ANY roots reggae on this; hardly any hardcore dancehall either!
On "Soul Deep" most tracks are some pseudo-pop/hip-hop/electronic
mid-tempo type of deal I obviously do not favor at all. On top of
that I simply don't buy Sizzla's whole "Rastafari!girlswannabewidmesoifucktheirpussies-anifyuhdissmemyglockagobussyourheadopenlikecoconut"
attitude whatsoever anymore. Sure, there are two extreme, nearly
contradictory factors at work in Jamaican music/culture (as there
always have been). On one hand the conscious (rasta) approach that
stands against senseless war-mongering; on the other the slack,
violent ghetto-approach, which celebrates and even feeds on the
tribalism that is part & parcel of every rough neighborhood
back a yard. Yet Sizzla reminds me of Beenie Man a few years back:
a flag flying whichever way the breeze is blowing. Chanting pure
righteousness in one tune, poppin champagne bokkle & flinging
the bling as he's partying with the ladies in the next, while he
burns a million fassies in yet another badman anthem (shooting,
killing) only to call for justice & an end to ghetto warfare
in the next. Its GOOD for artists to show a certain versatility,
yet in the cases of Beenie & now Sizzla this has become so extreme,
that you sometimes don't even know anymore where they really stand.
In turn, they lose credibility. Sizzla has the potential to be a
great artist no doubt, yet he's digging far too many items from
out of his dark mind & putting them out in the open. As far
as I'm concerned, half that stuff oughta remain hidden, basically
making Sizzla albums (with few exceptions) a dime in a dozen.
from his magnificent "Be Strong" on Don Corleon's massive
DROP LEAF riddim, and the following hardcore-tune "Why",
no-one really needs any of this. If Sizzla would only release 1-2
albums per year with his strongest selections, they would improve
dramatically. As it is, it seems like he's just trying to milk the
industry for every last drop. Boring!
PO BOX 1144 Stony Hill PO Kingston 9
Elliott: Self Reliance
has gotta be the first word outta my mouth after giving this album
a listen. A most talented singer, Paul Elliott has been blessed
(or cursed?; nah) with a voice incredibly similar to other Jamaican
vocalists before him. On "Push Forward" he reminds me
a bit of Junior Delgado (as well as at other moments), on "Bad
Boys" I hear a bit of Edi Fitzroy, while most of the time it
is quite evident just who served as this man's main influence: the
late-great Dennis Brown.
there are a number of yard-singers who are similar in voice &
delivery to the crown prince of reggae, no one comes as close as
Paul Elliott on tunes like "No Man Is Perfect" and "Chat
Them A Chat Wi". Guest vocalists include Richie Spice, Mango
Seed & Daddy Rings (who all do well), while some traditional
riddims are at work here ( I LOVE KING SELASSIE, WAR, STORM &
others). What really lifts this album a cut above though, is stellar
musicianship from the likes of Firehouse Crew, Ruff Cut Band, Sly
& Robbie, and further luminaries like Danny Browne, Computer
Paul & Barnabas. Produced by Soljie for Stronger Productions
& Lion Dub. Besides the 5th Element releases by Mr.Spice &
Chuck Fender last year, this has to be my favorite rootical release
points of advice here: 1.) Search! 2.) Locate! 3.) Buy!!!
Riddim Album # 76: Ice Cube
think the ICE CUBE (re-named & re-released by Greensleeves)
is the first riddim from Mista "Ernie" Wilks and what
a premiere!!! Usually I'm not that big a fan of beats that are exclusively
produced for air/home-play (this will NOT work in NM dancehalls
folks) yet there are so MANY hot tunes on this release that I have
no choice but to approve. Leading the way are Dr.Evil (aka Lefteye
aka Colin "Leftside" Parks), Wayne Marshall (whose "Marry
Wanna" was the original title track for the riddim), Daville,
Red Square and Future Troubles. Veterans like Captain Barkey, Ward
21, Red Rat, Harry Toddler and Hawkeye have excellent tracks on
the ICE CUBE, as do newcomers like Shane-O & KB, Angel and Alaine.
Great beats call for grrreat tunes, que no!
even pretending to be a thug NEEDS this desperately: at home &
abroad (as they go cruising the REAL badlands).
Riddim Album # 75: Siren
fantastic riddim from Patrick "Roach" Samuels alongide
Mr. Blaxxx Lewis, the SIREN hits HARD from the second the needle
first touches the wax. For the most part the actual songs don't
quite match the quality of the riddim, yet there are worthy exceptions.
Vybez Kartel's "Emmergency" is my long-sought anthem from
the bad-man dj from Portmore (much of his output in the latter half
of 2005 has left me fairly cold). He spits out hardcore lyrics like:
"Emmergency! We a suffer round here. Round here man dead, things
tough around here! Crimescene: yad up, man a tough around here!"
A good reflection of the reality in Jamaica and a far cry from the
Club-Med vibe their tourist board tries to sell to us a foreign.
