Monday, April 25, 2005

Yami Bolo and Ragga Ragga Ragga 2005

Yami Bolo
When Yami Bolo was but a wee pickney in the 1980s, he was part of Sugar Minott's Youth Promotion sound. From the age of 13, he's been perfecting his trademark "Aye! Aye! Aye!" Bolo demonstrates this depth of experience and ability on Ministry, a nice collection of duets with folks ranging from Jack Radics, Lee Perry and Dennis Brown to Sizzla, Bounty Killer and Capleton. With a record chock-a-block with strong singles, it's hard to choose highlights. "Put Down Your Weapons" with Capleton deserves a rewind, as does Bolo and Ken Boothe's reworking of Simon & Garfunkel's "Richard Cory." Strong tunes for spring! 9/10

Ragga Ragga Ragga 2005
Billed as uncut, X-rated dancehall, you'll be hearing this selection of the hottest riddims and the slackest lyrics blasting out of a car stereo sometime soon. 8/10

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Jah Cure and Chezidek

Jah Cure
Freedom Blues
Siccaturie "Jah Cure" Alcock has been in prison since 1999 on what he sees as spurious robbery and rape charges. It's not my role to determine just how false or true these charges are, but to simply review a terrific album by a tremendously talented artist. Though he's to be incarcerated until at least 2008, through access to recording equipment Jah Cure has gained almost legendary status. From the stunning (there's really no other word for it) "Jah Bless Me" to the somewhat old, yet still great, "King in the Jungle" featuring Sizzla, Jah Cure's plaintive voice has a sense of longing and earnestness that is unique among reggae singers. If I sound overly maudlin, it's because he's simply that good. 9.5/10

Rising Sun
Nice, conscious roots sound from the artist formerly known as Chila Wrench. Good choice on the name change, now go voice some of the wicked one-drop riddims out there. 7.5/10

Friday, April 01, 2005

Universal Message 3

Universal Message 3(VP)
Sure, I like Lee Perry as much as the next obsessive reggae fan, but if the majority of your reggae collection is still living in the 1970s, sit up and take notice. You need Universal Message 3. Run, don’t walk to pick up this collection of some of the top ranking Jamaican tunes of 2004. It’ll provide an excellent intro to what seems to be a conscious reggae renaissance. From the haunting “Living in Love” by I-Wayne to Fanton Mojo’s infectious “Hungry” to Capleton’s powerful “That Day Will Come” to Jah Cure’s incredible “Jah Bless Me”, there aint no weak tracks here. Luciano, Bushman, Sizzla, and Gentleman (yes, he’s great and he’s a white dude from Germany) demonstrate the power of positive vibes, and acoustic performances by Tanya Stevens and Anthony B round out a representation of some of the best roots and culture out there. Somewhere, Bob Marley is smiling.

Vybz Kartel

Vybz Kartel
More Up To Di Time(Greensleeves)
One of the top dancehall dons, Kartel’s had a controversial year, what with being one of the main artists called out for homophobic lyrics. He’s thankfully now vowed to stop recording and performing anti-gay tunes and I, for one, hope he sticks to this plan because he’s one of the most exciting performers out there today. His album, Up To Di Time was in such high demand that Greensleeves had to release a new edition. Folks just couldn’t get enough, so More Up To Di Time features five new tracks sure to please the dancehall massive. Kartel’s flow is crazy hot and the terrific production, mostly courtesy of Donovan “Vendetta” Bennett, makes this selection of tracks sure to nice up any party. Just try and stand still while enjoying the verbal gymnastics and top ranking riddims in “Real Bad Man”, “Why You Doing It” featuring Wayne Marshall, “Sweet to the Belly”, or “Tekk.”