Tuesday, November 29, 2022

MORE & MORE From Queen Omega!

Okay so, it is time to, once again, check on the goings of one of our absolute favourite artists of... of ever, the incomparable Queen Omega who, over the course of the past couple of years or so (and pretty much every other year in her career before that) has been in the process of dropping some very impressive material and I have to say that he latest creation may just be one of her best as the dynamo from out Trinidad links with Lion's Flow Productions from out of France to send out the HEAVY 'See You Down'.

The track finds the Queen speaking on the importance of keeping a good 'poker face' and being careful not to show when things, perhaps, are not going your way. We all experience various difficult things in life and, of course, we're all EXTREMELY flawed, but certain things are for your own knowledge and no one else's as they may very well try to exploit and misuse you in your time of need ["Mankind is so quick to judge and condemn). The vehicle Queen Omega uses to express that sentiment is an exquisite one. 'See You Down' is gorgeous. The song absolutely thrills, particularly when she pushes the vibes to the brink in its dazzling middle stages! The new tune isn't the first link between the multi-talented and accomplished vocalist (who NEEDS to give us a new full Reggae album. She simply has to. It's getting ridiculous)... even of 2022. Back in September, Queen Omega teamed with fellow Trini artists Kushite and the well impressive Jalifa on 'Wise Queens' and, over the summer, there was the pillaring 'Fittest' as well (which I do not think we ever mentioned). 

You damn sure know what I'm thinking at this point (I mean... since you're making all of this music with her anyway...), but we will wait and see how 2023 plays out as, CLEARLY, Queen Omega continues her brilliance well into what has been one of the most distinguished reigns in recent Reggae history. BOOM! 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

IT LIVES: A review of XTM Nation Presents Fatis Tapes In The Oven Vol. 3

Heritage. I'd like to think that it is the case for almost everyone who takes pride in doing almost anything that you'd like to be able to say that whatever it was that you've done, you have managed to make some type of lasting impression. Even if your "whatever" is working some random, dead-end job; you'd probably take at least a little gratification in knowing that, when you left and moved up in the world, your poor replacement/s had to go through a month or two hearing about how large the shoes were that they had to fill. Even for me, I do have to admit that at the beginning of our hiatus, it was nice to see people on the page and sending us messages saying that they missed us and needed us to come back because it makes me feel that when the day does come that we end things around here, as I have said in the past, all of this work that we have done can be useful to someone somewhere. It's a nice thing to think about. When we talk about musicians and artists, it is exactly what I just said but magnified maybe millions of times over. Can you imagine making a song that has touched people to a degree that, as long as there're people on the planet to sing it, someone somewhere will be singing that song and telling others just how great it is?? Can you imagine how good that must make someone, particularly in the winter of their lives, seeing clear evidence of the successes of their life's work. On the largest scale as far as what we do, I wonder if Bob Marley had any idea of just how big the legacy he had created was before the end of his life. I wonder if he knew that he had provided the necessary framework to send the greatest musical artform the world has ever known into international prominence and, quite literally, make himself one of the most popular and beloved individuals to have EVER lived. He probably had no idea and that's too bad. I often wonder about (and talk about on these pages) our current artists today. Some of them have an entire career worth of music that will never be forgotten, while others have singles here and there for which they will likely forever be known and others still may have come to [and remained in] be beloved for various reasons (such as an unsual skill for example) (biggup Vaughn Benjamin). As we progress, it will be most interesting to see how history begins to treat many of them.

Of course something that helps to build a legacy and notoriety which lasts beyond you is when you have someone directly continuing to display your work to the masses. When the generation after you and the generation after that knows who you are and has some type of grasp on what you did in your own era -- and then has a reverence for the work -- you may have something very special and may be in the process of 'building' a reputation which will last as long as humankind does. Let us take, for example, the case of my absolute favourite producer and favourite label of all time, Philip 'Fatis' Burrell and the notorious Xterminator Productions. There is first the direct method of remembering the work of Burrell and Xterminator: The label would be very instrumental in the careers of bona fide Reggae legends Sizzla Kalonji, Luciano, Beres Hammond and Cocoa Tea, and it would also see to stardom a variety of especially gifted vocalists such as [but not limited to] Turbulence, Mikey General, Prince Malachi and Chezidek. The work done in the case of all of these wonderful artists, and others, will find its way onto the tongues and lips of someone, somewhere in the world FOREVER. In those instances, however (as is the case right now - and for pretty much everyone) (trust me. I know), you may be unlikely to know the source of the material that you're singing, outside of the artists (and, then again, maybe not). The actual work of making sure that people remember the XTERMINATOR name directly is most vividly being done in another way.

