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Anticipated reggae albums in 2016

Just when the dust has cleared off all best of 2015 lists it’s time for yet another list. This time putting focus on what’s about to come in 2016. And it certainly looks promising.

For the list below we’ve scanned social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find information on reggae albums to be put out in 2016. We also reached out to artists, labels, management and PR firms to learn more about 2016.

Below are over 80 releases; mostly albums – reissues and new recordings – from artists and groups from all over the world. The majority of the releases are to be found in the not yet scheduled section. Several artists – like Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Jah9, Sizzla, Major Lazer, Alborosie and Brinsley Forde – have announced release plans, but with no set date or album title.

Read the list and add your favorites to the calendar. Enjoy!

Note: originally published on United Reggae.

Artist – title (label)

JANUARY
Fantan Mojah – Soul Rasta (Young Veterans)
Fourth album from this instantly recognizable singer and singjay. First single off the album – the Capleton and Turbulence combination Kingston Town – was released on January 1 and the album was put out on January 8.

Black Roots – Son of Man (Soulbeats)
Drops on January 22 and is described as classic Black Roots.

Various – Studio One Showcase (Soul Jazz)
Brings together a selection of classic tracks from Horace Andy, Freddie McGregor, Johnny Osbourne, Lone Ranger, Sugar Minott, The Heptones, Wailing Souls and other reggae artists. All cuts recorded at Studio One in the 1970s. Drops on January 23.

Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari – Tales of Mozambique (Soul Jazz)
Rare and ground-breaking album originally released in 1975 and now reissued in an expanded format with the inclusion of two rare single-only tracks, full sleeve notes, exclusive photographs and an interview. Drops on January 29.

Bosse Skoglund & Zilverzurf – Mantra Sessions (Playground)
Swedish duo exploring Indian mantras set to a reggae, dub and jazz backdrop. Slated for release on January 29.

Various artists – Boat to Progress (VP Records)
Glen Brown is responsible for productions on this compilation, which collects a number of vocal cuts from singers such as Gregory Isaacs, Little Roy and Johnny Clarke. Originally put out in 1989 on Greensleeves and now set for release on January 29.

Various artists – Check the Winner (VP Records)
Reissue of this compilation with Glen Brown productions. Collects instrumentals from the man himself along with cuts from Tommy McCook, Bobby Aitken and Bobby Ellis. Originally released in 1989 on Greensleeves and now slated for release on January 29.

Various artists – Dubble Attack (VP Records)
Reissue of this deejay compilation with Glen Brown productions. Originally put out in 1989 on Greensleeves and now up for release on January 29.

FEBRUARY
Léah Rosier – Only Irie Vibes (Dibyz Music)
Debut album from the Dutch singer. Drops on February 5.

Lady Saw – Reggae Legends Box Set (VP Records)
Collects a number of strong albums from this pioneering dancehall deejay. Slated for release on February 5.

Luciano – Reggae Legends Box Set (VP Records)
Collects a number of strong albums from one of the most productive modern roots singers. Set for release on February 5.

Taj Weekes & Adowa – Love Herb & Reggae (Jatta)
After being delayed several times St. Lucian singer Taj Weekes and his band Adowa will drop their fifth album Love Herb & Reggae. The set is slated for release on February 12 and the title is a reference and an answer to the decades old mantra “sex, drugs and rock & roll”.

Horace Andy – In the Light Deluxe & In the Light Dub (VP Records)
Deluxe reissue of this hard-to-find original which was actually reissued in 1995 by Blood & Fire Records. Both sets – the vocal and the dub – drop on February 19.

Various artists – Original Rockers Deluxe (VP Records)
Deluxe reissue of this classic compilation which collects a number of lethal and ethereal cuts. Slated for release on February 19.

Skin, Flesh & Bones – Dub in Blood (Pressure Sounds)
Rare dub album produced by the great Phil Pratt and originally released on his Sunshot label in the mid-70s. Expected on February 19.

