The legendary Papa Michigan – of Michigan & Smiley fame – has teamed up with Flash Hit Records and producer and mixing engineer Manudigital for a new EP titled DJ Legend.
Michigan & Smiley were among the first deejay duos and begun their career in the late 70s, and soon scored two hit songs with Rub a Dub Style and Nice Up the Dance for producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. But their biggest hit was probably Diseases, which appeared on their successful album Downpression, produced by Henry “Junjo” Lawes.
Michigan’s new set collects six brand new tracks, from rub a dub to digital, and drops in September.
Belgian band Pura Vida has managed to create a sound almost identical with what Lee Perry did at his famous Black Ark studio in the mid-70s. It’s swirling, sweaty and raw, and has been a successful recipe on a number of albums over the past years.
Pura Vida’s latest set is yet another combination with The Congos, and this time with Congo Ashanti Roy, one of The Congos’ lead singers.
Step by Step collects 17 cuts, of which five are dub versions and one is an instrumental with acclaimed trombone player Tommy Tornado taking lead. It offers well-crafted and live-played riddims as well as interesting arrangements, especially when it comes lead and back-up singing.
But, the problem with this set also lies in the vocals. Because Congo Ashanti Roy isn’t at the top of his game. He suffers occasionally from pitch lapses, and is off-key several times. A pity since he has emotional intensity, an intensity particularly showcased on the skanking and swinging Be True to You with its infectious sing-a-long chorus.
Even though Congo Ashanti Roy’s singing isn’t always up to par, he’s still a powerful exponent of vintage-flavoured roots reggae.
The story behind Sly & Robbie’s second dub album this year is an amazing and beautiful one.
A few years ago Sly & Robbie’s management stumbled on Dartanyan Winston and his Youtube “videos” of remixes of Bob Marley, Sly & Robbie and several other Jamaican artists. They asked him to stop posting unauthorized content, and he immediately accepted. However, they had at the same time recognized his talent and offered him to work on a legit multitrack of a Sly & Robbie’s produced track.
Sly & Robbie liked what he did and gave this aspiring youth a challenge and sent him more music to work with. Robbie and the management guided him and helped him to channel all of his energy to make something that could be commercially viable and up for an actual release.
The result is the 13 track album Dubmaster Voyage, a set that features dub mixes of tracks by Bunny Rugs, Brinsley Forde, Bitty McLean, Al Campbell, Horace Andy, Chezidek and a few more.
This set and its mixing definitely sounds like a Sly & Robbie dub album. The original versions are deconstructed to the bone and then built up again with a big dose of grim effects and studio wizardry.
Highlights include the groovy Free Ride, with its swirling guitar and hypnotic bass line, and the pounding Destroy the Walls of Jericho!.
The 20 year old Dartanyan Winston was flipping burgers at McDonald’s in Ohio, U.S., when Sly & Robbie discovered his potential. He didn’t just twiddled the knobs on this album, he mixed a full-scale dub voyage.
The reggae scene in the Virgin Islands has grown a lot over the past ten years and is today a powerful force on the global reggae arena.
VI trailblazers Midnite are pioneers, even though reggae has been played on the islands since the 70s. Midnite’s socially conscious and take-no-prisoners style of roots, with extremely sparse arrangements and a dreader than dread approach, has paved the way for loads of other artists and bands from the Virgin Islands, including Bambú Station, Pressure, Army, Dezarie and Reemah.
French production company Reggaescape has produced a documentary about the roots movement in the Virgin Islands. Escape to St Croix VI dives deep into the culture, the history and the musical movement. It features music and interviews with several key artists and drops on September 15.
Trinidad & Tobago is usually associated with hardcore and party-starting soca with artists like Bunji Garlin and Fay-Ann Lyons. But reggae is growing on the islands, and has done so for a number of years. In the forefront are the likes of Queen Omega and Marlon Asher.
One of the latest additions to the Trinibagoan reggae scene is former calypso singer Excellent, and just like many other artists from the Caribbean she started her musical career singing in the church choir.
Her first official single Love Langue is put out via Trinidad-based label JahLight Records, and is a smooth and laidback tune with lots of lovers rock vibes. And more is to come from this talented and soulful singer.
JahLight Records has announced a remix of Love Language, yet another single plus a track on their upcoming Jehovah riddim. And early next the year they aim to release an EP with her. So stay tuned.
One of last year’s best album releases was Jah Sun’s Rise as One, and one of its many highlights was the up-tempo Richie Spice combination Can’t Live Good, a cut produced by Dynasty Records.
The label has happily enough voiced a bunch of other artists on that tasty riddim, a riddim titled Crunch Time. The one riddim album collects impressive cuts from the likes of Gappy Ranks, Lutan Fyah, Delly Ranx, Bobby Hustle and Sensation & Jus Goodie.
