Synpa Levi: The Sojourner
By Martyn Pepperell
Alongside the likes of The Mighty Asterix, Jules Issa, Oblex Brown, Tuffy Culture and the rest of the generation of dancehall reggae artists schooled up in Aotearoa under the tutelage of the 12 Tribes of Israel, Snypa Levi (formerly known as Papa Levi) is an unsung hero in the growth and development of Jamaican-influenced music in this country. Unlike many of the roots reggae bands that dominate the Aotearoan landscape and propagate a frighteningly insular approach to roots music, Levi and his production team (Dubwise) walk the path less travelled, choosing to grow and develop with dancehall reggae as it changes and evolves internationally. Sticking to conscious upright subject matter as a singer/ragga rapper, Levi espouses his rasta-centric wordplay over the top of a divergent blend of bashment-styled ragga beats, sweet rootsical one-drop riddims, traditional reggae grooves and experimental dancehall. Admittedly an acquired taste, within 'The Soujourner' Levi presents a functional template for internationally current roots music with an emphasis on honesty, authenticity, truth and knowledge.