To me, the Californian reggae was for a longtime synonymous with ska/punk bands such as Sublime and Reel Big Fish. But that’s of course far from the truth.
There is a thriving reggae scene in both southern and northern California with artists, bands and producers like Messenjah Selah, Blaak Lung, Lustre Kings, Dub Vision, Groundation and Itation Records.
And then there is the former teenage rebel and street thug Jah Sun, who got a conscious awakening when he heard Bob Marley for the first time.
His third album Battle the Dragon – and the follow-up to the 2010-released EP Gravity – is produced by a host of mostly European producers and features – just like his previous outings – several combinations. This time guests include Gentleman, Alborosie, J Boog, Peetah Morgan, Stevie Culture and Perfect.
Battle the Dragon collects 15 tracks of up-tempo contemporary roots reggae with influences from latin, such as Amoré, a tune that resembles Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise, and dancehall, where the auto-tune drenched title track, and the pulsating Alborosie-combination Ganja Don, are the most obvious examples.
But these influences aside – Battle the Dragon is European modern one drop, and if you are familiar with the pounding and engaging production style of Bost & Bim and Special Delivery you’ll get the picture.
This is Jah Sun’s best album to date, and you ought to check out Jah Children, which echoes of the scorching Diseases riddim, the hammering Plastic City and the radio-friendly Where is Your Love.
Battle the Dragon drops on 30 January as digital download.