Check Unity Sound’s megamix below and be prepared on September 2 when the riddim drops.
Talented dancehall deejay and label owner Mr. Vegas has been productive in recent years. In 2012 he dropped the acclaimed reggae-fused double disc Sweet Jamaica and last year he released the more dancehall-oriented Bruk it Down 2.0.
Now it’s time for a new album. His sixth to date. It’s called Reggae Euphoria and hits the streets on September 23.
Mr. Vegas has been in the music business for nearly 20 years and is best known for his energetic dancehall hits, but Reggae Euphoria is in a press release said to highlight a different style, just as the aforementioned Sweet Jamaica did when it came out.
The upcoming set collects 15 tracks and is expected to include a broad mix of genres. The greater portion is said to be reggae, but Mr. Vegas also ventures into dancehall, hip-hop, R&B, comedy (!) and gospel. It certainly sounds like another Sweet Jamaica.
U.S. experimental hip-hop producer Amerigo Gazaway has finalized his incredible two disc Yasiin Gaye project, where he has paired Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, with Marvin Gaye.
This project builds on deconstructed samples of Marvin Gaye’s Motown classics with additional samples and vocals provided by Yasiin Bey. Amerigo Gazaway has re-constructed the arrangements and instrumentation into new productions. It’s of the highest quality and sounds like an authentic collaboration between two musical maestros.
The Departure (Side 1) and The Return (Side 2) are inspired by Mos Def’s song Modern Marvel, a nine minute tribute to Marvin Gaye in which he raps over instrumental versions of Marvin Gaye’s Flyin’ High (in the Friendly Sky) and What’s Going On. During the second half of the song, Mos Def asks – “If Marvin was alive now, wow… What would I say to him? Where could I start? How could I explain to him? I know the modern world would probably look strange to him. Would he feel like today had a place for him?”.
This project is a response to Yasiin Bey’s tribute, and an attempt to answer the question he posed in Modern Marvel.
Both albums are available for free download over at Bandcamp, and they also include excellent track by track liner notes by Amerigo Gazaway. Stream The Return below and download that album here and The Departure here.
Last year Jamrockvybz Records’ put out an EP titled North Wind, a set with vocals provided by Sizzla, Lutan Fyah, Italo Skarcha and Alexander Star. A few days ago a remix version dropped.
North Wind Remixes collects twelve tracks with remixes courtesy of Max RubaDub, Mungo’s Hi Fi, MSDOS, Ted Ganung, Jamie Bostron and SantyG, all of which represent different approaches and genres.
Best of the bunch is by far Max RubaDub’s and Mungo’s Hi Fi’s versions of Sizzla’s Fight Dem Ownself and Lutan Fyah’s Nat Up Yuh Head. Max RubaDub’s cuts are bouncy hip-hop, while Mungo’s Hi Fi’s are dreamy and ethereal, reminiscent of the late and great Augustus Pablo. But also Ted Ganung’s bass-heavy take on Alexander Star’s smooth Home Cooked Meal.
The other seven cuts are up-tempo and frantic sonic excursions and lean heavily towards jungle, drum & bass and dubstep. Not for the fainthearted.
Soca – the fast-paced descendant of calypso – has been at the forefront of Caribbean music in recent years, and the genre has successfully embraced expressions from other styles outside the West Indies, especially electronic dance music, hip-hop and R&B.
And one of soca’s most acknowledged artists is the robust and rapid-firing lyricist Bunji Garlin, aka the Viking of Soca. He has been making dancehall-fused soca for the past 15 years and last year he scored a huge hit with the infectious Differentology, a song originally put out in late 2012 in anticipation of the 2013 carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. With that track he won a 2013 Soul Train Award for Best International Performance, and a Battle of the Beats competition on influential New York hip-hop station Hot 97.
His new album bears the same title as his smash hit, and on album opener Red Light District he sets the tone immediately – “Somebody give me a rhythm to activate the waistline on the feminine gender, Now”. From there on it’s more or less a party from start to finish, even though the set also allows for a few darker moments, for example the anthemic hip-hop scorcher West Indian Jungle and the electric A$AP Ferg combination Truck On Di Road (remix).
Differentology also manages to bridge old and new sonic identities thanks to the vintage-flavored All O’Dem and a version of Trinidadian calypsonian Maestro’s Savage, originally released in 1976.
On the uplifting Over the Hills Bunji Garlin sings “I wanna see this music rise, see soca fly high with the eagles in the skies… I wanna see my music over the hills”. And with this album Bunji Garlin takes soca over the hills, out of the West Indies and into clubs all over the world. With its percussion-driven riddims, Bunji Garlin’s eclectic vocal style and its lively and euphoric sound, Differentology is dance music at its best.