Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Black Dillinger: Live In Munich!

"Black Dillinger: Live In Munich" [Jah Muzik Productionz]

1. Intro
2. 'Do Good'
3. 'Burn Dem Up'
4. 'From A Place'
5. 'Hail The Man' featuring Uwe Banton
6. 'Africa'
7. 'Cyaan Run Away'
8. 'America'
9. 'It's Alright'
10. 'Bless My Soul'
11. 'Volcano Erupt'
12. 'Better Tomorrow'
13. 'Everyone'

Check! A really, REALLY nice and most surprising release recently popped up on our radars courtesy of Jah Musik Productionz as longtime Achis Reggae favourite and South African standout, Black Dillinger reaches back with his fourth album to date and his first since... his last one, the downright SHOCKING "Live In Munich"! As I've said in the past, Reggae shelves, both new and digital and old physical, aren't exactly overflowing with Live albums [biggup Soca] [or don't] and it's always nice when a real talent can draw some attention to the most overlooked album subgenre and, along with Jah Muzik, clearly Dillinger is doing his part.

The album is comprised of a show which took place during the Theatron OpenAir Festival in Munich, Germany (DUH!) and came as a total surprise to us, but we always biggup good ideas and here is a GREAT one! WHY NOT!

Musical speaking (which is our language here), the playlist is locked with some big tunes and heavy favourites from Dillinger, including what is probably my single favourite song of his, 'America', his cut of the MAMMOTH Gangstalaw Riddim from a few years back via the vanished IMMusic (looking it up, that track is almost a decade old which is RIDICULOUS!) (I am soooooooooo old) and other tracks which lit my eyes such as 'From A Place' ["Think you have it all, but one day you shall fall. Babylon ah crumble like wall!"] [BOOM!], 'Bless My Soul', 'It's Alright' and 'Cyaan Run Away' as well as 'Do Good' [TEARS!] from Black Dillinger's debut set, "Live & Learn". Also featured on "Black Dillinger: Live In Munich" are more songs, still, with which fans are familiar such as 'Hail The Man' alongside Uwe Banton (biggup Uwe Banton) 'Burn Dem Up' and 'Volcano Erupt' - the latter of which is probably the best performance on this album [BOOM!]. Lastly, also present is a tune new to my ears (according to the press-release, it's new to everyone's), 'Everyone', which is excellent and, is hopefully, a preview of what is to come from Black Dillinger once he reaches back in the studio for a new album.
Until then, however, there is ABSOLUTELY no reason at all not to pick up his latest project, "Black Dillinger: Live In Munich" from Jah Muzik Productionz, which can be found in your favourite digital store today.

{Note: Biggup an Otis from Jah Muzik, we no idea}

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Marketplace Riddim

The Marketplace Riddim [Zion High Productions]

Just released and in digital stores now is the latest and fifth installment of the wonderful Riddim Series from the equally delightful  Zion I Kings, the Marketplace Riddim. This sublimely laid back track comes, specifically, from the lovely people at Zion High Productions and, as you would expect, it features an excellent ensemble of artists handling the vocals as well. All of the releases in the series, to date, have been top notch projects and today we take a brief look (I mean it this time, it is four tracks to deal with) at the latest addition which quickly proves itself to be no exception to form - the Marketplace Riddim from Zion High Productions.

{Note: Check out an interview from I'm Making It Happen of Tippy from I Grade Records. I've heard his story told so many times and it's so much better coming from his own mouth}
{Note 2: LIFE EXPERIENCES! Almost (not quite) makes me feel bad that I've spent most of my time mastering the ancient art of... just kind of laying around}


1. 'Marketplace' by Pressure

Unsurprisingly giving the riddim its title track is bona fide VI superstar, Pressure Busspipe who, as he ALWAYS does on ZIK projects, absolutely shines all over the Marketplace Riddim as he takes the listener to market with him on this sterling effort, which is as much of a musical celebration (or a vibes celebration... as I resist the urge to throw brain juice all over this big, BIG tune and overthink it) as anything. Even if you pay awful attention you probably know just how Pressure has been performing in recent times and it WELL continues here.

