Sunday, June 19, 2011

'The Guide': A Review of "Modern Rockers Vol. 1" by Joggo

It is very important, in my opinion, that when we begin to look at Reggae music in a more regionalized manner, in regards to the entire world, that we have a very wide array of artists to deal with. Certainly at the highest levels, if you want to attract Reggae fans to your particular area, you almost need to have a superstar or a potential superstar, but after that you're definitely going to want them to stick around and in order to do so you either need a very talented next group to look at or one supremely active superstar. To put it into specifics, we can well look at the Virgin Islands as an example where, initially a great deal of the attention which came, came as a result of the works of Vaughn Benjamin & Midnite, but if you got into Virgin Islands Reggae because of that wonderful group, you stayed interested because of "that wonderful group" and a whole heap of other subsequently very popular and powerful performers who were on their respective ways up at the time. That, in my opinion, is THE prototypical model to develop an area when it comes to Reggae music and it remains as a very strong example of what I envision happening all across the globe (when Reggae music takes over the entire planet). We can also look at the very odd current structure of UK Reggae which experienced this same thing . . . A really long time ago, but had become quite stagnant with no big named new ’blood’ on the scene for quite some time until recently when, once again, Reggae from the UK has ignited and we now have big new musicians on that scene as well. One of my favourite places to currently look at which is a well developing hotbed of Reggae music and artists is, unsurprisingly, The Netherlands and, by extension, Suriname.

Joggo Digital Singles

In case you haven’t noticed, Ziggi Recado is a bonafide Reggae star. He's one of the most popular European artists around and besides being the current face of Dutch Reggae; he's also likely to be in the process of inspiring a league of younger ones coming up as well. His is the star which will, hopefully, not only draw the attention of listeners to the vibes of others such as Smiley and Maikal X, but to an entire Dutch 'subgenre' as well - Surinamese Reggae. Reggae from out of the South American docked country has been enjoying a significant push over the past couple of years or so and things just got entirely more interesting as a potential star of its own is now jumping out in style and in a BIG vibes to continue the work - Joggo. Looking back, it's increasingly unfortunate that we may've lost one who would have been the individual star for the country just a few years back when veteran Papa Touwtjie was killed and his death, arguably, stalled the entire scene in Suriname (or at least part of it) to a degree and definitely so in terms of the international view as the most popular and talented voice was silenced. It's taken them awhile, definitely, but we've now experienced a bit of a rebirth and a repositioning on the international Reggae scene of artists from out of Suriname - Coinciding with THE birth of Dutch Reggae and the ultra-talented Joggo is poised to be at the forefront of the new movement with his debut album, courtesy of Dredda Records, "Modern Rockers Vol. 1". Joggo definitely hasn’t been shy in recent times. In fact, it seems as if he’s made himself one of the more active names on the already very active European circuit, recording some top material with some big producers, while picking up big credits along the way. The singer/chanter who was born in Amsterdam, but now makes his home in Suriname which is the land of his heritage (and is actually the younger brother of world-class Dutch footballer, Clarence Seedorf - Further research reveals that . . . Pretty much everyone in his entire family plays the sport, including Joggo [née Jürgen Seedorf]), has made stops in the studios of imprints such as Necessary Mayhem, Silly Walks, The Handcart Market and Achis Reggae favourites, Not Easy At All & JahSolidRock (more on them later). All the while, however, he's managed to record a nice stream of tunes for the label which helped him to get his start in Reggae music, Dredda Records, who would deal with his debut mixtape, "Beware" [pictured] in 2008 and has gone on to make a great deal of music with the artist. So, while it did come as somewhat of a surprise that Joggo's debut album didn't come from one of the other labels that he's worked with over the past couple of years, it would seem that there would be no more logical of a choice than Dredda which also has roots in Suriname.