2018 & 2019

I don't know if Xterminator is still at work today in any form. I doubt it as Philip Burrell transitioned just about eleven years ago. What I do know is that what I have to come to expect from the label in terms of actual releases over the last few years or so has been in the hands of one XTM.Nation. Ran by Fatis' son, Kareem Burrell, XTM.Nation (a BEAUTIFUL name) has done a wonderful job of not only existing as its own brand and imprint, but also of being something of an evolving musical museum of sorts for the works of Xterminator (and further research reveals that XTM Nation is Xterminator. They are one and the same). One of the ways they have accomplished the latter is through releasing albums full of some of the, perhaps, lesser known bits of Xterminator via a most interesting series by the name of "XTM Nation Presents: Fatis Tapes In The Oven". The first installment of the series would arrive almost five years ago now in early 2018, featuring top notch sets from the aforementioned likes of Turbulence and Chezidek in particular, as well as others such as Nadine Sutherland. The very next year the second release in the series would arrive and, though a third smaller than its predecessor, the album will still carry compelling tracks from Lutan Fyah, Ras Shiloh ["There's no reason for this life of war. What the hell is it that you're fighting for?"] and even Jr. Demus. Though it's now taken nearly four years, we're getting the third piece as "XTM Nation Presents: Fatis Tapes In The Oven Vol. 3" has now arrived. There're definitely children of former greats in Reggae music who are, in one way or another, doing their part in keeping alive of the respective memories of their parents. Someone who definitely comes to mind is the great Addis Pablo (new album, "Melodies From The House Of Levi", out now), who is continuing, DIRECTLY the life's work of his legendary father, Augustus Pablo, by utilizing the same obscure instrument [the melodica] to demonstrate a master class of Reggae music. This method here, however, seems even more direct and, again, as someone who was greatly impacted by the music of Xterminator at their peak and still to this day, I am SO happy that much of this work is put together in this type of package for the masses and, particularly, for some of the younger listeners. Old heads, like You and I, will also enjoy and not only for nostalgia. One would presume that the younger Burrell and XTM Nation would have an unrivaled level of access to Xterminator's vault (like ALL ot it, basically) and because of that you'll encounter tunes which are incredibly obscure and others which are totally unreleased altogether. Regardless of who you are, you are almost assured to find some level of interest in this project and all of that is just on paper.... wait until you actually listen to it!

Along with being my favourite label ever, Xterminator has always been an interesting point of discussion for me, in general. Not long ago at all -- without even knowing that this release was in the offering -- we cracked open the vault and, most randomly, took a look at "The World Shall See", a more than respectable compilation of the imprint's music now more than a couple of decades old! Add to that all of the years of Sizzla, Luciano, Turbulence and Luciano albums that we've done and, CLEARLY, it's something that I look forward to writing about and biggup XTM Nation for the FRESH opportunity once again (was SO excited to dig into this one). Coming through at an hour spread across fifteen tracks (meaning a very healthy four minute average), "XTM Nation Presents: Fatis Tapes In The Oven Vol. 3" (which I will now begin referring to as "Vol. 3") begins with a song that I've never heard before courtesy of the esteemed Ini Kamoze, 'They Don't Know'. Just a few weeks ago, Kamoze released a remastered version of an older single, 'Hardware', on XTM Nation and his most recent album, 2016's "Trampling Down Babylon" was another project with Xterminator/XTM Nation. Most notably, the union also produced the massive hit, 'Hot Stepper', as well; so, whether you realize it or not, the Ini Kamoze - Xterminator connection is one which definitely reaches back quite a ways. This tune is a LOVELY one which I took to be about the mistakes you make in underestimating people and overestimating yourself - thinking that you're smarter or just full on BETTER than anyone else. Kamoze has always had a very interesting style for me. It's at times both monotonous and highly melodic and though I rarely speak about his work, I well respect his talents and it's because of pieces just like 'They Don't Know'. Next up is one of the main attractions for me (and probably for everyone), as my favourite artist OF ALL TIME, of course, makes an appearance as Sizzla Kalonji spellbinds on 'What I See'.

