Saturday, October 20, 2012

"The Closer Looks": The Ten Most Interesting

Writing this much definitely does have its good days. Apart from being able to really dig into an album or a song or a catalog or a riddim or a whatever, there're several artists about whom I just absolutely love writing and will go out of my way and mash up what tiny amount of good judgment I have to examine if I have to. These are artist who, for a wide variety of reasons just really make writing such a fun experience and, obviously, I find it enjoyable anyway, but these few really set themselves apart and I look forward to them jumping up with things to talk about and I also look forward to my mind figuring out ways to look at works they've already done in unique ways. Taking it off the ‘paper', these are artists who just really get my interests really intensified and… not always in a good way. Today we take a look at a few of them. Here're ten people who really don't have to work hard to get my attention. The Closer Looks.

{Note: Artists appear in no particular order}

Mark Wonder

World wonder. If you pay attention then it should be obvious that Mr. Mark Wonder was the inspiration for this list as we just discussed his latest album, "Working Wonders" (big album, in stores now, go get it), just a couple of days ago. In his case, what really makes him so interesting and such a 'wealthy' topic of discourse is that on the surface he seems like so many other Roots Reggae artists of his era, but if you dip even slightly below the waterline, there is so much which distinguishes his music and makes him unique from his peers. He's also clearly a case in motion because while I don't think that he receives the credit and attention that his talents warrants (he doesn't), its also pretty obvious that more and more people are paying attention and the notion of there being some day when it all comes together and he takes a leap of popularity at some ultra-advanced stage of his career is just an amazing thought. I could name you dozens of underappreciated artists (and you're likely to find some on this list), but I don't know that such a thing is even possible for most of them. In the case of Mark Wonder - it just may be. Stay tuned. 


Evolution. While it's beginning to seem to be a total certainty that we will reach the end of yet another year in which the… almost unnecessarily gifted (he could probably be 75% as talented as he is right now and still be one of the Dancehall's most adroit lyricists) Gwada DJ, Saïk, will not deliver his sophomore studio album, it doesn't mean that he's completely fallen off the radar. Aside from rather continuously releasing a steady stream of singles, it remains difficult to shake off the work already put in by the still young artist. I always look at Saïk in the way I look at someone like Aidonia and while you and I won't be around to see it, in the year 2300 or so, I fully expect their styles to be somewhat prototypical of the time. Today it just sounds like someone who's virtually without peer in terms of what they're capable of and although he keeps making us wait for it, if we don't get the album in 2013 and I make a sequel to this list - Saïk will still be somewhere on it.


Star potential. NiyoRah has been a favourite of mine from pretty much the first time I heard him doing anything and in the latter stages of 2012, things haven't changed at all. Amongst the many interesting aspect of his career, definitely one of the most interesting is his potential. NiyoRah is, at least seemingly, well within his musical prime and it seems as if almost every time he does push up with something, more and more Reggae fans across the world are beginning to take notice. Not only does the artist make good music and, as I said, currently has an arsenal as deep as he's ever had in his career, there's just something about him which seems to speak heavily of two things. First of all, I'd be completely shocked if two or three decades from now NiyoRah weren't STILL making music, he very much has the feel about him of someone who is in this for a lifetime and secondly RIGHT NOW, he has an immense level of star potential in my opinion and, in his case, it seems only a matter of a time before the entirety of the more 'mainstream' side of Reggae music catches on. Why wait??? Check out almost any of his work today if you have yet to. 


In progress. Turbulence is clearly someone who is in motion and despite the fact that for the past few years or so I haven't had a particularly or prevailing positive view of his music, he remains such a RIPE spot of interest for me. The main reason here is that Turbulence has already well shown himself to be amongst THE most talented faces in Reggae music today and it's a fact which I think is obvious to so many people… excluding Turbulence, of course. He's spent years making music which doesn't quite live up to what should be some of the loftiest of standards in the entire genre - pushing up nondescript albums and just underachieving in my opinion. But he appears on a list like this because, while doing that, he's also shown flashes of what he once was and probably still can be considering his age for the type of music he makes (early 30's is very young for a top flight Roots Reggae artist). If it were all bad, I would have lost interest (and you would have also), but it hasn't been and you can't COMPLETELY just ignore a talent like this who, in the history of this blog has already given us two 'modern classics' and, again, is still very young. Of course, it is my ultimate hope that Turbulence, one day, returns to his amazing form, but even if he doesn't he's likely to continue to receive my attention and stay a favourite topic of mine because I'll be hoping that he does someday wake up and assumes his rightful place as one of the genre's biggest stars. 

Stevy Mahy

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Along with her presence beautifying anything that I'm working on at any time, I've definitely developed an even grander appreciation from the walking divinity that is one Stevy Mahy. Yes, she is… very easy on the eyes and her music is candy-like to the ears. My greatest source of interest in Mahy, however, comes via really learning more and more about her. I'm not someone who is usually terribly interested things outside of music, but when you consider that her music is this wonderfully blended mix of French, Kreyol and English, you begin to wonder where that approach comes from and how well it is translated into the music and each time I dig into her story (outside of just admiring the physical), I come across something even more interesting than before. It's also relatively safe to say that with one possible exception (which is actually coming later on this list), it's been a loooooooooong time from the last time I was so much looking forward to an atypical sophomore release than I am of Mahy's.  