DJ Vadim – Dubcatcher IIWicked Ma Yout (Soulbeats)
Follow up the insanely bouncy Dubcatcher album. Drops on February 19.

David Isaacs – Jah Love I (Pressure Sounds)
10” produced by Phil Pratt. Expected in February.

Daddy Mory – Travail D’Artiste
Daddy Mory is a legendary French reggae artist and started his career as part of successful duo Raggasonic. This is a solo album produced by the acclaimed Frenchie of Maximum Sound. Expected in mid-February.

Natty & The Rebel Ship – Release the Fear
Second album from this UK roots singer. First single off the album was Gaia, which came with a dub mix provided by Prince Fatty. Slated for release on February 29.

Assassin aka Agent Sasco – Theory of Reggaetivity (Germaica)
After several successful cross-over collaborations – Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Raekwon – this gruff-voiced dancehall deejay drops his first reggae album.

Warrior King – The Rootz Warrior
Warrior King’s fifth album – and his first in five years – and according to the singer it’s his first time working with producers from outside Jamaica. Included is lead single Ain’t Giving Up and a number of collaborations, for example with Beres Hammond and Richie Spice.

MARCH
Various – The Bristol Roots Explosion (Bristol Archive Records)
Nine tracks of classic UK roots reggae including two previously unreleased tracks. Drops on March 4.

Wyman Low & The Ravers – Trippin’ (Khanti)
Reggae band from France. Drops on March 4.

Unified Highway – Unified Highway
U.S. reggae band Rebelution’s front man Eric Rachmany has teamed up with DJ/producer Amp Live for the project Unified Highway.  The duo released the first single Stand Proud – which features Shana Halligan, Keznamdi and New Kingston’s Tahir Panton on vocals – off their debut album last year. The album is expected on March 4.

Perfect Giddimani – Reggae Farm Work (Irie Ites)
New album from the highly productive Perfect. Initially slated for release in 2014, but delayed and will now be out on Irie Ites Records on March 4.

Mighty Mystic – The Art of Balance (Roots Musician Records)
Jamaican-born and U.S.-bred singer drops his third album on March 11, a set following Concrete World which included the superb Cali Green.

Rising Tide – Rising Tide (Soulbeats)
New project from members from U.S. reggae giants Groundation. First single Is It Right was released in December. Drops on March 18.

Max Romeo & Daniel Boyle – Horror Zone
Expected to be in the same vein as Daniel Boyle’s Lee Perry collaboration Back on the Controls. Slated for release sometime in March.

Hornsman Coyote & Soulcraft – Safe Planet (Ammonite Records & PDV)
Second album from this Serbian collective fronted by veteran trombone player Hornsman Coyote. First single off the album was Glorious and it will be followed by Plastic Smiling Face. Expected sometime in March.

Black Slate – Peaceful Demonstration
Legendary reunited reggae band from the UK. First single off this album – Should I Stay or Should I Go – was released last year. Slated for release in March 31.

Big Red – TBA
French singer and deejay Big Red – one half of acclaimed duo Raggasonic – drops an album.

APRIL
Yellam – The Musical Train (Irie Ites)
A taste of this album was presented on the eclectic EP Get on Board, released in 2015. Produced by France’s Irie Ites crew and expected on April 1.

Ackboo – Invincible (Khanti)
Heavy dub and electro business from France. Slated for release on April 1.

Takana Zion – Good Life (Soulbeats)
One of the best African reggae artists with a number of solid efforts on the market. His fifth album drops April 29.

Various artists – Compendulum at the Controls (Sugar Shack)
Remix album on Sugar Shack Records.

Various artists – Tape Rolling! (Pressure Sounds)
Album collection Bunny Lee productions from 1971-1974. Expected in late April.

MAY
Various artists – Midlands Roots Explosion Volume Two (Reggae Archive Records)
Follow up to the successful first volume that was released in 2015.

JUNE
I Kong – Pass It On (Fruits Records)
Second album from the legendary I Kong on Fruits Records. Includes guest performances from Raging Fyah and Ken Boothe among a few others. Mixed by the acclaimed Roberto Sánchez and expected sometime in June.

