It’s December and that means holiday and lists. Lots of them. Reggaemani will present top lists featuring albums, songs and reissues. And I kick things off with 25 albums that rocked my world in the past year.
The list below is diverse with several different countries, styles and genres represented. Included are artists from Jamaica, the U.S., Spain, Madagascar, Germany, Italy and UK covering roots, dancehall, dub, ska and hip-hop.
This year’s list includes two compilations, which I usually try to avoid. But these two were too good to be put aside.
The list below is presented alphabetical order and if you’re curious about the albums make sure to check my Spotify playlist with all sets. Download the playlist here. Enjoy!
Artist – title
Alborosie – Freedom & Fyah
When Alborosie put out his debut album Soul Pirate in 2008 he presented a fresh take on roots reggae. He came in from another angle and created his own sound, and has developed it into perfection.
Assassin aka Agent Sasco – Theory of Reggaetivity
A stellar album and a landmark in Assassin’s career. It’s a reflective and conscious set painting a vivid portrait of reggae and its diverse set of sounds, styles and themes.
Biba – Massavana
Spanish producer Roberto Sánchez has given the set a feel of authenticity with vintage vibes and live instrumentation complete with beautiful harmonies – listen to Mr. Babylon – and dub versions to four of the cuts.
Clinton Fearon – This Morning
Quintessential Clinton Fearon. Sweetly skanking riddims, unpretentious arrangements and infectious melodies complete with emotional singing and personal reflections on life and current events, including police brutality and an unjust judicial system.
The Emeterians – The Journey
Marvelous set showcasing the versatility and breath of both The Emeterians and reggae as a genre.
Flowering Inferno – 1000 Watts
Producer and multi-instrumentalist Quantic has crafted a beautiful and mostly instrumental set with warm vintage grooves, summery vibes, dub wizardry and excellent musicianship.
The Frightnrs – Nothing More To Say
Painful and sweet. Just like real rocksteady should be.
General Roots – Walk Tall
An instant grabber with its infectious melodies and gentle, yet pulsating, vibes.
I Kong – Pass It On
If his previous album A Little Walk was a triumphant return for I Kong, this album certainly cements his arrival after almost ten years out of the spotlight.
Jah9 – 9
Jah9 continues to push musical and lyrical boundaries and it will be a journey to follow her future career.
Jahcoustix – Seriously Positive
A throw-back to vintage reggae and the organic sound owes quite a lot to rocksteady, especially the driving organ and the tight and beautiful harmonizing on several tracks, for example on a cut like the insanely catchy Old Tongue.
King Solomon – Ceasefire
Comes with a minimum amount of perfume and make-up. What was recorded in the studio is what you’ll get.
Max Romeo – Horror Zone
Max Romeo and Daniel Boyle have managed to create a strong album that pays respect to the original classic War ina Babylon, but without being too nostalgic.
Perfect – Reggae Farm Work
A striking and innovative album that drops like a bomb.
Raging Fyah – Everlasting
Everlasting has several irresistible moments – even though a few might be slightly too slick and polished – and passionate and expressive vocalist Kumar shines throughout this sonically sophisticated collection.
Raphael – Reggae Survival
Straight up contemporary and uplifting roots reggae with live instrumentation – including a brass section supervised by legendary Jamaican sax maestro Dean Fraser – and infectious melodies.
The Rockers Disciples & The Producers – Sounds From the Ark
A stellar 12 track album where wonderful instrumentals rub shoulders with killer vocal cuts and lethal dub versions.
Sara Lugo – Sara Lugo & Friends
A sultry and soulful album where Sara Lugo’s light, breezy and effortless singing is exquisitely matched with both riddims and collaborators. Stay close to the repeat button.
Silly Walks Discotheque – Smile Jamaica
An excellent compilation with a broad variety of riddims highlighting many of Jamaica’s emerging talents.
Soom T – Free as a Bird
Power, rhythm and melody all come together beautifully on this album. It’s a grower so you need to give it some time. But it’s well worth the time. A spot on album.
Taj Weekes & Adowa – Love, Herb & Reggae
Taj Weekes tackles difficult issues and calls for changes throughout the album. But it’s never dark or dismal. He sings with a smile. And it’s infectious.
Tippa Lee – Cultural Ambassador
A bona fide killer with its tasty and excellent relicks of a number of immortal riddims, including a murderous cut of the lethal Drum Song riddim.
Various – We Remember Dennis Brown
Dennis Brown’s greatness and relevance can’t be overstated, and even though 30 tracks make a hefty compilation, there’s much more to discover.
The Viceroys – Iroko Showcase Vol. 2: Memories
Heavy roots. Roots full of culture and consciousness. Just like in the 70s.
Zion I Kings – Dub in Style
Melodious and elegant dub of the highest caliber.