"Soca Gold 2013" [VP Records]
It appears as if the first tracklist we told you about is going to hold up [Coming Soon: "Soca Gold 2013"] and, like I said, we'd later have a bit more extensive look at the forthcoming 2013 installment of VP Records' "Soca Gold" series. First of all, of course you have to give credit for its undeniable two largest tracks, "Fantastic Friday" by Super Blue and definitely "Differentology" by Bunji Garlin. Those are two tunes that a compilation of this magnitude SHOULD have and they pulled it off (and neither of them have been very heavy on this season's lesser known compilations). Also two tracks which feature Machel Montano is another big deal and, personally, I LOVE 'Thief a Wine' by Kes D Band, also. But what's missing? The biggest of Montano's 2013 hits are absent - you won't find 'The Fog' or 'Float' on these tracks (fortunately, Machel did do his own album for this year, "Machelements", which is well worth checking out). Also, there's nothing from names such as Fay-Ann Lyons, Destra Garcia or Patrice Roberts. They're not on the album either. And it would have been nice to see a bit more consistent variation outside of the Trinidad and Barbados lot. However, as it always is, "Soca Gold 2013" will be successful and despite very worthy challengers emerging now (particularly Precision Productions' sterling "We Muzik" series), this set is likely to sell much, much more than its contemporaries. Oh and the DVD with it should be very, very good.
Releases on May 21
CD/DVD + Digital
"Ragga Ragga Ragga 2013" [VP Records]
Another of VP Records' series (inherited from Greensleeves, which may make this the last running series of GS to still exist), "Ragga Ragga Ragga" also returns in May and although it's been quite a few years from last I REALLY paid attention to this album, that doesn't mean that isn't and can't do good things this year. There're two nice standouts on the early tracklist that I've seen as Busy Signal checks in the HUGE 'Bad Up Who' and Romain Virgo turns up the intensity on his 'No Scary Movie'. Apart from that, I-Octane has a big shot (as he always does) with the older 'Suffer Too Long' and contributions also appear from the usual faces - new and old - Mavado, Konshens, Di Genius and Tommy Lee and Gyptian.
Releases on May 21
CD + Digital
"Reincarnated" by Snoop Lion [RCA]
I haven't at all been following the well documented change of focus of legendary Hip-Hopper Snoop Dogg into Snoop Lion and I'm probably not going to start now, but seemingly the pillar of this shift is soon to arrive in stores in the form of his brand new and very first Reggae album, "Reincarnated". This album literally has four hundred combinations on it, with familiar names being Mr. Vegas, Popcaan, the aforementioned Mavado, Collie Buddz and even Jahdan Blakkamoore. So much already has been said on this one, but I don't have a problem with it at all. He should want to make a Reggae album. It's the best music in the world. And great cover.
Releases on April 23
CD + Digital
"Original Yard Food" by General Jah Mikey [Zion High Productions]
Also coming soon is the new album from longtime veteran General Jah Mikey, the much discussed "Original Yard Food". For some reason, I kind of think that this album has been in the 'coming soon' stages for quite some time, but that is about to change and simultaneously, we get our very first taste of new music in the new year from Zion High Productions and the Zion I Kings as well. Well looking forward to hearing the full thing and I already have a very nice feeling about this one (as I said = Zion I Kings) (winner).
Releases on May 14
CD + Digital
"Emancipate Yourself" by Bhy2R [Royal Warriors Muzik]
The last time we heard from the always active Bhy2R on an album was last year when he and his Royal Warriors imprint delivered the strong "In My World" debut album from the surging Jah Van I. Since then, the label from out of Martinique has remained quite active - to my memory, they did at least a couple of tracks in the Nah Joke Female and the No Joke riddims, respectively - but label and artist are back with Bhy2R's brand new album, his eight-hundredth to date, "Emancipate Yourself". As the title would suggest, the chanter is doing a bit of emancipation of his own as this album comes billed as his very first full set in English as he typically works in Kreyol. Also very interesting is that the typically very social Bhy2R only has one combination on this album, unsurprisingly with Jah Van I. This one does have a nice feel to it and I may even do a review for it someday as well. Check it out when it reaches.
Releases on May 28
CD + Digital
The Tin Mackerel Riddim [Maximum Sound]
Old school goodness abounds as Frenchie and Maximum Sound return with the GORGEOUS Tin Mackerel Riddim. Maximum Sound does things like this, most recently in bringing back Captain Sinbad, and the results are just about always impressive. This isn't the exception as the Tin Mackerel is damn strong with big tunes coming from Tony Curtis, Burro Banton, Romain Virgo alongside Konshens, Ce'Cile and Mr. Vegas and Natel also join the man of the moment, Major Mackerel, who also shines brightest on a solo effort as well. Excellent.
Releases on April 29
"Ti Moun Soley" [Don Jalys Productions]
The also always captivating Don Jalys Productions is back as well for 2013 with the sequel for their fine compilation, "Ti Moun Soley". The original piece reached a couple of years back, featuring tunes on the Haitian Riddim and was very good actually and while I don't know the name of the riddim behind this one (because they didn't put it on the cover and I'm too lazy to look it up), whatever they call it, it is an infectiously colourful and impressive creation. Just as was the case with its predecessor, while "Ti Moun Soley Vol. 2" doesn't necessarily feature the biggest of names, it does appear to be very nice. Tiwony's is definitely the largest star here, but you should also recognize names like Stone J, Wyckyd J and Prof A. Pick this album up and you'll also get very familiar with the likes of SERIOUS cutie Keily Naye, heavy hitter Sista Sony from out of Guyane, the impressive Jenone One and Aloman who may may've made my own favourite tune on this album, 'Réel'. This one should be very good, but you won't know it unless you pick it up.
