Vybz Kartel should be proud of his protégées

disc-3231-jah-vinci-ghetto-bornThe dancehall genre is heavy on singles and one riddim compilations and single artist full-length albums are few and often far between. But this year two of dancehall’s up and coming superstars have dropped their debut sets.

Popcaan and Jah Vinci have both been members of Vybz Kartel’s Portmore Empire. In June Popcaan dropped his electro-fused Where We Come From and a month later Jah Vinci dropped his dancehall-oriented Ghetto Born.

Jah Vinci has since he emerged on the scene in 2008 delivered several hits, for example Wipe Those Tears, Remedy, Gawn Home and Mama Love. All fuelled with his electric and intense vocal style.

Ghetto Born collects only fresh material and is mainly produced by Khabir Bonner of Grillaras Productions, probably best known for Lutan Fyah’s excellent Life of a King released last year. Also involved in the project are Tariq “Nashi” Smith and Xavier “Bless X” Prendergast from Kamau Music.

Jah Vinci focuses on the tough side of life – crime, violence and poverty. He tells stories about living in the ghetto and how to break barriers rising to success. And it’s his story – growing up with violence on the streets and how he managed to overcome hardships becoming a global dancehall artist.

The set includes 13 tracks, of which two are combinations with Junior Reid and Beenie Man respectively. Best of the bunch are however hip-hop excursions like We Taking Over – with a Barrington Levy sample floating in and out of the mix – and Rude Boys and Police. But also the melancholic and acoustic title track.

Popcaan and Jah Vinci chose different paths for their debut albums. Popcaan’s set might appeal more to U.S. and European hipsters looking for the next dancehall sound. Jah Vinci’s album, on the other hand, is more Jamaica and leans towards traditional contemporary dancehall with clear hip-hop influences. Two sets with different approaches. And their mentor Vybz Kartel should be proud of both his protégées.

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Digital scorchers on new King Jammy compilation

CS2567462-02A-BIGReggae powerhouse VP Records follows up on their Jammys From the Roots compilation released four years ago.

More Jammys From the Roots is a confusing title, since it hints that it’s a roots reggae compilation. But it’s not. This new edition takes on where the firstleft off – in the mid 80s when computerized reggae was the order of the day and when Wayne Smith’s game changing Under Me Sleng Teng was on everyone’s lips.

This 32 track set spotlights King Jammy’s mid to late 80s productions and includes lots of fine riddims, both vintage and fresh ones, for example Stalag, Real Rock, Run Down the World and Satta Massagana.

Featured vocalists include both legends and forgotten ones ranging from Junior Murvin, Dennis Brown, Johnny Osbourne and Sugar Minott to King Everald, Super Black and Prince Junior.

Several tracks on these two discs are made available for the first time on CD and digital download. A delight since many of the tunes are heavily sough-after today, and digital reggae on vinyl from this period also fetch ridiculously high prices on eBay and other outlets.

King Jammy managed to revolutionize the sound of reggae in the 80s and if you already have compilations like King at the Controls or the eight disc set Selector’s Choice Vol. 1-4 you’ll know this. But if not, More Jammys From the Roots is a proper introduction to early digital reggae King Jammy style.

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Taj Weekes spreads love on new single off forthcoming album

16406-LHR_20Cover_20ArtSt. Lucian reggae singer and songwriter Taj Weekes has once again teamed up with his band Adowa for another album.

Love, Herb & Reggae drops early next year and the first single off the set – Here I Stand – will be released on October 28.

“Love is a human rights issue. That’s the important thing. We shouldn’t be defining people by their sexuality. Who’s the one to decide what’s ‘normal,’ anyway? What we need is more love in this world, more diversity. The single is me: I’m stating my position and taking my stand,” states Taj Weekes in a press release.

Taj Weekes has always experimented with arrangements and is no stranger to rock and pop. And this is showcased on Here I Stand. The reggae influence is subtle on this one, and the rhythm leans heavily towards tango (!) and blues.

“The reggae is still there, it’s just in a different place. The drums and bass add the flavor. We kept it simple to focus attention on the lyrics. We wanted it to be a track everyone would notice,” explains Taj Weekes, and adds:

“When I started out I just wanted to put a poem over a riddim. Now I’ve found my voice. I want to be true to the art form I’ve chosen, whatever comes from it.”

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New single from Damian Marley

Successful producer and deejay Damian Marley drops new single. Hard Work is taken from the forthcoming compilation Set Up Shop Vol.2, set to be released later this year on the Marley-owned Ghetto Youths International label.

Listen to Hard Work below.

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Shake it with The Upsessions and Lee Perry

upsessions-shake-it-8714374963824Eccentric Jamaican music legend Lee “Scratch” Perry is a little bit of everywhere these days and works in several genres. In May he was part of the vintage sounding Back on the Controls album and he has also worked with more future-sounding acts like The Orb, Dubblestandart and EasyRiddimMaker.

Now he is involved in another project with a vintage sound. But it’s not swirling roots like Back on the Controls, almost the opposite actually. Shake It! is Dutch band The Upsessions’ fourth album, and it features 14 tracks in the ska, rocksteady and early reggae vein, largely inspired by Desmond Dekker, The Maytals and The Skatalites.

They teamed up with Lee Perry while on tour in Germany and he has injected his distinctive half-sung/half-spoken style to several of the songs. It certainly adds a rough flavour to the otherwise smooth, yet often up-tempo, material.

