Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Artist of The Month: Royal Dainties!

Royal Dainties

Meet Royal Dainties! Way back when I started this blog and started doing ‘artist of the month’ type of features, I had a handful of names in mind that I really wanted to get out and for various specific reasons. Be it their circumstances, how much potential I felt they had or some other aim, these were artists who I felt the world (or at least the bit of it who hang around here for some reason) should’ve known more about. Now a year and half on or so, I’ve done most of them, Mischu Laikah, Smiley, Jah Nyne, Goldee etc. one of the names which remained on the shelf was Royal Dainties from out of Chaguanas, one Trinidad’s most talented Reggae artists. I had good reason why I hadn’t drew on him just yet (and believe me, there were times when I was close) - I was REALLY expecting and waiting on him to drop an album or just REALLY start a push out with his music internationally, but it just hadn’t and still hasn’t occurred, which is so unfortunate, but I thought that maybe I can kick start something on that end (I can’t) and that now was the time to introduce my wonderful readers to a name who has been one of my favourite under-knowns for quite some time.

You may’ve actually heard from this very interesting singer/chanter previously because he is a very good friend of the Ganja Farmer, Mr. Marlon Asher, and should you have been so fortunate as to catch a show of Asher’s in the Caribbean or maybe in New York or in Toronto, Dainties has been touring with his friend for quite some time now and they’ve also recorded in the past, such as the tune ‘Blazin’ Hott’ which featured on Asher’s album, ”The Ganja Farmer” (and Yes - I know Marlon Asher has like 45 albums and they all pretty much have the same tunes on them).

But, at least as of yet, the successes had by Asher and Isasha and Khari Kill and of course, Queen Omega and Jamelody, have eluded Royal Dainties on the international level, but he remains one of Trinidad’s most respected artists and justly so. I’d also be willing to say that artists like Zebulon, Jah Bami, Million Voice, Ziggy Ranking, Ras Pilot and Prophet Benjamin may be more well known than he is outside of Trinidad, but hopefully things are going to change (not that he’d be more well known than they, but just that his music begin to gain a greater exposure. Just last year, I was very happy to see a tune from Dainties, ‘One Aim’, pop up on Project Groundation’s ”Down In The Ghetto Mixtape” and also going digital (and thus global) was a BEAUTIFUL combination Royal Dainties did alongside Achis Reggae favourite Nadia Batson, the sweet ‘My Joy’, which features on her very strong ”Caribbean Girl” album.

And those certainly weren’t Royal Dainties’ first taste or his first breakthrough. He’s been making big tunes for years in TnT. He even shot a video, years back, for the nice nice tune ‘Feeling Nice’.

That tune appeared on volume two of the ”Reggae Roadblock” series from CMG (which I think has ended now), and he also had the sugary sweet ‘Eyes of An Angel’ [aka ‘Face of An Angel‘]’ which appeared on the third (and presumably final) edition of the series and both of those compilations and tunes are also currently available digitally, respectively. And he’s also scored in 20010, most notably with the very romantic, ‘Love You Back‘.

And to learn more about Royal Dainties and where he came from do check out this old but COOL interview with Jason Williams (bka JW, from JW & Blaze, reigning Trinidad Soca Monarchs and Road March Kings) (even bka one of the guys who sang ‘Palance’)

So, I don’t know that you’ll be watching much, but do keep an eye out for Royal Dainties’ works and while I’ve already given up on 2010 (although I am WELL open to be surprised), HOPEFULLY 2011 can be the big year for one of the strongest artists on the Trini Reggae scene.

Royal Dainties @ Myspace

Friday, July 30, 2010

'Come As You Are': A Review of "Black Gold" by Toussaint

In a matter as completely flexible and ever-changing as music, it’s almost shocking at times when you think of how it is categorized. The very fact that we can hear a certain drum pattern and throw around terms like ‘one-drop’ and have that automatically mean - Reggae Music - is quite remarkable because the very elastic boundaries of both the music itself and how it is being made is, at least theoretically, being changed each and every time someone makes new music (because everyone does something different every time, no matter how miniscule). Also, when you take into account how global music is, it would only stand to reason that, if not the music as a whole (and hopefully not), then at least certain portions of the whole would begin to ‘buck the trend’ and become even more as diverse and colourful as its listeners. The result of that would almost certainly be these type of welcomed new subgenres and . . . Who knows, in a couple of centuries or so, it may advance to the point of entering a record shop and just having one large category of MUSIC or literally thousands of smaller ones. Well, right now, we’re going focus on one in particular in this potentially rapidly expanding group, ’Soul Roots’. In regards to other forms of ’urban music’ (yet another very broad genre which, to be frank, generally means anything which is predominately made by people of Afrikan descent) being linked with Reggae, throughout the years we’ve seen most contributions come from the Hip-Hop arena. Most recently, of course, was the ” Distant Relatives” album which featured Hip-Hop superstars and one of the greatest of all time at that, Nas, alongside Reggae light Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley. That album brought together the two genres and did so probably in the grandest light in years, if not of all time. And there’ve also been the likes of Foxy Brown, Wyclef Jean, Heavy D, Sean Kingston and others from the world of Hip-Hop who have made recent regular ‘visits’ to Reggae and continue to do so. What I don’t recall seeing, however, is an artist who comes from a more soulful background make that same voyage. Maybe it’s R&B or traditional Gospel - There really isn’t anything keeping such an artist from making that leap into incorporating Reggae music, but we haven’t seen it for the most part - well at least not until now, as BY FAR the most interesting new artist that I’ve encountered in 2010, Toussaint [The Liberator], gives us Soul Roots with his debut solo album, ”Black Gold”.