Releases on May 1
CD + Digital
The Shango Riddim [149 Records]
After what they did in 2012, 149 Records is a label which won't have to work too hard to get my attention this year and I well had my eyes and ears on their new track, the Shango Riddim. Why? Of course that was the label behind the MASSIVE "Meditation Time" album by Anthony Que and they're continuing their winning ways here. Que appears with the tune which I most know from this track, 'Words of Wisdom' as does Jah Rain who also did a collection for the label, "Rising Up" (which I guess was technically released this year). And that isn't it! Tosh 1 has a nice tune as do Kush I, Charly B and the extremely underrated Ras Mac Bean. Also appearing on the Shango are two of my absolute favourite artists, Lutan Fyah and the scorching Queen Omega, who I fully expect to have the biggest tune on this track. And no, Capleton is not here. Still will be excellent, however.
Releases on April 22
The Cardiac Keys Riddim [Cr203]
Chrome (who also gave us the wonderful Cardiac Bass Riddim from a few years back) is next with a STERLING new track, the Cardiac Keys, which is about as fine of a love song BED that I've heard in 2013 thus far. Fortunately it is given to some of the biggest talents on the scene today who specialize in making glorious hits on the softer side. Christopher Martin, who has two songs here (including 'Reggae Roadblock', the single biggest tune I hear on the track), leads a group which also includes, of course Alaine, Ce'Cile, Romain Virgo, Jah Cure and others.
Releases on May 7
The Tropical Connection Riddim [Blaqk Sheep Music/Loud Disturbance]
And finally coming soon this week (because I'm tired of writing this thing and I still have four or five more to do) (biggup Bredz) (or don't) (WHAT!) is a lovely track via Blaqk Sheep Music and Loud Disturbance, the Tropical Connection Riddim. I'm sure that this piece reminds me of something, but I can't quite pinpoint it yet. It doesn't really matter, however, as the Tropical Connection is more than substantial on its own merits. Making excellent tunes here are Lutan Fyah, Busy Signal, Norris Man, Gappy Ranks, the inescapable Benaïssa, the flexible (and I mean that in literally and figuratively), Spice and others. Definitely worth checking out.
Releases on April 30
In Stores Now
"Champion Soca II" [Smokey Joe Music]
If the prospects of this year's "Soca Gold" offering aren't enough for you, then you may (you do) want to check out the second edition of "Champion Soca", a relatively new series (duh!) which just began last year. While it also won't give you a lot of the cream of the crop of Machel Montano in 2013, it will give the excellent 'Witch Doctor' from the Soca supernova as well as its Roadmix. Destra Garcia is also here with the madness that was 'Rip D Runway'. And you know things are good when you get TWO songs from Tallpree and you do that here as well. Shurwayne Winchester, Blaxx, Kes The Band and others are featured as well.
CD + Digital
More still? Also up is the powerhouse Studio758 from out St. Lucia, who is also delivering the latest installment of their own running series, "Soca758". Although just in its third form, this series (which comes off of its creator) typically features just a bit more craziness, which is what I LOVE and it is exhibited PERFECTLY on this album on its ninth track, 'Do Anything' by human fireball, Sir Lancelot (he of water and he of powder). That song was chaos and I pretty much haven't stopped listening to it from the first time I heard it. Who else? Skinny Fabulous is here with the remix of his towering tune, 'Monster', which features Machel Montano. Claudette Peters also appears as does Fay-Ann Lyons with Edwin Yearwood, again, former St. Lucia Soca Monarch, ["Pas mele! Pas mele! Pas mele!"], Teddyson John and others doing excellently as well.
The Me Mumma Riddim [Wilefiya Inc]
Veteran vocalist Bobby Tenna and company at Wilefiya Inc deliver are in next and they're delivering the infectious Me Mumma Riddim. The track was originally pushed behind Tenna's own tune of the same name, but, now in its full form, it features a wide variety of big names and talented lights alongside its creator's. Superstars Lady Saw, Elephant Man and I-Octane headline a group which also includes Chuck Fenda, Spice, Silver Cat and others, including the impressive Sagitarr, whose 'Old Time Story' may just be the finest selection on the track. Definitely check it out.
The MP40 Riddim [Miller 9 Records]
From everything about it - the MP40 Riddim is a battleground of a track and although it does send a few tunes in a different direction, clearly that is its main purpose. There're the likes of Popcaan, Black Ryno, Versatile and Jah Vinci, but to my opinion, the line of quality starts behind Shane-O (more on him in a second), whose 'Nuffi Test' is more than solid and then, unsurprisingly, Mad Cobra, whose 'Headless Body' takes top honours of Miller 9's track and continues a violently blazing line of singles from the world's most venomous serpent.
The Rec In Riddim [DJ Fast]
The Rec In Riddim, which is madness, features more madness from Saïk, Jamadom and two other artists… just though I'd let you know.
The Pack A Peanut Riddim [Charlie Pro Records]
And finally we mention the Pack A Peanut Riddim from Charlie Pro Records. I'm not terribly fond of this piece, but I have to give credit where it is due and it is largely due here in the direction of, again, Shane-O whose 'Gallis Inna Real Life' is probably my favourite tune from the DJ in a little while and a similar thing could be said of the Bushman, whose 'Jah Neva Fail' is, at least in my opinion, the best tune on this riddim. D'Angel, Charlie Pro himself, world's angriest man Einstein and maybe one or two others do decent as well.