"What I see is harmony-
Taking hold of everyone's hand
As for me, let it be
Stop the war, it's been much too long 

Look what they live fi si -
LOVE, within the neighbourhoods
Gratefulness happening as it should
In time passed by, even I myself would-
Wonder who would step forth and show me any good
I see it all now
Love in the air, no war is allowed
Everyone been caring
Only love outpouring
We should all know to grow all di seed weh wi sew"

This track, BRIMMING with positivity actually reminds me a bit of another older tune from Kalonji, also produced by Xterminator by the name of 'Love Amongst Me Brethren ["To Sizzla, that heaven. None of us can run from the truth"], for some reason. They resemble one another FAINTLY at best but both were sensational on a very direct and basic type of vibes. You won't be shocked to find out that, albeit by the slimmest of margins, 'What I See' is my favourite song on the whole of "Vol. 3", but I think I may be a bit biased. Up next is the legendary 'Messenjah', Luciano who makes his contribution in a big way (also quite simple, but that is the norm in his case) on 'Youthman'. You know precisely what this one is about simply based on its title but don't make the mistake of letting its predictability cloud your judgment in respects to its quality: 'Youthman' is EXCELLENT as the dominant singing voice in modern Roots Reggae gives a MASSIVE pep talk to the youths of the day. This song has some very difficult to describe FEEL about it.... or something  that is quite special to my ears. I'm struggling mightily (and am about to give up trying) to find the right word but there is some... CRISPNESS to 'Youthman' which definitely heightens it for me and if I'm the only one who feels that way, it won't be the first time. The big voiced Jack Radics asks 'Where Do The Children Play' which, at least for me, is VERY clever. What I got from the direction on this one is the idea that the world has gotten SO ridiculously complicated and people have become involved in so many different things that we have never throughout history that we have managed to lose focus on some VERY basic aspects of traditional everyday life and Jack Radics is STUCK on it  ["We've come a long way. We changing day-to-day. Tell me, where do the children play?"]. He's wondering what the hell is going on and, unfortunately, he may be in very select company. 'Where Do The Children Play' is fantastic if you give it the opportunity. Wrapping up our first third of selections on "Vol. 3" is Reggae royalty, Marcia Griffiths, with the delightful 'Cry To Me'. If this one does NOT get your head bobbing and something moving in you then you may want to consider seeking immediate medical attention. 'Cry To Me' isn't going to change lives (obviously, it's almost thirty years old), but it is a JOY to listen to and, of course, any time you can attach Griffiths' name to virtually anything, it's only going to improve it.

