Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What I'm Listening To Vol. 4

Beenie Man - Many Moods of Moses [VP Records/1997]

While certainly not as good as I once thought (or most people, I would imagine), Beenie Man’s Grammy Nominated Many Moods of Moses album has found a home in my semi-regular rotation over the years and especially so these days. Sure, it’s the ’Who Am I’ album, and there’re other big tunes like ‘Foundation’, ‘Oysters & Conch’ and ‘Bad Mind Is Active’ as well. You’ll also find all but forgotten big pieces such as ‘Monster Look’, ‘Woman A Sample’ alongside Buju and ‘So Hot’ with Lady Saw - BUT. Given what we’re about to enter now with the South Afrikan World Cup, buried late on this album are two absolutely BEAUTIFUL tunes. The first is ‘Steve Biko’, so named after the legendary South Afrikan activist (whose story will HOPEFULLY be taught more and more in school worldwide, particularly in the upcoming month or so). It’s a very strong tune and a very powerful sentiment and tribute as well. The other tune, ‘Long Road’, is another conscious and cultural piece and I’ve always held this one in high esteem because it features arguably the greatest verse I have EVER heard Beenie Man drop - The first on this song. It is SPECTACULAR! And just a generally very high level of skill and talents throughout. This thing was powerful.

Prince Malachi - Runaway Slave [Stingray/2004]

A big and damn shame it is that we’ve now been waiting on a new album from Prince Malachi, Babylon Jungle, which is supposedly already COMPLETELY finished, for two years. It’s even more regretful and generally fucked up when you look back at his two most recent albums (to my knowledge). The last was One Perfect Love from 2007-08 (I think it officially released in 2007, but no one got it until the next year), which is simply WAITING to be deemed a ‘modern classic’ by yours truly (unless someone else wanted to write it???) and this utter GEM of an album, Runaway Slave from the solid UK outfit, Stingray. What can best be said about this album is that it is easily one of the most complete and well rounded that you’re going to hear from that timeframe. On top of that, although Malachi has done better work (One Perfect Love), I can’t say that, vocally, he’s ever sounded better than the RICH vocals he puts on full display on this fourteen track master class. It’s not groundbreaking in any sense and you’re going to hear much of the same subjectry that you’re familiar with in the typical modern Roots Reggae genre, but damn does it sound good! Tunes like the title track, the opener, ’Go UR Way’, ’Show Love’, ’Cease The War’ . . . And I’m going to stop there, I can pretty much name every song on the damn album as being highlights. It was an excellent set and this one is sticking with me for awhile (hell, I might even put it on next month’s post as well).

Yah Meek - Things Change [Velocity Sounds/2009]

So you see an album forthcoming and you get really excited about seeing it drop and you really get your hopes up for it. You get it, get excited to listen and start spinning it and . . . Well it doesn’t sound too nice starting out, so you start jumping around and there’re nice tunes, but NOTHING really is grabbing you the way you might’ve hoped. Eventually you just chalk it up to not being a very good album and, disappointed as hell, you store it away. What’s next? You wait awhile and thump it back in and see what happens. That’s what I did with Yah Meek’s album from last year, Things Change and a year on, what can I say? Well, it’s still not very good. If you go back to 2006, when Meek’s first album, Touched By An Angel, dropped, there was so much discussion about it and it was one of the best received ‘underground’ albums of that year and you would’ve thought that it would have extended to his second album, but I don’t particularly recall this one having much of an impact either. And at twenty-one tracks deep, it’s certainly a lot to get through (despite the fact that it has two intros and an outro). I’ve actually grown to appreciate this one less and that’s unfortunate because I like to see Yah Meek doing big things, but these days, there’re only THREE tunes that I think are nice, ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Spinning Around’ and ‘I Love H.I.M.’ on an album which was a big personal disappointment for me. Maybe another year will help it.

Goofy - I Don’t Give A Damn [VP Records/1999]

Going back to one of my absolute favourite times in Dancehall history - The late 1990’s-early 2000’s - when the big label, Danny Browne’s Main Street was one of the most active in the game and they were vibing this very playful and FUN brand of Dancehall (and how interesting is it that all these years later, artists like Red Rat and Buccaneer, who once roamed the halls of Main Street are amongst my least favourite Dancehall heads) (hell, Goofy probably is too). This album, Goofy’s I Don’t Give A Damn is probably one of the least appreciated from the batch which came from Main Street and it isn’t super or amazing, but it is most certainly HARD and GENUINE Dancehall. Unfortunately I have to go back to the 90’s to find something which sounds like real Dancehall and when I do and pull this album . . . All I can say is not to judge a book by its cover (or its title). The album featured tunes like ‘Normal’, ‘Di More Di Merrier’, ‘Buff Bay’, the WICKED ‘Bad Man Fearless’ and the still MASSIVE album topping ‘Dark Glass’ alongside Beenie Man. If you can look through that other shit (the title and title track and songs like ‘Fudgie‘, ‘Brush Yuh Teeth‘ and of course, ‘Somebody Just Poop’ and about half a dozen skits (some of which are longer than a minute)), there’s a pretty good album in here somewhere. Thankfully, it’s gone digital so you won’t have to. Grab it up and pull it out every other year or so, pretty good album.

Knockout Riddim Album [Greensleeves/2003]

And of course I’m going to throw in some type of riddim album and the one which has caught my ear as of late is Stone Cold’s Knockout from a few years back. This one was an example of a pretty strong riddim and pretty strong artists which just . . . Was missing something because it just didn’t work out in most cases. The result has become a somewhat banal riddim which is just kind of there, stuck in that ridiculously long line of Greensleeves’ riddim albums from the early 2000’s at #36 (I used to be able to name them all from #1 to #40 from head top). And that’s interesting when you consider the names vibing this thing - Bounty, Buju, Ele, Capleton (twice, with the second tune, ‘Who I Am’, being a combination with Pinchers), Beenie, Lexus, Vegas, Wayne Marshall, Degree, Predator, Merciless, Ward 21. . . I mean SERIOUSLY, this thing was packed with some of the biggest names in the game (biggup both Lady G and Tanya Stephens, on the riddim as well). The class was amongst three tracks, ‘Rumble’ from "Vybz Cartel" (yep, that’s how they spelled it back then), ‘Bad Mind’ from Degree and a FUCKED UP ‘Toppa Top’ from the ‘mysterious’ Garrison. It wasn’t a complete waste of time, but with a line up like that you would’ve thought that it would have done much more than it did and while I’m listening to it now (like right now), I won’t be for long. See you in 2012 old friend.

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