Further good tunes on the SIREN come from Wayne Marshall, (the title-track
from) Buju Banton and the second Kartel; less conscious & full
of "bad wud" but really just a continuation of the madness:
after the "Emmergency" it's time to "Call The Ambulance".
Good project but I think the top few singles oughta be enough for
strong, new album from the original fireman, "Black Star"
shows Anthony B at his best. The lyrical content is conscious ("Never
Sell Out", "Black History", "Praise Jah"),
the riddims (mainly built by Maximum Sound's Frenchie) are tight,
and guest-performances by Jah Cure and Ras Shiloh are right on.
The cover of Ini Kamoze's "World A Reggae Music" actually
works and on "I Understand" the classic Viceroys YA HO
riddim is being re-vitalized. Not one weak moment on the entire
album : tuff !!!
Riddim Album # 67: Jonkanoo
Here it is : 2005's REAL dancehall treasure-chest. A head-bobbin',
hyper-paced cannon-ball, Don Corleon's JONKANOO has set the standard
for this year. Still utilizing the "clap-clap", the beat
is even faster than KOPA and COOLIE DANCE, yet mixes nicely with
both. As y'all know: great riddims make for great tunes and it's
no different on this one. Beenie leads the pack with "Chakka
Dance" and the infamous"Ah Nuh Mi", yet Sean Paul
strikes gold on "Eye Deh Ah Knee", as do TOK on "Hey
Ladies", Voicemail on "Do What You Like", Vybz on
"Too Fucky Fucky" & "I Neva", Bling Dawg
on "Aerobics Class", Wayne Marshall on "Make Dem
Come" and Bounty on "Sen On & Heng On". Buy !!!
Riddim Album # 65:Slow Bounce
Productions does it again! With the help of Don Bennett and Nigel
Staff, Michael "Liquid" Brissett releases a monster follow-up
to last years outstanding FRENCH VANILLA (Krazy Hype). It's called
SLOW BOUNCE but don't let that fool you, as the beat strikes like
lightning at 120 + beats per minute. An eastern flute-lick, some
trumpet blasts, some Don Corleon' flamenco guitar-picking on top
of a thundering riddim.
vocalists are in top form: singers as Nicky B (baaaad!), Tami Chin,
Daville and Mr.Easy. Dj's like Ele, Bounty, Beenie and Cartel. Crews
like TOK, Ward 21 and Tanto & Devonte. The only thing missing
is the ONE big hit. For me, Donovan & Nigel are the TOP dancehall
producers of this new generation, besides the South Rakkas team.
Riddim Album # 64:Klymaxx
heavily electronic, highly charged beat that gallops thru the dancehall
at 115-120 bpm's, the KLYMAXX reminds me a bit of Renaissance's
excellent TUNDA CLAP. Christopher Birch and Shane Brown worked out
the riddim and they assembled the usual culprits, like Bounty, Lexus,
Ward 21 and Kiprich, amongst newcomers like Jagwa and Black-Er.
Top tunes come from Capleton ("Burn The Place Down") and
Vybz Cartel ("Any Boy Yuh Lef") this time around, while
there are further good cuts from Keishera& Shaggy and Macka
Diamond; by herself as well as alongside singing-bird Daville. Good
riddim but one probably just needs the top 3-4 tracks.
Riddim Album # 63:Chicatita
John's new hardcore riddim has hit the streets, and, as is the trend
in Jamaica and beyond these days, it either has a eastern vibe or
a latin one- the latter obviously being the case here. Aside from
some acoustic guitar-strumming and a kid saying :Ai yai yai Chicatita,
there are few latina elements at work here though. Nonetheless,
the CHICATITA should work well on American dancefloors, being reminiscent
of George Michael's "Faith".
tracks are a conscious Wayne Wonder, an outstanding Capleton, a
slack Sizzla combo with the brandnew auto-tuned singer Rainbow (who
sounds GREAT) and a BAD Bounty Killer/Angel Doolas cut. The Killer
is at his best these days when he a) teams up with other artists
b) leaves behind his bitter "Cross, angry, miserable
which fails to either bring joy or even a sense of badness into
the dancehalls. Just pure frustration. Anyways, Bounty does both
here, so the tune is pure MURDER; possibly the best on the entire
riddim. Further artists include Ele, Beenie, Cobra, Ward 21, Vybz,
Ninjaman and so on. Basically looks like John John has assembled
just about all the big dancehall stars these days but notably absent
are the female chatters. Good riddim and some great tunes!
