Alpha Steppa – Dub Kingdom
Steppas Records, LP, CD & Digital
I think it is only right and proper that I celebrate my 150th Reggae Roots Review blog post with a piece on one of my favourite and most featured reggae artists, Ben Alpha Steppa. Ben himself is celebrating seven years of Steppas Records with this release ‘Dub Kingdom’. Due out early November and for the first time on vinyl, it’s a re-working of this year’s 3rd Kingdom album. So it is celebrations all round. But the question is, how you make an already pretty heavy album, actually go any deeper?
In case you are not familiar with Ben Alpha Steppa, he is the son and nephew of pioneering UK roots dub duo Alpha & Omega. Ben grew up surrounded by sound system and dubplate culture, so it’s not really surprising that he ended up carving out his own dub career with his label Steppas Records. He must be one of the most interesting producers around, as his music draws on an enormously wide range of influences. Musicians from Korea to Ireland and from Brazil to Jamaica have all benefited from his individual take on dub reggae.
You are guaranteed deep and heavy bass with Steppas Records, so what is in store for you if you pick up a copy of Dub Kingdom? The SoundCloud clip above gives you a feel, expansive lower end vibes are definitely the order of the day. I have picked out the track ‘Ancient Dub’, featuring the vocal of Nai-Jah, as a good example of what Ben brings to reggae. He does like to add Eastern influences into his music, as well as a love for the natural world.
In the background of Ancient Dub you have this deep horn sound which does sound like the mooing of a cow (or perhaps that’s just me who thinks that!). More sensibly it could also be the daily call from an ancient Buddhist monastery. Add in the fluty overlay and you have something that is not a frivolous exercise in sampling, but actually has some spiritual and soulful resonance. It’s not just the bass you feel, but it also ties you in with ancient civilisations.
I have mentioned before in reviews of Alpha Steppa releases that Ben’s music has its own space in the reggae world. I can’t think of another producer that brings in as many cultural ‘world music’ jigsaw pieces into his music. OK, I am a fan, and wear my Steppas admiration on my sleeve (literally), but my record collection would poorer without those LP’s.
I guess that seven years is just the start for Steppas Records, long may Ben continue to enrich and innovate. I will keep buying, so maybe when I get to my 300th blog post, Ben will feature with another of his ground breaking productions.
Dub Kingdom is out on the 3rd November from all good retailers but try the Steppas Records site first and buy from the source.
Bless, Paper Lion
Let me know in the comments whether you have a Steppas release in your collection. Social media shares drive my blog so any help with this would be much appreciated.