At first listen, it might be easy to simply categorize Know Prisoners as a traditional reggae band, but when one peels back the layers of their debut album, Warrior March, the complexities of style, pace and musical composition become evident to every ear it reaches.
The classic roots reggae sound of Know Prisoners is wonderfully orchestrated and grooves along similar styles of those of hallowed roots stalwarts like The Gladiators and Aswad, but yet Warrior March maintains its own unique characteristics that helps it stand out among its peers. In addition to the prominent reggae flavor, the listener becomes pleasantly surprised with soul, R&B and dub tracks along the way.
Lead singer and drummer Johnathan Luck Spaulding delivers harmonious lyrical content on a wide range of emotional topics from messages of political resistance like “Warrior March”, promotion of positive living in “If You Wanna Know”, and sensual heat between lovers with “Do You Right”. Spaulding is a founding member of the Cincinnati reggae staple Zionites and seamlessly applies his songwriting experience to the Know Prisoners set. When Spaulding is not the lead vocalist, guitarist Nikko Manamikko takes over to shift gears into the more soul and pop territory. It's easy to hear Manamikko's hip hop and R&B influences in tracks like “You Can't Hold Me Down” and “She Never Really Loved Me”.
On the bass throughout the album is Aaron Freeman, a bright young talent within the Know Prisoners family who wrote the title track to the album. Cal Kuhlman and Derrick Davidson round out the group with deep arrangements and savvy knowledge of rhythm and chord structure, applying voicings and tones not usually heard in traditional reggae settings. The album was produced by Chris Madine at New Fidelity Records in Cincinnati; Madine has a familiar ear to the sound as he plays guitar for another notable local reggae band, the Cliftones.