Kelly does it again !!! Just in time before 2004 is completely up
& gone, Jamaica's top dancehall producer releases the BEST bashment
riddim for the entire year. While FIESTA & PRETTY PRETTY (Dave's
other 2003/2004 riddims) were very successful in the reggae charts,
the beats didn't really move me that much (although a number of
the tunes were KILLERS). Not so here: from my first listening, I
KNEW that this is IT. The kinda irresistible dancehall soulfood
that will have droves of patrons on the dancefloors in a flash;
wether they like it or not.
bouncy, mid-tempo riddim, the BAD GAL is a simple, incredibly catchy
piece of music, completely devoid of the eastern and/or latin melodies
and licks that have dominated dancehall reggae these days. Notably
absent are reggae's biggest stars as well. The fact that the beat
is able to do SO well without any of the Kartels, the Beenies, the
Bountys or the Eles, is further testimony to the producer. No matter
who rides this masterpiece, the outcome is excellent. Leading the
pack is Baby Cham by himself as well as on a combination track with
new artist Toi (who sounds good) and Macka Diamond, Spice and Cobra
are also red-hot. Together with South Rakka's RED ALERT, this is
2004's high-grade, so get busy & blaze it !!!!!
Riddim Album # 62:MIDDLE EAST
on the heels of the success of this year's dancehall smasher BLACKOUT,
Buccaneer & Blaxxx release their second riddim; the MIDDLE EAST.
While there is an eastern strings/violin lick, the Carnival type
of drums and the Latin horns all combine to prove that dancehall
reggae has become the planet's most universal music. It utilizes
so many influences from so many corners of the world, that simply
no other style of music can claim to keep up.
The rowdy drumbeat made the MIDDLE EAST a bit difficult for me at
first, yet after a number of listenings, the riddim keeps growing
on me. The usual culprits ride this beat, yuh know: Vybz(twice),
Ele, Bounty and Sizzla. Some cool newcomers as Leaf A Life (what
a name!), Movado and Sanjay are included as well. Very interesting,
yet unable to keep up with their extra-hype BLACKOUT.
Riddim Album # 59: KASABLANCA
first dancehall beat that I am aware that Sly Dunbar had his hands
on in quite awhile, the KASABLANCA is notorious for Vybez Cartel's
"Badda Than Them". Another one of his badman-anthems,
the Portmore dj says: "Gunshot mek yuh fall like di bridge
over London. Gonna kick yuh like Van Damme, diss me outta east an'
mi buch yuh over Boston, head a bust like a gas-pan." Definitely
THE word-smith of the times, WAY on top of all the Bounty's and
Beenie's and whoever else they may be. Produced by Alberto "Burro"
Blackwood, the KASABLANCA features a bogle-ish type-of drumbeat
and a funky keyboard lick. Points of interest include a rare Harry
Toddler tune (did he get black-listed by dancehall producers, has
he been laying low, or what? Remember the time when it looked like
Harry Toddler was gonna be the big star out of the remainder of
the Scare Dem Crew, rather than Elephant Man (with "tunes as
"Dance The Angel")?), Capleton's "Lock What"
and Galaxy P (who has apparently recovered from being shot in 2003)
with a wicked Buju-esque "Do That Damn Thing (Gal)". Anthony
B is "Smoke(ing) the best", Junior Kelly is telling the
girls to "Get Busy" (huh?) and Determine is suggesting
for them to "Take It Off" (the eyeliner & the make-up,
not the clothes guys). Solid effort which continues to grow on me
the more I hear it. Singles are out on Slam Records.
Rhythm Album #51: Red Alert
seemed impossible for South Rakkas to match their high-grade premier
release CLAPPAS, which also managed to achieve the maximum score,
yet Mr.Dennis "Dow Jones" Shaw does it again !!! By far
THE best dancehall beat of the year so far (again!!!), the RED ALERT
is a catchy, bouncy mid-tempo riddim that works extremely well in
the local dancehalls. Not only is the beat excellent but a number
of the tunes are gems as well. Cecile's "Hot Like We"
continues her trend of being the champion female jockey to ride
the current Jamaican creations far better than the rest of the pack.
Other scorchers include Capleton's "Real Hot", TOK's "Let
It Shine", Zumjay's "Gal Dem Want Me" and Ninja Kid's
and Bajie Man's "La Di Da Di". Further interesting selections
feature the spanish Papichulo Crew's "Cho Cha" and a french
tune by Firestorm. Ground-breaking; absolute MURDER !!! BUY !!!!!
Rhythm Album #54: Cold Fusion
co-production of Ward 21's Suku, Donovan Bennett, and Nigel Staff
(who has his hands in nearly everything these days, including FRENCH
VANILLA and BLUE STEEL), the COOL FUSION is the usual, driving Don
Corleon style of beat, featuring his trademark acoustic guitar and
further strings alongside a typically annoying dancehall-lick, which
nearly ruins the otherwise quite good riddim for me. Why many dancehall
producers continue to insist on down-grading, if not even outright
ruining their otherwise excellent beats with these dorky melodies
is beyond me. Unfortunately it has been one of the trademarks of
the music since its inception in the 1980's.
the beat itself lacks in excellence is more than made up for by
the tunes themselves. There are outstanding performances by Mister
(who else?) "up to the time" Vybez Kartel, Vybez and Tony
Curtis (!!!-an excellent ganja tune), Capleton, Nicky B and many
more. Without the annoying lick, the COOL FUSION would have fared
even better though.