Perhaps by design or perhaps by coincidence, but the next lot of artists on "Vol. 3" features five extremely esteemed vocalists, two of which were fairly consistent in terms of the work they did with Xterminator and three others who were a bit more surprising, at least for me. The biggest of them all provides a tune which I'm almost certain that I've never heard before as the truly timeless Beres Hammond brings 'Never Again' and says it to, arguably, the second finest tune on the album. There's just something about this man singing a song where he pushes his vocals -- even just a little that just you. It's almost unsettling and I mean that in a good way. As to the actual tune, 'Never Again' doesn't fall out of the scope of what you've come to expect from Hammond throughout the years in terms of either direction or quality and, again, it is exemplary from someone who has made an entire career (and then some) out of being exemplary and does so, here, in the nature of learning from one's experiences. Cocoa Tea is an artist whose career has been very closely associated with Xterminator and while no one will be surprised to see him appearing on "Vol. 3", we should be pleased with the results in 'Each Man Take Over'. Cocoa Tea's style has always been fairly simple and straight forward for the most part (even when at his best) (particularly when at his best, actually), but this one is a slight deviation in my opinion. 'Each Man Take Over', won't confound anyone lyrically (hope it doesn't) but it is a set about how, anywhere you go in the world things change. Everyone from everywhere sets the rules and laws (whether actual or.... territorial) for everywhere you go. Wayne Wonder did not voice a lot of songs for Burrell that I know of but he clearly made the most of what he did as evidenced by the very COOL 'The Way I Am'. I barely even know how to describe this almost R&B-ish piece outside of "very cool". The vibes are so nice and relaxed that I wouldn't at all be surprised if Wonder heard the riddim and just came up with the song on the spot. It isn't amongst the class of this album, but you let this song play and play and it'll probably show itself to be better than you originally thought. The generally underrated Spanner Banner does go just a bit higher with his solid lover's tune, 'I'm Crying'. I've never really been much of a fan of Spanner's, but he is someone whose talents I do appreciate (and I can say the same of his brother, Richie Spice, whom he often resembles vocally)and have appreciated throughout the years. I've never heard this particular song and while it isn't great to any degree, if you needed more a direct love song for this compilation, you have it here. Outside of 'Never Again' the second best tune you'll find in the middle portion of "Vol. 3" is definitely 'Know What Is Life' by the always welcome Pinchers. While I have rarely ever written about the work of Pinchers, I have been a fan of the curious voiced singer and, here, somewhat like Hammond, he delivers a golden offering largely about experience. In this particular case, Pinchers make a direct correlation between POSITIVITY and life experience and how crucial it is to not only look after one another, but to accept help when you need it (and ADVICE). 'Know What Is Life' is very impressive, although somewhat oddly vibed (I told you what you'll do with your head on 'Cry To Me', I'm thinking this one may just have you neck confused) - we'll overlook that.

Impressive singers continue to appear throughout the balance of "Vol. 3" as its final trio of selections come via big time crooners. As far as Xtermintor goes, in particular, none of them are bigger than the tones behind 'We Tired A It': Mikey General (big new album, "Hold A Heights", you should check it out). Again, I'm going to have to confess my potential bias in this instance because I LOVE Mikey General and 'We Tired A It' is a big, big winner her to my ears. The track finds the General outlining frustration of having endured centuries and generations of oppression.

"They gave us emancipation, but they took away our rights
Through some education, they demoralize our lives
Give worldly possesions only to a few
And use it as a barrier against the multitude"

This one comes in with quite a bit of lyrical HEFT as the singer does pay attention to get as detailed as he possibly can in several instances, which is a nice thing. It succeeds in its specificity which isn't something you're always going to say about Mikey General's music, but let this be an exception and an impressive one. The great Sugar Minott says that "you can kill 'The Goose' who laid the golden egg" on a tune that I'm well familiar with prior to "Vol. 3" (I cannot confidently say that I knew it was from Xterminator though. I'm actually inclined to say that I did not know that). I've always taken this song as an expression of both the level that Minott was pleased to have reached during his career and as a statement of the responsibility which he felt came with it. He was one of the biggest 'big men' of his era (of any era) and, thus, it came with the obligation of setting a good example and being a good role model for all of the youths and elders aspiring to be where he was. Sugar Minott embraced that and I think that 'The Goose' was his 'invitation' for others at his level and near it to do the same. The final tune on the album, 'We Give Thanks' from sugary sweet singing Al Campbell, is definitely not a favourite of mine, but I do not hate it. 'We Give Thanks' is just kind of here. It's harmless and pretty much anytime you get to hear a song sung by Al Campbell, it can't be too horrible, but the song doesn't do much at all for me. Following the middle of "Vol. 3" and given what was to come later on, it could have definitely used a bit more in the way of fire and if you need fire in Reggae music, you cannot possibly do better than in retaining the services of pyrotechnics MASTER, Capleton who well adds some bite with 'Clean Hands'. I've said it before and I will say it again here: You will often find yourself distracted when it comes to Capleton, given all of the FLAMES and dramatics that the man comes in with, but when you REALLY get into it, Capleton is a top ten lyricist in the HISTORY of Reggae music. He toys with the words at his best and you listen to what he does with this one - a scintillating display about bathing oneself (spiritually) and living up to your standards (or upping those standards if need be).