Dreadda Records

With a name like "Modern Rockers Vol. 1", you definitely get it into your mind that you're going get a bit of old schools vibes and colours which is what Joggo, according to his bio, prides himself on doing, being influenced by the likes of Bob Marley, Winston Rodney and Steel Pulse. However (and of course), I’m going to make more modern connections. I hear some of Ziggi in Joggo's style. He is, perhaps, a bit more melodically inclined and 'softer', in general, than the Statian star, but when you look at some of the intricacies of their individual styles (down to the ever so slightly raspy chanting); I think that they are somewhat similar. Also, I do hear elements of maybe a Junior Kelly as well - Not as far as actual and applicable sound, but in terms of prevailing command and the marrying of vocals and tracks - Joggo is somewhat comparable to the most underrated Jamaican star. All of those things are at play, along with his own HEALTHY natural skillset on the album which, although we well wish it were a bit more robust, proves to be a completely EXCELLENT release from beginning to end.

Last year, veteran singer, Chezidek, dropped the MAMMOTH "Judgement Time" set which, sans (wonderful) instrumentals, only included eleven tracks. Still, that was more than enough to find its way amongst the 'best of 2010' lists of just about everyone who bothered to compose one regarding Reggae music and I think Joggo may be pointed in the same direction with this album. While there're only twelve tracks, there isn't a hint of filler amongst them and you don't get very deep into things without noticing that you’re dealing with something fairly special here. Setting us in action on the debut album from wicked Surinamese-Dutch artist, Joggo, "Modern Rockers Vol. 1" is a song which is likely to grab more than its fair share of fans' attention, the intoxicating 'DJ Play Me Some Roots'. Judging this one on a strictly sonic level - BIG - and when you begin to add in and acknowledge that it's far more than just a 'party song' (which it isn’t at all actually), you can well appreciate the messages inside of the vibes. Joggo, very cleverly, begins to connect the sound, "roots rock Reggae", to state of positive being.

“Israel Vibration say ‘play me on your MTV’
2010, wi deh now, still no Reggae to see”

Definitely this is one of the biggest highlights on the album and it's also a one which lead me to believe that maybe Joggo is a pretty substantial lyricist as well. Further inclinations on that prove to be quite accurate as well. Next we have what I believe is an official single from the album and a tune which definitely would have no problem getting attention on its own as Joggo teams up with Jamaican star, Turbulence as well as Jah Decko (who is the producer of the album) for 'Strong Like Lion'. Anytime you can get Turbulence in a good form you have an excellent foundation and he sounds sterling on this POWERFUL vibes! This is polished, strong and aggressive modern Roots Reggae and although I’m not calling it THE best song on this album (because there is a surprise later on which just . . . DAMAGED me!), I'm imagining it will be the showcase tune here and for very good reason. It’s an amazing track about perseverance in the name of His Imperial Majesty.

“It’s not a crisis, it’s a test
Always remember Rastafar HIM ah di best
And it’s the greatest
Righteous words always take unto flesh
Persevere -
Have no fear for what’s next
Yow, dem seh Zion is a state of mind, I’m not saying they’re wrong
But I know there is a place where my people belong
Ethiopia awaits The Conquering Lion
Hey Dredda Youths come sing Rasta’s song”
- Turbulence from ‘Strong Like Lion’

Rounding out the opening bites of "Modern Rockers Vol. 1" is the most familiar tune on the album to my ears (and probably to yours as well) as Joggo dips into 'music from the highest region', courtesy of the boys and girls at JahSolidRock and Not Easy At All Productions on the GOLDEN Paradise Riddim, for 'Strong Black Woman'. The track also appeared on the labels’ outstanding 2010 compilation, "Cultural Vibes Vol. 1" where it was just as fine and uplifting - giving all due praises and love to Afrikan Woman of the world. Well, well done Joggo to start.

'I Am Blessed' w/Mr. Patze

And the quality doesn’t dip at all. Following 'Strong Black Woman', Joggo goes into a mighty trio of love songs, each stop of which adds more and more strength to the entire journey. The first is 'Love You Like No Other', which is just a pure and straight forward winner. While the songs, invariably, get more and 'complicated', where they start on this tune is just gorgeous and probably one of the best love tunes that I've heard in 2011. 'I Am Blessed' enlists the help of Dutch DJ, Mr. Patze, who I have heard a bit from and he makes a nice appearance here adding a great deal of colour to an already colour VIBRANT portrait ("Mi nah go lef mi gyal fi another gyal. Even if she do mi wrong, still mi nah guh go. Mi love mi Empress, so mi beat pon mi chest, I realize I’ve been blessed"). And then there's 'You Don’t Know'. As I said, the songs get more and more complex in this sequence and here is the king of them all because I wouldn't necessarily refer to this tune as your stereotypical 'love song', as in, romantic situations and such. This song has a grander purpose because what Joggo is, apparently, trying to do is to make the point of adding a greater tone of love throughout the world and the LOVE in this song becomes a love of the world. The tune also just so happens to feature what is arguably the best line on the whole of the album when Joggo says:

