Friday, September 22, 2023

Completely Random Thoughts: 15ish Completely Random Big Tunes! WHAT!

Shouldn't require much of an intro and I'm not writing an outro. Maybe I'll start doing this once a month or so. Here're fifteen completely random big tunes for your approval or.... yeah, whatever else. Have a nice morning, day and evening friends. BOOM!

{The only rule I followed here was that no artist will appear more than once}

'Entering Greenzland' by Bunji Garlin [Xpert Productions - 2023]

Courtesy of the SHOT that was 'Hard Fete', Trini lyrics king, Bunji Garlin, won Soca in 2023. If there was a single prize at stake, it was his this year. That tune immediately became a favourite of mine and pretty much everyone else's and would go on to net the grizzled veteran his very first solo Road March crown. HOWEVER, not to be overlooked at all was some of his other work (would be nice if Bunji could give us a new album one of these seasons (and I'm sure he will)) including this spellbinding track for Spice Mas, 'Entering Greenzland'. Backed by Xpert Productions' delightfully toxic Slam Bang Riddim, Bunji absolutely SCORCHES it to ash as he touches down in Grenada most epically.... and what the hell is this: 

"Boy I get cut yesterday
This morning wake, I ain't have no cut

This may be evidence of evolution.

'Folly Deeds' by Norris Man [E.Turn.A.T. - 2023]

This tune may've actually been the ignition on this post as I was about to throw it into a 'What I'm Listening To' feature and then decided to maybe give it is own post but I got busy and kind of sat it down before doing anything with it which was a mistake because it definitely deserves a listen. Still just about three months old, Norris Man's HUGE tune, 'Folly Deeds', is still a BEAUTIFUL offering from this great talent. Coming from a link between the Trench Town native and E.Turn.A.T. Records from out of Denmark as part of their Rhythm Of The Ocean project, 'Folly Deeds' is probably one of Norris' best efforts over the past four or five years or so and if you've been paying attention to his output across that time, you know exactly what that says about the quality here. BOOM! 

"Inna every region -
Babylon - unuh betta mek a decision
Cause when dis judgment come-
And I tell you this: TOTAL ANNIHILATION!"

{Note: Norris Man & ETAT have done another tune by the name of 'Life' (which I don't love, but it's decent). So maybe keep an eye on what 'fully' may develop from this union in the future}

'Dem A Tear Down' by Sizzla Kalonji [Kalonji Music Production - 2023]

Almost as if to cleanse away the stains left by the last pair of albums, the legendary Sizzla Kalonji recently (two days ago as of this writing, probably like five by the time you read this) has released 'Dem A Tear Down which is -- GET THIS -- an ACTUAL Reggae song... and it's GOOD! More importantly, HOPEFULLY, this is a simple sign of what is to come (I could REALLY go for an entire album full of sounds like 'Dem A Tear Down') as Kalonji sets forth a unity track which is easily amongst his finest work of 2023 thus far. 

"Dem no like fi si di progress
Dem ah fight everything, but yuh so blessed
No hate nowhere
Tell dem no stress
They  think I'm hard but Selassie a mi fortress
Dem wi neva help a youth out di dark
For dem to si demselves and know dem true worth"

'Nah Guh See Di End A Mi' by Capleton [Troyton Music + Jerrytal Production]

We've got Capleton who's nearing sixty years on the planet and is still absolutely TRASHING  tracks like he does on his 'Nah Guh See Di End A Mi' via Troyton Music on their Pleasure Tyme Riddim. The Pleasure Tyme was lovely; an old school infectious piece of Dancehall which featured the likes of Busy Signal, Bounty Killer, I-Octane and even Alison Hinds who jumped on the remix of Octane's 'Da Wine Deh' and, at least for me, the best of the lot was 'Nah Guh See Di End A Mi' as the Fire Man still continues to BLAZE all of these years later. 

'Shameless' by Skinny Fabulous [Thirty Two Music - 2023]


If you, for some ridiculous and non-existant reason, were still under the impression that Skinny Fabulous gave a damn about.... pretty much anything, there was 'Shameless'. The jewel of the Sine Wave Riddim (which was very, VERY basic and that's a good thing) from System Thirty Two, the tune stands as example #severalbillion as to why the supernova from St. Vincent is STILL very much in the process of establishing himself as one of the greatest Soca music has ever seen. DAMN!

'Click Click' by Shane O [Chemist Records - 2023]

I don't love 'Click Click'. The track, Chemist's 1 Rifle Riddim, isn't anything that would catch my attention on any surface -- it's basically a Hip-Hop tune and that doesn't work for me -- and it's almost hilariously violent, which isn't necessarily a problem (I'm a Mad Cobra fan) (and a Bounty Killer fan) (and an Aidonia fan) (even prefer a violent Kartel), but in combination, again, not necessarily my thing. HOWEVER, the level of wordplay and tangible SKILL put on display by Shane O here is not to be missed or undersold. You could have had this one as an a'cappella for me and I would have enjoyed it just the same (that's wrong - I would have liked it more). I wrote this a few hours ago and I had called Shane O underrated, but he isn't. He's one of those artists who, at his best, is a reward for more heavy Dancehall heads who're likely the only ones who will come across his work consistently. On 'Click Click', he BOILS! 

'Bring Back Ah Vibe' by Terri Lyons [Nu Generation Studios - 2023]

Fay-Ann's little sister turned up the heat for Carnival 2023 with several big tunes to her credit, none bigger than the conquering 'Bring Back Ah Vibes'. This tune has some CRAZY pull to it (especially at the chorus) and, though I don't entirely feel comfortable calling it #1 (but it just may be), 'Bring Back Ah Vibes' EASILY slots in as one of the biggest tunes Terri Lyons has ever done (her sister is perfect -- SHE'S LITERALLY PERFECT -- and it would find a seat amongst her best as well).

'Tea Bread' by Richie Spice

What a COOL one this is. A minute ago, Richie Spice dropped a new album by the name of "Black Man Time". It's pretty good, might tell you about it at some point. The very first selection on the set is 'Tea Bread' which is a delightful acoustic kick of Spice's classic 'Earth A Run Red' (which, I guess we should start properly referring to as one of the biggest tunes in all of modern Reggae) and it sounds DIVINE! 'Tea Bread' is magical and, though I've never been the biggest fan of Richie Spice's, ENDLESS praise is due in this case. TEARS! Just a great idea.

