Friday, July 20, 2012

Ears Wide Shut

Despite spending the vast majority of my life trying - I just cannot seem to will my body to grow a third, completely independently functioning ear and I also can't turn one of my ten fingers (or toes for that matter) into listening devices. I'm stuck with two ears which, essentially, hear the same things all of the time. Because of that (AND ONLY THAT) it's even impossible for me to keep up with absolutely everyone who I'd like to. Some artists just get past me. Today we've assembled a list of ten of the most crucial. Here're ten artists who I really need to start paying more attention to. Ears Wide Shut.

{Note: Artists appear in no particular order}
{Note 2: Anything goes} 


An exercise in frustration. The first entrant on this list is definitely one of the most maddening as well as the truly wicked singer from out of The Bahamas, Avaran, just doesn't seem to 'come around' very often enough to actually be enjoyed consistently. Therefore, when he does, he does so in a way which is, almost inherently, unpredictable and hard to keep track of. Way back in 1999, Avaran dropped his well received album, "Short Rope", which had many remarking on just how classy and well arranged the artist (who reminds many of the legendary Garnet Silk) was. To my knowledge, it wasn't until late last year when he did a second piece in the little known "Danger Zone", an album which has just caught my eye. This year, he's also done work for Goldcup Records and Cyclone, but in listening to Avaran's music, you always get the feeling that here is someone who is destined for something really, really special. Whether or not he'll reach it is another matter, but hopefully I'll be listening in any case.  

The Lambsbread

One more time. Me not really taking a proper listen to The Lambsbread, a duo from out of Hawaii, is just a matter of me . . . Doing what I usually do and making a very large mistake. Throughout the years they've been in direct 'sight' of my usual listening rounds, recording with the likes of Lutan Fyah, Ras Attitude and even Messenjah Selah, but I've never really dug into their sound and I don't really know why. Just last year, they appeared on both big riddims from Rumble Rock Recordz (who really needs to do something for 2012, if they haven't already), the Stringz and the Step By Step (and even had a featured single on the latter) and you would think, of course, that it would've propelled to finally become acquainted with their music (which has been delightful, every time I’ve heard something), but not quite. However, with all of that being said - I'm on it. The Lambsbread apparently haven't done an album in a few years, so when they do return to the format, I'll be listening . . . hopefully. 

Perle Lama 

Anytime now. I've heard enough of Zouk star, Perle Lama to know her talents. She blessed the globe with what was, in my opinion, its finest Zouk album of 2011 when she dropped her latest set, "L'Amazone", and heard more than a few big tracks from her over the years and that's probably  the problem in this case. I'm educated enough to hold her in a similar esteem that I do some of her peers such as Kénédy and Goldee in particular - she's got it all really. But why am I not going crazy over the songstress and why didn't I even slap a review on her last album??? I'm not quite sure. Lama's star is still on the rise, however, so I figure to have an ample opportunity to do just that.  

De Apostle

Two chances. After all of these years, I'm still not completely sure that I fully know what I even think of VI veteran, De Apostle. Traditionally speaking, I can well explain why he hasn't been the most active of lights on my players: Not being a big fan of Hip-Hop - it's something which he tends to incorporate a great deal in his brand of primarily Dancehall. If I were going to catch, you would think it would have occurred somewhere around the "Armed & Dangerous" series, which was a pair of mixtapes De Apostle starred in alongside Sizzla Kalonji.  

Ms. Alysha 

Now! I don't know why, but it's been a couple of seasons now from last I really paid attention to the work of one of the most lyrically gifted Soca heads around, the devastatingly capable Ms. Alysha and it's something which I just recently became aware of. At her very best, Alysha is the female equivalent of Soca ace, Bunji Garlin. She's able to tell stories in a wonderfully tongue twisting way and it never really seems like she put too much thought into it - it's a full on natural gift. But I couldn't even, without looking it up, come up with what her big tune was for the season very well. My sudden Ms. Alysha absentmindedness, however, is nothing that couldn't be remedied with something like a new album following "Ms. Alysha Now" from a couple of years back.  

Maxi Priest 

Father Time. As I've said in the past, as I get older and older (and I'll now be a truly ridiculous thirty-one years old in a very short while), my tastes in music begin to change and I'm now fully able to appreciate tunes and riddims and albums and artists that were previously maybe not accessible to my childish ears. Yes, I'm still very much a big kid (and hope to always be), but I can listen to things differently. One of the main artists that I've been hoping to add to my more usual listening 'route' is definitely UK veteran and star, Maxi Priest, but he doesn't seem to want to give me the damn opportunity! The now fifty something Maxi Priest has, quietly, been doing big things over the past couple of years or so, but excluding an album for Xmas last year, "Time of The Year", he hasn't been very busy on the album front. When he next is, ears will be wide open!  


Maestro. In the case of African born Zoukie (and a ton of other things), Kaysha, I probably have every reason in the world to be a fan and, I kind of am. He's no less than my third favourite Zouk producer (after DeeJaySlam (who just happens to be behind my favourite singer in the genre, the aforementioned Kénédy) and, of course, Joel Jaccoulet), having worked with some artists who I vibe constantly when they're out such as Thayna, Fanny and most recently the eye-candy-ish Vanda May (DAMN!). On top of that, there's the fact that his label, Sushiraw, is also a preferred musical destination of mine (they make lovely music). And, were that not enough, Kaysha himself sang one of the best Zouk-ish tunes I've ever heard in my entire life, the hypnotic 'Si Tu T'en Vas'. If I'm not a big listener by now, it's probably safe to say that I never will be, but the next things he produces will have at least one interested pair of ears. Mine.  

Fitta Warri 

Not my fault! Even though I should take the blame (who else can I really blame this on???), I'm just not going to - for the fact that I probably haven't been as attentive in the specific case of the most fiery chanter from out of Kingston, Fitta Warri. He records for just about anyone and everyone and it's a chore to really keep track of it all. But it's perfectly worth it at the end of things. Warri is someone who, if you get a good vibe on his music, is difficult to really place him out of your mind completely. Take my advice. I know it from experience. I just wish I knew it a little bit more often. 

Lord Kossity 

Good .vs. Evil. I've never been a comic-book fan (although Bredz is and he called us this morning going mad over the Batman movie) (biggup Batman), but I've always drawn a kind of super-hero/super-villain comparison to the most varied Lord Kossity. In the sense that French/French Caribbean Dancehall used to be this super intense art form, Kossity, to my ears at the time, was the most intense. He had this really heavy presence to him as well which set him apart, in many ways from people who I did become a big fan of, most notably Admiral T. Kossity, also, was (and still is) obviously very skilled and he's worked alongside pretty much everyone in any type of Dancehall context throughout his time. I don’t know why I never caught on in his case, but something tells me that I will sooner or later. 


Bombin again! And finally we end with a bit of good news as while I may not be listening as intently as I once was in this instance, I'm well on my way back. Initially, back a few of years ago or so, Bramma De Bomba was someone who I looked at as being on a level of potentially a supreme talent as a young and up and coming Dancehall DJ and I was definitely a fan. Over the last year or so, however, it had shifted and, I wasn't the same type of impressed that I had been in the past. This year, things seem to be back in order and Bramma is well on his way, at least my opinion, to becoming one of the Dancehall's most all-around gifted artists. He always had the power of the word, he was terrific writer from the first time anyone had really heard him, but having had the fortune to develop on some of the best riddims in the business, as a hand on the Big Ship, he's now also become very talented with melodies and I didn't hear that before. I could still definitely pay a bit more attention to his releases, but that doesn't figure to be a problem in the second half of what has been a big year for the artist. 

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