"Mi come a market, mi come fi bargain
And mi waan link di little Rastaman weh have him carving
Di money mi have, mi seh it can't pass di margin
Him seh, 'no worry mi chargie' "

2. 'Described Peculiar' by Akae Beka

Next is 'Described Peculiar' from someone who, MOST FITTINGLY, has been described as peculiar by many over the years at times, Akae Beka. From strictly the sonic appeal of this selection, this is by far one of the most easily listenable tracks from Akae Beka/Midnite that I've heard in recent years. The addictive simplicity of the Marketplace Riddim makes for a nearly perfect backdrop for Benjamin who,though not known for his melodic prowess, presents an infectious and BOUNCING [HUH?!] vocal here. However, as is the case on 100% of his output, what stands out most here is the direction of the song. What I ultimately take away from 'Described Peculiar' is that it is a piece about being HEALTHY. Health, in this instance, is an all-conquering one as Vaughn Benjamin deals with things from the physical to the mental and definitely the spiritual.

"Seen as evident as man ah chant Rasta
This is a people biblical described peculiar"
"Seeing as how the body is the temple of the law -
Man fi do their best to keep it optimum fah"

He (at least in my opinion) suggests  that the healthier and more prepared we can be not only can we succeed in the short term, but we're also far less likely to avoid making mistakes that we made previously and those who wish us to have those lapses in judgment (and are willing to 'help' us do so) will be just as far less likely to get what they want as well. 'Described Peculiar' is all kinds of interesting at its end and, if you can't tell, it's also my favourite cut of the Marketplace Riddim... ["Lion inna di present, lion inna di past"]

3. 'Too Much Religion' by Glen Washington

A name that I was REALLY happy to see visiting market was ZHP favourite, Glen Washington (MAMMOTH combination on Pressure's debut album, "The Pressure Is On", 'When Dem Come') [BOOM!] ["When dem come, wi gonna show dem a brand new way. When dem come, Jah Love will show dem a brighter day!"] [BIGGER BOOM!] [DAMN!], who makes his presence fully known on the poignant 'Too Much Religion'. The opening lines of this tune made me know that my excitement would go rewarded IMMEDIATELY:

"Love is the answer to all that I seek
WITHOUT IT, I'M TOTALLY WEAK"

Subsequently, Mr. Washington goes on to deliver a piece which, correctly in my opinion, essentially identifies religion as one of a seemingly infinitely long line of things which people use to separate ourselves from one another ["How can you say that your way is the right way when your brothers and sisters you slay? Works of the wicked will have to go down, IF YOU'RE WICKED, YOU'LL HAVE  TO PAY"].

4. 'Binghi Man A Call' by Lutan Fyah

And wrapping us up (it took me two days to write this, before I lost my entire mind, this would have been a half hour's worth of work at most) is another familiar face to the ZIK family, Lutan Fyah, who goes to market with 'Binghi Man A Call'. Apparently the Fyah is just a bit tired of waiting and your procrastination and if you needed a little motivation to get moving, here it is.

"STOP YUH COMING AND COME!"

After a TRIUMPHANT first verse (that thing is GOLDEN!), Lutan Fyah actually  goes on to well demonstrate the versatility of the Marketplace Riddim as, were you looking for a little BITE to this riddim, look no further than this tune which breathes some necessary fire to the release.

"We are no victims, we shall do more than survive!
Challenge yourself to do better everytime"
So. There you go. I don't really feel like writing a closer and you probably don't feel like reading it either. So - instead go pick up the brand new Marketplace Riddim from Zion High Productions which is in digital stores RIGHT NOW. I'm going to take a nap.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Soca Gold 2016

Soca Gold 2016 [VP Records]

1. 'Allez' by Teddyson John
2. 'Plenty' by Skinny Fabulous
3. 'How She Like It' by Hypasounds
4. 'Better Than Them' by Machel Montano featuring Timaya
5. 'Non Stop' by Pternsky
6. 'Leh We Fete' by Rikki Jai
7. 'Professional' by Ricardo Drue
8. 'Carnival Today' by Bunji Garlin
9. 'Hands In The Air' by Fay-Ann Lyons
10. 'All Ah We' by Peter Ram
11. 'Money Done' by Patrice Roberts
12. 'For All Ah Dem' by Problem Child
13. 'Heart of Me' by Edwin Yearwood featuring Giselle
14. 'Bum Bum' by Bass aka Trilo-G
15. 'Wid You' by Statement
16. 'Spread Out' by Tony Prescott

So, look what time it is. Once again VP Records rolls out what is likely still the #1 compilation in all of Soca music, "Soca Gold" (although "We Musik" had been doing big, big things in my opinion). As usual, we always look forward to the release and, despite not really liking what the genre has produced this year, 2016's edition is no different. Again, despite not having much to choose from, I'm not entirely disappointed with what this years "SG" has to offer early on,

Just on paper, big names such as Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons, Patrice Roberts, Skinny Fabulous, Problem Child and others make appearances which is certainly not a bad thing, even considering that only one of them bring my personal favourite of their recent selections. And "SG2016" also features, WONDERFULLY, a song that definitely was a recent highlight for me, the gold bar that was 'Allez' from St. Lucian all star Teddyson John.



