Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Most Wanted 2014

With big names such as Sizzla Kalonji, Etana, Luciano, Machel Montano, Mr. Vegas and many other showing up with albums for 2013, we begin to take a look at just who might be in the offering for the year ahead. Be it even more big names, amazingly gifted up and comers or someone who figures to return from long absences, this list, as it annually does, pulls together ten whom we would REALLY like to hear from, in album form, in 2014. Here are ten artists who could really do excellent work in the new year and we hope they do: Most Wanted 2014

{Note: Artist's appearing on last year's list were intentionally excluded}

#10. Prince Theo

Free again. Along with many other wonderful things, one of the most interesting occurrences which 2013 brought for me was definitely the full return of one of Reggae's most remarkably underrated and overlooked vocalists, Prince Theo. The veteran singer will almost certainly never receive the amount of attention that his tremendous abilities would seemingly warrant and I cannot even begin to think of something which would change that. What might help, however, would be a followup to his first and what, unfortunately, remains his only album to date, the wonderful "Set The Captives Free" which will soon be a decade old. Though you'll not find his name on any other list like this from anyone else, the Prince makes my list because I'm beginning to see a foundation built for a new set. He's done almost all of his recent material for Jah Mikes and Reggae Vibes Productions who recently did a new release for another veteran, Courtney Melody. I do not know what is in their plans, but if you're doing albums, why not mix in a brand new one which will have been a loooooooong time coming from someone who is guaranteed to make the most of it. 
#9. Kénédy

Pretty pictures. It took far too long, in the consistent sense, but I have begun to get back into the wonderful world of Zouk music and really pay a steady amount of attention to it as well. But hopefully 2014 will bring something which will make it even easier and I have two things in mind. One of which would be a possible all Zouk album from Achis Reggae favourite, the delightful Jalena, whose next album may be just that (and the only reason that you won't find her name on this list is because she has had THREE albums from the last time this artist had one) (which was only her second) and the other would be the album return of still my favourite Zouk singer, the amazing Kénédy. Last out way back in 2009 with "Entre Toi Et Moi", the Gwada songstress has managed to stay in the light with big tunes (most recently teaming up with Lylah for 'Femmes Fatales 3') and she's also managed to keep things interesting outside of the studio. Between her first album and the second, Kénédy already very attractive… got… attractive… er. She came back and was STUNNING and if you look at her these days, you immediately notice her growing addiction to tattoos. Will that translate into a more edgy sound for her next album? Maybe or maybe not, but I'd love to find out in 2014 with a brand new album from one of Zouk's finest.  
#8. Jahdan Blakkamoore

Release the Kings. Just as I'm waiting here to see what ten artists, in particular, have in store for fans in 2014, I'm also curious as to what some producers may be up to and one of those who have my interests very high are the Zion I Kings. We do know that they'll work the already scheduled "Beauty For Ashes" set from Midnite and we're also quite sure that they'll link up for an album for #5 on this list (or #7 if I changed it), besides that, however, it remains to be seen. Something I'd DEFINITELY like to see are the ZIK come back for is a brand new album for one of Reggae music's most adroit wordsmiths, Jahdan Blakkamoore. Though it has now been three full years from his last set, the very well-received "Babylon Nightmare", Jahdan did have a big year this year on the strength of appearing on one of the most talked about releases of 2013, Snoop Lion's "Reincarnated". A return to album in 2014 would be a welcomed one and, at least presumably, he may officially bring the "Kings" of the ZIK back with him as a return of another kind from Lustre Kings Productions (who didn't do an album this year, I believe). But I'd be happy with just about anyone, but a 2014 album from Jahdan Blakkamoore and the Zion I Kings would be a really, really nice thing to do and a certain master class of a record.  
#7. NiyoRah

A different era. In retrospect, out of all of the people who we've gotten to watch develop as artists in recent years, one of the most captivating and, ultimately, one of the most gifted has easily been NiyoRah. I can still pull his debut album, "A Different Age" and really hear a foundation of talent for someone who, in the then not too distant future, would grow to become a GIANT of a talent. These days, as evidenced by his last two albums, "Purification Session" (one of the best albums I've ever heard) and "Feel Your Presence", Niyo is amongst the very few artists today who is truly capable of ANYTHING. Whatever he does and whoever he does it for, I expect greatness and hopefully I can expect it in 2014. It's been nearly four years from the "Feel Your Presence" set and now would be a wonderful time for Niyo's fourth album which would be another set released at the height of his monstrous powers. 
#6. Alaine

… Alaine. One of a couple of females that you'll find on this list (it would have been a trio, but I thought it too soon to start asking for a new Reemah album), Alaine has quietly turned in a sterling year of music for 2013, which will have to be considered amongst her very best and, hopefully, she'll culminate her winning ways with a winning album next year. Alaine's situation when it comes to albums is very interesting because, like most of her musical things, it changed from a few years ago when she split with ace producer Don Corleon who had not only helmed many of Alaine's biggest hits, but was also behind all of her two or three albums (I think it's officially three, but one of them was released twice). But that is ancient history as far as music goes (though the two would produce bonafide classics together which will never die) and it is full time that album shelves get a lot more class and romance by virtue of a new album full of songs by one of Reggae's greatest conductors of both in 2014.
#5. Pressure