'My Way To Zion' by Turbulence [Xterminator]

'My Way To Zion' just may be THE single greatest song Turbulence has ever done and it's gone largely forgotten, so I make the point to bring it up as often as it has my attention. Now nearing a quarter of a century in age, the Xterminator helmed GEM sounds just as good today as ever and also shows off Turbulence's chronically (biggup Chronixx) underrated singing voice.... maybe they'd have more respect for it if he used it for something else besides love song after love song after love song....

'Woman A Sample' by Buju Banton & Beenie Man [Gargamel Productions]

Recent albums from Buju Banton ("Born For Greatness" & "Simma") leave a bad taste in your mouth?? Leave you a little thirsty for some Reggae and some Dancehall?? If that's the case, check this long buried combination from the two which was carried on Beenie's Grammy nominated "Many Moods Of Moses" set. Produced by Buju (with a helping hand from the great Steven 'Lenky' Marsden). 'Woman A Sample' was kind of HEAVY and a little ponderous, but it was STELLAR! There was a vibe right in the middle of this thing which stuck on you and, over a quarter-century later, it's still attached to me.

'We Know Who They Are' by Bugle & Spragga Benz [Notis Records  - 2023]

Biggup Notis Records for bringing together the always surging Bugle and the legendary Spragga Benz through their literally glowing Free Spirit Riddim for a HUGE combination tune, 'We Know Who They Are'. The tune speaks about those people who may present themselves in one way but in their hearts are someone completely different. Bugle is as solid and consistent as always, but Spragga Benz absolutely TRASHES this tune!

"Nuff a dem no like wi and ah smile up wid wi anyway
Go fi mi machine cah man fi buss it pon dem everyday
Over deh so - dem fi stay 
Wid dem guy deh, man no play
Rubber tire fi a likkle a guy ah try ah talk I back way"

'Elect Of Himself' by Mark Wonder [Black Star Foundation - 2020]

A most interesting set of circumstances set me on a course towards this one: I did a review not too long ago for an album called "Harmonic Therapy" by the great Tuff Lion and, in doing background for that album, I stumbled across a tune the Lion had done that I never recalled hearing by the name of 'Slave Master' along with Osagyefo. It appeared on the Black Star Foundation's Babylon Burning Riddim which also featured quite a few other big tunes from the likes of Marlon Asher, Jah Thunder, King Kong and the great Mark Wonder who would lay it to absolute ruins with the MAMMOTH praising set, 'Elect Of Himself'.

'Upper Room' by Anchants & Empress Charisse

Is "enchanting" just too much? It might be, but if it is not, 'Upper Room' is ENCHANTING. It was sang by an angel and her band whom, if you don't remember them for anything else, you'll remember them for that. SIMPLY ONE OF THE GREATEST SONGS I HAVE EVER HEARD. 

'Samson Strength' by Black-Am-I [Ghetto Youths International - 2019]

This GEM - you'll find it creeping in the ranks of Black-Am-I's mightily impressive "Living Dread" EP from a few years back ["IN THE GHETTOOOOOOOOOOO!"] was, easily, one of the fines from anyone that year and it has aged vintage-ly. If you hear 'Samson Strength' and you don't feel like getting up and doing SOMETHING, then you and I are very different people. The vibe here is so damn potent and infectious that you simply cannot ignore and it reaches you in places that even other great tunes on this post do not. 

'Follow Me' by Mr. Killa & Kevin Crown [Mr. Killa - 2023]

Grrrrrr! Grenadian Soca blowtorch, Mr. Killa, teamed up with Kevin Crown (who I don't think I'd actually laid ears on before this track) for the TRULY RIDICULOUS 'Follow Me'. Many many years ago, coincidentally, the previously mentioned Bunji Garlin also had a tune by the name of 'Follow Me' which is probably in my top..... twenty or so favourite songs that Garlin has ever done and, to be completely honest, this song with the same name is almost just as good. This song has absolutely no respect for boundaries or personal space and it BASHES OVER THE FUCKING HEAD IMMEDIATELY! Afterwards, you thank it for the experience and listen again.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Run With It: A review of Born For Greatness by Buju Banton

Source. I wonder if, at the highest level of doing just about anything, there comes a point where you more begin to look at what type of legacy it is that you're leaving in an even greater way than the current work that you are doing. Certainly the two could go together as if you're always doing the best that you possibly can, presumably, the greater it will be perceived immediately and later on. As time passes and as a new generation has taken very large steps ahead, there is a class of artist who I've began to think about in a more historical context (even if they aren't doing it themselves for the most part) because I think that not only is it directly interesting, but I also think that we're now seeing and going to continue to see a number of individuals come to prominence who were CLEARLY influenced by them. For example, the last review that I wrote was for an album called "Simma" by Beenie Man and Beenie is DEFINITELY one of those artists who I've began to place in that wider-than-present scope. I don't know just how inspirational Beenie Man has been directly -- if you think about it, how many times have you heard someone and thought, 'now this guy sounds a lot like Beenie Man -- but I think the levels that he has reached and the way in which he did it helped to inspire not only a forthcoming generation, but also many of his peers as well (whether or not they'd want to admit it). Beenie was one of the few people that showed just how powerful Dancehall could be in both its authentic form and with just a bit of additions and, clearly, he continues to do that to this day. You can't have one without the other, so certainly from Beenie you go to Bounty Killer and while the Killer's legacy is less complicated than that of his longtime rival's, it is no less powerful at all. While he has enjoyed success across the world and back, Bounty Killer is and will for the foreseeable future be known as THE most influential artist that the Dancehall has ever produced and one of the most influential that Reggae, as a whole, has ever seen as well (surely he hasn't approached the levels that Bob Marley has, but you name me someone else making Reggae music.... or any type of Caribbean music that has CLEARLY inspired more artists than Bounty Killer). Not only in terms of his HEAVY, kind of villainous, style; but also with the work he's done with actually helping bringing youths to the forefront, there're a lot of people who would not be anywhere near they are these days without the help of the Killer in someway or another. The Vybz Kartels (him being one such individual), Sizzlas, Capletons and Sean Pauls of the world would be others who, although still active and firing well, I've begun to consider just how we'll look back on what they've already done for us and are, most thankfully, continuing to do - as a CREDIT, because they've earned it and many of their peers, many of those who came before and those who are yet to arrive have not and will not. They are our greats.