Now it would be one thing if we were going to take some sweet singer like Sade or maybe even a Jill Scott and throw them over the crystallized works of perfection coming from Don Corleon (you would imagine the results to be very comfortable and not too much unlike the work done with the super producer and Alaine). And honestly had Toussaint been the latest Don Corleon find, while still very fascinating, I wouldn’t have been as so wonderfully puzzled as I am now. That would have been one thing. Instead, Toussaint has linked, most strangely, with I Grade Records. The singer, to my knowledge, comes from a background of being born in the States (Indiana) and singing Soul music and singing in the church. He’s also sang for the well respected Soulive group, which does a mix of Soul, Jazz and ‘Neo-Soul’ (don’t ask), which is a pretty near perfect background and foundation for a Soul/R&B/Jazz singer, but not one which would normally be associated with someone singing Reggae at all and ESPECIALLY not with the likes of Laurent ’Tippy’ Alfred and I Grade Records, a label best known for defining and redefining the Virgin Islands’ Reggae sound. The sound is the same which has backed the likes of Vaughn Benjamin & Midnite, Dezarie, NiyoRah, Tuff Lion and others (like Army and Danny I and Abja) - I mean REALLY straight forward and HEAVY Reggae artists - Definitely not something I would imagine dropping someone in who comes from Toussaint’s background. On board are the ‘Zion I Kings’, which is a collective of the labels Zion High Productions [Zion], I Grade Records [I] and of course the Lustre Kings [Kings] and again, that’s not something I’d imagine as the basis for a ‘crossover’, but the very fact that it is, ALONE, takes this project from already being ripe with discussable moments and circumstances, to literally being a GOLD MINE of fascination and arguably the single most interesting release I’ve come across thus far in 2010 (also on board with production and instrumentation are the likes of Tuff Lion, Dean Pond and others). What would make it even more interesting is if it actually worked and thankfully it does. ”Black Gold” is BEAUTIFUL. It is a GORGEOUS album and while I’ll most certainly deal with this later, what the album and Toussaint manage to do is strike a very nice path for itself, one which eludes the ‘trap’ of making itself too much of one genre, thus risking the alienation of fans of other styles and doing that bilaterally. That is definitely a plus in an album which is certain to not only grab the attention of Reggae heads, but also keep the attentions of fans that Toussaint has accumulated in his career up to this point (of course, I’m not very familiar with his work prior to this album, so maybe those fans are also Reggae fans to some degree) and perhaps the fact that he is able to do that is the most ‘tangible’ piece of evidence of this new genre, ‘Soul Roots’. Aside from that, I also found it very nice how, while there’re clearly moments on ”Black Gold” which are more colourful, combining different vibes and genres, for the vast majority of the album, it doesn’t step very far at all outside of the confines of Reggae music in terms of the riddims. So what Toussaint is ultimately able to do is take his music and either change it to the point where it works so well in this way or, as I suspect, he’s been doing it all along and has developed it this well. Regardless, what he offers by album’s end is one of the better albums of the year thus far with the confounding ”Black Gold”.

Musically speaking, besides the things that I’ve discussed thus far, what was most interesting to me, prior to listening, was how these songs would be written. And I was so happy to get the liner notes to the digital release and see the writing credited to a ‘P. Barrett’ [Paul] who I’m pretty sure is Toussaint (because he thanks siblings, all of whom are also surnamed Barrett), because with his background being what it is, not only is the sound going to be different, but at least seemingly, he would also come from a very different perspective than most of the artists that I listen to and that is definitely a trend which pops up throughout the album as well. That album, ”Black Gold” the debut album of Toussaint [The Liberator], gets off to a start which is the most powerful moment on the entire album for me, ‘Nobody Knows’. I’ve probably listened to this tune now well over fifty times and I’ve gone back to check and make sure of it and yes - This is my favourite tune on the album.

“Nobody knows what I did today
Only me, me and The Most High
Nobody knows if I prayed today
Only me, me and The Most High”

TEARS! The song immediately goes into what I mean by Toussaint potentially having a different perspective on things in his lyrics as he says things like “spook” and “Jim Crow” which are terms deeply ingrained in the landscape of Afrikan American History, yet still so remote from the 'standard' lexicon of Reggae and are just interesting to here. I think that at the heart of this MASSIVE tune is humility and comfort. It seems as if what Toussaint is saying is not actually “today” but more of ‘what I’ve been though and where I’ve been’, and despite the fact that it definitely hasn’t been an easy road, I can still find comfort in The Most High. And even I’m wrong (might be), again, the song is just . . . WOW! One of the best I’ve heard this year. Charged with keeping those extremely high levels extremely high is the second tune, ‘This Song’ which seems to have its roots in a more traditional Gospel frame, but in terms of sound it definitely isn’t Gospel. In its subjectry and apparent inspiration, the tune is not very far from the opener (“This song came down from Glory. I just can’t take credit for it, no”) and it rolls through sounding SPECTACULAR at the beginning before ascending into this gorgeously calm vibes. So it may not sting as hard as the first selection, but it does very well (the tune sounds like it’s about seven minutes long, when it’s actually less than five) and I LOVE the extended play on the riddim. Then ”Black Gold” reaches what I believe was to originally be its title track, ‘Roots In A Modern Time’. And while I do favour the direction they ultimately went in with the title, NO song on the album, in my opinion, better encapsulates what this album is about and its significance.

“In this modern life of mine
I gotta get back down to the root”

The message here go in a variety of different directions - be it talking about a very broad and general kind of ‘changing of the times’ type of situation or talking about the music itself. But (call me corny if you like) what I came away with was the notion that in a not too distant past (like the day before we got this album), we didn’t have songs like this and it’s damn interesting how that seemed to change overnight to the point where apparently Toussaint is in the process of perfecting it.

Somehow, someway I’ve managed to get through almost seventeen hundred words of this review without mentioning the tune which brought me and I’m sure a very large number of listeners to Toussaint’s music and, by extension, to ”Black Gold”, the album’s first single ‘Be You’. GOLD! I fully anticipated crowning this one the best tune on the album and was wonderfully surprised not too, but this is still a HUGE song and will almost certainly become the signature tune from the album. We take words like ‘uplifting’ or ‘inspirational’ and others and apply it to tunes like this which are just so very vibrant and touching without getting too sentimental or sappy. It’s just BEAUTIFUL music and I’ll leave out the deeper thinking genre connection (at least for now I will) because it goes without saying in this case in my opinion (although I will say that there is a delightful video of Toussaint writing and vibing the tune with Tippy and off-screen there’s a gentleman named Whealan who helps with the chorus and I was really looking to see if he got a writer’s credit for his work and he, ‘W. Massicott’, does and he also helped on two other tunes apparently and takes a producer’s credit as well) (yes, I am a nerd) (no shame) (none), as being simply PLEASING to the senses, clearly ‘Be You’ is MAGICAL material. And sticking with the more visually sexy pieces, of course the title track is going to receive quite a bit of attention and justly so because it is a big big song. I almost feel like I’m spoiling it for you - The metaphor of ‘Black Gold’ (but I’m doing it anyway) - Toussaint’s ‘gold’ is his history and his heritage, good and bad and the way he conveys is near a master class level. It’s a song about being proud and seeking strength in one’s heritage and one’s bloodlines and it is a very powerful MOMENT on the album as it’s presented wrapped up in this kind of bellowing Bluesy type of vibes. And the other on paper standout, is most likely going to be ‘Rise & Fall’ which is the only combination on the album (album #2, I’d expect more links) (someone call Queen Omega). It features a most expected of faces, hotter the flames chanter, Jahdan Blakkamoore (himself hopefully to deliver a Zion I Kings produced album ”Babylon Nightmare” within the final third of 2010), who makes a very strong pairing with Toussaint on the tune which is one of the more Reggae-centric selections on the whole of ”Black Gold”, with that excellent riddim standing behind it and the two definitely deliver an outstanding and fitting effort.