Ras Batch

Maestro. As it would turn out, "Know Thyself", the 2012 album from one of Reggae's most sagacious lights, Ras Batch from out of St. Croix, was a bit more appreciated and discussed than I had anticipated it being. Even if it were not, however, I would not have experienced the slightest of discomfort in being the album's only and loudest of supporters. This album - whatever his next would be - was one which I was fully anticipating and when it did arrive it not only didn't disappoint, it even managed to impress and became a 5/5 album to my opinion. Why was I so much looking forward to it and what makes Batch so interesting to cover? I've said it before (I THINK) that although I completely DESPISE becoming a disgusting old man (I AM THIRTY-ONE YEARS OLD!) (YUCK!), one of the largest gifts that aging has 'given' me is the maturity to be able to appreciate Batch's music on a level which I, seemingly, wasn't able to in the past. In kind of making that change now, much like Mark Wonder, I see and hear the artist for all of his uniqueness and ingenuities. He is a brilliant writer and a musician and having spent years and years developing the talents of others, he was full on due for the spotlight to be shone in his direction and it goes without saying (but I'm going to say it anyway) that made the best of it. The next time he makes an album, you can be sure that he'll do it again.  


A challenger. You're likely to find millions of more passionate and full-on BETTER fans of the enigmatic Vaughn Benjamin and Midnite than am I and that is true despite the fact that I do consider myself being someone who is, somewhat like in the case of Batch (although different in the downright strange amount of material there is available in this instance), coming around just a bit. That's an odd thing to say, I know, taking into account how much I've written about Midnite recently. One of the biggest reasons that is the case, actually, is that not too many people write about them. Midnite is confounding in so many ways and not the smallest is their relationship/lack thereof with the Reggae media. As one of the biggest and most popular names in all of modern Reggae music, you'd think that 'they' would get just a bit more attention from writers than they do and I think the reason that they ("they", of course, meaning Vaughn Benjamin) do not is because they aren't exactly the easiest to write about. When "Kings Bell" arrived last year it definitely was a changer and it was the first of its kind in some time - it really lead a high profile existence for an album. However, from that time we've also had "In Awe" (which I'm slowly coming to realize was absolutely OUTSTANDING) and recently "Children Of Jah" (which has a dubbed out version loaded and ready to go reportedly). The latter was very popular amongst fans, but you didn't see much written about it, but it still was better traveled than the former! I'll write about Midnite continuously, because I find it beautifully challenging to piece together Benjamin's words and analyze them in a more straight forward manner and, really, the less that others do so, it'll probably grow my interests. Definitely one of the most demanding entities in the music today, but it's becoming obvious to me that, as it has been to others for a decade now - it's worth it.  

Lutan Fyah

Anyone else? Lutan Fyah is one of my favourite artists. He's likely well on his way to becoming one of my favourite of all time, so I'm partial and that's fine. An interesting part, however, in my interest in writing about him as a topic is to see if I am drastically overplaying his talents. I do that occasionally (although I do think that I've gotten much better over the past couple of years), but I'm something more than convinced now of the Fyah's talents, which really peak and pinnacle at his abilities as a writer. I cannot think of many artists who have EVER proven to be a more capable writer than Lutan Fyah and it all really jumped up a couple of years ago when I was at the point where I found it difficult to even find a substandard VERSE that he had written and, these days, it appears as if he's well headed back in that direction (he also seems to be enjoying a slight profile increase these days as well and for good reason). For me, already, while he may not have the greatest command of melodies (he doesn't), Lutan Fyah is ALREADY one of Reggae's greatest lyricists and I think a lot of people are slowly beginning to agree with me. 

Sara Lugo

I told you! Just a few short years from now when I'm loooooong gone and just as lengthily devoid of the tiny amount of sanity that I currently have remaining, Sara Lugo will be a giant star in Reggae music. The world would have caught on to the magical and intoxicating blend of Jazz that she carries with her music and have fallen in love with one of the most unique talents the genre has ever heard. And although I'll be in no condition to appreciate it, this blog will still be here and it will still be loaded with material celebrating the lovely music of the German songstress. Aside from that (most selfish of reasons), Lugo's music is, at least in part, a display of the amazing power and attraction of Reggae music. When this music becomes strong enough to attract such a wide variety of different people who not only become fans, but become extremely colourful and dexterous artists, I think that you really have something which has greatly evolved. I don't think scientific when I listen to Sara Lugo's music and it ultimately isn't the major propellant which makes her so interesting to discuss, but when there does exist such a brilliantly ORGANIC combination of styles which she is so seamlessly able to roll out, you do get the feeling and the hope that more like her are on the way. Until then and still after even - ONE OF A KIND!

Sizzla Kalonji

The reward. And finally - although I don't write about him nearly as much as I might, Sizzla Kalonji remains and hopefully will always remain one of my favourite topics and he is a subject who has changed throughout the years. I'll likely forever maintain that, when at his best, he has no musical peer and it is a unrivaled greatness which, at least partially, makes him so fascinating for me - the "best", inherently, is one of the most interesting. Aside from that, Kalonji has also never been able to completely stay away from controversies, his career has been marked by devastating streaks of activity and, regardless of how you feel about his music, he has been one of the biggest names of this era as well as the one prior to it. An overabundance of striking angles and, after all of these years, a JOY to write about. 


  1. Great list. I also love when you write about Ras Attitude, Perfect & Duane Stephenson.

  2. Great list but to forget Perfect Giddimani on this list is a sad thing.