"This is one of those hidden little gems..."
Although primarily a guitarist and bassist, the multi-talented, Haitian-born Josue "Gigi" Brissot sings, writes, and plays all instruments on his debut album, We Are Wanted / I Am Wanted. This is one of those hidden little gems that could reinvigorate your love for reggae, a set that runs 17 tracks deep but flies by before you know it. Gigi doesn't have a classic singing voice -- it cracks and creaks like a seasoned bluesman -- but it conveys the sort of emotional truth that all vocalists strive for. His singing combines the unassuming smoothness of Ijahman with the craggy, rustic appeal of Culture's Joseph Hill. Running contrary to his humble vocals, though, are the fiercely uncompromising Alpha Blondy-ish lyrics, as evident on "Why Should I?": "People like you should never be allowed in society. / Why should I believe you? / You have no personality." Ouch. He travels familiar socially conscious, Rasta-centric routes, but keeps the messages fresh with unexpected approaches like the simple, yet devastating chorus, "Life is, of course, impossible." Some might find the production on We Are Wanted a bit "low tech," but the old school sound appealed to me. The buzzing synthesizer adds a welcome dubby edge to these roots tunes, making it all feel like a long-lost '80s Ijahman album (or, given his penchant for short sets, two Ijahman albums). Granted, some of the music starts to sound alike by the end, but in some ways that adds to the cohesion of the tracks, and the exquisite songwriting and overall execution keeps them from becoming stale. We Are Wanted / I Am Wanted is a throwback album that you won't want to throw back. Check it at cdbaby.com.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
A MUST listen for any reggae lover.
From the first song, “It’s a long road”, Gigi Brissot positions himself as a sharply tuned reggae artist and a messenger. The bass lines and innovative guitar licks throughout the album demonstrate the artistic maturity and time devoted to this project. The sounds of these seventeen strictly original tracks will please the ears of any reggae listener.
“Music has always been a big part of my life. When I was about eight years old, I picked up my father's guitar and have not let it down since” says Brissot. As a child, like many, he was influenced by the legendary Bob Marley whose music opened his eyes to black peoples’ struggle. As a musician, he now feels obligated to carry on the message, to bring light to the problems of brethren and sistren across the globe, empowering people through conscious music to fight oppression and discrimination.
Over the years Brissot has played guitar and bass with artists of various ethnic backgrounds, opening up for legends such as Bunny Wailer and Burning Spear. He has shared the stage with local and international artists such as Danny Tucker, Paul Wayne, Dion Knibble, Jah Shirt, Dia, and Lady Saw.
Brissot’s music spreads consciousness. Slave mentality still has a fundamental effect on the inner fabric of black society. Although institutional slavery no longer exists, the aftermath still lingers. Brissot’s intention, through music, is to help people recover what has been lost.
Each song on We are wanted/I am wanted is well crafted, informed by profound sadness and suffering, to send a cohesive message of hope. Brissot’s combined lyrics and melody elevate the listener to a different state, a state of awareness and clarity. It is one of the most comprehensive reggae albums written in a long time.
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: GIGI BRISSOT
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Josue “Gigi” Brissot first fell in love with his father’s acoustic guitar as an eight-year-old boy. His obsession would not allow him to keep his eyes off of the magical instrument until his father let him borrow it for two weeks. He took the time to teach himself the basics. Practicing night and day, he emulated songs from the radio. Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Charles Aznavour are some of his greatest influences and gave him the foundation for playing reggae music. From this point, music became his passion. Scraping together some funds, his mother bought Brissot his first guitar a few months later. While in grade school and playing professional soccer, he always found time for music and also learned the piano, which he would sneak into church to play.
After moving to New York, Brissot was forced to put his music on the back burner in order to find work as a new immigrant. Once get got accustomed to the American reality, the city’s music scene raised his creative horizons. He bought an electric guitar and started playing again. Deeply concerned about racism and oppression he witnessed, he became a Rastafarian. Being part of the urban and ghetto life both in Port-au-Prince and New York City influences his songwriting today. Brissot is currently living in Boston where he has played with many local and international reggae artists, opening up for Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, and Lady Saw. For years he has been writing song after song that he never published. We are wanted, I am wanted is his debut album.
Brissot holds a Civil Engineering degree from the Institute Superior Tech of Haiti and a B.S. in Computer Science from University of Massachusetts, Boston.