Rhythm Album #55: Blue Steel
fast-paced beat with an east-Indian flute-type-of-lick, the BLUE
STEEL is Frenchie's newest creation on the Maximum Sound label.
The release seems to be pretty evenly split between girl-tunes and
bad-man anthems. The former include artists like Anthony B, Elephant
Man and Vybez Kartel, while the latter feature word-smiths as Bounty,
Future Troubles, Taz and Lexus. Junior Kelly breaks the mold with
one of his best works in years, entitled "Style". He says:
"Kill em with your style: red, green and gold!
to be like
you dem haffi born again
for the beat and rare artists (as Future Troubles, Taz, and Chukki
Star), who don't voice on literally EVERYTHING these days. Pretty
- Dub Fire (Basque Dub Foundation)
know I keep railing about the superiority of modern European roots
releases opposed to those coming out of Jamaica these days: yet
here is further proof. Out of France, the Basque Dub Foundation
/ Heartical crew re-created Aswads DUB FIRE/PROMISED LAND
riddim, with full-on-melodica solos. While it does not quite match
the punch of the original, analog version, it is easily as good
as the excellent re-issue on Reggae Central a few years back (remember
Sizzlas Catch Di Place A Fire ?). Maybe it is
because the Europeans are more choosy, re-working RARE riddims like
this (and Night Nurse/Doctors Darling for that matter) as
opposed to run-of-the-mill vibes like Heavenless (Massive B), Ba
Ba Boom (Black Scorpio) and Real Rock (Xterminator), all of which
have been voiced numerous times in the past few years alone. On
top of that the European productions often sound fatter, more powerful
and far cleaner than a lot of the scratchy yard-stuff (at least
on 7 vinyl). Best selections on the beat come from veteran
Al Campbell and the messenger Luciano, yet tunes from Chronicle,
Pinchers and Sugar Minott are quite good as well. Local French artist
Uman also rides the riddim nicely. If you long for some quality,
new rootical material, here it is! Distibuted by Ernie Bs
in the USA. Buy !!!
Rhythm Album #58: Summer Bounce
completely mad, quirky, intense yard production, the SUMMER BOUNCE
is the Annex labels first effort in a while. HYPE is the key-word
here as well, as the up-tempo, percussive beat just races on down
the line. Umbrella! Propeller! Over the wall! Boom boom! Over
the wall! Metromedias mc Sky Juice screams on his crazed
Dance Moves. While the SUMMER BOUNCE would work well
in areas that have a large Caribbean population, I doubt that many
Americans will get it. Then again, the hip-hoppers seem
to be jumping on the yardie-dance-move-bandwagon (Lean Back
yall) so you never know. Ele, Capleton, Queen Paula all kick
butt as do Action K, Queen Paula, Merciless, Vybez Cartel and Insane.
Riddim Album #57 - Scoobay
bouncy pocoman-streetsweeper type of beat with emphasis on the one,
the SCOOBAY is top-a-top selector Tony Matterhorns first riddim
outta street. A total footstomper, steppers kind-a-ting, that has
been ruling the dancehalls in Jamaica for much of 2004, the riddim
has enough crossover-potential to become quite successful in New
Mexico as well.
there are no definite eastern melodies at work here, the SCOOBAY
still somehow carries that mid-to-far-eastern vibe that has been
so dominant in dancehall music since 9-11 (RETURN, EGYPTIAN, COOLIE
DANCE just to name the tip of the iceberg). Boom tunes include Vybez
& Beenies Breast Specialist, Tony Matterhorn
and Richie Feelings All About Dancin 2,
and Elephant Mans Swear. Some veteran artists
(Cobra, Lady G and Macka Diamond aka Lady Mackerel) are featured
alongside relative newcomers as Martina, Bunji Garlin and Voice
Mail, while Wayne Wonder (alongside Textra) even delivers a rare,
conscious contribution. One of the riddims of the year !!! Props
to Mario C & Tony Marijuana! Buy !!!
Riddim Album # 56 - Mad Guitar
hyper-paced, extremely percussive piece-a-music, the MAD GUITAR
features little (if any) guitar, or any other licks or melodies
for that matter. Produced by Donovan Bennett (who else?), his trademark
acoustic-guitar-lick is noticeably absent this time around. While
MAD GUITAR may tear down heated-up dancehalls a yard, it may prove
a bit difficult in the American Southwest, due to the lack of natural
hype and identification with this krrazy Jamaican dancehall madness.
Top tunes include a new Beenie Man/Miss Thing combination, Nicky
Bs Hot Over Cold, and Bujus No Tek
Check. Hype, and actually not bad at all, but Vendetta has
definitely done better.
