The Raw Facts by King Schascha
Album Review, May 30, 2018
Robert E. Rubin (Bobby)
Two albums with a strong reggae vibe were released on April 20th of this year. One of them is very good. The other is quite simply outstanding.
44/876 by the somewhat unlikely, but ultimately satisfying, collaboration of Sting and Shaggy is a very good album. But we’ll talk about those two cats another day.
Today is all about King Schascha, whose own April 20th release, The Raw Facts, is every bit as satisfying as the Sting and Shaggy record, but, as the title suggests, exponentially more raw. That’s a good thing, by the way, because while Sting and Shaggy take very few risks in their project, King Schascha’s album is all about raw intensity and personal catharsis, which requires a great deal of risk to be successful. The passionate vocals and infectious beat couple to produce an outstanding record that is anything but “safe.”
Let’s first do a quick rundown of musical royalty, shall we?
- Michael Jackson = The King of Pop
- Elvis Presley = “The King”
- Dave Wakeling = The King of Ska
- Prince = his name kind of says it all
- Queen = one heckuva band
And then, there is King Schascha.
Don’t you dare call him “Roger.” King Schascha, Toaster and singer for The English Beat, has carved out his own niche in the band. I don’t have the exact calculations at my disposal, but it’s safe to say that King Schascha has been with the band for at least as long as Ranking Roger was. That’s really where the comparisons should end, and where this paragraph should end. King Schascha brings his own brand of infectious energy and charm to The Beat. He also brings it, big time, in his solo work.
Back to the facts: The Raw Facts. This is a beautiful album. The first time I asked Alexa to play it for me, I was transfixed. “Turn Ova” is the first track, and I think it might be my favorite. This is classic reggae all the way, with King Schascha’s raw vocalizations telling us that “the old days are over.” Yes and no. The track preserves the classic reggae rhythms loved by fans of the genre worldwide, but it brings the genre squarely up to date with Schascha’s equal parts singing and persuasive toasting.
He continues the singing and toasting balance on “Long Long Road”, beginning first with a melodic chorus. The singjaying style works well again, the interplay between melody and toasting nicely in balance throughout the song.
“Rudeboy Skankin,” featuring Neville Staple, is next on the album, and it’s a huge crowd favorite at English Beat concerts. This comes as no surprise, as the danceable track juxtaposes Schascha’s trademark speed chatting with a “speed” horn section. The result is one of the most energetic tracks on the album and in King Schascha’s catalogue.
Neville Staple is not the only impressive guest to appear on the album. Sister Nancy joins “Mr. Policeman,” and Richie Spice brings a brilliant guest vocal to “Ghetto Story.” These two tracks, along with “Cold World” and “Never Give Up,” provide sharp, smart, and timely political and social commentary, something somewhat less prominent in the Sting/Shaggy collaboration.
In “Tougher Than a Congo,” in the running with “Turn Ova” for my favorite track, Schascha proclaims, “I’m looking for a queen to be my lover, so can we start it tonight?” The resulting upbeat narrative tells the timeless story of courtship under the backdrop of infectiously danceable rhythms.
Anthony B. provides strong vocals for “Holding On,” bellowing, “I keep holding on to my roots.” King Schascha follows with more of his trademark toasting in a song about being proud of one’s heritage. “Holding On” is a stellar contribution to the album.
“I See,” “Who Jah Bless,” and “How” are fine examples of classic reggae, while “Clean and Fine” adds some serious Dancehall beats. Speaking of the dancehall, “Inna Di Dancehall” closes out the album with the help of another of Schascha’s friends, Luciano.
When it’s all said and done, The Raw Facts transports listeners to the dancehalls of Trinidad, or perhaps to one of King Schascha’s energetic shows in the U.S. and the U.K. Wherever it takes you, enjoy the raw ride of real reggae. This is the genuine article.