Etana's ‘I Rise’ places her in a class of her own Image

by Federico Di Puma

Etana is back and ready to rise to the top with her fourth album. I Rise follows the highly acclaimed Better Tomorrow (2013) and is set to gain even more success as it is one of the best, if not the best, of her entire career.

Produced by the legendary Clive Hunt, who has put together a group of extremely talented musicians, for VP Records, the album has it all and Etana shows a strength and a maturity that puts her in a class of her own.


The album opens with Marley’s Selassie Is The Chapel that Etana beautifully reinterprets in a very intimate version letting her voice shine and the piano accompanying her softly.


One thing you’ll definitely notice is the presence of the horns on the album’s entirety (the hand of Clive Hunt can easily be seen) and How Long is the first clear example with a classic Roots Rock Reggae rhythm and a good trombone that sustains Etana’s prayer for a change: “how long will the children have to cry, how long will they have to fight destroying their lives while the leaders carry on, promises don’t feed hungry belly!


This is one of the main themes of the album and comes back with On My Way, where the rhythm has a marching tempo that goes right with the lyrics of the tune and shows Etana trodding and carrying on even if the journey is rough and tough. Trigger was the second single released from the album followed by visuals of Etana addressing the ghetto violence with the story of a ghetto youth ashamed by what he has to do in order to survive.

With Richest Girl, Etana reminded us that money is not the most important thing in life if we are with the person we love: “I can lose it all the money in the bank, I could lose it all but one thing that is true if I’m waking next to you I’m the richest girl.” Here again Etana’s voice is magnificent and the solo of sax that ends the tune makes it even more special. The love theme is quite relevant in the album and connects Richest Girl with tracks Love Song and By Your Side, two tunes that again show how good Etana is in singing and writing and how much she likes to sing about love.

I Rise
doesn’t feature any collaboration but is sprinkled with renditions of some of Etana’s influencers; one such example comes in the form of Marcia Griffiths’ Steppin Out of Babylon. Etana has stated several times that the former member of the I-Threes has always been her idol and a perfect example for all the female Reggae singers and we are sure her fresh version of one of Marcia’s many masterpieces will only make the Queen of Reggae more than happy.

After praising Marcia Griffiths, Jamaican Woman is a praise to all the Jamaican strong women: We live in a God blessed country, where the women dem are natural beauty, so we black and we proud, we have to turn it up loud and don’t make the system come trap we! Here too the horns section is on top.

Going towards the end of the album comes my favourite track: Emancipation. The heavy drum & bass line and the horns section sustain a strong roots and meaningful tune that echoes Marcus Garvey’s messages and Mikey Dread’s music. Extremely interesting is the message, delivered almost speaking rather than singing about religion and spirituality.

Etana leaves us with the last track Ghettout, spreading again a positive message: Poverty is not your destiny, ghetto means get out!


What the album represent is the perfect stepping stone for Etana to position herself as this generation’s Empress of Reggae.

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