"World Cry" by Jah Cure [SoBe Entertainment]
First up is an album which, hopefully, is unique to me in the sense I'm about to describe, but is still a very big deal nonetheless. It's the latest album from Reggae star and the possessor of the greatest voice of all time, Jah Cure, "World Cry". The album comes via SoBe Entertainment, who we haven't heard from in a minute, but are still apparently hard at work. The thing about "World Cry", at least for me, is that the proverbial 'moment' has kind of passed me by. This album was expected a year ago (at least) and I'm nowhere near as excited for it as I once was and I have not… but I kind of feel like I've already heard it to some degree. Looking at the tracks on the album, that's no great mystery as much of the album has been released already in the past couple of years and reportedly the album is set to be a digital-only piece. Still, as I said, while my anticipations have been dampened, it doesn't appear to be the prevailing feeling here of most and, actually, like all of his work, the completed project should be very strong and we'll get and I will definitely be listening (I just really wish they had done it last year). Mavado, Jazmine Sullivan and Phyllisia guest.
The Queens of Queens Riddim [Larger Than Life Records]
The Queens of Queens Riddim comes to us via Larger Than Life Records in association with Delly Ranx (more on him in a second) and Pure Music Production and this old school inspired set is the latest in what is turning out to be a stellar latter stage of the year for big riddim albums. This thing is GORGEOUS! A riddim of this quality is well deserved of some top notch talent in the way of vocalists and, thankfully, that is exactly what LTL has provided it. Checking in is a wicked lineup featuring the likes of Sizzla Kalonji, Lutan Fyah (MAD!), Pressure Busspipe, Gappy Ranks, Perfect Giddimani, the aforementioned Delly Ranx and others (including Bobby Hustle, whose 'Real Ganja Man' tune is excellent) (oddly there isn't a single female on the riddim, which… might lead you to think of a sequel coming at some point). Big, big riddim and an almost guaranteed hit.
"Street Shots Vol. 4: Christmas Edition" [21st Hapilos]
In next is the latest installment of "Street Shots", the Dancehall geared series from the… Dancehall geared 21st Hapilos (far away in the back of mind, I see someone doing for Soca what they do for Dancehall and it makes me happy) (very happy). Edition 4 is called the "Christmas Edition" and I suppose it might make for a good gift for someone who may not have been paying a great deal of attention to the music lately, but if you have it's pretty much more of the 'usual suspects'. Bounty Killer & I-Octane, Mavado, Ele, Jr. Gong & Bonafide, Aidonia & Deablo, Kartel, Konshens, Baby Cham and, of course, Tommy Lee all make appearances.
"Don's Collector" [Don's Music]
It hasn't been the most active of years for the dominant FWI Dancehall label of the day, Don's Music, but I was so happy to see that they updated their running Dancehall/Soca-fied series, "Don's Collector" for this year, which makes it the first time that this series has expanded in four or five years now. If you don't know (and you might not), these compilations pretty much have no bounds, they typically include such a wide variety of sounds and artists and, much like "Street Shots", we also get the fourth installment of this series in 2012 as well. Nothing has changed. One album - featuring Bunji Garlin, Machel Montano, Admiral T, Saïk, Paille, Kalash, Methi'S, Nando Griffiths and even Mongstar. DM is careful to include most of their artists and the mix with that and on top of that absolutely dazzling and largely uptempo. Recommended.
CD + Digital
"Tuff Vibes" Vols. 1 & 2 [Jobes Hill Music]
Next up is a pair of compilations from Jobes Hill Records, which are vols. one and two of "Tuff Vibes". Nothing too special here, but a pretty solid pair of albums which carry a whole heap of big names. Vol. 1 is actually a riddim album for the old Much Clearer Riddim and includes Beres Hammond on the title track and others such as Mikey General, Jahmali, Lloyd Brown, Limey Murray and Perfect Giddimani. Meanwhile , vol. 2 is a compilation with different tracks behind the tunes but, again, it features a great deal of nice names. Luciano headlines this one (twice) along with the likes of Mark Wonder, Limey Murray again, Milton Blake and more. Some of these tunes may actually reach a decade old or so, but really there isn't much here which wouldn't have aged well and if you haven't heard them, there're some really outstanding songs here and I'm happy Jobes Hill decided to push their vaults in this way.
Digital & Digital
'Mi Crazy' by Delly Ranx [Madd Spider Productions]
And finally is 'Mi Crazy', which was Delly Ranx' cut of the WICKED GSUM Riddim from Madd Spider for a month or two ago. I wasn't too 'crazy' about the actual riddim album, which is why I'm pretty sure we never mentioned it, but the riddim itself was a BOOM and the currently blazing Delly had one of the better tracks there, so check it out.
"Free Indeed" by Midnite [Higher Bound Productions]
I wanted to quickly go back and mention this one, the forthcoming album from Midnite through Higher Bound Productions, "Free Indeed", because while we didn't have much information the first time around (and still actually don't), we do have a release date - tomorrow.
Releases in a few hours
CD + Digital [I THINK]
"Ethiopie" by Ancient King [Higher Bound Productions]
Even more interesting than that last one (because Midnite has a billion albums), is the fact that also on tap from Higher Bound Productions is a new album from fire breathing Virgin Islands chanter, Ancient King. "Ethiopie" would become his third and his first in nearly five years, following 2008's "Judgement". The King is no stranger to the label either as he appeared on no less than five songs out of the thirteen on Higher Bound's well received "New Name" compilation, also from 2008. Ancient King can be very good, I wasn't too overwhelmed by the "Judgement" album, but his first, 2005's "Conquering Sound" via I Grade was very good. So hopefully it's a return to that one, but in his normal style even, the chanter is very, very talented and extremely explosive as well and his having a new album is a big deal in my opinion.
Releases in December
CD + Digital [I THINK]
"Di Captain" by Freddie McGregor [VP Records]
Another big deal is set to come through -- or more like an expansion of one -- as the latest album from the legendary Freddie McGregor, the fittingly titled "Di Captain", is set to go international. A few months ago, as is once again becoming the trend, the album reached Japanese shelves and now VP Records is turning the album over to the rest of the world. Apparently all of the same tracks are included (all sixteen of them), but the order has been shuffled a bit. I have heard this album and, although you don't need me to tell you this, it's very good, with an obvious and SWEET lean to the old-school style which is still McGregor's major quality in a career set to reach year #50! Etana and Gappy Ranks guest on a wonderful project.
Releases in January
CD + Digital
'Bun Up' by Chuck Fenda [John John]
And lastly, coming soon today is official releasing of what has to be one of my favourite songs of 2012 altogether, 'Bun Up', by Chuck Fenda. I first heard the John John produced song maybe a month or so ago. I used the word 'explosive', and suitably so, when referring to Ancient King - it also well applies to Chuck Fenda at his best and this tune was a MIGHTY demonstration of that as Fenda lights it up for some of the nastiest living individuals in the world whose attentions are miserably focused in the wrongest of directions. BOOM!
Releases on December 18