Rhythm Album #49: French Vanilla
entitled KRAZY HYPE, the FRENCH VANILLA is another killer Donovan
Bennett production and possibly his best so far. Extremely fast-paced
with a typical latin, Don Corleon-flamenco-style guitar, this riddim
is amongst the best yard has to offer in 2004. Smooth, yet hardcore
and innovative, FRENCH VANILLA is better than cooked food.
the extra-hype "Girls Gone Wild" by Assassin and "Krazy
Hype" by Elephant Man, there is a good ganja tune from (who
else?) Roundhead, some nice galis-selections from Bounty, Vybez
and new artist Earthworm, as well as a premium bad-man anthem by
Zumjay. Big ups also out to Nigel Staff for his hand in creating
this gem. Dancehall the way it was meant to be. Buy !!!
Rhythm Album # 52: - Black Out
hard-driving, pumping riddim that reminds me of a cross of Herbie
Hancock's infamous "Rock It", some house/techno vibes,
and straight-up Jamaican dancehall madness. A co-production of Daniel
"Blaxxx" Lewis (of Blaxxx Records) and Andrew "Buccaneer"
Bradford (of Opera House Records), the two also combined their labels
to form a brand-new one in Black House. Although quite fast-paced,
BLACK OUT may actually work in New Mexico's dancehalls, where hip-hoppy
crossover tracks with catchy hooks and poppy elements usually succeed
the riddim itself is the highest grade, many of the actual tunes
do not quite rise to the occasion, with the exception of Kartel's
"K.I.S.S.I.N.G." (or "Picture This" as it is
called here), Elephant Man's "Doin' It Right" (done to
the melody of the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive"), and Bounty's
tuff "Anthem". Don't get me wrong: selections from Sean
Paul, Looga Man and Buccaneer are not bad at all, yet they do not
match the pure hype of the riddim. The cool trend to customize many
of the riddim tracks to suit the individual artists continues here
to provide FAR more variation than used to the case on these one-riddim
selections. Buy !!!
Rhythm Album #48: - Tunda Klap
to Renaissance's first release (REBIRTH), the new TUNDA KLAP features
similar string-arrangements over a thundering, fever-pitched dancehall
beat. These extra-fast riddims are all the rage in Jamaica at this
time and EVERYBODY from Lenky to Don Corleon and from Blaxxx to
Delano is riding the wave. Crucial tunes on here are Vybez Kartel's
big hit "Tekk", Capleton's "I Love The Way"
and Looga Man's "Huff 'n Puff". A few upcoming artists
actually provide some of the stronger tracks, as Kenny & Busy
Signals' "Shake It Fast" and Bugle & Tornado's "Soldering".
Other than that you have the usual culprits: Ele, Bounty, Cobra,
Ward 21, Vegas and so on. Next time something completely different
may be in order though.
: buy !!!
Artists- Salsa Riddim
2003's SEXY LADY, Christopher Birch returns with another latin-flavored
it has more of a niyahbingi-feel to it than a salsa, there definitely
are some latin elements at work here. On one hand the SALSA is quite
rootical in its foundation, yet on the other it is coupled with
plenty of modern pop and dancehall vibes that the outcome is quite
unique. Not only is the riddim outstanding: a number of the tunes
on it are as well, led by Bounty Killer alongside Angel Doolas and
the Shaggy/Rik Rok combination. While the SALSA has quite some cross-over
potential (KISS fm here in NM just added the Shaggy/Rik-Rok tune
to its rotation), there are still a number of hardcore selections
on it also, from artists as Ele, Ward 21, Ice Man and TOK. Big up
to Chris Birch and Shaggy's Big Yard Camp.
Levy aka Iley Dread - Unite The People
mastermind behind the Kings Of Kings label and possibly one of the
most under-rated vocalists/song-writers on the island at this time,
Iley Dread finally releases his first full-length album. As always
with the dread, the vibe is heavily conscious, as exemplified by
tunes as "Babylon Burning", "Reward From Jah",
and the stellar "Prayer Medley" (featuring Capleton, Sizzla,
Morgan Heritage and LMS).
I have always liked the Kings Of Kings label with its healthy mixture
of rootical AS WELL AS hardcore dancehall riddims. I also appreciate
the fact that this label voices and therefore promotes an enormous
amount of upcoming & lesser-known artists, aside from the run-of-mill
kinda guys that seem to be on practically EVERYTHING that EVER gets
released these days. A nice, smooth, extra-professional effort from
Mr.Levy, featuring an incredible amount of guests in the form of
U-Roy, Marcia Griffiths, Heather, Nicky Burt, Anthony B, Christini,
Norrisman, Warrior King, and the list goes on. Positive !!!
Of Kings/Jet Star)
of the upcoming generation of conscious dj's out of Jamaica, Norrisman
hits us with his third album "World Crisis". The riddim
tracks vary from the extra-rootical, niyahbighi-style "Love
Conquer" to more hardcore dancehall, as on "Don't Boast"
(featuring Frisco Kid) and on the classic J-Lo LATINO beat (featuring
Anthony B). While most of the tunes are quite good, I wonder why
tracks as "My Type" and "Selassie I Hail" were
included. They are so "un-musical" (out of tune/key),
that they are almost painful to listen to and bring down the rating
of this otherwise solid release. Norrisman does have some good lyrics
though and some of the riddims are red-hot. Therefore still recommendable.