Aside from that, the aforementioned Aza Sefu does deliver in a major way with what is the best song on this album to my opinion, 'Hands In The Air' (I don't know the name of the Stadic & Wetty Beatz track which underpins it, but it is the same which backed the MASSIVE 'Done' from Icon as well) and "SG2016" also features solid input from the likes of Ricardo Drue (who has been as reliable as almost anyone in the genre recently in my opinion), Peter Ram, Statement and a big combination featuring Giselle The Wassy One and,  of course, series posterboy Edwin Yearwood (I've been listening to 'Chrissening', for absolutely no reason at all, ENDLESSLY as of late).

Of course, the physical release of the album also includes a DVD packed with... what you usually expect it to be packed with. And even important-er is that this year's cover is gorgeous! Take a closer look for yourself when "Soca Gold 2016" from VP Records arrives in stores on June 24th.

{Note: Obviously the tracklist can change at anytime before the album is actually released - and if it does, don't blame me. ... You can blame me if you want, I don't care}

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

WORTHY!: A review of "The Rootz Warrior" by Warrior King

Most unfortunately I think that I’ve been reviewing music for so long that it’s kind of dulled my ability, at least at times, to listen to music for the sake of… simply enjoying the music. I’m always trying to pause something and make sure I heard what I thought that I heard and how it applies to what was said two verses prior and how it matches the riddim and all of these other things I tend to do in order to make a critique. That’s fine, it’s my own fault and I’ll likely not live long enough to get rid of it but I do admit  that I LOVE moments when something is either SO pleasing or has such a powerful surge of some other type of quality which either makes it incredibly pointless or incredibly difficult to think about critically. The general example of this is, of course, Soca music. I’m less than four months away from my thirty-fifth birthday (so, sooooooooo old) and I’ve yet to be able to cure that ‘infection’ and I never will. At its absolute best, or anywhere near it, Soca is somewhere beyond an explanation. You either feel it or you don’t and nothing anyone can say can give it to you or take it away from you in my opinion. When it comes to Reggae music things are different, surely, but not entirely. Yes, the genre can be presented in a form which I feel places it beyond explanation which is why, despite occasionally dipping into the vault throughout the years, we‘ve never spent much time discussing Bob Marley or Peter Tosh, but sporadically even in those cases I kind of feel the need to explain (don’t judge me) (or go ahead… I don’t care). In others still, I just find moments where I am so wholly satisfied with what I hear, that I don’t mind keeping it to myself. Today we take a look at someone whose music hasn’t usually placed him in that category because, throughout his career, when he’s been GOOD, Reggae music has noticed the output of Warrior King and done so in a major way. Dating back to his early years as a top flight artist, he’s been someone who has not only proven to be terribly difficult to ignore for fans of the genre, but also someone whose music has played and played and played! As we get further away from, it may be more difficult to remember, but Warrior King definitely enjoyed a very nice run to prominence as one of the biggest and most productive young stars of Roots Reggae music and, even these days, when he does something big, we’re still taking notice.

