The Songbird Riddim [I Grade Records]
First up on my radars this week (and it should be on yours and… everyone's at this point) is a BEAUTIFUL piece from I Grade Records and the inescapable Zion I Kings (who we may hear from again in this post), the Songbird Riddim which is the first of what appears to be a running riddim series, which is just a great idea. I won't push too many of my ideas here because I'm going to be reviewing this in a little while, but even before you really dig into it what catches your attention is the downright GLUTTONOUS batch of amazingly gifted artists who voice this lovely track. Achis, like who?! Eh-ehmm! Lutan Fyah, Ras Batch, Jah9 [WHAT!], Vaughn Benjamin (more on him in a second) (and then again in a minute), Duane Stephenson, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Pressure Busspipe, Glen Washington, NiyoRah, Reemah, TUFF LION [!] and others. An almost overly-impressive group who turn in fantastic efforts, respectively. But how good is it? I'll tell you in a few days.
Releases on May 21
CD + Digital
"Lion Out Of Zion" by Midnite [Rastafaria]
I still don't know much about this one, but while you enjoy (or wait to enjoy???) the latest album from Vaughn Benjamin & Midnite, "Be Strong", you can already begin to look forward to the next one, which I also have a very good feeling about, "Lion Out Of Zion". All I know thus far is that the album comes via Rastafaria, which means that it is an actual MIDNITE album. I also know that I'm having immense difficulties in waiting for it… even though I don't know how long I have to wait. Stay tuned.
"New Scrolls" by Cornel Campbell [Zion High Productions]
Another one which I don't know very much about, but have to biggup Bredz for (everything, all of the time), because he brought it to my attention, is the forthcoming new album from VETERAN of veterans, Cornel Campbell, "New Scrolls", via the suddenly very active Zion High Productions (new album, "Original Yard Food" by General Jah Mikey, in stores now) and the always very active Zion I Kings. Again, I won't say much, but Campbell (like GJM) has been doing quite a bit of work for ZHP over the past few years and I think doing a new album for the label is a fantastic idea and I already have a great feeling about this one. And Cassaruby rejoices.
Releases in June
CD + Digital
The Diamonds & Gold Riddim [DJ Frass Records]
Known for much more of an edge, DJ Frass and company go in a different direction with their latest set, the Diamonds & Gold Riddim - a STERLING piece of Reggae track with just a bit of Lover's Rock as well. I really just like the idea here and the results definitely support it and Frass turns in something along the lines of what you may've heard from Don Corleon or Arif Cooper years ago. They've also done a good job in assembling the proper talent for the occasion as the D&G features the likes of Alaine [DUH!], Christopher Martin, Ce'Cile, Jah Cure, Da'Ville, I-Octane [BOOM!], Queen Ifrica, NiyoRah (on the verge of something special this year), Iba Mahr, TOK, Fantan Mojah and others. Big things here and you should definitely get your hands on it when you can.
Releases on May 21
The Saxual Riddim [Kingston 11 Productions]
A lot of steamy and very hot sax is going on this week courtesy of Kingston 11 Productions who is in next with their very colourful Saxual Riddim. Essentially a Hip-Hop track, this definitely isn't a favourite of mine, but I do well like that roster of artists which, in its brevity, includes Sizzla Kalonji, Mad Cobra, Kartel, world's angriest man, Einstein, and others. You may like this one more than I do so check it for yourself, but we'll both be wondering the same thing: "Where's the sax?".
Releases on May 21
Bread Back Productions
Also check a little look towards the back catalogue of Bread Back Productions which is coming forth now with a pair of nice pieces, the 745 Riddim and the Washington DC Riddim (nice cover). The latter is also somewhat Hip-Hoppish, though not as much as the Saxual, but I do enjoy it somewhat and I recall it back from a WICKED tune, ‘Precaution' from an aggressive but focused Sizzla Kalonji. Lutan Fyah, Delly Ranx and Turbulence also scored well. For its part, the 745 is a bit more hype and is an authentic Dancehall track (and a decent one) and features nice contributions from Kalonji, Lutan Fyah, Anthony B, UT Ras, Determine and Beenie Man whose 'Put It On' leads the way. Biggup Bread Back for just taking advantage of the very convenient digital medium and apparently this is just a start of looking back for them so, again, stay tuned.
Releases on May 21
"Be Strong" by Midnite [Fifth Son Records]
And finally, as I alluded to, is an album which I've mentioned quite a bit and one which was set to already be released, but apparently has gotten delayed by a couple of weeks. It is the latest collaboration between Vaughn Benjamin and Fifth Son Records, "Be Strong". It does appear on the digital side (or at least on some of it), but if you were waiting on the actual disc, you'll have to wait another two weeks apparently. I will say that I haven't gotten all the way through this one just yet, but my early impressions are that "Be Strong" is either a special album or very near it. It is very good so far and you know you can expect a full review coming soon.
CD releases on May 28
Digital Now Available
In Stores Now
"Sonjé" by Kassav [Zouk SARL]
Big, big news this week as the mighty Kassav returns with a brand new album (I think it's their first now in six years), the expectedly brilliant and damn difficult to put down, "Sonjé". As is the case almost every time they do anything, Kassav has put together an overly-infectious project, which is sure to thrill their giant fan base. Personally, I've never been THAT type of an addictive fan, but I guess now is a pretty good time to become one because "Sonjé" is very strong and it figures to age well also. Check it for yourself and pick it up today.
CD + Digital
'Lwen' by Tina Ly [Angel Sound Lab]
Gifted Guyane songstress Tina Ly is back with what is already a hit on her hands, 'Lwen' for Ali Angel, a fantastic tune which hopefully means she's also going to FINALLY give up a new album in 2013. The tune currently is generating a nice amount of hype and, again, it should well begin what may be a HUGE second half of the year for, by far, one of Zouk's most talented and marketable stars.
The Re-Entry Riddim [Markus Records]
One big piece of GORGEOUS Dancehall track comes via Markus Myrie and his label, Markus Records in the form of the wicked Re-Entry Riddim. Well versatile, the riddim has both a very HARD edge to it in that KNOCK and a lighter side as well with the mix on top of it, which lends itself to a variety of directions on the words of a variety of deejays. Starring brightly here are Agent Sasco, Beenie Man, Mr. Vegas, Delly Ranx, D'Angel and, of course Markus' Father, Buju Banton. One of the best Dancehall compositions I've heard this year so far.
The Anti-Crime Riddim [Tall Kings Productionz]
Tall Kings Productionz brings up a sterling and somewhat forceful Reggae riddim, the Anti-Crime. This is kind of edgy and kind of grimy Roots Reggae (think of something that Chuck Fenda and Junior X would like) and it is sublime to my ears. The track also birthed a very nice and eclectic mix of artists which includes Bounty Killer and Agent Sasco on one end - and Kabaka Pyramid and Iba Mahr on the other. Bling Dawg (with his third name) and Esco Da Shocker also make appearances as does Brick & Lace's younger sister, the impressive iCandy.
'Defend It' by Mad Cobra [JRK Music]
And finally this week - veteran ace deejay, Mad Cobra, continues his torrid pace and reign of terror with another LETHAL track via JRK Music (who also did 'The Baddest', which you already know so well), 'Defend It'. If you've been paying attention to the snake in 2013, you've heard some CRAZY tunes and here may be the craziest as we now sit and wonder and hope if maybe his recent fine form has the serpent headed back in the direction of pushing yet another MASSIVE album anytime soon. DAMN!