Artists - Trifecta
After a whirlwind of hard hitting riddims, Donovan "Don Corleon"
Bennett ends 2003 with the mighty Trifecta. This is a fast hardcore
beat with it's spastic drum hits is meant to keep things steaming
on the dance floor. Donavan Bennett is one of those producers who
is on the cutting edge of following trends in the dancehall as well
as with popular American hip-hop/r&b, which is no surprise when
you hear the amount of auto pitch correction scattered through many
of the songs on this disc. My favorite tracks have to be Elephant
Man's weed smoking anthem "Nah Stop Smoke" and recent
Grammy winner Sean Paul's gal tune "Head To Toe". Bounty
Killer's revoice of "Breeda" sounds good but definitely
doesn't compare to Lady Saw's X-rated gal tune "Pretty Pussy".
Other artists like badbwoy Vybz Kartel, Bling Dawg, Wayne Marshall
and the always hot Ward 21 show off nuff talent. With the quality
of production coming out the Don Corleon camp I think 2004 is gonna
be the year for this pioneering producer.
Artists - Roots Dancehall Party
Kamel really did it this time !!! A classic compilation going back
to the roots of dancehall reggae in a showcase stylee. Back in the
days when the music was still being played by LIVE musicians. Singers
include Anthony Johnson, Barrington Levy, Sugar Minott, and the
legendary Johnny Osbourne, while the dj's are represented by the
likes of Early B (r.i.p.), Ranking Toyan (r.i.p.) and Jah Thomas.
All tracks are licensed from Jah Thomas' killer Midnight Rock label,
which ruled the dancehalls back in the day. My only beef is (AGAIN)
the lack of mention of the various players of instruments and the
generic cover-art. A must for all reggae lovers !!!
Artists - Roots Rasta Party
excellent Silver Kamel release, this time focusing on the heavy
rastaman vibration out of Jamaica at the end of the 1970's and the
beginning of the 1980's. The 8 extended tracks are kicked off by
some of yard's greatest singers of the time, including the sweet
voice of Cornell Campbell, Philip Frazier, Linval Thompson, Barry
Brown and the vocal harmony trio Mighty Threes (who have an uncanny
resemblance to early Israel Vibration). They then blend into a dj
or dub-version, providing us with the killer showcase-format once
again. Mic-chanters consist of the likes of Prince Alla, Ranking
Trevor, Peter Ranking, General Lucky and (my favorite) King Rolex,
while the riddims range from rockers to rub-a-dub.
Roots Dancehall Party exclusively featured Jah Thomas' productions,
a number of them can be found here (Augustus Pablo, Niney Observer,
and the aforementioned Jah Thomas). The players of instruments and
mixing engineers are stellar on every track on their list reads
like a "who is who" of reggae music: The Aggrovators (Sly
& Robbie back in the day), Soul Syndicate, King Tubby, Scientist
and of course the late-great Augustus Pablo. Awesome !!!
Artists - Spanish Town
heavy hitting deep roots riddims voiced by conscious artists is
what you hungry for, Spanish Town should satisfy your appetite.
With the three riddims featured on this CD, the Higher Ground crew
mix it up with a variety of different artists. From the typical
Anthony B or Luciano to more obscure voices such as Wadi Gad to
the new bloods such as Leopard and J Chushna, every tune is a quality
production. From the first notes of the nyabinghi driven Lutan Fyah
"It's Good To Know" you can almost feel the drummers in
the room with you. Criss production. Stand out tunes on this CD
include Rocker T's freewheeling "Gangja Progress", the
aforementioned Wadi Gad's "Can't Conquer Me" and Spectacular's
"Free Up The Youth". Hiyah Rems hits the mark with "Just
Drop a Bomb" as does Leopard with "How The Guns Get So
Prevelant". Other new comers such as Changa and J Cushna show
much promise for the future along side contemporaries such as Spectacular,
Jah Mason and Turbulence.Fourteen vocal tracks and three dub versions
make this a must have for all contemporary roots and consciousness
lovers. Higher Ground Sound is on the move!!!!
Ground Sound Records & Entertainment
OAKLAND CA 94611
Artists - Soldiers of Jah
Ground Sound Records)
new, independent US-reggae-label, based out of Oakland, California,
Higher Ground Sound specializes in rootical, niyahbinghi-style riddims.
Besides better-known artists as Anthony B, Luciano and Steve Machete,
there are a number of obscure performers like Leopard, Muscle Emanuel,
Lion Cub, Hiyah Rems and others. I'm not quite sure what the actual
name of the beat is on this 'one-riddim album' but I think that
African Bump would serve quite well, supplemented by Bongo Herman's
able repeater-playing. All artists put in good performances (I especially
LOVE to hear the new bloods), making this one of the best independent
US-releases in a while.