…well, yeah he’s done something big again. Besides just being happy to have something new from him in 2016, I’m always excited anytime I hear news on Warrior King because it always gives me a reason to go through his past. He’s never seemed to be the most prolific of vocalists (and that is ONLY in comparison to some of his outrageously active of peers, in virtually any other genre of music, his productivity would certainly be described as ‘steady’ and deservedly so) and maybe that has helped him in some aspects - an avoidance of over-saturation, but there is some CLASSIC material that the chanter [“Jah give I the powers to chant. Jah give I the powers to chant! Jah give I the powers to chant! Mi come to give the people what they need and not what they want!”] [BOOM!] has given us through the years and I anticipate the day, whether he is there to see it or not, when history shows a grand kindness to Warrior King for his contribution to Reggae music. And I’ll be happy to do it now -- definitely two of the nicest additions to my own personal collection is a pair of signed copies of his first two albums, “Virtuous Woman” and “Hold The Faith”, from about a decade ago now.
"Virtuous Woman" [2002] & "Hold The Faith" [2005]
So! Having not written what I would describe as an ‘official’ review in over  a year, I thought that I’d come back and tell you about what I believe is the fifth official studio album from the wonderful Warrior King, “The Rootz Warrior”. Apart from his initial two releases (both came from VP Records in 2002 and 2005, respectively), there was also the ghost-like “Love Is In the Air” in 2009 which flew well beneath the radars of many fans, I’m sure, and then there was the exceedingly well-received “Tell Me How Me Sound” from a couple of years on for Tad’s Records. The former, in retrospect, was an unusual blip in his career, while the latter was nearly a pillar. Of course I’ll have to explain it to you more but, “The Rootz Warrior” is a better album than “Tell Me How Me Sound”. Personally, this album has kept me company for the better part of two or three weeks or so. I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed it and had absolutely no intent on interrupting more time laying around being sick to spend what would surely take a week to write up and figured we’d find some other way to tell you about it eventually… probably (it actually would have went into the last WILT post). However, the new album finds Warrior King linking with an old friend of ours, the enduring James Lord of Irie Sounds International, which, along with the chanter’s own Rootz Warrior Productions imprint and the magical people at Zojak Worldwide, bring “The Rootz Warrior” to fruition and to all of them I, on behalf of YOU and everyone else who is going to hear this album, say “thank you, thank you very much”. Something went through my mind immediately when I first heard the album fully and it has dominated my opinions in regard to it from ever since then. “The Rootz Warrior” is VINTAGE level Warrior King. We may not (but then again we might) come away with these type of bursting anthems such as the afore-alluded to ‘Power To Chant’ or ‘Virtuous Woman’ or ‘Never Go Where Pagans Go’ (CLASSICS! ALL OF THEM! DAMN!), but that won’t be due to the quality of the music because there is some work on this release which ranks very closely to those landmark tracks in my opinion. And as an album, it goes on to rank as the Warrior King’s finest piece of work in almost a decade and a half. Let’s deal with it!  
"Love Is In The Air" [2009] & "Tell Me How Me Sound" [2011"]
Unsurprisingly “The Rootz Warrior” album appears to be a set which features a mixture of tunes fans are likely to know with other, and presumably newer, material. And it is such a downright DOMINANT track, at least to ears, which gets things started, in the form of ‘His Majesty [He’s Worthy]. In any realm in which common sense exists this praising tune is the finest offering on this album - it is absolutely spectacular!

“The world have seen his face
People from all different time and space
He sits upon the throne of David
Lets become members of a new race -
So all evil can be erased
His words are pure and sacred

He’s worthy
His Majesty is worthy 
He’s worthy to be praised always

He’s worthy
Haile Selassie is worthy
He’s worthy to be praised all days

He established the OAU
And for those who don’t have a clue - at the League of Nations, 1936
He prophesied World War II
Anywhere in the world He went, it was always a historic event
Best dressed Head of State, three consecutive years
He was showered with gifts and presents”

Fortunately, however, common sense has never been a strength of mine. Still, despite being my second favourite song on the album, ‘His Majesty’ SOARS and is as regal and royal of an effort as one would hope for given its subject. Next in is a tune which I think is familiar to my ears (though it may just be the horns), the also very strong ‘Stand Up In the Fyah’. This LUSH piece goes in a few different directions, but at its core what I ultimately took for it is the sense of one attempting to do the best that they can in life in all aspects. The Warrior King tackles several topics from being sure to be responsible [“You know not where you’re going because you know not where you’re from. How can an Afrikan join the Ku Klux Klan?!“] and clean and to give thanks for what you have and he finds a track between it all which makes for one very compelling tune. And speaking of tracks, the riddim on ‘Stand Up in the Fyah’ primes up after its beginnings and is subsequently DIVINE. Continuing with the theme of the opening of “The Rootz Warrior” is its third selection, ‘Rastafari Protect I’… PROBLEMS! This song is one which I think is probably going to help a whole heap of people in their journey in life as WK speaks about the basic DEPENDABLE and trustworthy nature of His Majesty and it put a SMILE on my face. It may just be the mightiest drop on the whole of the album lyrically (or just in general -- you could make that case), pinnacling, in my opinion, on a STUNNING third verse.

