Thursday, December 13, 2012

Most Wanted 2013

Well, that was it. In less than three weeks or so, 2012 will have ended, so it presents a wonderful time to start looking back and looking ahead… again. Today we take, for the third time, a glance ahead at all of the nice people we'd like to hear from on an album in the next year. In some cases, it just seems like the right time, while in others the 'right time' may not even exist, so why not just do it. In others still, you have artists seemingly coming into the height of their powers and an album seems to be the next likeliest step. Whatever the individual case, here're ten people who could make 2013 a much happier twelve months with their presences. Most Wanted 2013

{Note 2: Artists on last year's list and artists with currently scheduled (or semi-scheduled} albums were excluded}

#10. Lady Sweety

Champion! If I thought that there were any way in any thing that this would happen, surely Lady Sweety , the reigning Queen of 'coming soon' would be much higher near the top of this list - but I don't. Having not had an album in more than half a decade now kind of dims those prospects but, as you can see, at least one person is still waiting for the full on return of one of the absolute most damaging talents in the Dancehall. 2013 would be an excellent year for a new album, but so would have 2010, '11 and '12. If it does actually materialize, expect a huge project and one which may be full special because at her best, Sweety is one fascinating artist and an extremely powerful lyricist. Lady Sweety… meet Don's Music!  
#9. Ras Muhamad

Blow them away. From out of Indonesia, Ras Muhamad seems well poised to continue to impress in a major way, which has seen him, steadily, rack up a very impressive line of singles for a variety of different producers, headlined by some of our favourites at Oneness Records. At the very least, a compiling of these singles with some new material thrown in seems in order at this point, but should he hand in another year in 2013 like '12, I guess it will make the wait more tolerable. HOWEVER, because of is fantastic consistency, the point is rapidly approaching where it just doesn't make any sense for Muhamad not to have a full record out because his skill would just be too large not to have someone make one with him. Personally, I think he's already at that point, which is why he makes this list. Whenever it happens, it will be MASSIVE! 
#8. Naptali

Journey back. Speaking of MASSIVE (and Oneness), it would also be so great if we heard from the star of the single best album that I heard two years ago, Naptali. While he hasn't been the most active of artists over the course of the past couple of years, 2013 may provide the dazzling singing chanter with a similar landscape that he had in 2010, when he would strike with "Long Journey", which remains one of the top fifty or so best albums that I have ever heard. While he has the lost the ability to come from 'out of nowhere' and the element of surprise (at least with me), I don't think there're a huge number of fans expecting Naptali to do something amazing in 2013 (they weren't expecting it in 2010 either) and perhaps he strives under such conditions. And he could turn in an album farrrrrrrrr worst than his previous one and still manage to impress greatly.  
#7. Tuff Lion

11 Strings. Whether you actually know it or not is another matter, but if you listen to enough music and particularly enough of it coming from out of the Virgin Islands, chances are great (they're guaranteed actually) that you've heard quite a bit of Tuff Lion's music in 2012 as, perhaps more so than any other single person in VI Reggae music, his 'reach' as a musician/producer/everything is IMMENSE. Of course you remember his last album, 2008's incredible "Ten Strings" (if you don't recall it, I want you to know that I find you disgusting), which was a project made up of Tuff Lion playing his guitar as a 'singer' across a fine group of riddims provided by I Grade Records. So! If you haven't noticed, I Grade has been amongst the most active and successful labels in the time since and particularly over the past two or three years now - so they've WELL had the opportunity to 'replenish' the vault with new tracks over which the Lion can display his mastery. ALSO, almost every album which comes down from the label these days has work from the Zion I Kings as well. Whatever they have coming for the new year is going to be BIG, but a ZIK album for the Tuff Lion seems almost impossible to top in terms of quality.  
#6. Kalash

KABOOM! Kalash has already gone on to becoming one of the most popular artists on the FWI scene these days and, seemingly, figures to continue his angry march to the top in 2013, which would make for a wonderful a new album, which would be the DJ's first in three years at that point (although his 2010 self-titled album was re-releases, in a "Collector's Edition" last year). Kalash is the PERFECT example of when an up and comer makes good and becomes a full fledged champion in the arena as he has fulfilled on every drop of potential he showed earlier in his career and not only has his popularity ascended so greatly in the past couple of years, his skill has also advanced in my opinion. And he was already well talented, yet raw, the first time anyone had really heard him. He's still untreated in some respects, but that's a great thing and now he has the experience to make and take advantage of his abilities even greater. With Admiral T having fired in 2012, Kalash (and hopefully Saïk) should be amongst the most high profile FWI talents doing big albums in 2013 and I actually expect this one to happen (in both cases).  
#5. Sara Lugo