Someone with both feet firmly planted and both hands gripped within that group would definitely be Mr. Mark Myrie, Buju Banton. When Buju's time is done and we look back on his career, he will DEFINITELY be regarded as one of the most noteworthy (and controversial, in both good and bad ways) figures that we've ever seen and he'll also likely go down as one of the most respected as well by both his contemporaries and fans, alike. I always remember a quote from Tony Rebel from maybe twenty years ago now where he said something to the effect of Buju Banton being the sun around which every other Reggae artist revolved! That is a HUGE compliment, particularly coming from someone as esteemed as Rebel and I would think it wasn't an opinion that he, alone, kept at the time. Throughout the years Buju has maintained a very interesting place in the music as someone whose work, inherently will receive international attention because he had built his name up so highly (through various ways) around the world and also on the local level as well. Though nowhere near as active on 'this riddim or that riddim' (and it's been a very long time since he has done that) as he once was, when Buju does release new music virtually everyone with an eye on Reggae music pays attention.

....especially when he does an entire album. Buju also has the distinction of, like very few others in the music, of being able to generate MASSIVE attention with an album release. Reggae and Dancehall have never been genres geared towards the construction of albums (or mixtapes as you'll see in other forms of 'urban' music), but his output like.... Beenie's, Sean Paul's, Shaggy's and even Capleton's for a short period of time (and Capleton would be an even more different case because, at his peak, he didn't receive the level of international consideration as the others I've just mentioned, but more hardened Reggae heads PAUSED when that man made an album around the early 2000's) (the 'More Fire Years) (MISS THEM NOW, DON'T YOU!) (so do I. Never knew just how good we had it until times were over) has always managed to generate a considerable buzz when Buju decides to make an album. His most recent, "Upside Down", set came just three years ago and not only was that his first release following..... an extended hiatus (that's what we're going to call it today), but it was also his first marking a union between Buju Banton's Gargamel Records, which always handles his work, and US major, Roc Nation. That relationship has now been rekindled (not really but I do so enjoy using that word) as Buju's latest creation, "Born For Greatness" has now been brought forth. The album comes in a curious and fruitful year for Reggae albums, on paper, as it releases very close to other sets from the legendary Burning Spear, the aforementioned Beenie Man & Sizzla Kalonji and is just a week ahead of a forthcoming release from someone we're going to  talk about shortly (that's Beenie, Buju and this other guy in three consecutive weeks (and also mixed in there is an album from Richie Spice) which is fantastic and Beenie and Buju release albums a week apart and both celebrated the completion of their fiftieth years on the planet just a few weeks apart as well). As I said, Buju Banton's albums have always been a very big deal as evidenced by the fact that six of his last seven albums (with "Unchained Spirit" being the only exception) have been nominated for the Reggae Grammy and, in 2010, his "Before The Dawn" would net him the award. I'm virtually certain that "Born For Greatness" will make it seven of eight and, despite a packed year and much competition, I think Buju has a decent shot at picking up his second Grammy (shockingly, his opus, 1995's "'Til Shiloh", was not nominated (although I don't think 'Grammy' knew who Buju was in 1995; but with full respect to the likes of Bunny Wailer (who won that year with "Crucial! Roots Classics" and Dennis Brown, Inner Circle, Black Uhuru and Aswad, all of whom were nominated, Buju's had the best album that year, in retrospect, in my opinion). If you're at all familiar with the artist's last few records then, musically, you're well aware what to expect with "BFG" as it features both sounds more terrestrial to Reggae music as well as a variety of different other vibes as well. Because of that, I wasn't as disappointed to not see much actual Dancehall still, what we do end up getting, because of a relatively large chunk in the middle of the album, comes off as somewhat uneven broadly, but the album does offer two or three moments which're wholly spectacular. Let's talk about it! 

One change that we do get here, however, comes on the production side. You'll usually find a Buju Banton album stuffed with big named maestros but, for "Born For Greatness", things have been streamlined just a bit. One or two of the names in at the helm should be well recognizable but, for the most part, production is handled by Buju, himself, along with longtime collaborator Jermaine J'August Reid. While I definitely have to admit that I would have LOVED to have seen another scorcher from Dave Kelly, what I do end up hearing on the new album does consistently manage to impress, musically, regardless of genre (doesn't mean I like them all, I most certainly do not, but the music is nice during the entire album for the most part) (I also feel inclined to mention (probably because of what happened on "Simma"), that only THREE of the album's SEVENTEEN tunes are collaborations). An example of just how good the sound can be here is to be heard on the opener of "Born For Greatness", the very unusual sounding 'Ageless Time'. With a kind of a spiraling R&B sound, Buju gets things going in a very nice and chilled way with a tune that takes me in a few ways. At its core, I think 'Ageless Time' is about depression and disheartenment. It's about losing one's way and having memories about much better time. I think the goal here was to attempt to vivify the good times but I don't know how successful Buju is at that, so if you come away branding the opener as kind of a SAD tune, I don't think anyone could blame you, but it is a GOOD SAD one, in my opinion. If 'Ageless Time' passes through just a bit too bleak or you, then the second effort, 'Life Choices' , might be a little more your speed as it is more lively. It's also nearly excellent. 

"Life choices, true sacrifices
So many voices, except when there is crisis
The lifestyle, the struggles and the vices
Secret dealings
Major surprises
Slow to the top or meteoric rises"

When I really got into the meat of 'Life Choices' it began to bloom. It's a song about living life (DUH!) and the struggles that we all go through and the decisions that we make, the MISTAKES that we make and how we grow (and shrink) from those experiences. It is somewhat broad on the surface but, again, what you're able to dig out of this one, should you take the time is MIGHTY and I appreciate it more right now than I ever have. The infectious title track follows and while it also has more substance to it, the first thing you'll notice here is its sonic appeal. Good luck in listening to 'Born For Greatness' without moving something. Some part of your anatomy will be tapping or snapping or bobbing in some way or another and with it, Buju takes the opportunity to remind that the easiest way or the road most traveled isn't always the best course for everyone. I was fairly confident as to what my favourite tune on this album would be when I heard it and by its end I was correct (for a change) as the downright MASSIVE 'Coconut Wata' stood up as the peak here for me (by the slightest of margins)."Cool" would be the term dominating the description here: 'Coconut Wata' IS JUST A COOL SONG. Blessed with kind of a neo take on old-school Dancehall (that makes no sense at all, I know it. You don't have to say it), this one grabbed my attention and completely refused to let my ass go and for that, I am thankful! Charged with keeping the vibes high following 'Coconut Wata' is 'Yard And Outta Road' whose title had me thinking that its vibes wouldn't be very far, at all from the tune preceding it, but all was back to normal in that regards because I was completely wrong about that. Though its subject isn't too far out of bounds (although I wouldn't have predicted that either, actually) 'Yard And Outta Road' is much closer to being a ballad than it is to being this kind of dusty piece of Dancehall candy (that you brush off and eat anyway and hope no one saw you do it). Still, while I cannot count it amongst my favourites from "Born For Greatness".... it isn't bad and it fully displays a certain quality of Buju Banton's that I'll get more into in closing, but he has a very potent talent which makes moments like this work more often than not and I would argue that Buju at a level which isn't his greatest is more capable than many of his peers in their non-prime form. 

