Congratulations to Maasai for 2 grammy nominations in 2003 for best reggae album and best album cover design-
Maasai Dates in Key West FL-Friday and Saturday 21th and 22nd @ The Green Parrot cr. of Southern and Whitehead-Friday&Saturday October 19th and 20th @ The Goombay Festival in Bahama Village main stage and Blue Heaven Resturant-both in Key West Florida 2007....see you there....
-- Abdul Mateen, founder and writer for the MAASAI reggae ensemble: Just as the Masai of Tanzania have been instrumental against colonial rule and cultural destruction/manipulation - so is the musical and cultural stand that MAASAI massive takes to keep integral roots and musical message in the mix. Motivate, inspire, inform, and "Remember who you are...you are more than what you have become. Remember that " people without knowledge of themselves are like a tree without roots "(Hon. Marcus Garvey) or "a people without knowledge of themselves are like a ship without a rudder" (His Imperial Majesty Hailie Selassi I).
Following are comments about Maasai performances:
"Awesome percussion. Drums that takes the excitement level right off the scope. Abdul Mateen - as good as they come. Exquisite singer".
-Valerie Ridenour, Key West, Florida
"Keeping the faith, MAASAI front man Abdul Mateen took Marley's message to heart. Legendary Wailers supported by opening acts Bigga and Maasai is sure to be one of the biggest reggae fest on the island this year. Rasta resisting oppression - tradition of oral communication."
-Terry, The Citizen, Key West
"To elevate, to inspire, to inform, to educate - Roots-Reliance On Ourselves to Strive."
-Diane Almeida, Providence American
"Pulse of the people"
"Invigorating with no weak links in sound or message. MAASAI on Earth Day - perfect!"
-Michael Caito, Providence Phoenix
"Red, Gold and Green" - Song of praise to Jah - a surging reggae march, powered by Mateen's husky voice. I Know Paradise is a lovely soul-inflected song. Mateen's falsetto is calming and tuneful, a balm for frayed nerves".
-Mike Boehm, LA Times
Abdul Mateen's fourth Maasai and I production, "Babylon X - No Mystery" features 10 tracks of word, sound and power which continues in the tradtion of the ancient griots of the Motherland (Africa), its source of inspiration.
Sacrificial Lamb - (opening track) begins with a profound question that answers itself throughtout the song - people seeking freedom only to deny it to others - causing suffering that can't be refuted or justified, echoing Bob Marley's "who feels it knows it". Drum and bass hold down straight ahead rhythm track allowing Mateen's strong and colorful vocals to create a picture for the listener.
Grow Congo Dread - Rastafarian belief that God through Moses directed the Nazarenes to grow their hair (locks) and resist Babylon values of degredation - a call to heed the wisdom of the Most High through food as medicine, devoid of chemicals, animal flesh and a life free from corruption. The song is introduced by pulsing percussion and church-like bells and a vocal call to "grow". Mateen uses call and response of guitar and keys nicely while the horns stacato through.
Babylon X - No Mystery - Steady bass line supports the skank of the piano with smooth background vocals as Mateen's voicings jump from tenor urgency to deep resonance of a strong foundation. The insanity of materialism becoming more important than life itself, highway congestion causing pollution, planet exploitation (misuse of earthly resources) will give way to "the singers and the players of instruments...all My springs are in thee..."
Roaring Fire - Informs the listener of Babylon societies needing the solution of a roaring cleansing fire not necessarily literal, although some would argue the cleansing of mankind will be with "fire next time". There is a real sense of urgency as Mateen's guitar at one point resembles a siren. The mix, especially toward the end of the tune, is crisp and complex with drums accenting the dramatic conclusion. Mateen does not hold back as he speaks about the author of confusion.
Midnight Runner - Again, asking "where's your direction?" seems simplistic and yet Mateen addresses the signifigance of posing it while laid back vocals respond with "are you satisfied". Brassy horns frame this composition while guitar skanks trade off with a flute. Easy going musicality has you tapping your foot and contemplating the message.
Promiseland - Features Mateen's lead and background vocal stylizing more than any other as keys, drums and tamborine percussion hold down a straight forward track. A mantra of encouragement - "keep on tryin" - colors the refrain.
Never Too Late - The sole ballad on the CD opens with sweet strings and angelic backgrounds. Sounding Lennon-esqe in its simplicity, it retains its unique Mateen vocalization which resonates in its own right, reflecting his profound view of "this here life". Kete drums compliment the lullaby tempo while in contrast Mateen's lyrics speak of real challenges but also of real hope.
Crucial - Uptempo with a reversed one drop that is balanced by a traditional one drop. This song opens with a horn build and crests into a mighty wave of harmonies calling attention to the description of the system of which it is "crucial" for mankind to recognize and reject in order for man and womankind to survive. Mateen invites the listener to experience the love of Jah and the respect for I&I. Crucial transitions nicely into...
Babylon Burst - which challenges the "Live-I-tary" (dietary) traditions and life values of Babylon societies which will eventually burst just as surely as another famous empire once fell. Will the children inherit insanity or the wisdom to "call on Jah Jah?".
Reparations - Musically one of the boldest songs, it is held steady by the bass and drum line while brass pops in dramatically. Getting right to the point, Mateen asks, "What's up?" in reference to a country still young in its post apartheid governance and answers with the only answer that rings true, namely, the necessity to "repair the nation". Mateen exclaims, "it would be reasonable to send troops " since that seems to be the only solution some governments see to world problems. The hypocrisy of Babylon governments when dealing with "oppressed people" is not lost on the singer. Even with up-full arrangement, Mateen's main theme of the chorus is not overwhelmed but strong and clear. The tune makes one want to crank up the volume and march out dance steps while allowing the mind to contemplate social change Jah-style.
This latest CD offers a reflection of the MAASAI experience as onstage the band is as engaging as any of the best reggae artists out there.
Abdul Mateen was born in Harlem, NY and was raised in Harlem and Queens. He began his musical study at the age of 8 and experienced and acquired many artistic styles. His instrumental expressions started with the violin and include the saxophone, guitar, piano, drums and vocals. Mateen performed with several seasoned professionals and top recording artists such as Tom Brown, Roy Haynes, Roy Ayres, Lonnie Liston Smith, Wire Lindo & I Performers and more.
The ensemble was founded by Mateen in 1983. "Turn I Up" was released in 1987 (Calder Records) and "Racism" was released in 1990 (Bignoise). "Psalm of David" followed in 1995 (Maasai and I Production/T-Black Production). Modeled after the Quincy Jones "We Are the World" success, MAASAI also participated in the Rhode Island Band Wagon 3 sides of Hunger benefit album, 1986. MAASAI has toured up and down the East Coast with the most recent stint in Southern Florida. Another upcoming tour is scheduled for Spring 2008- Maasai/Abdul Mateen will be performing with The Key West Reggae Ambassadors with Bongo D-keyboards/percussion, Fenton on Guitar-Lance on bass-Mathew Watson on drums at The Green Parrot in Key West Florida September 21 & 22 2007 with a possible hold over date on Sunday the 23rd-October 19th and 20th at Bahama Village Goombay Festival and Blue Heaven in Key West Florida looking forward to seeing you there...Love Health and Strength...
For more information, call (401)272-2874 (305)296-3721 or email at Maasai22@yahoo.com or reggaekeywest.com- Peace!