Sunday, July 24, 2016

What I'm Listening To: Forever, Forever, Never!

"Lightning" [Greensleeves Records - 2000]

Don't ask me why (pleeeaaaaase don't ask me why) (... well, you can if you want, I don't know) a nearly two-decade riddim has found its way back on my radar, but it has and has done so almost totally because I am simply not strong enough to stop listening to one of its tunes. As the subtitle here alludes to, of course it is 'High Grade Forever' by Bounty Killer. I can suddenly listen to this song continuously on replay for... hours. For no reason at all, but there you go. To its credit, the riddim itself was exquisite. Built by Jeremy Harding for his 2 Hard imprint, the Lightning was pounding and unforgiving and along with playing a perfect backdrop to an indefatigable Killer, it also served well in the capable hands of the likes of General Degree, Spragga Benz & Sugar Slick, Ward 21, of course Sean Paul and Sean Paul's friends, Nadine Sutherland and even Gabriel (remember Gabriel/Levardes???). Still, despite my current state (I'm listening to it right now and will continue to do so, there's nothing anyone, including (especially) me can do to stop me), the best song on the Lightning was 'Bun Friend Enemy' by TOK. "... a nuh bush weed neva!"

CD + Digital

"Up & About" by UT Ras [CD Run - 2016]

Unsurprisingly, this drop from earlier this year (2016 is just flying by) got virtually no attention from anyone, but it was an album I had been looking forward to for nearly a decade. Wayyyyy back in 2008 Grillaras Productions delivered an exciting Roots set by the name of "Tha Bitter Stretch" from the just as exhilarating UT Ras ["Man a ancient warrior!"]. It was an outstanding and infectious debut album and I was well looking forward to the sequel. Well, we've all stuck around (if you're reading this, I can assure you that you are still alive) long enough to see it and here it is. "Up & About" is UT Ras' sophomore offering, this one coming courtesy of CD Run and while I can't at all put it the quality stratosphere of its predecessor, "Up & About" is still a tough, tough release. What it lacks for in the spectacular, it makes up for with a consistent and somewhat surprising 90's style Dancehall sound - highlighted by solid efforts such as 'Sprut', 'Safe Travel', 'Yap Yap', 'Auling Key', personal favourite 'Can't Tired' and the title track. Again, it isn't the best album you'll hear and it sounds like something straight out of the year 2000 or so, but definitely check out "Up & About" by UT Ras, if for no other reason than because you've been waiting on it for 8 years... biggup Elijah Prophet.

Digital

"Rasta State" by Mykal Rose [VP Records - 2016]

Inside of the same month or so VP Records deliver very strong albums from immortal veterans Freddie McGregor and now Mykal Rose who steps forth with another album I've been looking forward to getting my paws on (although not quite for eight years), the King Jammy produced "Rasta State". On paper this album couldn't be bad even if it tried to be and, thankfully, it did not as the two legends team up to offer a piece which shows the occasional flash of absolute brilliance in its fifteen tracks. To my opinion (albeit an early one, I'm still working on this one), "Rasta State" is an album whose real power comes in its subtleties. There are some REALLY big tunes here which may be destined to go overlooked by the masses but are wholly DOMINANT material. Example? There is a WONDERFUL tune on this album by the name of 'Hungryness' which I don't think will attract much attention but will reward anyone mindful enough to give it a bit of extra attention. The same can be said for pieces such as 'Free Education', 'Unity' and others still. Rose is someone who definitely does NOT have a kind of subtle style, but it is very interesting to hear it play out on what is turning out to be a very DETAILED project.

CD + Digital

The Daily Devotion Riddim [Pure Music Productions - 2016]

Biggup Delly Ranx and co. at Pure Music Productions for this golden composition from earlier this year, the Daily Devotion Riddim. The actual track here is so compelling because it sounds like a Reggae/Jazz type of a fusion (biggup Sara Lugo) which, in most cases, works excellently for the vocalists. Speaking of vocalists, it is Delly himself who makes a case for the biggest tune on his own riddim (as it should be) with 'Ganja Devotion', and he is joined near the quality head of the release by the likes of Sizzla Kalonji with the damn familiar 'Babylon Judgment', Norris Man [BOOM!], and UK duo Gappy Ranks and Chukki Starr who both shine on their solo efforts, 'Pool of Lava' and 'The Knowledge', respectively [--for his actual talent, what he is capable of, Chukki Starr may just be one of the most underrated Reggae artists that we've ever seen, the man can effortlessly pour out winners and the appropriately titled 'The Knowlede' is a glowing display of just that--].

