Prince Martin is no upstart. The reconciliatory voice you first encountered on reggae hit It’s So Sad is no longer the same welled from Chancellor College in Zomba.
The one-time dreadlocked singer seems to have come of age. Now he has dropped a third album. Ubunthu comprises 12 tracks from June to December by JJ Munthali at Blue Island Studios.
Recently, Martin released M’misiri, a lovers’ dance tune which speaks with affection of sweetie accustomed to the art of pleasing and mending a broken heart.
The neatly knitted reggae tune could be symptomatic of the equal number of Chichewa and English songs on the album expected to be launched in March.
But Ubunthu is not your usual solo project.
It is a first to be released under the brand Prince Martin & the Soul Raiders.
In an interview, the singer said: “As an artist, I have always preferred my group when it comes to recording sessions and performances.
“The desire to work with my band came out of the frustration of using other groups who may not have the time, motivation and sometimes even the expertise to play our unique kind of reggae,” he explained.
For reggae curators, the mention of ‘Prince Martin and Soul Raiders’ glows like the flame that catalysed the 1974 breakdown of the Wailers, the legendary Jamaican vocal harmony comprising Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh who began working together in 1963.
Then producer Mick Jagger’s marketing ploy to caption the trio’s album Bob Marley and the Wailers led to the breakaway of the remaining two who refused to go on a tour and opted out of the band. They accused Jagger of forming a new band and underestimating their ability and African origins.
But the Raiders say there is no acrimony in the band Martin co-founded with co-vocalist Marcus Suzi and versatile instrumentalist Montfort Manyozo at the constituent college of the University of Malawi in the early 2000s.
Save for the involvement of Mafilika Band guitarist-cum-producer Ernest Ikwanga, the rest of the tools were done by the new-look Soul Raiders which include some faces from Martin’s old bands—House of Lions and Area 18 Vibrations.
Suzi, who speaks for the band, says they happily came together to support their bandleader because togetherness is in line with the theme of Ubunthu—a concept of humaneness that urges people to be keepers and helpers of even strangers.
In an interview, he said: “Ubunthu is Prince’s solo project and what is common is that all the songs are connected to the theme of how we should live and interact as human beings, especially unconditional love.
“The rest of the band was excited not only to give a hand, but also to put on hold our collective album to pave the way for Prince’s project.”
When asked about the new release, Suzi was gushing.
“Martin has been pursuing a solo career for decades and he was already active when we formed the band. On this album, his fans should expect a mature singer who has remained loyal to his beat and bring forth a better understanding and perspectives of life,” he said. n