Perhaps not to the extent of the previously mentioned three tunes, but another tune sure to catch a lot of eyes based on its title alone is ‘Conquering Cocaine’. I’m not totally sure, but I would think that, based on how the song is written (very straight forward and matter-of-factly), Toussaint is speaking of experiences that he personally had on the tune, which is another very un-Reggae like subject matter, particularly in recent years. And that one, besides the messages and the ‘effects’ is one which will have your head knocking as soon as it drops in, but hopefully you check the lyrics as well. And speaking of lyrics, you should check what’s said on the whole of ‘Patient’ which might just be my second favourite tune on the album altogether. The chorus here is intoxicating and the very introspective song speaks of perseverance ("Please be patient with me, I am not through with me yet") and basically just holding firm in tough spots. I shouldn’t have to draw lines back to ‘Conquering Cocaine’ as far as the message here goes. So close are they, in my opinion, that one makes the other better and neither would be as powerful in the absence of the other and I can’t honestly say that about any other pair of tunes on the album. I also hear obvious links in the album’s two love songs, ‘Hello My Beautiful’ and ‘Unforgettable’. I think I more enjoy the former with its kind of ‘moody’ vibes - The intensity of the tune builds and drops several times throughout - But that latter, almost a completely R&B vibed tune is impressive as well, with one of the stronger choruses that you’ll hear throughout the album. And it just so happens that the next tune after ‘Unforgettable’, ‘Changing’, is also pretty R&B-ish and Jazzy (‘COOL’ is the word I’m looking for). It is not a 'love song' and is full of lyrical sustenance, as Toussaint blends equals parts Ras Army and Danny I and does so very nicely.

And while the balance of ”Black Gold” does contain the two tracks which I’m not necessarily in love with (tell you about those in a second), it’s still strong. In fact, one of the tunes, ’Look Up’, is a favourite of mine. I almost wanted to mention it in the line of love songs, but it’s so much more than that, it’s more of a relationship type of song and a very complex one at that.

“I say look up little woman
Don’t let your head hang at all
Look up little woman
You’re the Mother of us all”

It is a relationship tune AND it’s a women empowerment tune (but empowering through the relationship and empowering through the kind of FULLNESS of a good relationship). And there is a constantly used line in the tune, “your man is coming home” which, for my obviously over-analytical ears is just so striking because it takes the song out of the relationship (but not really) and places it into the social realm. What it seems that Toussaint is saying is that the man, having screwed up for so many years and in so many different ways (and we have) is coming back to reclaim his position and at least try to fix the wrongs he’s created. So it’s definitely a very very well written tune. I also like ‘Sunshine In Morning’ which is one of the better tunes on the album (find myself saying that a lot) from strictly a sonically pleasing point of view. It just sounds nice and the song surely has a social and spiritual context as well as it speaks of returning the Afrikan to His place in the world and how wonderful and joyous it would be. And lastly, I’ll mention the two songs which didn’t exactly blow me away. The first, ‘Marching’, came really damn close as, with that organ and the horns, it sounds like something from out of Femi Kuti’s catalogue and the riddim is so strong that (especially in the second half of the tune) you kind of wish they would have just stopped and fully dubbed it out (and they basically do with the singing), but the problem is that Toussaint seems to get maybe a bit too ‘loose’ in his vocals and at times it’s kind of hard to comprehend him. But, make no mistake about it - Even listening to it and just trying to figure out what is being said is pretty entertaining, I just wish I could have heard it easier. And lastly is ‘Rain Again’. Now, I read the press on the album which said that Youssoupha Sidibe had also worked on ”Black Gold” and because of that, and the fact that I hadn’t heard anything emblematic of his handiwork in the first fourteen tracks, I KNEW what ‘Rain Again’ was going to be. So when I heard the very skeletal track, I wasn’t exactly surprised at all. Midnite fans will definitely be familiar with Sidibe because he helmed Vaughn Benjamin’s 2008 album, ”For All”. His style is very interesting, very ‘stringy’ and beautiful in many ways, but it’s somewhat difficult to create melody within it at times, however, and while with Benjamin that isn’t a problem at all (because he just doesn’t give a damn) (it also isn’t a problem from someone like Rokia Traore, but she is literally the vocal equivalent of Sidibe’s instrumentation), but Toussaint has moments on the tune where it sounds like there is more than one song playing. Sidibe’s work definitely takes some time to get a hold of and perhaps it should tell you something that although I’m not in love with this song, I wouldn’t mind hearing Toussaint give it another try at some point in the future.

Overall, as for the whole ‘album thing’, however, I think he’s pretty much got it. As I alluded to, Toussaint’s style is such that it’s not going to alienate a great deal of people at all. I can actually see this one appealing to R&B/Soul fans, Jazz heads and maybe even some of the Hip-Hop crowd, because it’s going to be VERY accessible across the board and you can probably tell that I’m more on the Reggae side (hopefully you can) and it’s ENOUGH Reggae to impress me as well. I’m going to credit that, largely, to the wonderful production and the most unexpected way that ”Black Gold” came to be with I Grade Records, however, certainly Toussaint can take credit for it as well as, who knows, he may’ve been doing this for years. I am also guided back to the foundation of this review and the notion of these kind of intermediate or ‘middle-man’ type of genres and if this is what Soul Roots is, then I’m a fan. I’d be interested to see if the album has any type of lasting effect - If any of Toussaint’s peers might also crossover or if any Reggae artist might do so in the opposite direction - but even if this is strictly his corner of the music, then that’s fine as well because the bottomline is that it’s just GOOD MUSIC. Call it whatever the hell you want to, it’s very well done and while I have come across a few better albums in 2010, I haven’t come across many and I most certainly haven’t seen any more FASCINATING than the wonder which is ”Black Gold”. Very well done.

Rated 4.85/5
I Grade Records/Zojak Worldwide
CD & Digital

Toussaint The Liberator

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Words of The Week: 'Just A Text' by Shelly G

'Just A Text'

You say you trust me but you don’t
I know, you’re so insecure aaaaaaaaaaaahah
Do you think that I was cheating?
Am I deceiving boy you’re insecure
Tell me why you nagging me
You only get a glimpse but you in see
How you fo say that you go box and kick meh
Boy give me, meh phone you acting crazy
I use to think that our love was base on trust
So tell me, why you want to fuss and fight

It’s just a text baby
Boy tell me why you vex
It’s just a text oooh baby
We not having sex, It’s just a text baby
Boy tell me why you vex
It’s just a text oooh baby We’re not having sex

For your concern it says how are you?
I reply I am fine, how you do?
He replied, ‘are you free this Saturday’
I’ve got a job would it be ok
His name is Dutch
He’s a promoter from up in Madia
You must be sick in a you head why you tek me for Sandra
Tell me why you accusing me
Of the same things you do

It’s just a text baby
Boy tell me why you vex
It’s just a text oooh baby
We not having sex
It’s just a text baby
Boy tell me why you vex
It’s just a text oooh baby
We’re not having sex

Don’t be so insecure stop all the nagging
It’s just the way life, every day technology change
Likewise do people do
Not because he say what’s up boo
It doesn’t mean I am cheating on you
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey

It’s just a text baby
Boy tell me why you vex
It’s just a text oooh baby
We not having sex It’s just a text baby
Boy tell me why you vex
It’s just a text oooh baby
We’re not having sex