Harrison Stafford & The Professor Crew – One Dance
New project from Groundation’s front man Harrison Stafford, aka Professor. Musicians involved include Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace on drums, Errol “Flabba” Holt on bass, Dalton Browne on guitar and Obeah Denton on keyboards. The album was recorded at Harry J Studio in Kingston. Expected in May.

NOT YET SCHEDULED
Alborosie – Freedom & Fyah (VP Records)
Two singles off this new album have already been put out – Poser and Rocky Road – and they are classic Puppa Albo.

Akae Beka – Portals (I Grade Records)
New musical project from Midnite’s lead singer and front man Vaughn Benjamin. First album was released in November last year and this is one of two albums scheduled for release in 2016.

Akae Beka – TBA (Zion High Productions)
Another set from Vaughn Benjamin’s – lead singer and front man in Midnite – new musical project that is scheduled for release in 2016. This one via U.S. production trio Zion I Kings.

Bitty McLean – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Not yet titled new album that will follows up on his beautiful EP Heart, Mind & Soul. Expected in first half of 2016.

Brinsley Forde – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Not yet titled album from the former Aswad lead vocalist produced by Sly & Robbie and Guillaume Bougard and mixed by Paul “Groucho” Smykle. Expected in first half of 2016.

Bugle – TBA (Germaica)
New EP from the deep-voiced and increasingly conscious Bugle. Slated for release during the first quarter of 2016.

Christopher Martin – TBA (VP Records)
Probably one of the greatest singer of the new Jamaican generation. His EP from last year – Steppin Razor – included several major cuts, including the boastful I’m a Big Deal.

Chronixx – TBA
Debut album from this much celebrated singer. Expected around June or July and will be followed by a worldwide tour.

Daddy Rings – In the Streets
Veteran Jamaican deejay that has been living in Germany for many years. The first single off the album is the dubstep-ish Gentleman collaboration In the Streets.

Da’ville – TBA (Germaica)
Sweet-voiced and romantic reggae singer responsible for the mighty My Grade. Expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Danakil – La Rue Raisonne
Popular French band that has announced a new album slated for release in the third or fourth quarter of 2016.

Denham Smith – TBD (Irievibrations) 
His second EP, and his first for Austria’s Irievibrations Records, is expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Derajah – The First Book
New album from Jamaican singer Derajah, who got his big break working with acclaimed guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith and his Inna De Yard project. First single off the album – The Time is Now – won United Reggae’s production competition.

Ernest Ranglin – Boss Reggae (Dub Store Records)
Instrumental late 60s early reggae business produced by Richard Khouri and arranged by Ken Lazarus. Reissue slated for release during the first quarter of 2016.

Gappy Ranks – Guide Me
Fourth album from this in-demand UK singer and singjay.

The Gladiators – Back to Roots (Patate)
Wicked album originally released in 1982 and reissued in 2000 by Tabou 1. Now the reissue will be made available again thanks to France’s Patate Records. Expected in the first half of 2016.

Gregory Isaacs – Warning (Dub Store Records)
Produced by the late and great King Tubby and backed by The Firehouse Crew. Originally released in 1990 and now set for release in in the first quarter of 2016.

Hempress Sativa – UnconqueRebel (Conquering Lion)
Debut album from Hempress Sativa and the first single off the album Rock It in a Dance – inspired by Papa Michigan & General Smiley’s Studio One classic Nice Up the Dance – bodes very well.

Hollie Cook – TBD
Third and much anticipated album from one of UK’s finest.

J Boog – Wash House Ting
Soulful singer J Boog’s third album is titled after his own studio and label and is expected to drop during the first quarter of 2016.

Jah9 – 9 (VP)
Second album from Jah9 and the follow-up to her much celebrated debut album New Name. Includes multiple producers and is expected in the second quarter of 2016 with a first single to be released in early February.

