I Octane [Arrows Recordings & Truckback Records/Zojak Worldwide]
First up this week, fittingly, is an artist who I just declared the singles artist of the year in Reggae a few hours ago, the disturbingly talented I-Octane. I thought I’d give you a few examples. Octane may just be the first example of an artist whose career is taking a WONDERFUL step forward worldwide from his considerable presence on the digital scene. You’d be hard-pressed these days to find an even remotely halfway decent that the man has dropped which hasn’t gone digital (for almost ANY label) and it’s a trend which we hope definitely continues and I’m also quite curious what effect that it has that I-Octane may just be Reggae music’s first TRULY digital artist. Here, we have a very strong sampling of some of the material he’s pushed in the last year or so. Take special note of them all: Of course ‘Hurt Mi’ alongside his ‘father’, Spragga Benz; but also ’Different Page’ is very strong, as is his most recent offering ’Lose A Friend’ for Truckback (biggup Heather) (and biggup I-Octane’s publicist who sends me about ten emails a week, no exaggeration and I’m not complaining, none at all).
Tiwony - 'Real Rasta' [Artikal Crew]
I don’t know who the Artikal Crew is (perhaps if I make this sound good enough, they’ll let me know), but they’re making a helluva first impression on me in the form of a HUGE new tune from the incomparable Tiwony, ‘Real Rasta’. As if he needed the boost following one of 2009’s biggest albums, Viv La Vi, he certainly got it in the form of this mammoth shot (not too dissimilar from when the man released the devastating ‘Selassie I’ not too long after his debut album, Fly). So all of those guys who emailed me like crazy after you discovered the album, definitely check out the tune. I can’t imagine we’re going to see a full blown album from Tiwony this year, but if he wanted to. . . I mean. . . I would complain about that either. BIG BIG tune.
Sizzla & Diana Rutherford - 'A New Day' [Tiger Records]
Unsurprisingly, already hard at work in 2010 is Sherkhan and company at Tiger Records and they’re now coming with their first release of the year in a few days’ time, a very interesting combination featuring Sizzla and (I THINK Mrs. Sherkhan) Diana Rutherford, 'A New Day'. This tune is VERY good and it’s not that kind of overdone and over-agitated version of Kalonji which tends to pop up on tunes like this. This one is more laid back and stereotypically BRILLIANT on an inspirational vibes which are well complimented by Rutherford who, as usual, sounds SUPERB. You’ll have to wait a minute to get your hands on this one (literally, by time you read this, it’ll be released tomorrow), but when you have the opportunity, don’t skip it over. Another big tune.
Jah Cure & Alison Hinds - 'Call On Me Mastamind Soca Refix' [Mastamind Productions]
This one took a little while to grow on me. Arguably the greatest Soca producer on earth, Shawn ‘Da Mastamind’ Noel brings together a seriously INCREDIBLE combination as Bajan Soca Empress Alison Hinds once again finds herself linked up (in the musical sense, of course) one of Reggae’s leading men, Jah Cure on a remix (“Soca Refix”) of his big hit ‘Call On Me’ from The Universal Cure album. As I said, I didn’t too much like this tune when I first heard it, but it has definitely grew on me over awhile. I was a LITTLE surprised to see it released as a single (but as you’ll find out tomorrow, Da Mastamind has been quite active on releases front), given the Cure’s various links, but apparently a deal with struck on his side and this tune which is definitely a big one for this season has fortunately made its way out for worldwide circulation (NOW! If I could just get the Cure and Alison Hinds to take this tune to a Groovy Monarch stage. . .) (a man can dream can’t he!).
Perfect - 'Big Fat Ganja Spliff' [House of Riddim]
You might remember a few years back normality-challenged chanter Perfect (FROM ST. ANN!) having a tune by the name of ‘Ganja Spliff’ across Tad’s cut of the Hard Drugs Riddim. The tune was pretty good, but apparently a few years on, Perfect’s spliff has put on the pounds as he now releases the TRULY one of a kind ‘Big Fat Ganja Spliff’ for Austrian label House of Riddim (who I seem to run into about once a year or so) (biggup Marlene Johnson & Yah Meek). This one is hardcore modern Roots Reggae meeting ALANIS MORISSETTE as Perfect borrows the melody the somewhat creepy Canadian folksinger (something about that woman has always scared the hell out of me) (I’m sorry) used on her tune ‘One Hand In My Pocket’. Where her hand while in his her pocket, Morissette had a variety of things going on (your joke here), but of course Perfect’s intentions are far more terrestrial and ultimately SATISFYING (your joke here again), as the title would suggest.
Anthony B - 'You Saved Me Jah' [Black Life Label]
Despite the fact that he, in my opinion, had a pretty bad 2009 (save for his album, of course, which was even originally scheduled for 2008, I believe) I do have to give credit where it’s due and its definitely due to Anthony B for this older tune I, ‘You Saved Me Jah’ for Black Champagne’s Black Life Label. This thing is SPARKLING! Black Life is a label which has worked with some very strong Roots talents (including a very big tune for Lutan Fyah, ‘King of Our [All] Kings’) over the past couple of years or so and this tune may very well have been the very best that I’ve heard from the label thus far. So definitely grab it up, check it out - huge tune that went overlooked last year.
Anthony B - Smoke Free [No Doubt Records/Zojak Worldwide]
And lastly (and hopefully briefly) is a full blown reincarnated album, Smoke Free. Biggup Dale Cooper for refinding this release as it’s not the same kind of boring and mundane release from a few years back. But instead the reenergized digital version has some much newer and just BETTER material on it. It’s very much along the lines of recent No Doubt Records’ releases for Lutan Fyah (Music) and Teflon (Let Jah Be Praise), which is DEFINITELY a good thing.