The European reggae scene has been thriving for years and the development is mainly led by France, Germany and the UK, countries with several talented performers and producers. Both France and the UK have a large population of Caribbean descent. Germany, however, has managed to be a vital part of the European reggae scene without people coming from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago or some of the other islands where people live and breathe reggae and dancehall.
Bielefeld is a small German city known for its industries and its local university, but also for roots rasta artist Uwe Banton. Well, Bielefeld is maybe not synonymous with Uwe Banton yet, but things might change thanks to his third solo album Mental War, a 13 track set mostly produced by the singer himself and with a little help from musicians such as Moritz von Korff, who has played a important role in the development of the contemporary European reggae scene.
Mental War offers the usual rootsy European sound with influences from hip-hop, soul and ska and with lyrics dealing with faith, unity, romance and the importance of making an effort in life working and contributing to society. The latter topic is of great importance at the moment due to the debt crisis in the U.S. and parts of Europe.
Uwe Banton has also thrown in the more or less mandatory marijuana anthem. The Roots of It (Cannabis Song) is a bright and sing-a-long friendly piece where he argues why ganja should be legal.
The album collects four combinations – two with Jamaican veterans Mikey General and Luciano and two with fellow Germans Jahcoustix and Cornadoor. The duet with Jahcoustix is recorded over Dub Inc’s mighty No Doubt riddim released last year and is the strongest moment on an otherwise solid set.