Jahcoustix – Seriously Positive (Irievibrations)
Follow-up to his Frequency and its acoustic counterpart Acoustic Frequency. Expected in the second quarter of 2016.

John Brown’s Body – Fireflies (Easy Star Records)
New album from this popular U.S. reggae band is expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Junior Natural – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Swedish singer that made his stage debut at the tender of 12 at Uppsala Reggae Festival. This was about nine years ago and now he has worked with the legendary Sly & Robbie in tandem with Guillaume Bougard. Expected in the third quarter of 2016.

Kabaka Pyramid – TBA
After two solid long-playing EPs – Lead the Way and Rebel Music – along with several successful singles, including the recent Well Done for Damian Marley, Kabaka Pyramid is finally set to drop his debut album. The set is said to be produced alongside Damian Marley and will drop this year.

Kunley (of Ward 21) – Dangerous Meditations (Germaica)
EP from Ward 21’s Kunley Ward, aka Kunley 21, who voiced a number of riddims last year. Expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Lutan Fyah – TBA (I Grade Records)
New album from one of Jamaica’s most prolific and popular singjays. Produced by Zion I Kings and scheduled for release last year, but was delayed.

Major Lazer – Music is the Weapon
After their Peace is the Mission album from last year, which featured the international hit Lean On, the Major Lazer trio is set to drop their fourth studio album in the third quarter of 2016.

Meta & The Cornerstones – Hira
Third album from Meta & The Cornerstones. The set was recorded in the UK and is produced by Meta Dia and engineered by acclaimed producer and mixing wizard Shane C. Brown. It features 13 songs and is a celebration of different cultures, influences and religions.

Nattali Rize – TBA
Blue King Brown’s rebellious singer follows up on her and Notis’ solid EP New Era Frequency from last year. Expect productions from Notis and Winta James.

Raging Fyah – Everlasting (VP Records)
This successful Jamaican band signed to VP last year and almost immediately dropped the catchy Kabaka Pyramid combination Dance with Me.

Raphael – Roots Survival
Raphael’s second album for Irievibrations and follow-up to his rootsy Mind vs. Heart. Expected in the third quarter of 2016.

Romain Virgo – TBA (VP Records)
Romain Virgo’s EP Lifted was released in 2015 and it certainly promised well for his much-anticipated third album.

Shezekiel – Catch the Boat
Pauline Catlin from UK pioneering lovers rock trio Black Sugar is now performing solo and is expected to drop her debut album.

Sizzla – 876
Originally slated for release in 2015, but was never put out. The title refers to the local telephone area code of Jamaica.

Sly & Robbie meet Bitty McLean and Bunny Rugs (Tabou 1/Taxi)
On Record Store Day – April 16 – Music on Vinyl will put out a 10” with two Bitty McLean cuts and one Bunny Rugs track along with a dub produced by Guillaume Bougard and Sly & Robbie.

Sly & Robbie with DJ Winston – Free Dub (Tabou 1/Taxi)
More dubs from Sly & Robbie’s protégé Dartanyan Winston, aka DJ Winston, who worked on the excellent Dubmaster Voyage album released in 2014.

Sly & Robbie meet Robbie Lynn – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Not yet titled album where Sly & Robbie meet key maestro Robbie Lynn for a jazz and funk session. Expected in late 2016.

Various – Clean Heart riddim (Lustre Kings)
Fifth installment of Zion I Kings’ one riddim series and follows the acclaimed Lion of Judah riddim.

Various – Dub in Style (Lustre Kings)
Zion I Kings meets legendary Roots Radics drummer at Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, Jamaica.

Various artists – Dub Station [working title] (Irievibrations)
Dub mixes of a variety of artists and cuts from Austria’s premier reggae label Irievibrations. Expected in the third quarter of 2016.

Various artists – First Class Rock Steady 7” Box Set (VP Records)
Smooth and slick business up for release on vinyl.