Another veteran of Xterminator, Jesse Jendau (aka Congo Jesse, Jesse Jender & Jesse Jendah), also provides this release with a little bit of chanter's heat with 'Where Can I Find' (which, for some reason to my ears, sounds like something you'd hear from Determine. You wanna talk about underrated lyricists.... don't even get me started on Determine. That man is a master) (probably my favourite Jesse Jendau tune was 'Ghetto Youths' with Sizzla and he had another named 'Fear No One' which was GIANT). 

"Where can I find
That peace of mind
Lord, in this time of war and crime

You set up mi bredda fi be warmonga
All over this world, inna di ghetto era
Substance abuse, it gone pon top
Everywhere big .45 clock
But war ah hit inna di Black man lap
You look inna di future and yuh bound fi si di trap
Oh lord, what a joy when Black man touch di top"

Jendau SHINES on the excellent social commentary, which finds him searching for a more basic and peaceful plane of existence; something which certainly isn't too much to ask for. "Vol. 3" would be less than it is sans 'Where Can I Find', well registering as one if its definitive highlights.
Overall, I don't want to make more of it than it is, "XTM Nation Presents: Fatis Tapes In The Oven Vol. 3" is just a damn solid compilation. That is true even if you take out the circumstances. Such a setting when observed, however, will make it more for people like myself (and probably yourself, if you're still reading this). This one comes in with all the nostalgia and musical ECHOES that you would hope from such a project and I really LOVE, again, how this music can be given and re-given to older fans as well introduced to newer heads at the same time. When XTM Nation does that, not only are you keeping the music of Xterminator alive DIRECTLY, but you're also very likely putting it in a position where someone who was never familiar with their work ends up doing what I did so many years ago and falls in love with what is EASILY one of the greatst musical legacies in all of Reggae music history. 

Rated: 4/5

Saturday, November 19, 2022

20 Years of Da Real Thing

On Tuesday, the 19th of November 2002, the legendary Sizzla Kalonji released an album by the name of "Da Real Thing", which was produced by the even more esteemed Bobby 'Digital' Dixon, on VP Records. Almost immediately when the project reached (and probably even prior to it, in retrospect) word began circulating that Kalonji had, once again, soared to levels previously reserved for his 'dualling' opuses, 'Praise Ye Jah" and "Black Woman & Child", respectively. The latter of those sets (which is my favourite album all time) was also produced by Digital and, if I recall correctly, I once heard Sizzla in an interview speaking on the background of "Da Real Thing" as he had intended to name it after what would become one of its best known tracks; before Digital suggested that they name it "Da Real Thing", perhaps in response to criticism the August Town native was receiving for recording more controversial material. What ended up happening was absolutely remarkable and places it in a very select group. To my opinion this class would include album such as Buju Banton's "'Til Shiloh" and "More Fire" from Capleton - as modern Roots Reggae music which grew to a point where they began to receive more international and, dare I say, 'mainstream' attention. Roots, historically (at least in the hands of anyone not named Marley), has not been as 'transferable' as its sibling, Dancehall, for obvious reasons, but we have seen the odd tune here and there, and the even odder full album, reach that level where the wider-reaching musical world has a very difficult time ignoring, despite the fact that it has made NO concessions at all and sacrificed nothing in its sound. "Da Real Thing" was fairly straight-forward and TYPICAL Roots Reggae for its time. It was also absolutely brilliant.

Three years after its initial release, VP would send up "Da Real Live Thing", a re-release of the original album, containing three more selections including the golden Bobby Digital produced 'Bright Sunshine' and the even stronger 'Be Still' ["Thou shall not kill. Be still. Go hold a sabbath on the hill"] [BOOM!]. "Da Real Live Thing" would also include a DVD which included a pair of interviews and, most notably, a WICKED Kalonji performance from VP Records' 25th anniversary celebration in Miami in 2005 which included, unsurprisingly, renditions of several tracks from "Da Real Thing". I should also mention that the re-release version was EXQUISITE. It's probably one of the finest put together albums that the label has ever done and, holding it in my hands today, more than seventeen it has a certain FEEL of importance to it and, though pretty easy to find still these days, I am very happy to own a copy. 
It has been a minute from the last time I dusted off my copies of the album and took a listen and, these days, I'm being TORTURED (and I mean that in a good way) by songs which don't get the biggest level of attention such as the.... amazing 'It's Amazing', 'Trod Mt. Zion' ["Dem act as if dem don't got no sense"], 'Rejoice' and, in particular, the simply STUNNING 'Bless Up'. This is an album which, from a lyrical point of view (a staple, really, of any piece of work by this artist when he's anywhere near his best), all of these years later, has me thinking of new ideas STILL. I'm literally wondering if it is CHANGED through the years or if I'm now more open to it; either case is just fine with me.