Just as many albums in this vein Shake It! blends vocal cuts with instrumentals. And the set ranges from the calypso-tinged and risqué The Big Bamboo Treat and Punani Strike via the funky 100.000.000 Tons of Reggae and Funky Lumpini to skanking dance floor crashers like the title track and Hold Your Wining.

Sharp and infectious for your dancing feet.

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Finally time for Horseman’s debut album

Horseman - Dawn of the Dread - ArtworkRenowned drummer and deejay Horseman is finally about to release his debut album – Dawn of the Dread, set for release on November 3. He has been working on the music scene for about three decades and also has music in his blood – his father had a sound system and his mother – Miss Girlie – recorded with legendary singer Laurel Aitken in the 50s and 60s.

He has previously worked with musicians and producers like Tippa Irie, Max Romeo, Gregory Isaacs, Sugar Minott, Jah Shaka, Mad Professor, Barrington Levy and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with John Holt.

But his most recent work is with Hollie Cook and producer and mixing engineer Prince Fatty, who he met while he was working with The Ruff Cut Band.

“I was hired for a live drum session for a group called The Amharics about 2003 and there’s this skinny white guy on the desk. I’m asking around ‘who’s that?’ and everyone’s just ‘that’s Mike’. It was the tightest session I’d worked on, the drums were set up so well they sounded great before they were even mic’ed,” says Horseman in a press release, and continues:

“I didn’t see him again until a few years later at a session at the Fish Market Studio for Little Roy in Willesden Green in 2006-2007 when the door creaked open and it was Mike. He said to me he was setting up a sound system called Prince Fatty and I’ve been on board ever since. He just gets it right every time. He doesn’t have a sound, it’s THE sound.”

Now he steps into the spotlight with Dawn of the Dread, an album recorded at Studio Dub in Thailand before being mixed at Prince Fatty’s Ironworks studio in Brighton.

“Mike just asked, ‘you ever been to Thailand?’ and we went. There were great vibes, we walked in and it all fell into place. We were looking to get that 80s digital sound and all that original equipment was just there waiting for us. It was fate.”

The album title is inspired by a long night of watching zombie films in the studio, but the set is described as being saturated with Horseman’s positive vibes.

“If my music brings joy into someone’s life then that’s my aim, it’s there to make people happy. I’m not in competition with anyone, music shouldn’t be competitive. I’m just me doing my thing.”

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The meaning of dub according to Dub Club

c815b0c80936167ff67c832421cce7ffU.S. reggae producer and mixing engineer Tom Chasteen has via his Dub Club project recently released his first one riddim album, where multiple of mostly veteran artists have brought their own flavour to a dubby and dark instrumental. Artists include Josey Wales, Tippa Irie, Trinity, Tippa Lee, Blackout JA, Ranking Joe and Cornell Campbell.

”UK legend Tippa Irie leads off with the title cut, name checking some dub warriors like Jah Shaka and Lee Perry in the process. Jamaican sound system veterans Trinity, Josey Wales, and Tippa Lee bring some rasta vibes on their respective turns, as the musical track is flipped a little different each time,” explains Tom Chasteen in a press release, and continues:

“Golden voiced singer Cornell Campbell starts side two with a message to all, followed by up and comer Blackout JA and his paean to Dancehall Everlasting. Up next is possibly the stand-out cut out on the record, transforming the deeply swinging instrumental into a percussive runaway train. Finally Ranking Joe adds his two cents to Cornell Campbell’s words of wisdom. We conclude with a clean instrumental for DJs and MCs to make their own.”

Meaning of Dub is yet another fine addition to Stones Throw Records’ growing reggae catalogue.

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First release off Zion Train’s upcoming album

The first release from heavyweight UK dub pioneers Zion Train’s forthcoming album Land of the Blind is a 10” EP with four cuts on the Money riddim.

The EP features vocals from Zion Train regulars like Dubdadda and Fitta Warri as well as Daman.

The Money riddim EP is now available on vinyl and digital download. Check the preview below.

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The four seasons of Fireman Crew

imageAustria’s Fireman Crew has for about six years been building riddims and providing backing for a number of reggae artists, mostly from Europe and the Caribbean.

Their latest production is the Four Seasons Selection, an up-tempo riddim in the one drop tradition. The riddim comes with 13 cuts from a number of well-known artists, including Lutan Fyah, Ras Mac Bean and Da’Ville. It also collects strong efforts from lesser known singers, for example Ricardo Clarke, Zagga and Troy Anthony.

The Four Seasons Selection drops as digital download on September 19.

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Dub rises with Sly & Robbie

After Underwater Dub and Dubmaster Voyage comes Sly & Robbie’s third dub album this year. It’s titled Dubrising and is mixed by Paul “Groucho” Smykle, who is probably best known for Black Uhuru’s The Dub Factor, released in 1983.

In a press release the album is described as “taking you back to the golden age of dub” and being “heavy as lead, yet musical and refined”. And just as Dubmaster Voyage it features dub versions of tracks by Bunny Rugs, Horace Andy and Chezidek, among a few more.

Dubrising drops in November and will initially only be available on vinyl. In addition to the 33 RPM edition, a limited audiophile version will be available on a double 45RPM 12″ pressed on heavy 180g vinyl.

Check how it sounds below.

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