“Rastafari protect I from all enemies
Deliver me
He never let I down
For every sickness there’s a remedy
Burn impurity
His Majesty wear the triple crown

Keep I brave and bold
The devils seeking after my soul
They’re trying to take control
But my life is more precious than gold
All the people out there planning to destroy me like Bin Laden -
I never worry nor fret 
Yet, PROPAGANDA PROPAGATING AND STILL CAN’T I RATINGS
I AH CHANT LIFE OVER DEATH!”

And sticking right there as well, definitely check the ‘shufflin’ ‘Ain’t Giving Up’. Another big addition to this album and one which rests near its head to my ears. Here’s another composition about perseverance in life and endeavouring to maintain oneself in the face of adverse situations and conditions. It also has a sweet, SWEET backing courtesy of its well proven and trusted riddim.

Another aspect of “The Rootz Warrior” which kind of made it a very ‘comfortable’ album for me was just how well it sounds. The sonic appeal of the album isn’t this kind of mechanical and rigid type of vibe which you can get from Roots Reggae music when it isn’t done well and it appears, at least, that a conscious effort was made to give the listener something which may not wholly challenge the thought, but something which can just make you feel good! Want an example? I’ll give you three of them. First check what is my Wife’s current favourite song on the album, ‘Your Love Is Amazing’ (and as I’ve said in the past, her taste in men may be AWFUL (and it is), but she knows a good song when she hears it) which was WK‘s cut of Irie Sounds‘ In Love Riddim from a few years back. This song probably isn’t going to change the world, but it’ll put a smile on more than a few faces [“Your love keeps me warm even when I’m in the fridge. It takes me to the place where The Most High is”] and that is an important power of another kind! Later we get the outstanding ‘Watching You’ which is going to put a lot of motion in a lot of necks and feet (I said that because I’m sitting here stepping and rocking back and forth in my chair), including yours and mine. And watch last year’s golden Legends of Soul Riddim from Crawba Productions glow all across the album in the form of ‘Moonlight Bright’. I could listen to this thing all day long if I had to. It has such a nice vibe and the love song appears to have been constructed for exactly such a purpose and, like I said, it will definitely make you feel good. “The Rootz Warrior” also features a pair of mixes of previous compositions, ‘The One For Me’ and ‘Signs of The Times’, respectively. The former gets an acoustic rinsing and runs not too far behind ‘Moonlight Bright’ for its sensory appeal. ‘Signs of The Times’, on the other hand, gets a Dubstep mix and is the longest song on the entire album by nearly a minute. I’ve never been a fan of Dubstep, but I’ve been quick in the past to find out that I am in a minority when it comes to that and a credit well goes to the idea of changing things up considerably.

'Same Source'

Warrior King, himself, charts a very interesting course when he heads to The Gambia for the tribute to the country’s sitting Head of State on ‘President Yahya Jammeh’. I may be wrong, but I can’t think of any other time WK making such a musical acknowledgment and it was somewhat surprising (although certainly Sizzla Kalonji approves). But what develops consequently is nothing but a tough addition to this album. Tougher, still, are a pair of drops later on this album which help to form THE class of it in my opinion. The first is its finest moment in my opinion, the MAMMOTH ‘Same Source’. I talked about songs present on “The Rootz Warrior” which seemed to serve a primary purpose of just making the audience enjoy themselves and the music and there were pieces at the beginning which were of far more mentally gripping ilk, ‘Same Source’, at least in my opinion, combines elements of both. It is a JOY to listen to and Warrior King takes full advantage of the instant to make a grand point of unification throughout the world. It has such an easy way about it and it so wonderfully plays into the vibes of the song as, while it may be a critical message (and it is), it is something which is BASIC to humanity [“I HOPE YOU KNOW, WE’RE ALL CONNECTED!”] and something which doesn’t need to be injected into your mind because it’s already there. It just needs to be refreshed. And there’s also ‘Greater’ which is fantastic. It is the type of song which, buried way down there at track #13, may go overlooked but that’ll be your loss because ‘Greater’ may just be one of the best songs that Warrior King has ever done. 

“Good, better, best - nothing less
Everything I do, I’m always aiming for the highest
Cleanliness is righteousness
Who Jah Jah bless, I say no man test
Anything that’s common to man you can do
Equal capacity, we have that fi true
Don’t put no limitations pon your mind
Mi bless by The Most High, so divine

Anything that you can do, Rasta can do it too
And do it greater
Greater!
And Greater!

Any game that you can play, Rasta can play it too 
And play it greater!
Greater!
And greater!”