Say you na want me touch your phone but you want touch mine, your phone always on vibrate
How come you want take bad gal fe fool?
Why you call the man back and be so rude?
Tell me if you nah got shame
How you fe ask the man about his name?
him, say Duch but like you nah hear the same
Call him back one more time u don’t have no shame

It’s just a text baby
Boy tell me why you vex
It’s just a text oooh baby
We not having sex It’s just a text baby
Boy tell me why you vex
It’s just a text oooh baby
We’re not having sex

Lyrics courtesy of Shelly G-
Shelly G Online

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mr. Killa - 'See Dem Fly'

Speaking of Soca Monarchs. Achis Reggae favourite, Mr. Killa, reigning Soca Monarch of Grenada has recently pushed the tune he anticipates attempting to defend his crown with next week, 'See Dem Fly'. I try to avoid saying "never", but uhmmm, yeah - Grenada Soca Monarch - That's a wrap. It's over the man has taken the crown without even setting foot on the stage. I haven't quite looked at the competition (although I should), but off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure Tallpree isn't reaching which would leave someone like Luni Sparks & Electrify and maybe Lavaman as the main competition, but . . . Yep. It's not happening.

"I am the baddest thing!
Tell me, why you start a war?
Tell them I am the King
Tell dem boy I am di Emperor!
Why they trouble trouble
When trouble don't trouble dem
Tonight is Soca Monarch and I come to murder dem!"

Completely Random Thoughts 16: She Crown

So, as you probably know if you’ve been reading for any length of time - In regards to the carnival season, the jewel of the various events for me personally, is the Soca Monarch. Of course the Road is a beautiful thing, but if you can’t tell, I’m almost strictly a musical person and being married, stealing brief glimpses of ass on the road has become an increasingly difficult task over the years. So while I do appreciate that pageantry, watching or participating, I’ve yet to find ANYTHING in music, not an artist clash (how I love them so), not a sound clash, not anything, which can recreate or top the feeling when someone pushes a dominant (or even a nearly dominant performance) in a Soca Monarch. It presents the perfectly equal equation of MADNESS to BRAINS (as in keeping track of who you think is winning) to keep my full attention challenged.

So, with that being said, here, at the end of July, we find ourselves not at all far removed from St. Vincy Soca Monarch, St. Lucia Soca Monarch, Caribbean Soca Monarch, Bajan Soca Monarch (whatever the hell they call it) (biggup Blood & TC), and looking ahead to Spice Mas Soca Monarch (which will be Mr. Killa) and Antigua Soca Monarch (of course, CP is going to win that if she’s participating and if not Tian Winter will), and of course there was Caribana and I believe even the UK got in on the festivities as well. That is a lot of fucking Soca Monarchs crowned, but I believe it was somewhere in the middle of watching the six and a half hour - thirty performance St. Lucia Monarch (which was . . . Yeah it was pretty bad), that I just genuinely started to miss a human being that I’ve never actually formally met, but whose presence I’ve been in more than enough to know that her presence that night would have just made things so much better. Of course, I’m talking about Fay(e)-Ann Lyons. The greatest Soca performer I’ve ever had the privilege of watching in person has been, of course, Mr. Fay-Ann, Bunji Garlin, but over the last few years or so, he’s most certainly been outdone by his Wife, both in the studio and on the stage and not only that, but even though you know I swear by Destra and respect the Queendom of Ms. Alison Hinds, in all honesty, Lyons has been THE most consistent big name female Soca performer around, again, both in the studio and on stage, it is TRULY her time.

And this comes in a year which saw her not take home any hardware (but, arguably, still have the second best season of ANYONE, taking second places in Soca Monarch, Groovy Monarch and on the Road), but still at (I THINK) a few months shy of thirty years old, she figures to be into her prime years for the next four or five years or so -- not to mention that clearly not at her best last year - Incredibly pregnant - she took everything there was to be taken -- which means that should she be able to carry such consistency, by time she’s done, perhaps not in terms of numbers of winnings, although maybe (but that seems unlikely because ‘back in the day’ people like Lyons’ Father, Superblue (Boy) used to literally COLLECT crowns), she stands to become one of the greatest of all time and certainly the greatest after the turn of the century.

Getting back to the stage, what Lyons has, even at nowhere near the height of her powers, is a confidence which borders on indifference. It’s almost as if she’s saying that she’s doesn’t particularly care what happens with the results because she knows that she’s going to do well and it is a quality shared by Garlin and a few others (not necessarily Skinny Fabulous, who certainly does have confidence, but also seems to go through a great deal of thought in doing his shows (wherever he is he’s almost certainly of a mind how he can grab Vincy Monarch number four in 2011) and in doing so he's managed to successfully 'charge me up' giving me energy that has lasted for the rest of the damn month) such as the aforementioned Mr. Killa and watching some of the recent performances (even a few in Vincy Monarch), it just seems as if so many people are afraid to make mistakes and even if their tunes are good, it doesn’t end up working out too well because playing not to lose, as opposed to playing to take the crown is absolutely NO way to win any type of crown in my opinion. And she’s never seemed to have that and while she certainly takes her shots at others (mainly Garlin), her performances have become less and less about who else and more and more about herself.

Of course, she’s also very easy on the eyes and very nice to listen to. She’s rather quietly, in my opinion, become one of the most proficient of Soca lyricists to the point where the Dancehall head in me wishes . . . Yeah. So her songs, sans performance and sans the road and the ‘display’ have consistently gotten better and will, at least presumably, continue to do so. The result of that is an artist who . . . Like I said, I just MISSED not being around while watching the likes of I-Cultural and Bonesman (biggup Shelly G) at OECS and . . . Hell pretty much everyone at St. Lucia Monarch. Where it is written that she couldn’t just roll out of her bed and take care of them both (of course she wouldn’t win actually because she isn’t St. Lucian), I don’t know, but if you find it let me know, because it’s some bullshit.

So biggup Fay-Ann Lyons - Partialities notwithstanding (biggup Destra) (biggup Alison Hinds) (biggup Saucy) (biggup Patrice, the heir apparent) - She’s quickly becoming an artist with many many many peers in the game, but not too many equals.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