Various artists – Havana Meets Kingston
A musical project spearheaded by Australia’s Mista Savona where he has brought together musicians and singers from Jamaica and Cuba in a studio for the first time ever. Featured musicians and artists include several members from Buena Vista Social Club, Sly & Robbie, Ernest Ranglin, Leroy Sibbles, Cornel Campbell, Micah Shemaiah, Randy Valentine, Sizzla, Big Youth and Lutan Fyah. Expected in the first quarter of 2016.

Various – Marketplace riddim (Zion I Kings)
Sixth installment of Zion I Kings’ one riddim series.

Various artists – We Remember Dennis Brown (VP Records)
A tribute to the Crown Prince of Reggae, a singer that left us much too soon.

Various artists – TBA (Tabou 1/Taxi)
Guillaume Bougard has produced something sounding very tasty – a boogie funk and old school rap album where Sly & Robbie and Robbie Lynn team up with artists from New York and Memphis. Mixed by veteran mixing wizard John Morales and expected in the first half of 2016.

Viceroys – Memories (Iroko)
New album from this legendary Jamaican harmony group. Expected in the second quarter of 2016.

Volodia – TBA
French hip-hop influenced reggae artist that is expected to drop a set in late 2016.

Ward 21 – TBA (Germaica)
Hardcore dancehall crew follow-up on their solid album Still Disturbed from 2014. Expected in the third quarter of 2016.

Willie Lindo – Far and Distant (Dub Store Records)
Smooth lovers rock from this seasoned session guitarist. Originally released in 1974 and now up for release in the first quarter of 2016.

Zos – TBA (Irievibrations)
Debut EP from Irievibrations’ songwriter who has until now only recorded two songs. German speaking roots reggae expected in the second quarter of 2016.

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Top 10 reggae reissues in 2015

The fourth and final list summarizing 2015 collects the ten best reggae reissues and as usual reissue giants like Pressure Sounds and Digikiller are represented, but also Hot Milk and VP’s subsidiary 17 North Parade.

The list below collects ten heavily essential items and the list could actually have been a bit longer since the year has been very strong when it comes to reissues. Just outside the top ten comes albums from Tetrack and The Inturns along with the hefty compilation Rastafari – The Dreads Enter Babylon. Included in the list are both single artist albums and compilations and it’s presented in no particular order.

Top ten reissues

If you’re curious about the albums – check out this Spotify playlist with nine of the sets. Enjoy!

Artist – title
Various – Mr Perry I Presume
Pressure Sounds continue to plug the gaps in reggae history and Lee Perry’s unreleased catalogue is obviously not completely drained as one might presume. This collection of dubplates, alternate mixes and unreleased cuts is just as essential as it is consistent.

Various – Gussie Clarke From the Foundation
Augustus Clarke helped to revolutionize Jamaican music and that’s brilliantly showcased on From the Foundation.

Various – King Jammy Roots, Reality & Sleng Teng
The three discs – including the DVD documentary King at the Controls – show King Jammy’s range and diversity as a producer as well as his unique talent for keeping up with the times and pushing the music forward.

Various – Next Cut!
Most tracks on this Bunny Lee compilation are raw, especially the dubplates, and most of these unique mixes are heavy, sparse and militant.

Various – Strong Like Sampson: Linval Thompson Presents the 12” Mixes
Nearly two hours of some of the most uncompromising early dancehall to be put on wax. The fearsome Roots Radics do not apologize for their sparse and heavy as lead riddims.

Mr. Spaulding – Twelve Tribe of Israel
I have listened to reggae for almost 20 years and I can’t say I have heard frequencies as low as these before. The bass line on cuts like Tell Me and Mankind are as deep as the Mariana Trench and custom-made for mashing down the walls of Babylon.

Gladstone Anderson – Sings Songs for Today and Tomorrow
U.S. based label Digikiller has teamed up with France’s Only Roots for the reissue of pianist Gladstone “Gladdy” Anderson’s rare Sings Songs for Today and Tomorrow. But this album is more than that particular set since the set comes with its almost dub counterpart Radical Dub Session by Roots Radics.