Finally, there is a pair of  combinations on “The Rootz Warrior” featuring a couple of really big, big names. ‘I Wouldn’t Do That’ features the legendary Beres Hammond (wouldn’t it be nice if we got a new Beres album in 2016?). This is actually a remake of an older Hammond song with Warrior King now adding his portions and making for another very soothing effort -- but I could listen to Beres Hammond sing absolutely anything and find it soothing. There is a message here in the vibes of making the not so obvious but BEST choices in life to live in a proper way. Specifically, the thought is to eschew what may seem to be the ‘best’ things in life because things that are shiny always come with a shiny price tag, whether you realize it or not. And Richie Spice runs red all over ‘Heartbreaker’. On paper, a combination featuring Warrior King and Richie Spice is all kinds of interesting and although I wouldn’t count ‘Heartbreaker’ amongst the biggest highlights on this album, it doesn’t disappoint in the end. 
Overall (2700 words + that wasn’t too bad), “The Rootz Warrior” is the best album Warrior King has done in fourteen years, in my opinion. And, as I mentioned, THE class of this album ranks alongside the very best material that he has produced at any point in his career. What really stands out, in retrospect (besides how proud I am of myself that I actually finished this thing) (and I don’t think it‘s terrible, I‘d probably give myself a 2.75/5), is just how COMPLETE this album is. I may not be in love with EVERY song on it,  but I don’t look at one area and say that it could have definitely been improved if they’d done _____. I think it is as good as it could have possibly been and saying something like that in reference to a piece of work by someone as entirely gifted as Warrior King almost always means that WHATEVER it is, is probably special. “The Rootz Warrior” well has something special about it as Warrior King reaches vintage levels on his finest album release in a very long time. Well done. 

Rated: 4.35/5
Rootz Warrior Productions/Irie Sounds International/Zojak Worldwide
2016
Digital {CD Coming soon}

Review #535

Friday, April 15, 2016

What I'm Listening To - Recap Right Now

"Start The Movement" by Yung J.R [Jr Productions/Justrock Records - 2015]

For the first of two or three hangovers that we couldn't deal with last year (when I was losing my entire mind), if you haven't already definitely be sure to check an album by the name of "Start The Movement" by one Yung J.R. Still best known as the offspring of Reggae legend, Junior Reid, should he continue to churn out material like this, Yung J.R figures to build a giant legacy of his own. "Start The Movement" may've been the most FUN album of its kind through the whole of 2015 and I didn't put it down through the first quarter of the new year. Big tunes such as 'General', a wicked update of 'I Love King Selassie' (and its dubbed out counterpart), 'Raggamuffin' and the album's biggest offering, 'Want No War', alongside Achis Reggae favourite, Cali P (more on him later), highlighted the set. Dre Island and Keida also made large contributions - not to be missed.

CD + Digital

"Mount Zion" by Miriam Simone [Dredda Records - 2015]
'Mount Zion'

One of the last mentions I meant to do (and almost came back just to review) before the break was a GORGEOUS debut album from equally stunning Dutch songstress, Miriam Simone, "Mount Zion", via the wonderful people at Dredda Records... better late than never. "Mount Zion" was one of the best albums of 2015 (if I had to put it on a list in my head, I'd probably rank it at around #8 or so) and really the big fulfillment of someone who had shown the talent over the years, particularly recently, to do something this special. While my personal favourite was the SOARING 'I Am Blessed' [TEARS!] [TEARS! AND PUDDLES TOO!], "Mount Zion" was full of big moments including the eponymous tune, 'Weh Mi Money Deh', the Isaacs-esque 'Rasta Love', previous single 'Rivers', 'No Place Like Home', 'His Kingdom Arise' alongside Lutan Fyah, 'Mother Earth'... pretty much every song on the album was a winner on some level and, like I said, it had few equals in what was a great year in albums from the genre.