'Making Room': A Review of "20ten" by Bryan Art

One could very well make the case that there doesn’t exist a single room within the mansion of Reggae music in which change isn’t occurring. Be it a specific vibes or the actual occupants of said “rooms”, we are most likely witnessing what amounts to a transitional phase in Reggae music and, as a fan, it is extremely exciting. For the sake of this review, I’m definitely going to focus on the actual sound and the cast of characters as well as with this particular case, unlike in most of the other examples I thought of, you’re going to see a single artist who is seemingly destined to a very big deal (one way or another) (more on that later) and do so with a somewhat different combination of vibes. The only other remotely prominent example I could think of which was somewhat similar was I-Octane who, in my opinion, is probably in the midst of changing the landscape of modern Roots Reggae. You could also throw Teflon into that discussion, although I don’t see Teflon (although most certainly WICKED) leaving the type of lasting and influential imprint on the game once his days have passed because of the kind of ‘colourful’ variation he seems to offer (tilting between fiery Dancehall artist and kind of ‘compacted’ Roots head). Besides them, we can look other artists such as Etana and Tarrus Riley, both of whom seem incredibly likely to be regarded as legends (and in the not too distant future), who’ve emerged relatively recently and done so with this type of SPARKLING style which seems certain to be influential well beyond their years. For both of them - They’re not doing much blending of any styles or changing things up very much, their simply adding their own styles to what has been a well established foundation in the genre. The same would go for someone like a Stevie Face (very fitting here) or Ginjah who have just kind of ‘spruced up’ their rooms in the mansion and changed things enough to fit themselves within the lexicons of Reggae fans worldwide and will certainly continue to do so. In this particular case, however, we can look at Bryan Art and see an artist who has obviously blended quite a few different styles in making his vibes (and has done so without stretching the ultimate landscape of the genre of Reggae) (in which he still fits directly and not just in the lame ass way of - He is Jamaican, therefore he must make Reggae music) and to my ears at least, Art has established himself as one of the more promising ‘underknown’ names in the game. I’ve been quite high on him for awhile and have certainly been on the look out for new output from the singer - So I’m sure you can imagine that I was downright elated when ”20ten” beautifully floated across my radars.

Bryan Art (from St. Ann!) was originally known as ‘Brahyan Art’ and I remember the first time I had heard the name thinking that it was a pretty nice new and original name for a group (and I think that would have been in the same timeframe that 2 Isis (Duane Stephenson) was jumping up as well), but it turned out to be one SWEET singing artist who has made quite the name for himself locally and advancing as well. So much so has he that we now find ourselves looking at ”20ten”, his excellent debut album from Jah Chin and Art’s own imprint, Junction File (and of course, distributed digitally via the wonderful Homo sapiens at Zojak Worldwide). The very fact that this album even exists somewhat reminds me of ”Genuine”, the debut album from veteran well respected chanter Bescenta (also distributed digitally by Zojak Worldwide, incidentally), in that it’s yet another fairly underknown Jamaican artist who is certainly ‘qualified’ and just ‘due’ for an album release, but it’s not something which you would think would be a priority for many people to get onto. Still, just as in that case (and apparently Bescenta‘s album is doing quite well, it was promoted (and continues to be) VERY well), I think this album’s very existence is a pretty big deal for Reggae fans and going forth as well and hopefully it can have a similar (seemingly) impact as well. Of course it doesn’t hurt that, at least to my ears, ”20ten” is a bit of a better album than ”Genuine” was (although that one is still growing on me a bit more each time I spin it) and definitely Art’s talents are more interesting, transferable and maybe even polished than Bescenta’s. I’ll speak more on this later, but when you listen to quite a bit of the music on the album (and Bryan Art’s music in general), it almost EASILY could make an impact more in the ‘mainstream’ markets of R&B or maybe even a mature Jazz type of setting even and although he’ll most certainly never be afforded the opportunity, Bryan Art and co. maybe should consider looking into in the future as far as pushing his career further. That also returns to the foundation of this review because it never really leaves the boundaries of Reggae music and that’s evident by the fact that ”20ten” is essentially a piece compiled with many of Art’s singles from various producers and some new tunes as well. And given how he’s progressed, in terms of popularity, I think there’s a VERY strong possibility that the vast majority of even the most interested Reggae heads haven’t heard most the material on this album. I’d even go further to say that unless you ARE Bryan Art, that you probably are going to get quite a bit in the way of new songs on this album. Of course, with all of that being said, the most important question remains - Is ”20ten” any good? I had such a great feeling about this album going into it and I most certainly wasn’t disappointed by album’s end and I wasn’t blown away either - And that’s a good thing (because it means that I’m not overrating it, a trait which I think I exhibit somewhat consistently). The album proves to be a very SOLID introduction to the artist who I feel is doing wonders in a couple of different areas and ultimately seems poised to add quite a bit of colour to the house of Reggae.

This album, predominately, is a very refreshing take on Lover’s Rock Reggae and what the singer does within that frame is very nice. It does take its occasional twists as well, but for the most part it’s pretty apparent what the intent here was and certainly there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with, ‘Taxi’, the opening selection of the smooth singing Bryan Art’s debut album, ”20ten”. The tune is the first of ten consecutive love oriented numbers to start the album and it’s also, arguably, one of the finest. To my ear, this one focuses on commitment and preservation of a relationship and simply doing what needs to be done in order to ensure things continue to work nicely (even if you have to catch a damn taxi to get home to your woman!). Speaking of “commitment”, it certainly is the starring concept on the second tune and one of the album’s biggest altogether to my opinion, the outstanding and dynamic ‘Best of My Love’. Having listened to more than my fair share (and your fair share and your next door neighbour’s fair share) of very rigid and just downright BORING Lover’s Rock tunes, I always appreciate it when an artist can change that (and that is predominately what Bryan Art brings to the genre in my opinion) and this is a fine example of it. You can dance to this song, you can just sit and enjoy it, you can meditate on it, it’s that strong and ‘fulfilling’. It’s also one of the better voiced tunes on the album as well, which definitely helps its qualities as well. The third tune on the album, ’Sweeter Love’, is another dynamic track and it’s also one with which I’m quite familiar as it previously appeared on Dejavu’s High Horse Riddim (on which it is called ‘Undecided’) and it is a definitive highlight for ”20ten”, without a doubt. I absolutely love the chorus on this tune and the vibes themselves have just this very FULL sound to them as well (the riddim is GORGEOUS and that certainly helps) as does, for the most part, the entire opening for the album.

As I said, we get quite deep into ”20ten” before we deviate from the Lover’s Rock road. Thankfully, most of those type of songs are very good. Check the very nice ‘Your Love’. This tune took a minute to grab me because I thought (and still kind of think) that it was somewhat sappy and corny, but it’s just a lovely song and one which I quickly found myself singing the chorus of, even when I wasn’t too impressed by it. There’s the immaculate ‘Ready or Not’, which was a previous hit across the Lover’s Rock installment of Livup’s outstanding Stronger Riddim. You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that you couldn’t present this tune to an R&B or Jazz crowd and not have them really appreciate it on some level because it definitely rings in on those channels as well, despite not at all skipping out on the genre of Reggae. It’s one of the best tunes I hear on the whole of the album and you definitely don’t want to run past this one (and check the riddim as well which is also available digitally). ‘Only You’ was a tune with which I wasn’t at all very familiar and I’m not too thrilled by it either, but it’s pretty solid. Again, despite the certain Reggae sound (and old school at that), I think it could do damage in the arena of R&B and/or Jazz if given the opportunity. Maybe I could also say the same about Art’s cut of Jamplified’s BIG Movements Riddim, ‘Somewhere’ from a few years back (you know the riddim from having back Queen Ifrica’s (more on here in a minute) large tune ‘Far Away’). This one just may be the best written tune on the entire album. It’s romantic as hell, its gorgeous - It’s all of that stuff and you’ll absolutely love it and should you want to call it the single best piece here, I’m not going to put up too much of a fight. We might come to blows should you decide to bestow the same honours to the rather odd and skeletal ‘If It Is All Over’, which definitely is my LEAST favourite tune on the album (although after having heard the tune now over a dozen times, I’m STILL somewhat expecting to just miraculously start liking it for some reason). And lastly in this stretch is the bump and grind inducing ode to love within the music, ‘Rock & Come In’. Blowing in through the classic Still In Love riddim, this tune is one of the more interesting selections you’ll find here (which is saying a lot) and Bryan Art handles it without so much as even a wrinkle to his sound and in fact you may even be able to say that he sounds BETTER on such a vibes.