Things will work out right. You know, I've spent SO much time looking back at the "What About Love" album, and deservedly so, it was and remains fantastic (and you are a horrible, HORRIBLE person if you don't have a copy) (become good and buy one), but maybe it's time to start looking ahead again. At some point in the first half of 2013 we will pass a point where that album hits two years of age and it's star, the always wonderful Sara Lugo, hasn't slowed down a bit in any way and seems perfectly set up for a strong 2013, with or without the release of a full album. The main point of interest here is that, like Kalash before her, I think that even though what we've already heard has been so powerful and so interesting, what is to come from Sara Lugo will be, like her talents, very special and even more impressive (and I cannot wait to, again, look at the rest of you and say "I TOLD YOU SO!"). 2013 may not bring the next album, yet if she doesn't have an one in the year and regardless of the actions of the next four artists you're going to read about (with the exception of #2 probably) it's hard to envision a set of circumstances under which a 2014 edition of this list exists without Lugo's name being four spots higher.  
#4. Baby Cham

Another story. Not that activity has ever been a strength of his (because it certainly has not), but one would think that the soon to be seven years since Baby Cham's last album, which was a huge success, would be more than long enough for the DJ and superpower producer Dave Kelly to have waited for the proper time to line up another winner and I think they will. Recently, Cham dropped a very well received EP ("#Team Cham", in stores now), which was the culmination of quite a bit (for him) of activity in recent times. I'm going to take that as a 'warning shot' of sorts for the full thing which would look spectacular coming in the second half of the year. Also, if you haven't noticed, Dancehall albums from the biggest of names are completely scarce and Cham along with one or two others (maybe like a Lady Saw and hopefully Agent Sasco) would hit shelves with not a bit of competition in sight. 
#3. Kabaka Pyramid

It's building. Not too many artists, and maybe no one at all, had such a continuously impressive 2012 in Roots Reggae music without releasing an album than did the burgeoning Kabaka Pyramid. The chanter has added his name to a list (and maybe even at the head of it) of up and coming talents in the genre and he now seems set to turn 2013 into an incredible display of his music. Hopefully at the pinnacle of it all is his debut album and, presumably, he would have one of the longer queues full of producers and labels lining up for him. His popularity and prolificacy has also matched the quality of his music and now not very much time goes by at all without hearing a new single, mixtape or even EP from the artist and he has suddenly become very widely celebrated and with good reason. As are the conditions of this list, I don't know what he has coming in the new year, but if it does include an album, I have a VERY, VERY good feeling about it. 
#2. Stevy Mahy

Take another trip. While I haven't heard a great deal of new music from the smoldering (in sooooooo many ways) Gwada songstress, Stevy Mahy, she remained quite visible and active in performances (and still is apparently), but I don't think that her studio time was so great in 2012. Combine that with the fact that she has also, seemingly, shifted her attention forward after promoting her debut, the divine magic joyness that was "The Beautiful Side of A Kreyol Folk Trip", as hard as she possibly could have (that album had fourteen songs on it, two of them were interludes. So it had twelve actual songs. She did videos for six of them!) and you begin to think that it may be time for her musical comeback (she also has a jewelry line now apparently, so check out Moun' by Stevy Mahy). I don't know what to expect or if to expect it in the next twelve months, but whenever she does arrive with a new set, like its predecessor, it will be beautiful…. Beautiful! 
#1. Damian Marley

Something for you. Between working alongside Nas for a full album, whatever Super Heavy was (am I the only one who just didn't comprehend what was happening with that???) and Skillrex, it may not seem like it, but should September 2013 roll around sans such a creation, it would do so making it truly ODD eight years from last Damian Marley released a full solo album. This is the case despite a genuine raise in profile in that same time (if that's even possible), so one would think that when he does return, whenever it happens, he would bring with him, arguably, the largest fan base in Reggae music. On top of that, if you haven't paid attention to him (shame on you), Damian Marley is amongst the most talented artists that the genre has to offer and all of those traits, at least to me, make for an album which could well bring up words such as "landmark". Something tells me that it won't mark this year (and instead we'll be hearing from his brother, Stephen, again) (which is fine), but there doesn't exist someone that I can think of with such a unique set of circumstances: In terms of BIG projects in Reggae music, seemingly all roads lead to Damian Marley's next album and hopefully they all link up sometime in the latter stages of 2012. 

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