The first combination off of "Born For Greatness", the woefully named 'Body Touching Body', did come as a pleasant surprise. The track features Victoria Monét, an American Pop/R&B singer whom (is very easy on the eyes) I'm fairly certain that I've never come across prior to earlier this year when she had a song by the name of 'Party Girls'.... with Buju Banton. That tune was odd -- there was a Dancehall song wrapped up in the middle of R&B -- but it wasn't bad and, as far as I can tell, it and the album it appeared on, "Jaguar II" did pretty well. 'Body Touching Body', oddly enough, is more straight-forward R&B than 'Party Girls' and Monét returns the favour on a composition, seemingly, more directly to her specialty. I did not expect at all to enjoy this one as much as I ended up likin git after a few spins. It just has a really nice, easy vibes to it (and there is one SWEET groove somewhere in the middle of it all that is intoxicating) and, despite its brevity, it got to me and maybe we can see these two working together again at some point. Who knows, maybe the musical relationship between Buju and Monét may some day grow to equal that which Buju also has with looooooooongtime collaborator, the afore-alluded to Stephen Marley who not only features here as a vocalist, but also as a producer as it is Marley who stands behind both 'Feel A Way' and the opener, 'Ageless Time'. The relationship here goes back decades between these two as Marley also appeared on the previously mentioned "Unchained Spirit" record way back in 1999 (as did Beres Hammond, Luciano, Morgan Heritage and Wayne Wonder.... just a LOADED album and it may just be Buju's most underrated release to date); and it also carries forth as a week after "Born For Greatness" reaches, Stephen Marley's own full studio album, "Old Soul" is set to go and any guesses who appears on that one??? The relationship-centric 'Feel A Way' is pretty decent. That riddim has all kinds of twists and turns and it's mostly R&B, but I have no problem with this track. These two have been there and done that and gotten the t-shirt for it and they will continue to. You'll probably like 'Feel A Way'. Considerably stronger, however, is the very catchy 'Turn Up Tonight' (remember 'Gal Your Night Tonight'?). With somewhat of a Jazzy type of sound, Buju delivers another one for the couples-effect, but this one is just LOVELY to hear and he does manage to produce on sterling verse in its midst. I didn't hate 'Sweeter' either, but that one, which comes just ahead of 'Feel A Way' is the true beginning of a lull on "Born For Greatness" in my opinion. For its part, 'Sweeter', once again, focuses on relationships, this time specifically dealing with what happens after the fight, the... "making up" process. It's surely relatable (in a good way), but there's nothing really remarkable about it. The [EXACT] same thing could be said of 'Plans' (although I'm going to use it to illustrate a point later on here and give it a bit more credit), which kind of continues the run on mediocre love-like songs on "Born For Greatness". There isn't much to be taken from this one and, with a minimal backing, it doesn't really even try to be much (which ends up working for it in a way) but.... it's here. Okay now, if you take the very next two selections on the album, 'Nuff Love For You' and 'Walked Out' (might as well tack them onto the end of this big ass paragraph) you get yet another pair dealing with the same topic heard on the previous FIVE consecutively but, with the exception of 'Body Touching Body',(and maybe 'Turn Up Tonight') they're better, but still not what you'd call great tunes. The former is the better of the two with its more appealing vibes (and that chorus will have you KILLING it over and over again and have you doing it in short-order) and decent 'backbone' (I know I may you do you wrong sometimes, but they're mistakes and you do me wrong too, but I still love you!). The latter's strength is in Buju, himself. Yes, it also does have a different sound which is likable, but Buju's captivating reigns supreme here and saves 'Walked Out', ultimately. With alllllllllll of that being said, however, at this point of "Born For Greatness" I have to admit: I'm pretty damn tired of love songs.

Relief (in subject only) comes at track #13 'We Find A Way' (and I didn't think it would, I thought the shift would come on the next one) which is basically 'We Shall Overcome' and it isn't terrible but it most certainly isn't a highlight on this release and then there's 'My Microphone' which was NOTHING like I was expecting. I thought this one had the potential to be another Dancehall special (maybe one focusing on skill) but, instead, 'My Microphone' is a very quick return to form of the material coming just ahead of it (sans 'We Find A Way'). It is a slight changeup on the course, however, as it finds Buju with his eye on someone special, looking for the opportunity to get to speak to her and while he waits, his microphone serves as his outlet. The song is on the upper side in regards to quality when it comes to these types on "Born For Greatness" but... yeah, I'm kind of tired of them now.... is this a Turbulence album??? Still, I do give a credit to Buju and Reid for putting it together as such. 'My Microphone' is interesting to say the least but I am in dire need of someone taking a large, blunt object and smacking me in the face with it! I require some FIRE before the end of this album! As my luck would have it, one of the final pieces here is actually called 'Trial By Fire' and though it be largely without the type of flames that I was searching for, it does bring in a nice chunk of passion, oh, and 'Trial By Fire' is sublime. A spiritual piece with more social elements supporting it, this record is GOLDEN and steps near the top of the album IMMEDIATELY. This is the type of vibe that Buju kind of 'wonders off' and brings during many of his albums that completely works. It isn't a preponderance of love songs, it is material exactly like 'Trial By Fire' ["FLAME BURNING INSIDE YOU NEVER CONQUER THE ANCESTRAL PLANE: THAT'S MY FATHER'S PLACE!"] which is a big winner. The end of the album also carries 'High Life' which is, on paper (and in actuality, really), the single biggest combination on "Born For Greatness" altogether as it features Buju alongside Hip-Hop great and longtime fan and supporter of Reggae music, Snoop Dogg. I really like 'High Life' and have from the very first time I laid my ears on it. It won't change lives, I can't imagine that they intended it to, but if you're just looking for a fun selection about exactly what you're thinking it's about, then you will LOVE 'High Life'. Lastly is probably my second favourite tune on the whole of "Born For Greatness" as Buju channels the legendary Paul Robeson on 'Let My People Go'. A ridiculously short TWENTY YEARS ago (I can literally remember getting that album - like the actual moment I received it), Buju released an album by the name of "Friends For Life" which was crowned by a huge tune called 'Up Ye Mighty Race'. 'Let My People Go' isn't THAT good ('Coconut Wata' isn't THAT good) (that thing was perfect) but it reminds me of 'Up Ye Mighty Race' for its theme. 