He also doesn’t lose a step when the vibes on ”20ten” turn to a more conscious/social matter of subjectry. In fact, there are three tunes here which, even on paper, are certain to attract a great deal of attention. The first is definitely ‘Get It’, which is arguably Art’s biggest commercial hit to date. This tune Is just absolutely SUCCULENT (the very first time I’ve used that adjective to describe a song) (and most certainly not the last)! It’s a very big and inspirational vibes and should most certainly get you up and active if you’ve been finding yourself procrastinating (I.e. I’ve suddenly been inspired to finish this review, after using portions of three days to do it). Next is the first of two combinations, ‘Murder Dem A Play’, which features the divine aforementioned Queen Ifrica. I knew this tune previously as a solo piece from Art and while it was pretty good I that form, Ifrica definitely doesn’t do anything but add to the vibes and it’s just an interesting combination, bringing the two together now (and things just get BETTER when Ifrica bellows in with her wicked verse). And the second combination, ‘Second Class’, just so happens to feature one of my least favourite artists of all time, veteran Dancehall DJ, Hawkeye. The tune, which is rather timely as it speaks of uplifting and rebuilding the nation and the people as well, features Hawkeye in a decent form, I’m still not too happy about his output and I’m not going to act like I am, but chances are you’re going to appreciate him and maybe even this tune, by extension, more than I am.

That being said, the next tune up within this same stretch, ‘Jump Fence’ almost blows away the three more popular which precede it. This song is BIG! It is a social commentary and it is SMOOTH AS HELL! The very colourful piece will have your head knocking from the first drop and keep it going so throughout the tune and hopefully release you enough to hear a lyric or two! BIG BIG song and the finest I found on the album altogether. There’s also ‘No Malice’ which is still working on my tastes. It’s kind of odd and I don’t even really know how to categorize the vibes (maybe Disco-ish), so you can imagine what that might sound like (hell, maybe you can’t). The tune has both social and lover’s themes in it which helps steer the album back in the direction of the love song as that is how it ends. ‘Anyway’, is a song I’m sure I’ve heard somewhere before - It’s another acoustic set with Art singing to his special lady about times gone by and just the general state of affairs between them, and it’s pretty good as well, thankfully. Then there’s the delightful, albeit it a bit predictable ‘Beautiful’ - And lastly is ‘Show Your Love’ which is another love song, but perhaps of a different type as it wonderfully speaks about using love as an uplifting force and just a catalyst to do good things. The riddim here isn’t the finest and in my opinion it definitely hurts the song to some degree on the whole, but focus more on what’s being said and you should certainly be able to take something form it.

Overall, I do want to say a couple of things about this album and about Bryan Art, in general. First of all, as relevant to the basis of this review - I don’t actually think that Bryan Art is ‘well on his way to being a superstar ‘ or anything like that, I just don’t. I don’t think he’s ultimately going to catch on in the mainstream arena or in terms of becoming a household name with Reggae heads either and despite the fact that he clearly has the vibes and the talents to do so ostensibly, I’m not at all surprised that I’ve come to that conclusion. His style is one which is so transitional and so CLEVERLY transcending of the genre (to the point where it is clearly noticeable and appreciable, but not frustrating in the slightest) that I’m almost sure in about a decade we’re going to be seeing an influx of young artists stepping up saying something along the lines of, ‘Yeah, I grew up listening to a lot of Bryan Art’. I could definitely see him being a very big deal well after his prime years in the game have passed. The second point here is that ”20ten”, again, isn’t ‘amazing’ or ‘earth shattering’ at all and I wasn’t very surprised by even the finest material it had to offer, HOWEVER, what it is, is nearly COMPLETELY SOLID. There’re very few ‘mistakes’ here and with as close as I listen and analyze, I’m going to venture to say that the average listener and even those who listen more in depth aren’t going to find any, which brings matters down to whether you just like the particular song or not (as it should be). I like most of them and I think you will too so definitely check it out and Bryan Art is certainly in no danger of being kicked out of the house of Reggae (I should know, I work security there).

Rated 4/5
Jah Chin/Junction File/Zojak Worldwide
CD & Digital

Bryan Art Bryan Art @ Myspace

Monday, July 26, 2010

Coming Soon Vol. 19

Coming Soon
Repeat Riddim [Philadub Records]

This week we start with the latest effort from Achis Reggae favourites Philadub Records. Certainly best known as the maestros behind Lutan Fyah’s BIG 2009 album, ”Justice” (and there was also the Mighty Right Riddim, which upon further research, I mentioned on the very first edition of ‘Coming Soon’), Gardian and co. at Philadub are back again in a somewhat expected, but VERY nice way, The Repeat Riddim. Like the aforementioned Mighty Right, this riddim was featured on the ”Justice” album, on the tune ‘Show Me Some Love’, one of the most crucial selections on that crucial release. I believe I remarked just how COOL it might be if the label just went on their way and released riddim albums for each and every riddim on that set and, while it may take a decade or so at this pace (and hell, I’m not complaining), it appears that it isn’t completely out of the question and that’s a good thing. Joining the Fyah on the Repeat (and Gardian, of course), are the likes of veterans Lukie D, Anthony B, apparent Philadub favourite - Spectacular, Skilli Bangs and even a solo Andrew Wright (without Tippa Lee). The riddim is very strong, like most of Philadub’s output and again, should they want to do this (and drop a Lutan Fyah album every 4-5 years or so), I have absolutely no problem with it and I’m well looking forward to it.

Rated Potential: 4.25/5 (would be much higher if it had more tracks)
Releases on August 10

Ras Midas - “Fire Up” [JML Records]

Next in is a VERY big deal as the well respected ‘Rastaman In Exile’, Ras Midas, returns to the scene with a brand new 12 track studio set, ”Fire Up”. Midas is an example of an artist who I wished that I paid more attention to over the years because, although he most certainly hasn’t been the most active of vocalists (and not that we’ve expected him to be at this stage in his career), whenever I actually sit down and take a listen to what he’s done, no matter how old or new the material is, I always come away if not terribly impressed - Just feeling really GOOD! He definitely makes a very appreciable level of just upful vibes and just going through the clips on this one, it appears to be a quality which he has retained nearly FORTY years deep into his wonderful career. Midas has also been an artist with a very devoted following and I’m SURE there’re many people looking forward to this one, yours truly included (and Bredz is planning on buying it so, you might get a review out of me somewhere down the line).