Artists - Surprise Riddim
Shadow's highly anticipated follow-up to the BUZZ (Sean Paul-Give
Me The Light) riddim is finally available in all shapes & forms,
including the full-length album/cd. Leaning heavily on Dave Kelly's
highly successful BUG from back in 1999, the SURPRISE is a hypnotically
droning, slower beat. While it may not be as hype in the dancehalls
as its predecessor, it is as fat, danceable track that works quite
nicely in cruise-mode. Many of the tunes were well-written and voiced.
Especially hot are Sean Paul's "Shake That Thing", Elephant
Man's "Jamaica" , and Wayne Wonder's "Enemies",
but there are further hot-shots from Bounty Killer, Buju Banton,
Beenie Man and many more. Yet another high-quality Black Shadow
Rhythm Album # 35: CLAPPAS
Records out of the UK continues to license the hottest Jamaican
riddims and releases them on "dj-friendly" double -lp's,
enabling selectors to save quite a bit of $$$ by buying a $15-20
double album, instead of having to cough up $3 per tune (if you
were buying 7" 's instead).
a stellar finale to the year 2002 in dancehall reggae (with the
release of such gems as the TAI-CHI, the MASTERPIECE and MI NUH
KNOW), I have been rather disappointed with many of the hype Jamaican
riddims of 2003 so far. Fortunately, South Rakkas finally comes
in with the real HIGH GRADE in the form of the CLAPPAS riddim. A
heavily percussive, rockin' rollish-beat with a clap-sample, CLAPPAS
has that irresistable something that automatically gets the ladies
on the dancefloor, shaking their booties. Stand-out tracks include
Capleton's " Clappin' ", Ward 21's "Hotta Betta Phatta",
Mr.Vegas',Alozade's and Hollow Point's re-creation of "Under
Mi Sensi"and best of all, the first Beenie Man & TOK combination.
A HUGE premiere for South Rakkas !!! Looking forward to more in
Rhythm Album # 38: C-4
Records out of the UK continues to license the hottest Jamaican
riddims and releases them on "dj-friendly" double -lp's,
enabling selectors to save quite a bit of $$$ by buying a $15-20
double album, instead of having to cough up $3 per tune (if you
were buying 7" 's instead).
slower, hip-hoppy beat, Craig "Leftside" Parkes' C-4 features
a killer bag-pipe line and cool string arrangements. While it may
not be a "dancefloor-thriller", it is excellent for rolling
in your ride, especially if it can handle some BASS. Capleton puts
in one of his best performances in a while with "Know Wi"
and many artists dig deep into their lyrical bags to spew out lines
like "Boom We Fi Boom Dem Up, Blast We Fi Blast Dem" (Bling
Dawg) or "Nah Eat Cat Nah Eat Kitten Put Up Yo Hand And Seh
Rastaman Sitten " (Anthony B). The King Of Kings label continues
its cool tradition of featuring upcoming, virtually unknown artists.
This time it does so in the form of Spotlight, Petrocan, Geenie
Slick & Stinga D, Fuzzy Jay, Wayne Passion and a few others.
Sizzla, Bascom X and Future Troubles bun down Babylon & its
informers, while Ele, Jagwa and Roundhead are ready to party hearty.
Something for everyone here. Big up Leftside !!!
of vocal talent shines forth on Black Ice's "Deliver Me".
Not only the featured artist but many of his guests, as Junior P,
Djahana and Rootsman convince. The lyrics are conscious and the
vibes are mellow. Unfortunately the computer tracks do not match
the vocal talent. Don't get me wrong: the riddims are tight and
well-played, yet they sound too generic and not quite fat enough
to these ears. This probably is the cause of my favoring the last
two, semi-accapella tracks. The vocals on "Enemies" and
"Jah Live" (not the Marley song) are soaring, complimented
by sparse instrumentation, lifting the tunes well above those featuring
the full mix. Still a good release for Black Ice & friends,
yet with harder beats it could rank even higher.
wicked 1980's set of rub-a-dub, courtesy of the UK's Silver Kamel
label and the (late great) Billy Boyo. Billy Boyo dj's in a refreshingly
youthful and natural style, somewhat inspired by his mentor, the
late-great Toyan. Each one of the 6 tracks is complimented by a
dubwise version, in a crucial Jamaican showcase stylee. The live
musicianship is stellar, lacking a little punch in the mix though.
Unfortunately, the liner-notes do not include info about the players
of instruments, only mentioning Trevor Ranking as back-up vocalist.
tunes include "Jamaica Nice", the album title "Zim
Zim" and the heart-wrenching "Every Mockell Tell".
A crucial re-release, re-introducing one of yard's most talented
rub-a-dub singjays. Check it people !
Station - Forward Ever
out of the Boston area, Dub Station comes in with this fresh cd.
The style is roots, the vocals are conscious and even though the
riddims are computer-driven, they are solid and sound professional.