“ . . . When things badder , you haffi think twice


Still, with all of that being said, the finest ‘love song’ to be featured on "Modern Rockers Vol. 1" is the album’s closer, 'I Wonder', which is going to take a great deal of time to get out of my head (and my Wife’s too, because I've been singing it randomly for the better part of the past two weeks or so). Like 'Love You Like No Other', it’s a very straight forward track, but it just sounds SO NICE and with Joggo's delivery just gripping into that laid back one-drop riddim - this is a next level track to my opinion.


The remaining four tunes on the album are much more along the spiritual/social commentary type of vibes and they also contain my personal favourite track to be found here. That distinction doesn’t go to 'Peace & Love', but it isn't far from it. Another track which may not be exactly loaded in flare and dynamicity, but thrives on a simple brilliance. ALSO, you really need to pay attention to the lyrics on this tune (particularly the second verse), which is more than half of its attraction (although the riddim is very nice also). 'Gundown' is previous single and . . . Yet another winner on the album and probably one of the winners amongst the winning lot. This antiviolence track does have a bit more in the way of flash to it, but it’s full of substance and big lyrics as well and is not to be missed. I don’t know if it was a 'hit', but I'd have a hard time seeing how, if promoted even remotely decently, it couldn't be. David Hinds and the boys of Steel Pulse would be WELL pleased with 'Jah Jah Nevah', which sounds like something directly from their legendary vaults. With its subjectry it also would find a home in their catalog - Joggo speaks on one of my own favourite topics of discourse, the Afrikan Diaspora, and does so in a way which isn't only speaking of the past, but is also very forward thinking as well and the results are one stellar track.

Finally is the surprise of "Modern Rockers Vol. 1". The best song my ears found on this album was very very simple and, ostensibly, nothing too major, but . . . I don’t know. There's something about 'I & I Know' which reached me on a plane that no other song on this album did and although (OBVIOUSLY), I enjoy describing things, I’m STILL not sure how to break this one down for you. TEARS! It almost sounds like something from out the VI, but it's also very free-flowing and still guided in a prevailing direction . . . Damn! HUUUUUUUUGE TUNE!


Overall, when I started writing this review (which was probably four days ago now, you'll excuse my absence, I've been having entirely too much fun painting my house to write very much) I had an impression of this album which was that it was much better than it would likely EVER get credit for being and I think that I, myself, may have fallen into that 'trap' as well. It's even better than I thought that it was. The ONLY complaint here that I would have is that I want more of it! Joggo needs to head back into the studio IMMEDIATELY because this is very high level material and eleven tracks of it just doesn't remedy my want for it (fifteen would have been nice). Going forward, just as Ziggi Recado's maybe the voice which is opening the doors for fans to the vibes of people like Maikal X, Smiley and Joggo, maybe Joggo can do that in his own way. Currently, Reggae from out of Suriname features big and talented names like Kenny B, the ever present Koyeba and earlier this year we saw Little Guerrier and Prince Koloni (both of whom, I believe were born in Suriname, but currently make their homes in Guyane) jumping up to a great stage (Koloni even did a tune, 'Nature', alongside superstar Tarrus Riley) and maybe those become names on the radars of more and more Reggae fans across the globe because they heard Joggo's album and on it they heard top top vibes. Whether or not he can do that, for an entire nation, remains to be seen, but with the SKILL and the obvious determination displayed on "Modern Rockers Vol. 1", what isn't in question is his ability to deliver a big album. This is superb my friends.

Rated: 4.55/5
Dredda Records
CD + Digital

Joggo @ Myspace