CD [I THINK] + Digital

"Better Must Come" by Bay-C [Bombrush Records]

Bay-C of TOK fame continues to push forward with the release of a brand new EP set, "Better Must Come" from his Bombrush Records imprint.  You don't immediately think of it being such (at least I don't), but you're dealing with a SERIOUS veteran here (the days of 'Chi Chi Man' were FIFTEEN YEARS ago) and the results play out on those levels. To my opinion, it is big social commentary 'Eye For An Eye' which leads the way on the five-tracked effort (literally and figuratively, it's the best song and the opener):

"Man kick off, pon di block
Cut and seh him ahgo circle back, 
If him enemy still deh deh, then him ahgo murda dat
Go pon di ends, search fi shot
Load di clip inna di clock
GO BACK DEH PON DI BLOCK HEART HARDER THAN A TURTLE-BACK
Seh him waan him title back
Nah tek no idle chat - or him turn this inna bloody town
When will this cycle stop if everyday di rifle clap?
Ghetto youth unuh listen to mi sound"

[BOOM!] [THUNDER!] But you'll find quality amongst vitrually everything here - the title track, 'Hold It Out', 'Straight Outta Portmore' ["I represent Portmore, Kingston, countryside JA, home of the gallis, where we get girls like daily. Mi without a gal fi one night? You must be crazy! Look upon dem sexy gal yah, oh baby baby!"] [WHAT!] and the very fun 'Star'. Despite its title, "Better Must Come" is still quite eclectic and a very fun set: Exactly what you'd expect from its star.

Digital

"Chants Of Freedom" by Jah Hero [Manjago Vibrations]

I say that I was kind of trying to make up my mind about what I fully thought about "Chants Of Freedom" an album from an artist by the name of Jah Hero who, I think, was fully unknown to me prior to hearing it, but these days - I'm convinced. Hero originally comes from out of Gambia but these days calls Germany home (yet another big talent from out of both Africa and Germany) and he, seemingly, pours all of his surely diverse life-experiences all over this album which prove to make for one SOLID set. A pair of big songs set themselves apart on "Chants Of Freedom" for me in 'Rise' and 'Chanting' but not too far behind (if at all) are the likes of 'I Care', 'Good Ways' (which I'm considering going back to place in the first group) and others. This isn't THE best album I have ever heard, but if you enjoy modern Roots Reggae with just a dash of an old[er] school sound, you'll thoroughly enjoy "Chants Of Freedom" and definitely biggup Jah Hero for the big new album.

CD [I THINK] + Digital

'Make A Brighter Day' by Colin Roy [Rose & Steel Productions - 2015]
While one can CLEARLY questions my Wife's taste in who she chooses to spend her time with, her taste in music in pretty spot-on. Check what has quickly become her new favourite tune these days, 'Make A Brighter Day' by Colin Roy from out of the UK.

Digital

The Straight From The Fridge Riddim [Rootdown Records - 2016]

  'Guiding Shield' by Cali P

The ALWAYS reliable Rootdown Records got the new year started off more than properly with a big new riddim with a cool name, the Straight From The Fridge Riddim which certainly, as its name would suggest, sounds like something from yesteryear brought out and given a refreshing. Charged with given this burner its rejuvenation are some very talented vocalists such as Anthony B, Natel (whose 'Praise Jah' is OUTSTANDING), Ziggi Recado, Mr. Vegas (and another huge tune with 'Reggae Live'), a damaging Mowty Maklyka, Perfect Giddimani and Cali P who chimes in with one of the biggest highlights on the track, 'Guiding Shield'.

"Real Rasta youth come wid a Lion order
Trod over border and cross every water"

Lutan Fyah and Latty J also make well solid guest spots on what is clearly one of the early choices for riddim album of the year - and another amazing drop from Rootdown.

Digital

"Rebel of A Different Nature" by Koen Duncan [Fox Fuse - 2016]

Check "Rebel of A Different Nature" by Trini veteran vocalist Koen Duncan who (shares a name with one of my best friends in the entire world) (biggup Koen) returns with a brand new album in "Rebel of A Different Nature". Apparenty Duncan is managed by the wonderful people at JahLight Records and his latest project comes via the... indomitable Fox Fuse (I don't think they could stop if they wanted to). Duncan's focus is more towards the Gospel arena, but this isn't your standard pulpit and pew type of Gospel. "Rebel of A Different Nature", as its title says it will, breaks the mold. This sound is heavily infused with an easily digestible vibe of Soca and a little Dancehall and Hip-Hop (check 'Best For We', 'Number One' and 'Can't Stop We') thrown in, as well as Reggae. There is a VERY nice tune on this album (there're morre than the one but my favourite is -) called 'Heaven is Home' which is DELIGHTFUL and came in and just put a giant smile on my face. Fyah Lynx and Mr. S.O.N.G. make appearances.

Digital

"Theory of Reggaetivity" by Agent Sasco [Sound Age Entertainment/Germaica - 2016]

DUH!

Digital