Saturday, May 15, 2010

What I'm Listening To Vol. 3

Bad Company Riddim [Greensleeves Records, 2003]

As freaky and strange as the Bad Company most certainly was, in retrospect, I now regard it as a near GEM from the once mighty Greensleeves Rhythm Album Series. The riddim was produced by Scatta for Iley Dread’s also once mighty Kings of Kings imprint (pretty sure he’s still around) and it was just so interesting and colourful that even all of these years later, I have trouble describing the sound of it. It was maybe a kind of ‘circus’ sounding Dancehall riddim - Whatever the hell you want to call it, it was crazy. Not only that, but as difficult as the Bad Company seemed, it brought out the ‘A Game’ from some of the finest talents in the game as well. Of course there was Beenie Man. ‘The Doctor’ was the only artist to actually reach the riddim two times, with the infectious ‘Row Like A Boat’ and later with the controversial ‘Han Up Deh’. It was also the same riddim which birthed Ele’s big hit ‘Chiney Ting’, Bounty’s SCATHING ‘[Killa] Nah Trace’ and big tunes from Buju Banton, Vybz Kartel, Degree, Assassin (HUGE tune with ‘Do Ma Thing’), MERCILESS (who had one of the biggest drops on the riddim with ‘Tek Wuk’), Achis Reggae favourite Ce’Cile of course (“cause any bwoy nuh call we back a chi chi man dat”) and others (like Sizzla with the riddim title track). Still, seven years later I’m under the impression that the finest tune to be found on the Bad Company Riddim was the FUCKED UP display Madd Anju delivers on ‘Wa Do Dem’. The tune was literally flawless in every way. The riddim wasn’t bad either.

Military Riddim [Birch Records, 2004]

Sticking with crazy hype riddims - Here we have what may be, pound for pound, one of the HARDEST riddims of all time and one which accompanied me on many a long day at the gym a few years back. The Military Riddim was one of the most spun of its day and for good reason as it very carefully blended the line between pure unadulterated hardcore Dancehall and something which could still inspire the shaking of asses on the Hip-Hop dance floor as well, as Birch DEFINITELY knocked a homerun with this one (which is STILL pretty well appreciated). Of course it’s pretty useless (to you and me) if the vocal artists don’t do their proper job and they definitely did with the top shots of the riddim coming from Assassin with the brilliant ‘Step Pon Dem’, Kartel with ‘4 Star’ (“di war nah dun til di whole ah dem DEAD!”), Bounty with ’Warlord Walk’, Ce’Cile with the stylish ’When We R Seen’, Mad Cobra (get well soon) with the typically mad as hell ’Put Gunshot’ and others like the eponymous Tanya Stephens, Beenie Man, Macka Diamond, Mr. Easy and even Lady Saw. Kiprich also did excellent and provided the riddim with one of its most memorable moments when he struck in with ‘Baby Song’ which provided everyone with a blueprint to help find the missing children of the various artists (“If you see a baby when him see Ninja Man him start kicking - Kartel Baby. If you see a baby who love ganja tree and chicken - Roundhead baby”).

Jah Mason - Surprise Dem [Vikings Production, 2004]

Surprise Dem was by no means anywhere near the best Jah Mason album to be found and I think it speaks volumes that it’s one of only two albums that he’s done which I haven’t reviewed (the other is Working So Hard for roughly the same reason), but like most of his work, there’s definitely something here to pay attention to and to take note of. Most notable, in my opinion, was the way in which the Mason kind of seemed to breeze through tunes like ‘Too Hot Fe Dem’ and ‘Red Gold & Green’ and the title track and especially ‘Bigga Joy’ (despite the lyrical flub on the tune), CLEARLY not at his best, not in his finest form, but the tunes were still pretty decent. Vikings would also go on to release the ultimately mediocre No Matter The Time album a few years on, which would contain tunes from this release and eventually it kind of faded away, but I THINK it was re-released earlier this year (and I think by Zojak) digitally. So while it still has kind of vanished and not surprisingly, it’s still worth a nice tune or two and it was a very interesting album.

Chukki Starr - From Crime To Kodesh [Jet Star, 2001]

I always welcome good reasons to go back and pull out all of the old stuff from Chukki Starr and have a next listen and that’s exactly the opportunity I’ve been afforded as he has recently pushed his greatest hits album: Most Wanted (which he is apparently promoting the hell out of), for Greensleeves. If you go back into his catalogue, we find this HUGE release, From Crime To Kodesh, from Jet Star, which was and remains arguably his best and most mature complete set to date. The album was also kind of dark and I don’t think too many people reacted to it properly (and they certainly haven’t since), but it was VERY solid and guest spots from the aforementioned Jah Mason, Junior Kelly and Queen Omega (who sings backup and whose producer, I THINK, Mickey D, helmed much of the album) only added to the special blend for Starr. Still, it was arguably solo tunes like ‘Revelation Time’, ‘Nallage’ and ‘Arise We Fi Rise’ which made up a great deal of the class of this nearly special album.

Mikey General - Spiritual Revolution [Redbridge, 2000]

This one has been pretty much long completely forgotten and buried and left for dead, but it is an absolutely GORGEOUS release. Mikey General is an artist who, much like Yami Bolo and Prince Malachi, just seems to always find his way onto my players in some way, shape or form and lately he’s been doing it with this wonderful album, Spiritual Revolution. I THINK this may’ve been the very first release from the General following both his and Luciano’s exit from the famed Xterminator camp in the late 90’s, but with Firehouse and Dean Fraser (as well as the General and Luciano themselves on their own Qabalah imprint) (and Henfield on a track as well) doing quite a few productions on the piece, you’d never know it from the sounds. The General uses said sounds to big tunes such as ‘H.I.M. Songs & Daughters’ , the sublime Henfield produced ‘Jah Inna Mi Head’ (Sweet River Rock Riddim), ‘Not For The Natty’ (“miss hottie hottie, not for the Natty Natty”), ‘Love Is What We Need’ alongside General Pecos, ‘Fire Never Cease’ and the damaging ‘Too Much Revolution’ (and I could probably name every tune on the album) (and I think I just did, I should really slap a review on this album). Literally every stop on this BIG album is something worth listening to as was and still is the norm for Mikey General.

{note: This one is available in seemingly very selective digital form right now}

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