Puma Ptah: ‘One’ Single Review

On April 10, 2015, Christos DC’s Honest Music label will release “One,” the debut solo single by Puma PtahThe single is an extraordinary tune that marks the rebirth of an artist formerly known as Ras Puma. Puma is perhaps best known to reggae fans as the enigmatic frontman for The Archives, the short-lived yet critically-acclaimed reggae project by Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton whose 2012 self-titled album garnered praise from fans and critics alike. “One” is the first single from Puma Ptah’s forthcoming debut solo EP titled In One Accord which will be released on the Honest Music label in May 2015.

It is a more evolved Puma that we hear on “One.” He is a man whose spiritual journey from Ras Puma to Puma Ptah sparked a fundamental transformation in his entire perspective on life, spirituality and music.

“I was Rasta for about ten years you know, but I am still young and I joined the faith at a very young age and I didn’t ask many questions as a youth. So when I start asking questions of the elders the answers were not too encouraging and sometimes I wasn’t getting answers at all.  Continuing to observe Haile Selassie and at that point others, and taking what I knew worked for me as an individual and a human, I didn’t feel it was necessary to deify ones who reminded me of their humanness and who encouraged me to be as good and better.”

I was working toward a musical situation where I would not have to work with any white people.  Work only with black people. This partially came with the influence of the music and also the mentality and actions of the Rastas I respected that were present in my life at the time. This again was contradictory to what Haile Selassie lived in my opinion. The info that led me to believe that black people were ultimately superior built a dangerous and divisive ego in myself.”

It was Puma’s involvement with Thievery Corporation that changed his perspective on race and spirituality, causing him to question his core beliefs and values: “Just like when Malcolm made his journey and he saw all types of people worshipping together it changed his perspective on things. That is how Thievery Corporation was for me. I show up and see people from all over from Argentina to Iran to India to DC and everyone could come together and make this beautiful music. It was a real eye and mind opening experience to actually be a part of that kind of collaboration.” 

“It took me a little while to get over my suspicions but I did eventually. Time, patience, and tolerance. My involvement with Thievery Corporation made me a better Christopher. It has made me a better lyricist working with Eric (Hilton) and Rob (Garza). It helped me to start really understanding what I was writing. During our studio sessions we talk about corruption, politics, culture, travel. Traveling with the group also gave me the opportunity to engage my interest in photography which provides another avenue for me to express myself and connect with others.”

After a lengthy sojourn back to his home island of St. Thomas and a life-changing trip to India, Puma decided to formulate his own personal way of life drawing elements from the teachings of Haile Selassie, the character of Christ, Hinduism and more. He embarked on this new solo journey with new values and a new set of core beliefs as Puma Ptah. “Ptah” represents craftsmanship and the creativity of artisans in Kemetic society, but originated with the ability to transform raw scattered thoughts and ideas, and manifest a dynamic use of organized words and thoughts.   

“As a solo artist I want to bring the same message because the same issues are still relevant – corruption, politics, poverty, inequality – but I want to be more innovative, less biased, more accepting. I am focused on being less judgmental. But being an artist and learning how to embrace change, I don’t think I will ever be just one thing. The planet and the universe is too large and it changes too often to persuade myself that I will always have the same views on life and humanity. It will always be process, writing with new perspectives and change.”

The new single, “One,” features a cadre of talented musicians from Christos DC’s  Honest Music camp including Darryl “D-Trane” Burke on keys, Darryl Haywood on bass, Christos on guitar, Leslie “Black Seed” James on drums, Joe Brotherton on trumpet, and Brian Falkowski on sax. The tune was recorded at Honest Music studios in Washington, DC. The forthcoming EP features heavy reggae roots and culture-influenced tracks produced by Puma Ptah, Darryl “D-Trane” Burke, and Christos DC.

“I’m really looking forward to the release of this EP and I’m looking forward to taking it out on the road to showcase it for the people. I like being in the studio but I am a performer and I love being on the road.”