'Integrity Project' communicates without overkill
I approached the Integrity Project CD with a mixture of interest and trepidation befitting someone who believes in communication through popular culture and supports the project's objective, as had been previously explained to me, yet with the knowledge that artistic excellence and the decided intention to transmit a specific message can be a tricky balance to strike.
(By way of context, the Integrity Project is supported by National Integrity Action (NIA) through Youth Crime Watch's Change Through Arts, with USAID putting in funding.)
So, I slipped in the attractively designed CD, which uses visual art to reaffirm the music's lyrical content, prepared to make concessions on quality because of the overall intention and found from the get-go, with Cadio's Granny Seh, that such compromises were unnecessary. In the song, integrity is approached through family lessons, Cadio singing, "From mi likkle an a grow mi Granny tell mi/She seh Cadio don't misrepresent mi/Don' sell yu soul jus' fi get wealthy ... ". That introduction does end with the statement "I am a proud supporter of the NIA. I am integrity", but the blatant insertion of the message does not detract from the humorous wisdom of the song.
It sets the tone for the single-riddim (the Integrity Riddim) collection, and the approach and standard do not falter. The title Youth are the Future is a cliche, but Sye Burns' distinctive vocals, the enduring, unanswered query of who armed the youth, and the issue of parenting are a good counterbalance.
INTENTIONS AND IDEALS
Love is the common theme running throughout Harmonique's, Jodi Jahz's and Selah's contributions on a project where I am happy to see a healthy female contribution. The principle is, of course, that love is the basis of reciprocal trust and good treatment. (And Jodi does make the outright connection as she sings, "We need more integrity/With love inna yu heart, the world would be a better place".)
I am especially intrigued by Vision 2030 by Yeza, which goes a far way to dispelling any thought that this might be one of those projects that mouth nice intentions and ideals without making the necessary analysis (or criticism) of situations that the target audience is well aware of. Steppa, blending his accustomed poetry approach with song, continues that approach as he personalises the message in I am Integrity, stating, "I tiad a dis, bare liad inna dis".
The Integrity Project transmits its message without putting the performers on a soapbox, making the message, although focused, more natural and effective.
Granny Seh (Cadio)
Youth Are the Future (Sye Burns)
Spread the Love (Harmonique)
Keep Love (Jodi Jahz)
Spread Love (Selah)
Vision 2030 (Yeza)
I Am Integrity (Steppa)