"Conquering Sound" by Ancient King [I Grade Records - 2005]
First up this month is an album I've pretty much had on my players from the end of last year and have kept it up for most of the month now. Recently, the booming chanter from of St. Croix, Ancient King, dropped his solid third album, "Ethiopie", for Higher Bound Productions, and while it was decent, as I said, I had to have the reminder of how Ancient King's talents are best utilized and for that you go back to his debut album, "Conquering Sound", via I Grade Records back in 2005. Looking back now, it's kind of hard to pinpoint exactly why this album worked so well, and I still do very much enjoy it, with songs such as 'Battlefield Marshal', 'Access Psychologically' and the KNOCKING 'Do Good' still making up the class of the best songs I've EVER heard from Ancient King. I don't imagine that it's likely these days, but a followup from artist and label would be most welcomed.
CD + Digital
"Better World Rasta" by Midnite [Rastar Records - 2007]
And to check the other side of what I mention for the "Conquering Sound" album, of course you know about "Free Indeed", the latest album from Midnite, also from Higher Bound Productions, which reached earlier this year. As I said there and in a subsequent review, for the "The Way" album, I've really had my ears opened a great deal to Midnite over the past year and a half or so and, eager to see just how far back it goes, I've been listening to a great deal of the older catalog, but this time with more of a reviewer's ear (which is just a much more enjoyable way to experience music I'm finding. Entirely more time-consuming, but worth it). The two albums which have grabbed most of my attention were "Anthology"(which I liked and like even more now) and then there was "Better World Rasta" which, in retrospect and on the surface, is probably best remembered as being the first Midnite album via Rastar Records (which now stands at seven, I think) (shouldn't I know that by now???). I always had a fairly positive view of the "BWR" album, but REALLY breaking down, I definitely have a greater appreciation for it these days and I may go as far as to say that, with the deepest of examination, it might be just the best Rastar album Midnite ever did. And, of course, it's headed by one of my own favourite Midnite tunes, the MAMMOTH 'Negus I Rastafari'.
CD + Digital
The Redeemer Riddim [Oneness Records - 2011]
Biggup Oneness Records for making riddims which, as compositions, just continually seem to offer more and more each time you listen to them. That's a very strange quality in my opinion. It's one thing to have a song, with vocals on it, and have that experience where you can start actually start to 'evolve' in terms of what the words may mean to you at any given point in your life and you become able to relate to them in different ways. That's when you hear more than you did the first time through, when the actual meaning becomes different, more or less, to you as the listener. HOWEVER, that isn't at all what I'm talking about here. I'm simply saying that the more and more I listen to their tracks, the better they sound, even if I LOVE them already and have been listening to them for quite awhile. That is still the case with the Soul Riddim, probably my favourite of all of Oneness' creations, and as of a couple of weeks ago or so, it well became the situation with the GLOWING Redeemer Riddim. Between big offerings from Lutan Fyah, Junior Kelly, Mark Wonder alongside Al Pancho, of course Naptali and others, it carried more than a few nice tracks and is definitely an intelligent thing to spend your money on if you haven't already, but the riddim itself was just… DAMN! Do what I did, play the instrumental behind whatever you are doing for about an hour and "whatever you are doing" will feel much better! You may not finish it and you may not even care, but the Redeemer is just medication music.
The Wisdom Riddim [Di Kemys - 2013]
Di Kemys, from out of the Big Ship camp, has also grabbed more than a little bit of attention with the release of what I think is the label's first full riddim project, the OUTSTANDING Wisdom. The piece is a really solid and straight forward composition which plays an lovely and LUSH backing for the likes of Luciano (BIG tune), Lutan Fyah, Teflon, Turbulence, Singer Jah and, of course, Chino. Definitely worth checking out.
"Looking Hot" by Patrice Roberts [Ruff Rex Productions - 2008]
I've definitely been all over new material coming from Soca light, Patrice Roberts, for the new season, but I've also, wonderfully, gone back to enjoy some of her more 'classic' material such as a great deal of what was to be found on her most recent album release (and her second altogether to my knowledge), 2008's "Looking Hot". This one album featured tunes such as the title track, 'More Wuk', 'Wukking Up' and of course, 'Band Of D Year' with Machel Montano, which netted a Road March title as well as the infectiously difficult to ignore 'Islands' alongside Bunji Garlin. But that wasn't all. There was also 'Light It Up', also with Montano, 'Thundah Waist', 'Til Tomorrow' with Zan and the MASSIVE 'Sugar Boy'. All of these years later, I'm relatively comfortable in saying that "Looking Hot" is probably one of the best Soca albums I've EVER heard from anyone.
CD + Digital
"Project F-50" by Scrappy [Faluma - 2013]
I'm always happy to hear new material from 900x Montserrat Soca Monarch, Scrappy, who recently released a new project, "Project F-50". This one, I was almost strictly interested in because it carries a tune I heard from Scrappy sometime last year and LOVED, 'Montserrat Stand Up'. Thankfully, however, that wasn't the only tune of note on the project and of the remaining eight tracks (including two remixes), he does score well again, particularly with the excellently unrelenting 'Carnival Tabanca', which later draws a very nice 'drum mix'. Scrappy is just fantastic and I really look forward to his releases which never disappoint. "Project F-50" is no exception.
"No Guns To Town" by Natty King [Insight Records - 2005]
And lastly on my radars lately has been an album which I'm always so happy to find a reason to get back into, "No Guns To Town", the stirring debut set from the wholly underrated Natty King. I was actually going to make the King our return to the "Discography" series (before I realized he only had three albums) (and we chose someone else instead and you'll likely get two of those this week), so I really came back to this album first and, as happens once or twice a year, I'm REALLY enjoying what I hear. I'll probably never go as far as to proclaim it a 'modern classic', but it was just an extremely solid set from someone who I still feel has yet to get the credit that his monstrous talents would warrant and the same could be said about this album which has only grown in stature in the now eight years following its release.