Rated Potential: 4.5/5
Releases in a few hours
CD & Digital

Gappy Ranks - “Put The Stereo On” [Greensleeves Records]

Despite rather large and persistent rumours to the contrary, no - Gappy Ranks didn’t extricate himself from his Greensleeves deal (most THANKFULLY and INTELLIGENTLY) and has instead maintained his only slightly delayed course to his debut album, ”Put The Stereo On”. I most certainly am going to examine this at some point in greater detail (like a review), but this is a VERY big deal with the question being can you now package and sale an obvious talent like Gappy’s to the entire world. I can’t think, in the immediate past, of another UK artist who has had as much talk surrounding him and definitely there’re going to be a lot of eyes on Gappy and seeing just how well his album performs. While the reason most people know him, the well worn ‘Stinkin’ Rich’ has apparently been left off the album (which may be a pretty good idea), on board is the MASSIVE ‘Heaven In Her Eyes’ along with other interesting bits such as the recently videoed title track, a remake of Tenor Saw’s big hit ‘Pumpkin Belly’, ‘Rude Boy’, a cut of ‘Soul Rebel’ and another WICKED piece, ‘Heavy Load’. It is also worth noting that ‘Peckings Productions’ logo on the front of the album cover and heavier fans will know exactly what to expect when you see that - CRAZY old school vibes. Definitely looking forward to seeing what Gappy has to show after all of this hype and I have a good feeling on this one.

Rated Potential: 4.75/5
Releases on August 24
CD & Digital

Culture Brown - “Hot In The Street” [Bionic Dancehall Records]

Interesting isn’t it? Okay, last year you might’ve taken note of a project by the name of ”Poor” from the Canadian based Jamaican born chanter, Culture Brown. That release spanned more than thirty tracks over two discs and while it seemed that in doing that (which I’m pretty sure Brown paid for on his own coin) would have taken him out of commission for quite some time, apparently that isn’t the case at all as Culture Brown returns with a brand new studio album, ”Hot In The Street”. If my research is accurate (and it probably isn’t), the album was recorded a couple of years back in Switzerland and has been awaiting release since then and I guess the powers that be figure now is a good time (and they’re probably right). HOWEVER, listening through the clips and I don’t have much hope for this one. It seems to be more Dancehall and Hip-Hop and while I don’t have a problem at all with the former when it is done well (the latter either actually), I don’t know that Brown is the type of artist to pull this off. Although it is well worth saying that I’m not his biggest fan so, that certainly would have something to do with it and I suspect that there is a nice audience awaiting the release of this one.

Rated Potential: 2.5/5
Releases on August 1
CD & Digital

Burn Up Riddim [Hemp Higher Productions]

Well that didn’t take very long at all. We go from Culture Brown linking up with Bionic Dancehall in Switzerland, to another Swiss set, Hemp Higher, for a riddim, The Burn Up, which I think I heard all of two weeks or so ago for the first time (maybe even less than that) and it’s already about to drop for your consumption. This thing has a very electric feel to it and while that isn’t my personal favourite type of vibes, I can well see this one doing a big damage in Europe and it’s apparently already headed to the rest of the world as well. That’s not surprising at all when you consider the artists voicing the Burn Up. Besides the main attraction here, ‘Feels Like Music’, which features the Daseca Boys, Bugle & Serani, also playing around are the likes of TOK, Jah Thunder, Teflon, Deva Bratt and of course wicked wicked Swiss artist and Achis Reggae favourite, Cali P. Not too shabby none at all.

Rated Potential: 3.5/5
Releases on July 30
CD & Digital

Natty King - “Trodding” [Tad’s Records]

I know what you’re thinking so stop - ‘Achis. What the hell, this album came out last year and you even reviewed it. Did you bump your head again?’ No I didn’t bump my fucking head, I do realize that the ‘man from the east’, BIG singer Natty King released ”Trodding” about ten months or so ago. BUT, previously that album was only available digitally and in regards to the CD/Digital question, I’ve probably received more questions about this one than most others over the past year or so. Well, lets now end the other side of that question as Tad’s has apparently made a wise decision to drop the CD for the album. The album was essentially a compilation of tunes the King had voiced for Kemar ‘Flava’ McGregor, so you can well be sure that it is a quality release, if you haven’t managed to pick up the digital just yet. And even if you have, you might just want to grab up the CD now anyone. The album was very strong - I reviewed it at 4.25/5 and now might give it the bump to a 4.5, so definitely check it out (and let’s just hope they get the cover right this time) (inside joke).

Releases Tomorrow
See Review

{note: The digital version of this album is available right now, courtesy of Zojak Worldwide}
{note 2: Also apparently releasing with it is Chezidek’s rather redundant “Herbalist” album}

Luciano - “United States of Africa” [VP Records]

Stop yourself again, because yet I know what you’re thinking, so I’ll be brief this time. Apparently this one got let out a bit earlier than it was supposed to, so if you didn’t grab it up in that week or so when it was around, you’ll have to wait about another week to get Luciano’s latest BIG album from VP Records, ”United States of Africa”. The good thing this time around, however, is that you’ll actually be able to grab up the actual CD so, yes, it’s still a very big thing that Luciano is back and the album is one of the best of 2010 as well.

Releases on August 3
CD & Digital

In Stores Now
Jahmel & The Rhythm Factory - “Reflections” [Roydale Anderson]

This one jumped up and caught my eye about a week ago and although I still haven’t gotten my paws on it just yet, I’m well looking forward to the latest release from sweet singing Jahmel, ”Reflections”. I had absolutely no idea that this thing was about to drop, but the world INSTANTLY becomes a much better place when Jahmel puts up a project, particularly one produced by his longtime accomplice Roydale Anderson (who, I believe, once commented on my blog - On the review for Jahmel’s most recent album ”Timeless”). This one sounds very solid and impressive, pretty much what you’ve come to expect from the veteran singer over the years and while, like most of what he does, it’ll probably go largely unnoticed, I’m still expecting a lot from this release in terms of quality and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it’s one of the real sleepers of 2010.


Pupa Leendi - “One Life” [Pupa Leendi]

Just in time for Spice Mas. Even though I’m definitely not the biggest fan of veteran Soca head Pupa Leendi, I was just so happy to see one of his albums available digitally for all of the world as he’s had at least one previously which wasn’t (and who knows how many more than that) and just in general, Grenada Soca artists aren’t the most visible on the international stage (unless I’m REALLY missing something, the only other one that I can think of who’s received a similar attention in recent years has been Berbice). Leendi, although unexpected, is a pretty good choice and he’s also one I’d recommend for fans not so much into Soca (which the lion’s share of my entire readership, I’m sure) because his style isn’t the kind of overpowering ‘jump and wave ‘ sound (which I love) for the most part, but it’s more groovy and kind of Calypso style. That’s not to say that he doesn’t get wild, because he does later on, but for the majority of ”One Life”, you’re going to get more of a laid back type of vibes (and that includes the downright intoxicating title track.