"Whole world is in bondage
 Let my people go
Tell these tyrants to let go!
 Let my people go
What remains, they will not be able to salvage
 Let my people go
There shall be rioting, rooting, raiding and ravage
 Let my people go

They control the whole world, there's no one to stop them
They fiddle while the world burns-
Creating stress and problems
Chaos on a global scale, were created only by a few

Tribal war created for money
 Let my people go
This blood march you create ain't funny
 Let my people go
What I'mma saying is so real

I think the song is best described as PASSIONATE! It has tons and tons of heart at its core and such a vibe, just as it did coming from 'Up Ye Mighty Race', resonates immensely on an outstanding way to conclude things. 

I do want to mention a couple of things -- one pro and one con -- in regards to "Born For Greatness" and, perhaps, just Buju Banton, in general. On the positive side is something that I don't know that I've ever mentioned about him previously: BUJU BANTON HAS CLASS! It may not be a quality which comes quickly to mind about someone whose style is so tough and rough around the proverbial edges, but he's able to make things work that aren't necessarily going great. I go back to 'Plans'... not a great record. It isn't great at all, but when you section it up and take it in smaller bites, little blips or brilliance definitely come through. He always has that possibility where something about a particular tune will stay will you and there are not many people at all who the same thing can be said about. On the con side: "Born For Greatness" is too long. There're seventeen tracks (checking in at just shy of an hour) and it probably would have been healthier, at least in my opinion were it closer to twelve or so. That's not an unusual critique, I find myself saying it fairly often and that's fine, but in this in particular, the album definitely could have done with less relationship/love songs. 
Overall, "Born For Greatness" surely isn't the best piece of work Buju Banton has ever released and I don't think that it's even relatively close to it either. However, it isn't entirely bereft or merit either and after taking it in fully I think it fits fairly comfortably in the middle of the pack of Buju's catalogue (and if you wanted to rank it a little higher or lower, I wouldn't have much problem in either case). Buju's position in Reggae music is one which is wholly unique so it's likely that this album will be either overrated or underrated, but I think that when I look back on it, "Born For Greatness" will be an album which, though not without its obvious flaws, is another demonstration of the star power and attraction of one of the brightest burners Reggae music has ever seen. 

Rated: 3.35/5
Gargamel Records + Roc Nation/Def Jam Recordings

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Khalia's debut EP: Stay True

"Stay True" by Khalia [Ineffable Records]

1. 'Waiting On You'
2. 'Didn't I'
3. 'Tings & Time'
4. 'Double Trouble'
5. 'No Answer' featuring Tanya Stephens
6. 'Stay True'
7. 'Go'

Okay so, though it's still quite a bit off (not too far, about a month and a half), I thought you'd be well interested in learning that someone who is in the process of becoming a favourite of ours around here, the EXTREMELY impressive Khalia, is set to deliver her debut EP via Ineffable Records, "Stay True". The seven-tracked set has been greatly anticipated on our end as Khalia has been positively FLAMING as of late with BIG tunes such as 'No Answer' alongside Tanya Stephens  and the MAMMOTH Collie Buddz produced 'High'. Her style is a LOVELY modern Lover's Rock centered type of vibe which Khalia has spent the past half-decade or so developing into the absolute MARVEL that it is today (aided by the genius hands of Tony Kelly). 

A couple of weeks or so ago, Ineffable and the Jamaican born, UK grown songstress dropped 'Waiting On You', the SWEET, CLEVER and SEXY first single from "Stay True" and the reaction has been extremely positive. 'Waiting On You' is gold. Hopefully the balance of the tracks live up to that level (and I'm sure they will) and I'm particularly interested in hearing 'Tings & Time' whose title is giving me all kinds of cool ideas as to what it could possibly be about and how it could sound. 

One the year's most anticipated EP releases, Khalia's "Stay True" is available on Ineffable Records from the 27th of October. Time to get excited.  

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Smile Awhile With Irie Sounds International!

Okay so, it's definitely been a minute since the last time we caught up with our old friend James "Dr. Seuss" Lord and company at Irie Sounds International (a quick search on these pages says it been.... almost seven years since last we mentioned one of their projects) (the excellent Palestine Riddim which you should check out) and catching up with old friends is usually a good thing, especially when it sounds like this. The label fortunately did not take the same hiatus that we did over the past few years and has been hard at work. I was pleasantly surprised to see to their co-credit was a tune from last year  that I really enjoyed but had no idea that ISI had a part of creating, 'Stand Up', which was Bushman's take on the pandemic. I have subsequently discovered that the tune was part of the Picking Up The Pieces Riddim which features other fine tunes by Ras Attitude, Chezidek and others (like Binghi Ghost, whose 'Win the Race' is very nice and that riddim was BEAUTIFUL) and they also did the Glory Riddim, carrying lovely tracks from Lutan Fyah, Alaine and someone I'm about to tell you about today as well ["Glory to Jah in the highest! His Imperial Highness!"]. I was surprised to hear that James had packed up and actually moved to Ethiopia as of last year (how cool is that?!), but not at all shocked to hear that he was still hard at work and he told me to check out his latest release, the fittingly named, Smile Awhile Riddim. The track features a pair of selections from a couple of our favourites and if you aren't doing anything else at the moment, I'd like to tell you about them. 

'Life Is So Amazing' by Perfect Giddimani

When I first heard 'Life Is So Amazing' one of the first things that went through my mind was just how well ISI had done in choosing a name for this riddim. The "SMILE AWHILE" fits it perfectly. It is just so.... damn EASY. It is serene and everything seems to go so nicely into its proper order and space. For his part, Perfect makes the most of Smile Awhile with 'Life Is So Amazing', taking advantage of this SWEET simplicity in praise of His Imperial Majesty. 

"Life is so amazing
Give praises to the King of all Kings"

If you are at all familiar with Perfect's work, you know just how unpredictable he can be at times (and I mean that in a good way), but though he does apply just a little pressure at times on 'Life Is So Amazing', he keeps it largely level headed and, in doing so, delivers a gem.