Digital

"Crucial Duets Volume One" by Yami Bolo [Yam Euphony - 2007]

And finally, give a MAMMOTH thanks to an old friend of mine, Clark, who dropped his suit and glasses and picked up his cape when he passed on this difficult to find gem about a month ago (I have known clark since I was about seven years old, almost thirty years) (biggup yourself Clark). "Crucial Duets Volume One" was a compilation of some of the strongest combination tracks featuring one of my truly favourite vocalist throughout all of modern Reggae music, the incomparable Yami Bolo. Today we see these well-conceived "... and friends" projects (biggup Mark Wonder) (biggup Sara Lugo) and this drop was very much of the same type and, like the new ones, it too was very strong. "Crucial Duets" featured a strong mix of tunes with which you were likely familiar such as 'Liberation' alongside Capleton and 'Curly Locks' with Merciless; blended with lesser known lights featuring contributions from such artists as Qshan Deya, Jack Radics and even Bounty Killer. The album also carries the weight of legends in the form of Dennis Brown, Lee Perry, Sugar Minott and others still. And as a bonus (for me), also included was 'Spread The Love' with Lutan Fyah, the duo's cut of the WICKED Talking Drum Riddim courtesy of Lustre Kings Productions. We've seen this one available at the odd online retailer and it is well worth tracking down for fans in my opinion. Check it out.

CD

Saturday, June 25, 2016

MAAD SICK!

The Maad Sick Reggaeville Riddim [Oneness Records]
1. 'Modern Man' by Morgan Heritage
2. 'Siren' by Exco Levi
3. 'Maad Sick' by Gappy Ranks
4. 'Let Jah Be Praised' by Anthony B
5. 'Ites, Green & Gold' by Kelissa
6. 'Rudeboys' by Clay
7. 'Roots With Quality' by Richie Stephens
8. 'How Mi Sound' by RunkusRoyal Blu
9. 'Champion' by Marla Brown
10. 'Raggamuffin School' by Skarra Mucci & Yaniss Odua
11. 'Jamaica' by Macka B
12. 'Reggae Village' by Perfect Giddimani
13. 'Work' by Cali P
14. 'Always Remember' by Caleb Heart
15. 'Modern Man' by Morgan Heritage [Umberto Echo Dubmix]
16. Maad Sick Reggaeville Riddim [Instrumental]

Okay so, surely you remember a sweet little riddim from a few years back by the name of the ReggaeVille Riddim [biggup Da Ville]. That absolutely sprawling project featured stellar efforts from the likes of Etana, Tarrus Riley, Mark Wonder, Sizzla Kalonji and others (in retrospect, do we now consider the biggest hit on the Reggaeville Riddim to be... 'High & Windy'??? I think so) (biggup Teacha Dee) and was easily one of the best sets, of any kind, back in 2012 (truly ridiculous that thing is four years old already!). Well, fast-forward four years on and apparentlly we have something of a sequel at hand. 
The ReggaeVille Riddim [2012]
You're also likely to recall that the orchestrator of the Reggaeville Riddim was the all kinds of reliable Oneness Records from out of Germany. Even prior to that, Oneness had made a mighty claim to being one of the most dependable imprints in the entire genre through various releases (like the General Key Riddim, which I haven't heard in a minute. That thing was so SWEET!) and the case could well be made that the Reggaeville Riddim, at the time, was their most expansive venture  to date - so why not double up. In stores now is the latest creation from the wizards at Oneness Records, the Maad Sick Reggaeville Riddim. Like its predecessor, the Maad Sick is a clearly well-crafted set, brimming with top and diverse vocal talents and while my eyes tell me that one obvious name is missing (who may've been having too much fun with her friends), just looking through this tracklist leaves me with no complaints.
The early leader may just be UK firebreather Gappy Ranks ["Mi mad, mi sick, mi Reggae ville. Neva been a cub scout, I'm a general. Nah go rise no machine, but mi bredda will. Mek attorneys at law haffi send a will. Memba mi mad, mi sick, no penicill. Mi a real Buffalo like mi bredda Bill"] who checks in with the eponymous selection for the riddim, but The Carpenter is joined by the likes of recent Grammy winners, Morgan Heritage, Anthony B, the wonderfully inescapable Macka B (whose 'Jamaica' may just be my favourite Macka B tune in recent memory), Exco Levi, the always blazing Perfect Giddimani whose contribution, 'Reggae Village', is downright utopic and will probably have you wanting to move! And more flames come courtesy of Achis Reggae and earth favourite, Cali P ('Work' is MASSIVE), sweet singing Marla Brown, as well as a pair of combinations, one of which, 'Raggamuffin School' is a most interesting pairing of UK veteran Skarra Mucci and Yaniss Odua from out of Madinina. Want more??? [GREEDY!] Caleb Hart SCORCHES on 'Always Remember' and Oneness is wise to turn the track over to the well-capable hands of Umberto Echo and dubbifies the Maad Sick Reggaeville Riddim masterfully with the Morgans. 
And I probably just mentioned every song on the riddim in one way or another, but who cares what I say?! Make up your own damn mind when you exercise the TINIEST bit of common sense and pick up what is certainly one of the finest productions Reggae has to offer in 2016, the Maad Sick Reggaeville Riddim from Oneness Records, which is in digital stores right now.

