Ras Muhamad’s fifth album “Salam” is his most proud work where lyrics and music is strongly combined in balance, none outweighs the other due to the major part of Germany’s Oneness Records. Moritz “DaBaron” Korf or “Morry” as Ras Muhamad affectionately calls him oversees the album in terms of producing and lending arrangements.
‘Salam’ offers Asia’s first international Reggae album that is in a ‘Pure Roots Reggae’ format, although Dancehall and Hip-Hop fans alike can truly relate to this album musically. Thematically, even though most part of the lyrics in “Salam” are in English, Ras always finds a way to deliver his Indonesian standpoint. Relevant in the first single ‘Lion Roar’ where he explains as such a history of cultural similarities of the ‘Lion’ symbol , between African and Asian culture and even western such as Europe.
He touches many topics as if a history teacher that teaches unconventional lessons. Such as the collaboration with Kabaka Pyramid, the critically-acclaimed lyricist in “Re-Education” where both men convey of Asia having many traces and a “hidden cultural link” with Africa from spiritual thought, architecture and physical features. In “Conquest”, a listener can truly feel the rage of a son that puts a verdict against one of humanity’s greatest crime and that is Colonialism. Ras Muhamad explains how Christopher Columbus gave way of “Conquest” on Asian-African nations. In the tune “Learn and Grow”, with a Soul/R&B feel, Sara Lugo joins Ras Muhamad for a positive message in the form of self-acceptance and self-motivation. “accept your design from the Divine” Ras Muhamad states in his lyrics.
“Satu Rasa” meaning “One feeling” in Bahasa Indonesia is a celebration where no matter what language you speak everyone seeks for love and joy when it comes to music. The lyrics to this particular tune are in 6 languages, being in English, Jamaican Patois, Bahasa Indonesia, Flores, Mollucan and Javanese. “bunyinya beda maknanya sama” meaning “sounding different to the ears but carrying the same feeling.
Capable of conveying thoughts in different languages, Ras Muhamad invites Uwe Kaa to continue the spark and friendship they started when the German Reggae artist, Uwe Kaa toured in 2012 in Indonesia. “Barriers and Borders” is speaking of aspirations and sharing experience when a person reaches new places and learning new things of cultures. This tune is perhaps the first multi-lingual Reggae tune with German, English and Indonesian lyrics. Uwe Kaa whom in most part uses Deutsch lyrics in his previous works, makes a debut in this song; using English lyrics during the part of the chorus. A truly East meets west feeling or vice versa.
Even though dominated with Jamaican riddims, a particular track called “Leluhur”. Ras Muhamad shows traditional Indonesian music on a mystical and spiritual level, it has breaths of “world music” when paid attention. Aptly named “Leluhur” meaning ancestors, he calls on his ancestors to guide way and give a guiding light to his steps and to connect people more to the natural aspects of life and the Universe. A special part at the end of the track was delivered by Bhismo’s Kunokini, the lyrics are in KromoInggil, ancient Javanese language as old as Sanskrit itself.
The tune “Good Over Evil” inspired by Emperor Haile Selassie’s “war” speech to the United Nations, is a Rastafari credo and call of cease-fire, putting love and humanity first. Having an optimistic view with a world that’s run by mis-leadershid, humanity is “confident in the victory of Good over evil.” As Ras Muhamad states in this particular song, it is like an explosion of music and fiery barrage of conscious lyrics.
“Through the Smoke”, closes the album with an emotional take of Ras Muhamad’s personal tragedies. His “Negeri Pelangi”/Rainbow Country” book launching in February 2013 was met with tear-gas assault by the misconduct of the Indonesian Police. He fires back on the local Indonesian media that were only looking for mere sensation, instead of positive content and others that criticizes and accused the artist for “planning” the tear-gas incident just to gain popularity. His response was simply “Go to Hell!”.
Lyrically inclined, musically dynamic and Jamaican-influnced yet still Asiatic. Oneness Records boldly releases Indonesia’s first Reggae international album on July 25th 2014, Ras Muhamad’s “Salam”.