'And Ethiopia' by Mikey General

Though I have no actual confirmation of such a background to this tune, I'd like to think that, upon learning what Irie Sounds had been up to (and WHERE they'd been doing), that it inspired Mikey General to bless us with 'And Ethiopia' which comes through as both a general praise of The Almighty as well a GORGEOUS tribute to Ethiopia, itself.

"Let me tell you bout the land where I love to be
Where I feel so happy and I feel so free
The land of His Imperial Majesty"

The General goes both historical and current in the tune which also touches themes such as unity and even the geography of the country as he paints a portrait so nice that the Ministry of Tourism of Ethiopia may want to think about doing something with this tune. 

I'm presuming that this is just the beginning for the Smile Awhile Riddim and if it is (or even if this is all we're getting) our first taste of it has been delicious. Perfect Giddimani's 'Life Is So Amazing' and 'And Ethiopia' from Mikey General are both available now via Irie Sounds International

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Days Gone: A review of Simma by Beenie Man

Divergence. Time waits for no one and were I ever of the thought that I was in any way special and an exception, each and every day it becomes more and more apparent - my anciency. Sure, it takes a bit longer to get out of bed in the morning (the internal conversation I have with myself is hilarious at times as I attempt to convince myself to do something as simple as STANDING UP) but you expected that to happen; what does come as a larger surprise, however, is that your taste on certain things 'change'. Well, they don't actually change it's more like everything else changes around them and they kind of stay the same so, at least in some cases, what you remember as being 'right' or 'standard' (whatever the hell that means), becomes dated or "old school" (....which is simply a more genteel way of saying... dated). Obviously one of the most consistent ways in which you are forced to encounter this old drift that you go through is in various forms of entertainment such as.... oh I don't know.... let's just say music for today! I've been writing about music for a very long time and I've been around long enough to have experienced more than one generational shift. There were and still are sounds that I pick up on and when I hear them I will give them a certain designation so that my reader will know that what they should expect to hear is an echo from an older generation of making music. It's always been like that and if I'm still writing in another twenty years, It will STILL be like that. HOWEVER, in my unawareness and naivete I don't know that I ever envisioned what was coming for me as particular PRIME sounds that I once just cavalierly wrote about and perhaps took for granted have gone missing to a large degree. Like wha... DANCEHALL! My beloved infectious BOUNCE (Roots Reggae has that charming one-drop. Dancehall has (HAD) that two-drop and you know exactly what I'm talking about) that was and remains CANDY to my damn ears has seemingly been banished to a land very, very far away and if anyone can find it, please let me know. I'd like to go and live there before the end of my days. I could give you certain examples (literally EVERYTHING) but I don't want to and it's more fun today to give you a very perplexing 'anti-example' because what we take a look at today is something from someone who has reached a level in [actual] Dancehall music which has been virtually untouched by all but a supremely gifted select few. Had you told me that the year would be 2023 and the great Sizzla Kalonji -- still my favourite artist of all time -- would be at his norm in steadily releasing albums still but they would be largely devoid of actual Reggae music, I wouldn't have cared because I wouldn't have believed you. Had you told me that the same year would see a release from the Dancehall's longtime reigning monarch which would be extraordinarily light on [actual] Dancehall music, I may've believed you and it probably wouldn't have bothered me that much because I would have expected its followup to be forthcoming soon.

Well folks, that ain't the case. It's been SEVEN years since the legendary Beenie Man dropped a full new studio album (2016's okay "Unstoppable") and I think it had been another seven years prior to that one. I don't feel like doing the math, but we're at a point where the artist has done just two or three albums or so across the better part of the last two decades. So the moments when he does, at least for me, are VERY big deals and I'll go into it more in just a second. Furthermore, of course Beenie's name will always be connected to that of one Bounty Killer and I don't even want to begin to get into the depressing history of Bounty's new album releases, so when either of these two PILLARING artists of the genre give us the opportunity to celebrate them, that is exactly what we should do and do so in full bloom..... but damn I wish they made it a bit more familiar.
Beenie Man now brings forth his own long announced and eagerly anticipated latest creation, "Simma". If you're like me, the very first time you heard just the album's name it got you very excited because it reminded you of an older era (it reminded you of 'Who Am I') and the thought popped in your head that it may be a set with a focal point looking 'back' to that time, musically. Any hopes of that were destroyed when I heard it mentioned that "Simma" would be coming with a more 'worldly' or 'international' vibe (or however they described it) but I was still sitting there thinking HOW THE HELL CAN YOU NAME AN ALBUM SIMMA AND HAVE IT NOT BE A DANCEHALL ALBUM! I know that's ridiculous and maybe it's just me, but that was my thought process. "Simma" comes through Beenie's own MD Music Group, a first but not an unexpected one. Previously, his non major work came courtesy (in some way) via VP Records. Even "Undisputed" was a project distributed through VPAL but, at least as far as I can tell, the label has had nothing to do with this one (although I'd actually be a little surprised if I'm NOT wrong about that one, eventually) and it's all been left to Moses Davis and company. If you recall, there was also a 357 Records, which did "Undisputed" which was also Beenie's but has, at least presumably, made way for MDMG. Of course, Beenie is afforded some of the finest maestros in the game and production on the new record comes from some of the genre's greatest creators including the likes of Tony Kelly, Suku, Walshie Fire and others, including even Jeremy Harding. Along with that, something we'll detail out in just a second is the TRULY RIDICULOUS number of featured vocalists "Simma" features. By my surely incorrect count, five of its tracks feature Beenie and only Beenie, alone; that leaves FIFTEEN which find some form of accompanying artist joining Beenie Man on the tune. It's not something that I love and it is a practice which, for some reason, I most closely associate with Hip-Hop but, as I said, apparently  they didn't have me's in mind when putting "Simma" together. Also not unexpected and GREAT to see has been the anticipation for this one ahead of its release date. I don't know who started it and I don't care enough to look it up, but you're doing a disservice to "Simma" and Beenie Man's enduring popularity if you do not mention the 'Simma Challenge' which found people walking up to and calling others and simply saying "Sim simma" to see if they could finish the timeless lyric -- "who got di keys to my bimma" -- and, as far as I can tell, the success rate was extremely high with only, predictably, much younger people failing the challenge (nothing wrong with that). That was lovely to see and I also saw that news of the challenge had reached Beenie Man and he was very excited about it and hoped to see it continue and it has. It's been very nice to see this album receive this level of attention ahead of its due date because it also speaks to the level of lasting fame and the reputation of the critically acclaimed Davis. That reputation has been earned, however, and all of the work which has gone into building it is done - it speaks nothing to the quality of what comes after it and this is the portion of the review where I come up with some cool way to say I'm about to talk about the actual music and here is me spending the next ninety minutes or so talking about the twenty songs which comprise "Simma".