Today we celebrate twenty years of life with one of the greatest albums ever created by (anyone) my personal favourite of all time, the immortal Sizzla Kalonji who, on this day in 2002, once again demonstrated just how potent he could be with the landmark "Da Real Thing" - an album for the ages.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Da Grammys 2023!

Okay so, we look up and the calendar tells us that it is that wonderful time of year again when people like you and me take a look at the news and attempt to make entirely inaccurate predictions about what is coming as, recently, the nominees for the 2023 and 65th Grammy Awards were announced and today we, do what we always do and take a look at the nominees for Best Reggae Album and, again, make predictions which have NO chance of coming true. 

Last year, there was a bit of controversy as US band, SOJA, beat out five different Jamaican acts to take the award and many fans (and others) had a problem with them winning. This year, no such thing is even possible as all five nominees are Jamaican based artists. The list also includes three former winners (one of whom has won twice) and a previous nominee as well. I will say that I was somewhat surprised not to see Shenseea given a nod for her debut "ALPHA". I'm also thinking that it's somewhat surprising not to see Horace Andy get a mention for the extremely well received "Midnight Rocker" collaboration with Adrian Sherwood. But,, as for those who DID get the call - let's do it!

"The Kalling" by Kabaka Pyramid [Ghetto Youths International & Bebble Rock Music]

I'm sure it's happened, but it is very rare that the album which I feel is the best of the year is even observed amongst the nominees, much less actually wins the Grammy. Because of that, I was VERY happy to see my current favourite (and likely winner, unless someone does something TRULY stunning in the next six or seven weeks), Kabaka Pyramid's "The Kalling" listed here and, though I feel he has the least chance of winning, getting his name into the mix can be a very good thing going forward. For as talented as the Pyramid is, however, he will struggle mightily to eclipse what he set forth on "The Kalling" which was, in retrospect, probably one of the single greatest displays of a tangible SKILL that Reggae has seen in a very long time..... at LEAST.

"Gifted" by Koffee [Promised Land Recordings]

Meet Koffee. The rapturously delightful artist who took home this award in 2020 with "Rapture" will likely have EVERY SINGLE ALBUM SHE EVER MAKES, EVER, be nominated for a Grammy. Though she's still just twenty-two years old and to say such a thing is truly ridiculous - it is the complete truth and you know it. She made the absolute best of her opportunity to demonstrate that with her EXCELLENT 2022 project, the aptly named "Gifted" which, as it stands (unless I am REALLY forgetting someone) is the second best album that I've heard this year. Koffee is the only woman and the youngest person to have ever taken home the Reggae Grammy and she's really just a breath of proverbial fresh air. Diversity can be such a powerful thing, particularly here as she's become a household name in the genre and one whose style and persona has no bloodline. Truly one of a kind.

"Scorcha" by Sean Paul [Island Records]

When Sean Paul makes an album, it gets nominated for a Grammy: It's just the way of the world. 2023 will find the 2004 winner celebrating not only his SEVENTH honour from the Grammy's, but his second consecutive following "Live N Livin' from this year. "Scorcha" was not quite as potent as its most immediate predecessor, but it would go fairly well received and it's absence from this list would have been a much larger shock than its inclusion. "Scorcha" was fun and, thought it did have more worldly ambitions, somewhere in its midst, fans could piece together a relatively decent Dancehall effort. Looking back now, it may've been just a touch stronger than we gave it credit for being and Sean Paul has, wonderfully, grown to become someone who always seems to have the best interest of the music at heart and "Scorcha" was certainly no exception.