Coming back. It has SHOCKINGLY been more than four years now from the last time we received an album from VI Reggae superstar, Pressure Busspipe and, obviously, that is just entirely too damn long. Fortunately, not only is Pressure one of a couple of names appearing on this list that is relatively secure to have a new set in 2014, he's also going to have it for the aforementioned Zion I Kings. Pressure would have made this list regardless of his circumstances going into the new year because, much like his fellow Star Lion Family alum, NiyoRah, the chanter is at a point in his development at which only greatness is appropriate material coming from him and for such a person, going half a decade without is just wrong (biggup #3). He's been there previously with one of the finest debuts of the modern era, "The Pressure Is On", and on two subsequent albums he maintained those levels. Since then Pressure has remained one of the genre's most dependably impressive stars and he's also branched out - recording with some of the most revered maestros Reggae music has to offer. On his next album, he'll bring things back to center for I Grade Records and the Zion I Kings, which is a link that could not come at a better time.
 #4. Mad Cobra

The baddest. It would be so unfortunate if one of the genre's biggest stars ever was to go through such an upward turn in their career and do so without ever having a full release to mark the occasion. However, when the genre in question is the album-anemic Dancehall music, then that will probably be the precise situation heading into 2015. Dancehall albums from the biggest names, these days, occur at a rate of only two or three annually. But if one of them in 2014 could somehow, someway manage to be from the re-enthused Mad Cobra, the world will be a much better place. Over the past year, Cobra has given Dancehall a much need bloody nose by serving up some of the craziest and most vicious tunes heard in what has been a fantastic career brimming with such pieces. And, though he didn't take such a long hiatus away, it just seems as if this version of the DJ has found him in the same devastating form that was heard on his two most recent albums "Helta Skelta" and "Snypa Way" and maybe even a little better actually. I think it to highly unlikely that 2014 will bring us a new album from Mad Cobra, but if it does, I'll guarantee you RIGHT NOW one of the best Dancehall albums in a very long time.
#3. Queen Omega

Most royal. As each and every of the past five (soon to be six) years pass, Reggae album shelves are significantly lacking in one very major area. QUEEN OMEGA! THE MOST TALENTED WOMAN MAKING REGGAE MUSIC TODAY (and probably over the last decade) has not had an album since 2008's "Servant Of Jah Army" and it would have been even before then -- nearing a decade -- from the last time that she would release a set which was widely celebrated - 2005's "Destiny". Both of those are just terrible considering the fact that she hasn't left the scene. She hasn't gone anywhere! Instead, she has continued to cultivate her supreme skills and today remains the Roots Reggae fireball that she always was. 2014, like every year before it and every year after it, would be a fine return and I do see a bit of hope for a new Queen Omega album. This year, a burgeoning label by the name of JahLight Records, like the singer from out of Trinidad, made its album debut in the form of Matthew Greenidge's solid "Jah Rules Over All", an album which carried the work of Queen Omega (as both a featured guest and a backing singer, if I recall correctly). Presumably at some point they will want to make another album -- probably at some point in the next twelve months -- it would seem a possibility that JahLight may take this next step with her as the star. Such a thing would have massive results and she'd also likely have similar success with almost anyone (including 149 Records who did a video with the Queen this year) and I'll definitely be watching because I'm tired of being able to put her name on lists like this.  
#2. Bunji Garlin

We ready. Though he just had a full album in 2012 (the wonderful "iSpaniard", in stores now) Soca lyrics leader, Bunji Garlin, has just had a supremely powerful 2013 which, literally, dictates that he return with a new album, which will be his tenth in 2014. To facilitate this, the four time Soca Monarch recently [re]signed up with VP Records which will likely deliver the project. All of this, of course, comes through on the heels of the MASSIVE creation that was 'Differentology', but it was not alone and it won't be alone on the album (that would be really weird if it were). The likely result here is that VP allows the 2014 carnival season to play out, during which Garlin will likely have another hit or two and I would expect the album (to be called "Differentology") to be full of songs from his '13 and '14 seasons. Also I would like to hope that they would appreciate the moment. Though Garlin previously did two albums for the label [2001's "Revelation" and "Global" six years later], they both seemed to be at least somewhat packaged in a way to make his music more accessible to the typical fans of VP Records' releases. And there's nothing wrong with that (and it probably worked) but as someone who is always so upstanding about pushing Soca music, I really do hope that everyone involved on this set realizes that they may have something which has the possibility/likelihood of becoming one of the genre's biggest albums EVER. If they do, we'll have something special and even if they don't - I'll still be picking it up. And nothing can break it up. And nothing can break it up. And nothing can break it up. And nothing can break it up…
#1. Chronixx

Fit to lead. The biggest album jewel that 2014, seemingly, would have to offer Reggae fans would be the debut set from the leader of the latest rise of Roots Reggae stars, Chronixx. Though it is conceivable such a release could be pushed to 2015, I'm fully convinced that with the material that he has already done, Chronixx could probably put together a potential classic album right now, but if someone were to actually make an album for the sake of an album, it would be GOLDEN. The artist has shown himself to in possession of a very curious talent which is founded in a heavy streak of common sense and the application of common sense and humility. The blend has led to someone who has not only produced one of the most dominant streaks in recent memory, but someone who has also immediately gained the mass attention of fans. His situation has been similar to that of some of his more immediate predecessors, such as I-Octane and Tarrus Riley, but in Chronixx' case, it has seemed to be even more magnified. Furthermore, he has not faltered and in 2013, the youth turned Reggae music into his own personal flawless performance. He figures to do the same into the new year and an album would be a perfect bow to place on an amazing rise to prominence. 

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