I intentionally kept alluding to something from very early on here next to something that I stated clearly. On one hand, as I said, the sound of "Simma" is extremely varied and 'worldly'. It's not what I was looking forward to and, for me, that's unfortunate. HOWEVER, with that being said, just listening through the record - Beenie Man is in a pretty good form. He has not lost a step at all lyrically or in his delivery despite recently hitting half a century in age. I should also mention that, at twenty tracks and seventy minutes in length, obviously "Simma" is entirely too damn long regardless of how good it is, but I can honestly say that "boring" is not something I associate with it despite the album's obesity. The first CHUNK of Beenie Man's brand new album, "Simma", is our title track which has to be one of the most disappointing from my point of view, although the actual song is pretty good and one of the finest on the record named for it. I thought, at the very least, 'Simma' would be this magical old school Dancehall and it wasn't, of course. What it is, instead is a very smooth, kind of R&Bish/Poppish type of vibe and it isn't a bad tune at all. I may even go in fact to say that it is one of the finest songs on the album altogether, but you know where my head was on this one. I may've had similar hopes on the second tune, 'King', briefly, but when I saw who was on board on that one, such feelings quickly disintegrated. The very first combination here features contributions from English trio, Ms. Banks (who I do know), Backroad Gee and Teeway (neither of whom I'm familiar with). This is a VERY heavy and aggressive Hip-Hop tune and, for the most part, I don't like it at all. HOWEVER, as I alluded to, what you will find throughout "Simma" are demonstrations of Beenie Man being at the height of his powers and the first blast of that comes roaring through on 'King'. 

"I am the man with the plan
Hit song long time before Wu Tang Clan
Long before Red Man & Method Man
Inside di studio mi ah set di gameplan 
Smoke weed like Cheech & Chong
Lyrics inna mi brain and book inna mi hand
Days pon toppa days mi ah write hit song
So di whole world give mi a brand dat 
Mi a di man
Longtime mi ready fi every woman
Gyal dem ah bawl for di wickedest slam
Dem waan di strong, no weaker man
Properly sexed and di money be done
Dem gal yah nah waan no Christian 

It comes off with force (virtually everything in the tune does), but effortlessly at the same time. He could have done this well on his way to sleep or the first thing in the morning and it is gorgeous. The next track up had me far more interested in the accompanying voices as 'Sharpshooter' brings in Nigerian artist Patoranking, the talented Giggs and the always compelling Busy Signal (who is one of my favourite artists these days and has been for the better part of the past decade or so, despite the fact that we do not talk about his work very much). 'Sharpshooter' is fun and it fits somewhere more firmly in the spectrum of Dancehall than its two predecessors. It also features some solid wordplay as you would imagine with such a lineup of lyricists. Rounding out the first batch of songs from "Simma" is a pair of impressive pieces (for different reasons) which feature our star all alone (and only two such tunes can be found in the album's final fifteen offerings). The first, 'Chop Suey', was rather strange the first few times I heard it (and it stil is, yep) because it almost sounds like two different songs going at once because the chorus changes so much. I do enjoy the odd vibes of this one though and as it goes on, particularly during its latter stages, Beenie absolutely shines. The second of these, 'Up Deh', hits for another reason. The sound here isn't anything special (I'd probably call it another one as Hip-Hop; although being more on the lighter side than 'King', easily) and even lyrically it isn't ranking amongst the best of "Simma", but I've convinced myself that 'Up Deh' featured very little in the way of preparation on the part of Beenie Man and he just vibed his way through it and even if the man, himself, told me differently, that's what I'm sticking with! In that regards, 'Up Deh' (for what it is) is nearly special. 

Of course you didn't think we'd get through this album (or seemingly any other one that I review) without an appearance from Stonebwoy and he joins the fun, along with a returning Backroad Gee for 'Zimm'. If I'm 'Sharpshooter' "fun" then I need to come up with a stronger adjective for 'Zimm' because I've had a lot of damn good times with this one and I'm sure I'm not the only one. 'Zimm' rests easily with the class of this project and it's probably one of the best tunes with Stonebwoy's work that I've heard to date (which is saying a lot considering how often we run into him) (incidentally, if you're interested, Stonebwoy set forth "5th Dimension", his own brand new album for 2023, back in April) (more on that in just a second). Longtime Beenie Man collaborator, American R&B songstress, Mya, makes her presence known on another tune with a title which got me excited when I first saw it, 'Docta'. The first time these two linked, several hundred years ago, was for a remix of Beenie's classic 'Girls Dem Sugar' which has gone onto be a classic in its own right. 'Docta' doesn't reach anywhere near those levels to my opinion but it was nice to hear these two vibe together again and I wouldn't be at all shocked if they ran it back at least one more time in the future. Dexta Daps (who, coincidentally, also appears on the aforementioned "5th Dimension" from Stonebwoy) lends a hand on the relatively dirty 'How Deep' (which is about exactly what you're thinking it might be about) ["When mi ask her 'how deep?' Bout nine inch long. She seh 'don't dweet'"] and.... what can I say? I don't hate this song. I like it a little largely on the strength of just how extremely BASIC it is. It isn't Dancehall at all in sound, but there's something very familiar about it that my ears grabbed on to; but I'm not going crazy with it. There are far better tunes on "Simma", but 'How Deep' has stuck with me, at least for the moment. One of the biggest guests, the oft-devastating Shenseea lights up 'Fitness Instructor', which also pulls back Ms. Banks. Pretty much everything I said about 'How Deep' applies to this one, although, from every registerable angle, 'Fitness Instructor' is considerably better. As I've said in the past, you may see and hear Shenseea and come away thinking one thing about her, but that woman is capable, at her best, of HUMILIATING the spoken word. She toys with it! It is to the degree that it comes through in almost everything i hear from her and, for her part, Ms. Banks also sits on a hill of talent which is more pronounced here than on 'King', in my opinion. When I ran through the tracklist of "Simma", my eyes gravitated toward 'Hel-eva Bumpa' moreso than in the direction of any other offering. Over the past few months my ABSOLUTE favourite two songs have been 'Hard Fete' and more recently 'Entering Greenzland' and what they share in common is that they are both works of the  incomparable Bunji Garlin who once again links with Beenie Man on this song. Previously, this pack of prolific poets paired on a couple of tunes to my knowledge with the high-water mark being the remix of Bunji's 'Plenty Gyal' ["DANCE MUST HAAAAAAAAAAVE, PLENTY GYALLLLL. IT'S NOT A MALEBOX! NOT AT ALLLLLLLLLL!"]. 'Hel-eva Bumpa' isn't on that level, but it is all sorts of entertaining and it reaches a place which befits the two MONSTROUS talents starring on it atop Suku's GRRRRR riddim.