Friday, June 17, 2016

"True To My Roots" by Freddie McGregor

"True To My Roots" by Freddie McGregor [VP Records]
1. 'True To My Roots'
2. 'Your Love's Got a Hold On Me'
3. 'Calling'
4. 'I'm a Soldier'
5. 'Master Design'
6. 'Sen Come Call Me'
7. 'Song In My Head'
8. 'One of These Days'
9. 'I'm Falling In Love With You'
10. 'Rasta Ha'Fi Party' featuring ChinoStephen 'Di Genius' McGregor
11. 'What You Gonna Do'
12. 'I'll Be Back'
13. 'I Pledge My Love'
14. 'Indigenous People'
15. 'Do You Understand?'

All is (and I mean ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL) made right in the world when the great Freddie McGregor is making music and, today, we take a quick look at some musical corrections which is now at hand as the legendary Captain of the Big Ship reaches back and unfurls an album which I have a REALLY good feeling about, his latest set for VP Records, "True To My Roots".

Despite having a career in the music which stretches back billions and billions of years, McGregor has remained fairly active for an artist of his stature and when he pulls everything together for a project of this magnitude, it's always going to be a big deal and, just listening through some of this material, "True To My Roots" may just have something special about it, even in comparison to some of his more recent work (which has been very good in my opinion). Along with the title track and a very familiar tune from a few years back, 'What You Gonna Do', the album features several moments which I would well recommend you have a listen to.
The early favourite is probably the MASSIVE 'Indigenous People', but I'm also tuning into pieces such as 'Rasta Ha'Fi Party' which features McGregor's sons, Chino and Di Genius, the delightful 'Master Design', as well as the downright prophetic 'Song In My Head' (be careful there) and several others (like 'I'm A Soldier). It's just a really PLEASANT album, which I'm still playing with, but like I said, there's a very powerful vibes attached to this one.

Don't take my word for it though. See for yourself when you pick up the new album from Freddie McGregor for VP Records, "True To My Roots" which is available now in Japan and makes its way throughout the world beginning July 1st.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What I'm Listening To: GODZILLA! GODZILLA! GODZILLA!

"Heart Is Willing" by Freddie McGregor [Jet Star - 2003]

Surely it had something to do with his impending new album, "True To My Roots", but I honestly couldn't tell you, AT ALL, what it was that specifically led me back to this random, thirteen-year-old release from the legendary Freddie McGregor, "Heart Is Willing". All but forgotten these days (unfortunately, like so many of the releases that Jet Star Records - which is terrible, because they did so much fine work in their time and are well missed), "Heart Is Willing" was a very, VERY solid which still glows a bit these days, in retrospect. Its brightest moment, without a doubt, was the colossal title track, but it was album which boasted such nice songs as the lovely 'Smile For Me', 'You Don't Have To Worry', 'Old Gangster' and others. A very pleasant and RELIABLE release and, just to let you know, I have a VERY good feeling about McGregor's new album and am well looking forward to it. Until then, this blast from the past is holding sublimely.

CD + Digital

'If This Isn't Love' by Jalena [Jalena - 2016]

There will always be room on my players for Achis Reggae favourite, Jalena, who recently returned with a brand new single, the Reggae-fied, 'If This Isn't Love'. Hopefully this is at the head of a new full project coming soon from the all kinds of delightful Tortola native, but on its own, as is her norm, 'If This Isn't Love' is a captivating and infectious drop from someone who I constantly make sure to check for and she never disappoints.

