December is one of my favorite months. Not because of the cold Swedish winter. Nor the short days and long nights up here in northern Europe. I like the Christmas holidays though. But that’s not why December is a great month.
The reason is the making of lists. I love structuring the year and go through all the music I have received during the past twelve months. And it’s a tough job sorting it all out.
This year Reggaemani will publish three lists – the best tunes in 2011, the best albums in 2011 and overall highlights in 2011.
As you might already have figured out this list is focusing on my favorite tunes this year.
The main criteria for making the list is of course being a great song. But I’ve also only picked tunes that have been released as singles or being part of a riddim compilation. No album tunes so to speak.
I’ve also tried to make the list as diverse as possible. I hope there is a little something for everyone – lovers rock, dancehall, roots reggae and hip-hop infused one drop.
One thing that became apparent when I made this list is that the year mainly belonged to one artist – Tarrus Riley. He has made a number of excellent tunes in 2011 and I could easily have done a top ten with just his output without feeling embarrassed.
The list includes 21 tunes. An odd number you might say. The reason is because when I had made the list I was exposed to a huge tune released in December. I didn’t want to change my initial list and decided to just add another title.
Apart from the list I’ve also added some space for the tunes that are bubbling and hanging out just outside the main list. It’s nothing wrong with these little creatures, so check them out as well.
Artist – Title (Riddim)
1. Captain Sinbad – World Wide Rebellion (Skateland Killer)
Producer Frenchie’s longtime friend chats old school style over this lethal Star Daily News or Gleaner inspired one drop. The Eek A Mouse sample is pure genius.
2. Burro Banton & Joe Lickshot – Sound Exterminator (Sound Exterminata)
The man with the rockstone voice in a sound boy murder style.
3. Queen Ifrica – Pot Still Haffi Bubble (Pursue)
An infectious repetitive chorus alongside anthemic flag waving verses.
4. Romain Virgo – I’m Rich in Love
Uptempo modern lovers rock produced by Donovan Germain.
5. Jah Mason – Mr. Government (Sensimillionaire)
Jah Mason flows effortlessly over this pounding riddim.
6. Protoje & Don Corleone – Our Time Now
Didn’t make it onto Protoje’s debut album due to legal issues, but it leaked and made into this list.
7. Luciano – Identity (Fairground)
Luciano continues his conscious style lyrics and comments on skin bleaching and vanity.
8. Fantan Mojah – Rasta Got Soul (Think Twice)
A James Brown styled Fantan Mojah sings and pays tribute to legendary reggae artists – “If me no call your name, please catch me inna di next song, cause the list a di name a to long.”
9. Carl Meeks – Jah is Alive (Speaker)
80’s singer Carl Meeks has a unique singing style that suits this bouncy riddim very well.
10. Tarrus Riley – Chaka Zulu Pickney (The Nyabinghi)
An always inspired Tarrus Riley sings about historical black leaders.
11. D Major – That’s What Love’s About (Heart and Soul)
The first one drop riddim from the Further Notice camp is all about smoothness and sweet harmonies.
12. Ward 21 – Take a Wif (Jah Army)
A relick of Black Uhuru’s General Penitentiary and just about every cut on this riddim is worth having, and this is particularly devastating.
13. Ky-Mani Marley – Brave Ones (Message)
Producer Don Corleone has a great feel for pop melodies, and this one is no exception.
14. Yami Bolo – Babylon System (Bellyfull)
Weeping and wailing waterhouse style from Yami Bolo. The hip-hop inspired relick of The Gladiator’s Bellyfull is a real gem, and the Albert Griffith’s vocal sample makes all the difference.
16. Jah Sun & Gentleman – Tear Drops (Alive)
Europe meets the U.S. in fine style.
17. Tarrus Riley – Lala Warriors (Gorilla)
Curtis Lynch has produced yet another hefty riddim with a contagious chorus.
19. Assassin & Bounty Killer – Ghetto State of Mind (Ghetto State)
Both Assassin and Bounty Killer must have been bread on gravel and small stones. Their rockstone voices suit this hip-hop-tinged one drop scorcher very well.
20. Turbulence – Jah is Love (Royalty)
Xterminator made their return in 2011. And what a return. Turbulence sounds as good as he did in the early 2000’s.
21. Mavado – Final Destination (Summer Fling)
Can’t help myself on this one. It’s hard not to sing along in the beautiful chorus.
Just outside the list: Tarrus Riley – Rebel, Busy Signal – Worldwide Love, Maxi Priest & Tippa Irie – Like This, Ricardo Clarke – Only Got Love, Vybz Kartel – Summertime, Stylo G – Call Me A Yardie and Sizzla – Murder Star.