"The Early Years Vol. 2: The Reality of Life" by Buju Banton [Penthouse Records/VP Records]
First up this week, we take a look at the latest compilation/greatest hits style release from Reggae legend, Buju Banton, "The Early Years Vol. 2: The Reality of Life", which is out today. The equally esteemed Penthouse Records released the original version of this set wayyyyyyy back in 2001 and though it's rather surprising to see a sequel eleven years later (biggup Qshan Deya), it's not surprise at all that you're seeing more material from Buju these days (incidentally, the first version was recently released digitally in a deluxe format). I was really happy to see which tunes they chose to go on this album. Songs like 'Lion Rule The Jungle', 'Lef We Business', 'Him Tek Off' and others may not be the most obvious choices, but they're big, big tunes and having another run on this album is well deserved. Of course, it also covers more usual bases with guest spots coming from superstars Beres Hammond, Wayne Wonder, The Morgans and others. Vintage Buju Banton, oddly, isn't very much different from later Buju, but listening to some of these songs, today, almost sounds like a damn privilege.
CD + Digital
"Celebration of Life" by Turbulence [Leaf Of Life Production]
Leaf Of Life Productions has found a favourite in now longtime veteran Turbulence (he would definitely qualify these days) and they've well recorded the singing chanter over the past few years and now they're putting that work together in a full scale album release, "Celebration of Life". I maintain my position on Turbulence who (would be a VERY interesting candidate for a "Discography" post, especially now) is a SUPREMELY gifted artist, but has had difficulty in living up to those lofty levels over the . . . Really for the past five years or so in my opinion! However, that talent is definitely in there somewhere and anyone who can even remotely get him to tap into SOME of it is doing well. Early sounds from this album are somewhat impressive, but I look forward to hearing the full thing definitely and I may even slap a review on it when I do. Beat me to it and pick up Turbulence's "Celebration of Life" today.
CD [I THINK] + Digital
"I Love Carnival" by Kevin Lyttle [Tarakon Records]
Popular Soca singer and former poster boy, Kevin Lyttle, is back with a brand new album for 2012, following a few big moments this year, "I Love Carnival". The Vincy singer has always been one of the most ACTIVE Soca artists around, from making his grand entrance, and I was really glad to see him do a new album which, I believe, will be his very first from "Fyah", a few years back. I'm not the biggest Kevin Lyttle fan, but I find that he's one of those artists who is almost perpetually underrated by more hardcore Soca heads and he still works as hard anyone in the genre. "I Love Carnival" primarily features some of the singer's bigger moments across the past three or four years including the title track which features the MONSTER himself, Skinny Fabulous. Also joining are Icon, Fucha Kid, stars Jamesy P and the incomparable Alison Hinds, and others. Biggup Kevin Lyttle.
"Every Breath" by Spragga Benz [RSQTHP Music Group]
RSQTHP is making noise in July and August as they're releasing a trio of pieces. The definitive highlight of them all is surely "Every Breath", a very useful EP from Dancehall/Reggae superpower, Spragga Benz. The release is so named after the song of the same title which was a sizable hit for the Benz from a few years back and also included is the familiar 'Pon Di Willy', 'Over All', 'The Calling', the recent 'Stilettos' and a dual track featuring 'Dem A Hate' and 'Still A Carry On'. It's worth checking out and biggup RSQTHP who does a similar thing with "Progression" from the former Mr. Reagan, Magazeen.
The Baddest Riddim [Dre Day Productions]
So you make your riddim and you come up with some piece of (generally ridiculous) name for it and . . . No one cares. Some time the two match perfectly, however, and that's the case with the latest from Dre Day Productions, the Baddest Riddim. I'm not overly thrilled with EVERY song on the track, but this thing has at least two things going in its favour. First of all, the riddim itself is BEAUTIFUL. It's an authentic and somewhat laid back piece of Dancehall riddim and it works excellently. It also happens to contain a musical piece of dynamite from its biggest name, Aidonia, 'Militancy'. As I've said many times before, when properly motivated and at or near his best, Aidonia's is a skill with virtually NO equal. His tune her matches on one of the best Dancehall riddims I've heard in 2012 altogether (nice cover art too).
"Dread & Alive: Kindah" [ZOOLOOK]
It's been quite awhile from last we took a look at the popular "Dread & Alive" series (because, apparently, there've been some changes) so I thought that we'd cover the most recent two pieces from the series' sub-series "Kindah", vols. three and four, respectively. As usual, both pieces feature a wide, wide variety of artists and a healthy roster as checking on our #3 are the likes of Ky-enie, Marvin Brown, Chaddy Royal and others while Kehv, Sahra Indio and the wicked Avaran appear on the fourth installment. These series are really perfect for the digital side where you can pick and choose what you like so definitely join me in catching up on "Dread & Alive".
'Emmanuel' by Takana Zion [RKF Production]
Next we have a warning shot of sorts as Guinean Reggae star, Takana Zion, is back to work in 2012 with a big new single, the infectious and Dancehall driven 'Emmanuel'. The tune is, reportedly (by its cover), set to be the first taste of Zion's forthcoming new album "Kakilambe" (have no idea when we'll get that) and almost anytime he does something it's well worth the listen. This tune is no exception and I'm definitely looking forward to the album.
'Private Performer' by Joggo [Joggo Music Productions]
Takana Zion well impressed in 2011 with his big album, "Rasta Government" and someone else who turned heads last year, Joggo, is also back with a new single and one which he, apparently, produced on his own label. The cool lover's piece, 'Private Performer' comes through on one Joggo Music Productions and hopefully it is just a start for more big material to follow. Take a listen and pick it up the single today.
'Roots For Me' by Perfect Giddimani [Dynasty Records/VP Records]
And wrapping up a trio of singles for us today is the always captivating Perfect Giddimani who signs up with the latest single (interesting choice) from his most recent album release, the sterling "Journey of 1,000 Miles" from Dynasty Records. The HEAVY 'Roots For Me' from Dynasty's Crown H.I.M. Riddim is next in line so give it a listen today and then IMMEDIATELY get the full album. Completely random people are going to begin to make fun of you if you don't.
"Know Thyself" by Ras Batch [I Grade Records]
And lastly today is an album I feel like I just told you about a few hours ago (because I did), "Know Thyself", the brand new album from Ras Batch, via I Grade Records. I dare not go on and on about this one again, but it's a fantastic album! It's the third 5/5 score we've given this year (and that comes after not giving a single one in all of 2011) (which is strange) and it's fantastic. This post that you were reading is now finished, so you go and buy this album. Right now.
CD + Digital