Jim Screechie Riddim [Equiknoxx]

Currently blazing the world over just as it has been for the past month or so is the latest creation of Equiknoxx, The Jim Screechie Riddim. What can I say? It’s an actual Dancehall riddim which is virtually an endangered species in this day and age. This isn’t Hip-Hop, it isn’t ‘crossover’, it’s just a BEAUTIFUL Dancehall riddim, one of the finest I’ve heard in 2010. Of course any and everything Equiknoxx means that Aidonia is on board and with him are the likes of Beenie Man, TOK, RDX, Timberlee (alongside Japanese artist Akané) and Versatile as well as up and comers like Kemikal and Lil Joe. HOWEVER, all of that being said, they’re all basically sifting through the ruins left by Spice as she basically relieves herself on the riddim, offering its most interesting and sneakily brilliant title track.


Major & Minor Riddim [Don Corleon]

Yes. I should’ve mentioned this one a long ass time ago, but it’s better late than never I suppose. Don Corleon is a fucking genius and one of the latest statements to such status was the Major & Minor Riddim(s). Of course you’re already familiar due to the fact that the piece just so happens to feature what has already become a bonafide hit in the case of Tarrus Riley’s ‘Wildfire’, but the downright sublime and COMFORTABLE piece also maintained the course and hasn’t been damaged in the more than capable hands of the likes of Lutan Fyah, The Professor, Wayne Marshall, Jah Vinci, Kris Kelli and a hotter than fire Achis Reggae favourite Ce’Cile. Hopefully this is all just redundant for you as you should already know it, but if you don’t, definitely grab up this wonderful piece right now.


Gunshow Riddim [Di Genius Productions]

This one is even older, but it isn’t my fault as Stephen ‘Di Genius’ McGregor seems to be slowly but surely leaking out his back catalogue of riddims never to make it to compilation status. Just last week was the big and bad Catalogue Riddim and now we have the (even older) Gunshow Riddim (which I THINK came late last year but may’ve been a bit earlier). There’s absolutely nothing going on her in the way of frills and flare as what you get is a characteristically EMPHATIC riddim and you get it, largely, from the usual sources. The only name which may be unfamiliar (although at this point, maybe not) is Suhverto who checks in with the SCATHING ’People Dead’. And then (speaking of scathing) it’s the usual suspects for Big Ship, (vintage) Aidonia, Mavado and Ele. Each going extremely hard and violent and evil and it’s everything you love about McGregor’s Dancehall isn’t it?


Style Dem Riddim [Pay Day Music]

Next is the latest release from Pay Day, the very well done Style Dem Riddim, which dropped earlier this month. This piece is pretty straight forward (which is a quality expressed on most of Pay Day’s music and I mean that in a good way) and it plays well throughout its sixteen tracks (no riddim track though) (ehhh) for some really big artists. Of course it goes without saying that on board is Bounty Killer and Mavado, and with them they bring the expected likes of Flexx, Kibaki, Nymron and the Gyalliance. Wasn’t at all expecting TWO tracks from Lutan Fyah (the first of which, ’When Mi Shoob It’ is about as close to slack as I’ve ever heard the chanter) (the second of which, ’Good Eeeh’, is brilliant) and ’Rock & Come In Yah’ from a big under-known artist, Abajonai. Big release.


Darien Prophecy - “Art of Love” (EP) [Ambiel Music]

And lastly this week is a piece which, for some reason, I was REALLY looking forward to hearing before we got it. It’s UK chanter, Darien Prophecy, with a brand new four track EP set, “Art of Love”. I wasn’t really big on his last album “Natural Vibes” (it was pretty good), and I’ve never been the biggest of his fans, but for some reason when I saw this one and got a brief listen to it, I was WELL impressed and having since gotten it, I LIKE! I like so much, in fact, that I’m thinking about going back and giving the album a next listen (actually listening now and . . . Yeah not too bad), but hopefully that’ll vault business as this EP would seem to portend that a next LP is forthcoming and I’ll be looking forward to that one as well and hopefully you will too.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

What A Beautiful 20!

Yep yep yep yep yep yep. It's another nice week around here, a nice and lovely past few days and, as expected some nice work from our readers. As I said, unfortunately, I accidentally deleted a few tunes and I don't think I got them back, so most certainly when you run up here and don't see your recommendation, definitely link me again and I'll get you running next week yeah. Okay, this week we have a regular-regular kicking things off in a most expected way and then two new regulars keeping the vibes high and then whatever I come up with yeah. So you know it's, send me your suggestions for beautiful songs, posted each and every Sunday, bright and early. Let's hit.

Okay so, everyone knows Jah Callax, beautiful tune superstar, he links me and says he already knows the perfect tune for this week, but it wouldn't fit too well, because obscure it is not. HOWEVER, because it certainly most timely and this man is one of my least discussed topics (and you know I have good reason) (because EVERYBODY already knows), taking opening honours is a song I hadn't heard in a minute, so it . . .Yeah. TEARS! The immortal Robert Nesta Marley with 'Selassie Is The Chapel'.

How in the world do you follow that??? I don't know, it's not my problem. Ask second time (I THINK) (maybe third for him now?) participant here, JP from . . . Washington DC I believe who, at least theoretically, has his mind in the most appropriate position as, after sighting His Imperial Majesty, it is definitely wise to 'Give Thanks' as we go back to the VI (biggup Callax) for veteran Junior P's tune which was the title track from his debut album. Of course, the tune is about giving thanks to one's parents (who are, of course, an extension of The Almighty) and it is absolutely gorgeous and when is the last time you hear this tune? How long? Forever maybe? Excellent choice JP. . . (Junior P tune recommended by JP???) (HMMM).

Speaking of OBSCURE, here we have one of the PILLARS of obscurity over the last few years, Yahadanai, with one of the handful of post album tunes he's managed to record (unless someone is really keeping me in the dark, the SWEET lover's tune 'Hold You In My Arms'. The title comes via another sophomore participant, Allan from New York, who we just learned is Allan from New York, by way of Guyana which makes all the more reason he'd draw a Yaha tune. I don't really know what to say much about Yahadanai, he did what he did and vanished, but . . . DAMN if this man never gives us another album, it'll really really be a crime and if he does, I'm well prepared to celebrate it. Still gorgeous and an excellent piece Allan (biggup Guyana, biggup Fam and biggup Shelly G).

{note: The thumbnail had nudity in it and I am completely paranoid}
{note 2: Even though the nudity was wonderful}

I had a REALLY good song in my mind when I started this, but I didn't take a note and I've, of course, forgotten it, but my replacement, if I do say so myself (and I'm going to) is EXCELLENT. It's Luciano with the biggest of big tunes from his "Jah Is My Navigator" album, 'Jah Canopy'. And we will most certainly see you (and hopefully hear from YOU) next week.

{Reviews this week for Bryan Art and (hopefully) Toussaint [The Liberator]}