad commentary on gun violence, beautifully communicated by a singer who cares deeply about the injustice he sees around him. In a remarkable song, Tell Dem Fi Farm, Tydal suggest that it’s a lot better to work at farming than suffer in the ghettos of the modern city.
Love is not lost on the modern reggae artist. The special confusion and feeling for the opposite sex are expressed here too. Lips Dem Seal, Stuck in Your Mind, Back Inna Mi Arms, and Wicked Woman all attest to that most blessed and annoying of feelings.
One song deserves special attention. It is a lament. Laments rarely become mega hits; they are just too sad and painful. Tydal’s hugely plaintive voice makes Have you Lost Somebody, over the riddim called Street Gold, is a statement of a death sung with honest passion and worthy of hearing over and over.
Mission Incomplete is built over Tydal’s hard won career as a singjay of reggae music, and as such is built over a dizzying array of riddims. Here are some of them: Baby Mother, First Born, the beautiful Lonely Loving, Oxygen, Focus, Blessings, the gorgeous Rock and Come Een—among a host of others. Whew! Good choices though! Likewise the production houses are many and varied too, but Jyorken Kennedy’s very professional Master One Productions gets the production credits. Kudos also to Chronic Hill Records and Sam Gilly from House of Riddims for their contributions. In fact H of R works with Tydal on the most roots of all songs here, Somewhere in Africa.
Tydal has stated publically that he has been most influenced by Buju Banton. Although these two differ stylistically, there is a common ground that unites the two, and many other modern reggae artists. The young (and not so young) singjays, balladeers, and chanters of reggae music remain dedicated to the social and spiritual concepts that go all the way back to Peter Tosh, Israel Vibration, and Justin Hinds. Bob Marley once said his vision was that reggae music would change the world, and at his death felt a certain sadness that it had not yet come about. With talented and committed singers like Tydal, Bob’s wish is coming true one (nineteen song!) album at a time. Let’s wish Tydal well as his career matures.