A number of different singers get showcased on this release, including
my favorite TWEET 'A BIRD (a singing bird for real), singjay SONBEAM,
ELIHU, DIA, JEM-I, and I-TAL FIRE.
the vocalists can definitely hold their own, it is associate producer
Diavallan Fearon and musician Rider Mc Coy that lay the musical
foundation which lifts "Forward Ever" over the top. After
a while it all sounds a bit too smooth and clean for my taste but
nuff people like that style. Altogether more on the impressive side.
Boston rocks !!!
Dread - World War III
'Dread At The Controls' Campbell, aka Mikey Dread, just had his
legendary album"World War III" re-released on EB's Reggae
and he was kind enough to send me a copy, so here we go.
in the 1980's and backed by Jamaican masters Roots Radics, "World
War III" may rank as one of THE top reggae albums of ALL time.
Much of the music is crucial rub-a-dub, performed by stellar musicians
as Style, Flabba, Bingy, Sowell, and Deadly Headly, and even the
list of backing vocalists reads like a who's who ina reggae music:
Edi Fitzroy, Earl 16 and Watty Burnett.
tracks include "Jumping Master", the classic "Break
Down The Walls", "Skin Head Skank", and "Warrior
Stylee", all finding Mikey Dread in fine form, before the release
severely dubs out during the last, few numbers. If you don't have
it already-get it!!!
1218 Drexel Ave. # 203
Miami FL 33139
Remo - Babylon Fall
out of the Kulcha Shok stable hails Natty Remo, a Jamaican dj who
calls Florida his home. The computer riddims sound top-notch again,
possibly even a bit fatter than on the Wookie J release.
On top of that Natty Remo delivers the goods. Excellent lyrics and
a variation of dj-styles (at times reminding me of Shaggy or Red
Foxx ("You're My Lover"), at others of Prezident Brown
or Tony Rebel ("True True Love")) lift this one over the
number of lesser-known guest artists such as Manna Panna, Ragga
Lox and Wookie J contribute nicely but it is the Garnet Silkish
vocals of Yah Breeze on "Wrong Babylon" and Natty Remo's
sound-killing rampage on "Champion Sound" that rate as
the highest grade. If Remo had remained in Jamaica, I imagine he
would have been voiced on a regular basis but as it is, it was up
to Lance-O in Miami to bring forward more talent outta yard. Great
independent reggae release. Big up Kulcha Shok !!!
Huntington Station, NY, 11746
Burnett - To Hell And Back
roots reggae vocalist Watty Burnett, the deep barritone voice of
Congos fame, hits back with this excellent release. While the computer
tracks are obviously unable to match the musicianship of the Congos,
say, at the Black Ark studio (where they were backed by the Upsetters,
who later went on to become the Wailers but that's another story)
the riddims are solid and Watty is still in fine form. Standout
tracks are the hypnotic "On The Run" and the dancehall
combinations with NY dj Red Foxx, whose voice, style and delivery
have an uncanny resemblance to Shaggy. Crazy is the hard-rockin
cover of "Bol Weavel", while Watty's version of "Rainy
Night In Georgia" is extremely smooth, showcasing this artists'
versatility. Great is the Upsetterish "Chances", involving
reggae legends as Lee Perry, Sly Dunbar, Earnest Ranglin, Robbie
Lyn, Winston Wright and Boris Gardener. Roots fans-get it! Watty
1218 Drexel Ave. # 203
Miami FL 33139 co
J - Big Up The Children
solid release from Lance-O's Kulcha Shok label out of Florida. Wookie
J, self-proclaimed student of the late-great Nicodemus, sounds a
bit like Shaggy at points. Wookie J rides the riddims tightly and
what the dj may lack in versatility is more than made up for by
the combination tunes featuring guest-artists such as Shinehead,
Rocker-T, and Natty Remo. The lyrics range from conscious to lovers
and Kulcha Shok utilizes some classic riddims as Death In The Arena
and Diseases. The music is mainly rootsy blending well with Wookie
J's laid-back vocal delivery. There are a few hip-hop elements (vocal
& musical) plus some smooth dubs (mixed by Karl Pitterson) to
round things out. Altogether quite promising. I hope Kulcha Shok
keeps up the good work as this could be one of THE upcoming labels
to promote reggae music in the U.S.
- We Are Getting Bad:The Sound Of Phase One
Motion Records out of London comes yet another oldie but goodie;"We
Are Getting Bad:The Sound Of Phase One". In its hey-day in
the late 1970's, Phase One produced some of the most killer underground
reggae music in Kingston , which is surely saying quite something.
While big-timers as The Heptones and Dean Fraser contribute some
first-rate material, it is the more obscure artists as The Untouchables
(not the US-ska band), The Chantells, Jah Berry, and the unknown
dj, who toasts in the U-Roy style of the time, that really shine.
Producer Roy Francis has since moved on to run the famous Mixin
Lab studios in Kingston. The excellent liner-notes give detailed
info about him, a number of the contributing artists, and the Phase
One label in general. The music, ranging from rockers to steppers
and one-drop, is premium high-grade: pure chronic!!! Sound-quality
and musicianship are both top-notch. My favorite Motion Records
release up-to-date. A must-have!