"Third Time's The Charm" by Protoje

In 2019, Protoje's "A Matter Of Time" would be nominated (and lose out to the next entry I'm going to tell you about) and that is a GOOD sign this time around in my opinion. It means that whoever is in charge of voting for these things are likely familiar with his work and, of course, it also helps that the extremely gifted artist has seen a general raise in profile across the last half decade or so, which is saying a lot because I could say the same of the previous five years as well. Also, history suggests that, at least when it comes to Reggae, the winners in this category are artists who were previously nominated more often than not. While I didn't LOVE "Third Time's The Charm", I was well in the minority in that opinion and even I would have to admit that it was quite good. It carried a tune in 'Incient Stepping' which has become one of my favourite songs from anyone this year and, though this year remains a question, I am DAMN confident that, be it in 2023 or beyond, Protoje will win the Best Reggae Album Grammy at some point in his career - no question about it. 

"Com Fly Wid Mi" by Shaggy [Mr. Luva Luva Inc]

In terms of sheer firepower, it's harder to get more arsenal than "Com Fly Wid Mi" which is an album featuring two time Best Reggae Album Grammy Award winner, Shaggy, singing Reggaefied versions of legendary singer, Frank Sinatra, with another legend, Sting, serving as producer (coincidentally, it was Sting, himself, linking with Shaggy on "44/876" which took this prize in 2019). Simply because of those circumstances, you shouldn't be at all surprised if "Com Fy Wid Mi" were to win this time around as well. As for the actual music, while it was clearly geared towards a certain type of crowd of which I am not a member, the album was not without its moments as the opener, 'That's Life', 'Witchcraft' and definitely 'Luck Be A Lady' all registered as significant highlights in my opinion with a sound somewhere right between Reggae and Big Band (....should have called Sara Lugo, Sting). 

AND THE WINNER IS................

"Gifted" by Koffee

When I first SAW it (meaning before I'd heard it), I was of the mind that "Gifted' was going to win the Grammy (a month and a half before it released, I congratulated Koffee on her win). Of course, I did not know what the competition would look like at the time, (I probably at least knew Sean Paul would be doing something at the time) and though I'm not as confident today as I was then, I'm still giving Koffee the nod. The sleeper pick would go to Protoje. As I said, I see him winning it at some point and maybe 2023 is the year....

Of course with me saying it like that, that means that your likely winner of the 2023 Grammy Award for The Best Reggae Album is Kabaka Pyramid. WHO KNOWS! Find out on the 5th of February, 2023

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Night Light Riddim by Irie Ites

Okay so, it seems like just a few weeks ago when we last encountered the esteemed Irie Ites as they slooooooooooowly but surely rolled out their latest creation, the ASAP Riddim and now the big label from out of France is, apparently, doing it again as set to drop on the 9th of December is their latest effort, the bluesy Night Light Riddim

And while I don't know the full line up of vocalists appearing on the Night Light, what I do know is that if they wanted to get my attention with a first single, Irie Ites would have had a very difficult time in choosing a better name than they did as none other than the brilliant Agent Sasco sheds some light in the darkness with the ILLUMINATING 'She's A Saint'. Maybe that girl you met who you think is THE ONE and you're ready to take her home to meet your family isn't quite who she seems upon further review. This is definitely not the type of song I would have expected from Sasco, and I wouldn't have even thought that he would be associated on this project at all as, off the top of my head, I can't think of Assassin previously appearing on any Irie Ites release. If you've followed along with him to any degree, however, then you know precisely the type of mind that you're dealing with here and it is, once again, on a full display as he dazzles. What definitely caught my attention is the shot he gives to older fans as he redoes lyrics from one of his larger hits, 'Anywhere We Go', on 'She's  A Saint' as well.

"But a nuh mi mek ya catty waan stray
Nuh mi mek you ah wife it up and she ah gi it away"

BOOM! We'll have to wait a few more weeks to see who else joins Sasco on the Night Light Riddim when it releases fully, but if their past is any indication (and why wouldn't it be), then I'm sure Irie Ites will thrill as they always do.