Hoodcelebrityy lends Beenie a hand as he attempts to 'Let Go' and does so in a really strong way. This one lays claim to being one of the most Dancehall (definitely of a NEO variety, but that KNOCK is infectious courtesy of a master in Tony Kelly) of any on "Simma" IN SPURTS a quality which, alone, got my attention. It is also impressive on the lyrical side and has a bit of actual substance - all of which help see 'Let Go' ranking very highly here. 'Put It On Me' grabs up Relevant and the very gifted Jahfrican but it's kind of average for me and a set whose absence would not have hurt "Simma" on any level. It's nice to listen to, but there're more pleasant spins and it doesn't really bring anything different for me. Beenie goes solo for the first time in quite awhile on another mediocre (and possibly slightly below) piece, the Seanizzle helmed 'New Money'. Another rather strange sounding track, I'm thinking in a few months I may not remember much about 'New Money' at all and, again, you knew just by looking at it that "Simma" was carrying too much weight and both 'Put It On Me' and 'New Money' are examples of that. They aren't bad and if they were just singles released on riddims no one would pay them much attention (and they may actually do better than likely getting lost on an album), but appearing here they both feel like FILLER. The proverbial ship is righted ever so slightly with a good look from co-captain Cee Gee during 'Heavy On The Grades'. The riddim on the record doesn't do anything for me and it gets lost during matters here, but the back-and-forth between Beenie Man & Cee Gee is, at times, exquisite, which highlights it, easily. You almost wish they tried to do more as 'Heavy On The Grades' is the album's shortest track... I could listen to this again. When I saw that Shaggy (who was also on "5th Dimension") was also on board "Simma" I got an idea of an easy type of vibe between two legends and.... the sun even shines on a dog's ass occasionally, because I got one right. That is precisely what 'Good Like Gold' is. You can't rightly call such a song "filler" due to the level of name value such a piece brings, but 'Good Like Gold' isn't very good and it isn't some super combination that you may have been hoping for either.

The final quintet of tracks from "Simma" features a few more very large names aiding 'the docta' and it also features my single favourite tune altogether here. That distinction does not go to the decent giving of thanks that is 'Blessings'. It's almost comical (and dirty) what Beenie takes a moment to give praises for but to each their own ["Wi come yah so fi mek some money and f**k some p***y and dweet pon our own time. You love Fadda God and bun badmind - sing di punchline"]. I grew to enjoy 'Blessings' but it took some time and I'm thinking it will actual succeed in finding an audience, but we'll see about that. Fittingly following 'Blessings' is 'Prayer' which gives us both Charly Black and Louie Culture (always love to see the Ganga Lee on a new tune) which I LOVED. This one DEFINITELY did hve some old-school vibes circling around it and Beenie Man & Louie Culture were perfect for the moment and Black shines as well. 'Prayer' is stellar and a fine way to end things (nice contribution from the great Dean Fraser as well). 'Fun In The Sun' most certainly is not 'old-school' at all and it finds Beenie Man coming through with those who have NEXT (or NOW) in Popcaan and Dre Island. If you follow the course (this is my way of saying that i should have written them in order and I'm almost done so I don't finish going back and changing it) with this one leading onto 'Blessings' and then 'Prayer' you have a changeup trio at the very tail of "Simma" with all three bringing in some very necessary substance. 'Fun In The Sun' may just be the strongest lyrically of all three as it says to take advantage of what we have and stop bring negativity of all varieties into otherwise potentially beautiful situations. 

"But if wi all work together wi can help each other
A nuh dem, alone, wi fi tell 'BLACK LIVES MATTER'
Wi no racist, mi no believe inna colour
A di hard work you perform mi admire
Every rich ghetto youth fi yo ghetto you be a pillar 

Sean Paul not only lends his vocals to 'Supa Star' but his Dutty Rock Productions also takes production credits for the tune that also calls upon the smooth voice of Anthony Red Rose. This one mines a classic riddim and respect goes to both Beenie and Red Rose but Sean Paul threatens to steal his own show completely here courtesy of his thrilling offering. When at his best, Sean Paul has this almost robotic type of delivery (which used to draw frequent comparisons to Super Cat back in da day)  that never misses a beat and I've always enjoyed and still, obviously, do to this day. I got the feeling that there was much chemistry between these three as well and while I don't think they did (seems unlikely), I would hope that all three got a chance to spend a little time around one another in recording 'Supa Star' (how crazy is it that Sean Paul is actually a little older than Beenie Man??). And I've saved the best for last to give myself time to change my mind because I thought that I might. I've never been the biggest fan of Morgan Heritage for some reason I either can't or just don't feel like explaining but at least for the three minutes and twenty-eight seconds of 'Dem Want More' they've made a fan out of me as has Tony Kelly (he didn't have to work very hard though. He never does) (Man's a genius). I'm tired of writing so what I will say is this: You listen to this song. 
I've spent this review whining and complaining about the absence of something which is found in abundance on 'Dem Want More' and I never thought it would have come with lift with from the Morgans and they're right... I do want more. What a sweet, SWEET sound!
Overall, "Simma" is just too damn long. It just is but besides that, though it isn't very much of what I was hoping to hear; in an effort to just judge it by what I hear, it most certainly isn't BAD by any means. It's fun! There are so many interesting musical moments found throughout this release and, again, just based on what it is here (and ignoring what I was hoping for) lovers of many different genres and styles will find something to appreciate and, potentially, LOVE from "Simma" and you just KNOW a Grammy nomination (and potential win) is forthcoming as well. We find a certified legend in Beenie Man still in a wonderful form and showing no evidence of slowing down. Still, in my ridiculous old-agedness I can't help but think that, regrettably, when I think back to this album years from now what is likely to stick with me isn't so much what it was, but infinitely moreso what it WAS NOT..... damn I miss Dancehall. 

Rated: 3.25/5
MD Music Group