The “Living Heart” of Xterminator Productions
A Tribute to Philip “Fatis” Burrell
Living Heart Volume 1 produced jointly by Kareem Burrell and father Philip “Fatis” Burrell is a twelve track tribute to the life and works of the patriarch of XTM.Nation. It also represents a silver anniversary celebration for Xterminator Productions; however the songs chosen for the compilation are nothing short of golden. So is this opportunity to share my humble thoughts on the legacy of such an astute name in the musical arena, who is Philip “Fatis” Burrell.
From the first guitar strum on the first track song “Part of One Big Family” featuring Luciano, there is an immediate feeling of love and family, emotions strongly connected to the heart are stirred by The Messenger.
Luciano is perfect on this one as the Living Heart of XTM opens itself to the world. He repeats these lyrics ‘I’m a part of your father’s family, we’re apart of one big father’s family, you’re part of my Father’s family’. Family it seems is a very important theme and rightly so as son salutes father with respect. For what is family without the heart of love and togetherness? This one could very much be the album’s anthem.
The legendary Lee Scratch Perry is featured on “Stand in Love”, track two from the album. His delivery is simple and whimsical, no stranger to the eccentric, he delivers gems of wisdom. He pays tribute to the glory and power of love. No doubt Philip “Fatis” Burrell life was one of love and giving. We are encouraged to ‘manifest your dream’, and here the dream is fulfilled with the rise and legacy of XTM.Nation, which lives in Kareem Burrell.
Track three “Shield and Guide” finds voice with Pressure. It’s a noteworthy ode to Jah being our shield and guide. The saxophone support provided by Dean Fraser is stellar. You won’t be able to resist moving to its catchy rhythm and lyrics, giving you a genuine reggae feel with the full support of band in tow. This easily segues into the more deliberately fiery “Show Dem How fi Blaze” with Jah Man featuring Jesse Royal, who are a perfect combination on this track. This one will be a sure hit.
Listening to this production of both tracks provides glimpses of the perfection and quality work put into the music by the XTM.Nation Team. Setting themselves apart from all others they continue to blaze a trail of excellence. The Xterminator Label will “live on while d rest a cascade”, from inception to present day, creating hits and making timeless music.
Gentleman softens the fire created by Jesse Royal and Jah Man, with “Eyes wide open”. He opens with the lyrics ‘So many idle words been spoken but no righteousness in the meaning’, this heralds the truth that XTM.Nation stands for righteous words, to uplift and not just to obtain hype. As someone who has appreciated the works of Kareem Burrell teamed with Jesse Royal, I can fully second this assessment of the music put out by the label.
Music for a change, a message for change, transforming from the inside, Sizzla chants on track five entitled “Daylight”, “Teach us for what it’s worth… Give us Ras Tafari first”. This is a signature Sizzla track; high notes included showing his versatility and firm meditation which has made him beloved in the hearts of many. “Your good deeds will be your strength for tomorrow”, how true and accurate these words apply to the works done by Philip “Fatis” Burrell. His works continue to bring good through those he “fed” in his living days. Befitting the relationship forged between both men, Sizzla delivers his tribute in fine style to his former Manager and Mentor who played a significant role in his ascendancy and legendary contribution to reggae music.
Track six “We pop it off” is lyrically potent, delivered by Ini Kamoze, the upbeat rhythms with Ini Kamoze’s witty lyrical content is a perfect marriage. After a few listens, I began to think of Jesse Royal royal speaking, rebellious but with a righteous cause. I can trace in the musical timeline incarnations in each generation of artists and producers alike, the preservation of authentic sound, consistent themes and fire energy in the music.
After this “direct hit” declaration by Ini Kamoze, I am now completely convinced that Xterminator “nuh graze”, yes wi musically yes wi pop it off”. Who can disagree with those words, certainly no lover of authentic and resonating music which is Living Heart Volume 1.
The album then moves easily to “Little did they know” featuring the wise words from the small axe, Jesse Royal. The Palace pickney eases out speaking truth authentically on this one, declaring himself “Selassie Son fi true, nuh care weh dem hail from nuh bizniz a who”. Defiant but not arrogantly so, letting his unique message be heard, it is signature Jesse style, wise message music and lyrics.
The next track entitled “Oh My Father” is a raw, acoustic and organic presentation by Buju Banton. It was a definite treat hearing the acoustic set, delivered with true passion as a prayer to the Most High. One on one communion with the Father, this is music in its most revealing state, just a guitar played by legendary Earl Chinna Smith, a voice and all the experiences of the singer laid out on the track. It made me think of the loss that must have been felt by the family and loved ones by the XTM.Nation family when Philip ‘Fatis’ Burrell transitioned. It could also have easily been a father‘s prayer to ask the Most High to watch over his family as he transitioned, wishing all “a perfect and pleasant day” as he trod on. I couldn’t help but also think of Buju’s incarceration as he sings his heart out. This song is the most cathartic of the collection.
After this emotional outpouring, “Do It Now” helps you pick up the pieces of the sensed loss, as the great Beres Ford Hammond delivers sweetly in fine style an ode to staying in the moment while recalling memories of good times spent with loved ones, no doubt referencing times spent with the Burrell family. He gently persuades you to ‘When you love … love strong, do it now”. As I soaked this one in, the production is again flawless and so is Berris‘s classic soulful sound. This one is a true testament and example to great music. Again saxophonist Dean Frazer is exemplary.
An even sweeter delivery follows with Kayla Bliss singing “One More Chance”, the first of the feminine energy on the album. She delivers a soulful lover’s rock piece supported by beautiful musical accompaniment. She represents well the new generation of XTM.Nation continuity in providing soul satisfying music. The second female voice on the album is easily recognizable, Nadine Sutherland with her rendition of “Pair of Wings”. Living Heart closes beautifully with this one, the piano and Nadine’s voice are heavenly and the delivery is also emotional as we come to the conclusion in musical tribute to Philip “Fatis” Burrell, the man and his works. The works spanning two generations speak to the larger than life stature of the work that began and continues with XTM.Nation. Philip “Fatis” Burrell was a man as evidenced by the works of his mind and hands, spiritual but connected to his time, his ability to identify unique talent and also work with artists to provide high quality and timeless productions, show he was a man with a deep sense of appreciation for purposefulness.
“Music was not just a business but a spiritual force” – John Massouri, these words conclude and summarize my response to this musical tribute. “There are no limitations to music”, how true this is just take a listen to Jesse Royal and Kayla Bliss protégés of the new era of XTM.Nation. My ears and soul were blessed with this album, I found it aesthetically beautiful but it also provided inspiration for my own sense of purpose as a writer. Living Heart Volume 1 gets full marks for providing a musical history lesson with some of the greatest voices in Reggae and the rising stars of the current generation.
Thanks to Sameel Kush I for affording me this opportunity and special salute to the Burrell and XTM.Nation Family for the contribution to music which will stand forever. Manifested dreams live on forever. Long Live Xterminator, Rise and Shine XTM. Nation, stand and rise forever.
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