Digital

"Kush Tafari" by Ras Abja [Iaahden Sounds - 2015]

Check this more than solid EP release via Iaahden Sounds from late last year, "Kush Tafari", by outstanding VI veteran, Ras Abja. The last time we heard from Abja, in full form, was back in 2013 with "Songs Fa Jah", and while we'd LOVE a full followup, this five-tracked EP release was definitely something which did more than hold your attention. Of course, when you tap names such as Ancient King, Ras Attitude and Akae Beka to help you, you're likely, AT WORST, to do something relatively special. It was the combinations (particularly 'Black Lion' with Ancient King) which took top honours here, in my opinion, but all of the songs were very well done and a big credit goes to Iaahden who has already done some very big things and we hope they continue.

Digital

The Jah Army Riddim [Frankie Music - 2016]

And if you haven't already (shame, shame on you!), be nice to yourself and pick up the Jah Army Riddim from Frankie Music today.There was a single GIANT song on this riddim which put me on this track and, save for the last two things you'll see here (if we do this right), it has well been THE most prominent thing I've been listening to recently. That song, 'Just Another Spliff' came via the great Lutan Fyah and... TEARS! The man speaks on using the herb as a method of escape the hardships of life and as a mental upliftment for the masses and does it in a VINTAGE fashion over what is, to their credit, a cavity causing backfrop from Frankie Music. Joining the Fyah on the vocals weren't the biggest of names in Feluke, Torch, Raging Fyah, Chevaughn and Mackeehan, but they all turned in fine efforts and I struggle to pick a favourite amongst them (though if you REALLY pressed me, I'd probably say Feluke with 'Soul Alive' [TEARS!]).

Digital

"Everlasting" by Raging Fyah [VP Records - 2016]

Biggup Bredz for not only insisting that I take a listen to "Everlasting", the latest release from the Raging Fyah band, but then (clearly in order to make sure that I had done so), CONSTANTLY wanting to talk about it. It finally worked, he wore me down and as usual... he was right (please don't tell him I said that). I'm still working on this one, but the early returns have a... very interesting aura or smell about them (I'm trying not to say 'album of the year', but I'm struggling with that). "Everlasting" is BEAUTIFUL! Thirteen tracks span just over fifty minutes of music and not a single second is wasted and, instead, is made great usage of, especially at moments such as 'Get Up', 'Wondering', 'Live Your Life', the MAMMOTH 'Ready For Love' and several others (pretty much the entire album). J Boog, Jesse Royal and Busy Signal (twice) lend a hand on an album I'm sure that Steel Pulse would approve of and so would all of their fans. NOT TO BE MISSED!

CD [in a minute] + Digital

"Way Up Project" [Bass Ink Productions/Fox Fuse - 2016]
I mention the entire project because... I dont know why, exactly, I just do. And definitely biggup the likes of Lil Rick, Shanta Prince, Joaquin Brewster and even Skinny Fabulous whose tune on the riddim, 'Pompous', isn't present on this release (more on him in a minute, anyway) for some reason or another - they all do fine work (Brewster's tune, 'Home' - PROBLEMS!). HOWEVER, with that being said, the Way Up Project from Bass Ink Productions and spread out by the indomitable Fox Fuse, carries a song which I've tried unsuccessfully to get out of my head for a month or so now, 'ID [Stamp Yuh Name]' by the fire breathing Ricardo Drue. Drue has been on a tear for the last two or three years or so, making music as good as anyone in Soca in my opinion and, with respect to 'Vagabond' (and its truly ridiculous remix), this is probably my new favourite Ricardo Drue song. 

"SO RIGHT NOW, LET'S DO SOMETHING THEY'LL REMEMBER! [THEY'LL REMEMBER!]

Digiital [in a minute]

'Godzilla' by Skinny Fabulous [Stadic Studio Productions & Wetty Beatz - 2016]
Lastly, each and every year when it comes to Soca music, one of the things I look forward to the most is what St. Vincent dragon, Skinny Fabulous, will pop up with, particularly when it comes to the powerful and ANGRY brand of the music. His latest release, 'Godzilla' took a little while, but it has TURNED UP in my mind and I cannot shut it down! If you have some frustration and some steam to let go, 2016 probably hasn't done more for you than it does with Skinny's truly MADDENING latest drop (which should, once again, absolutely lay Victoria Park to ruins in a few weeks). RIDICULOUS!

Digital [eventually... I guess]

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}