Various – Dread Prophecy: The Strange and Wonderful Story of Yabby You
Don’t think for a second that you can sleep on this epic collection of mystic, powerful and anti-establishment music where Yabby You and his friends chant down Babylon again and again and again.

Jimmy Riley – Live It to Know It
This album has everything a great reissue should have – excellent music, discomixes, devastating dub versions, good audio quality, scarce material and vivid liner notes. It collects nothing but the best and it captures Jimmy Riley at his finest.

Various – The Midlands Roots Explosion Volume 1
Shines light on Birmingham and other cities that make up the Midlands as well as putting forward some of the lesser known acts that spent years performing and recording without achieving any level of success. The area was certainly a powerhouse of British reggae and this compilation includes many tracks worthy of wide exposure.

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Top 10 reggae EPs in 2015

EPs have been popular in reggae for some time now and this year I have selected my top ten favorites. The list includes several debut sets, for example Jamaican EarthKry, The Frightnrs from the U.S. and two bright shining Jamaican songstresses – Toian and Keida.

Top 10 Eps

Only single artist sets are included in the list and it’s presented in no particular order. If you’re curious about the music – check this Spotify playlist with all EPs. Enjoy!

Artist – EP title

Romain Virgo – Lifted
Blends consciousness and social commentaries with love songs and intoxicating rhythms and it bodes well for his new album.

EarthKry – Hard Road
Solid and very promising debut set from these Edna Manley alumnus.

Bitty McLean – Heart, Mind & Soul
Continues where his The Taxi Sessions left off. Bitty McLean sings his heart out over vintage Sly & Robbie riddims, originally laid at Channel One by the Hookim brothers.

The Frightnrs – Inna Lovers Quarrel
Killer release. Get ready for a rocksteady treat.

Nattali Rize & Notis – New Era Frequency
Contains heavy hitting tracks, both musically and lyrically, and brims with rebelliousness and emotion.

Brother Culture – The Flava
Brother Culture teams up with Reggae Roast for the seriously weighty EP. It comes with five deadly tracks, including the anthemic Soundsystem, and kicks off with bouncy 80s vibes on The Flava followed by the uncompromising Bring di Weed with its earth-shaking bass line.

Keida – Ebb and Flow
Showcases a mature singer comfortable with both up-tempo and hard-edged dancehall as well slower roots.

Randy Valentine – Still Pushing
Another beautiful set from Randy Valentine and after two EPs and several strong singles and one riddim album cuts I’m definitely ready for this emotive singer’s debut album.

Toian – Retrospect
Excellent and youthful debut from a fresh new voice.

Omar Perry – Be Cool
Produced by Sly & Robbie. And as usual with this ground breaking duo the set is well-crafted, expertly executed and with intriguing arrangements and song structures. And when Omar Perry shows no mercy on the microphone there is need to put up a fight against a set like this.

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Top 50 reggae songs in 2015

The second top list for 2015 collects best songs, and just as last year the second half of the year was way stronger than the first six months. And when I wrote the half-year report in July I had difficulties finding enough highlights. But from July and onwards there have been a steady stream of solid singles, remixes and one riddim compilation cuts. This means that some of the songs included in the half-year report were pushed out due to fierce competition.

The list contains rising hopefuls like Koro Fyah, Shuga, Mortimer, Sevana Siren and Earthkry, but also long-time veterans, such as Luciano, Inner Circle, Burro Banton, Cornell Campbell and Sizzla. And most artists are from Jamaica.

Top 50 best songs in 2015

During the year I have also noted that major labels have taken interest in reggae and at least three of the cuts are released directly via Sony, Atlantic and Universal. Some probably also have distribution via a major label or at least some kind of affiliation. That’s a good sign for coming years and I hope it’s not just a fluke.

The list below is as usual presented in no particular order and the songs included are only singles or tracks taken from compilations. If you are curious about the songs you can download a Spotify playlist with 46 of the 50 tracks. Download here and enjoy!

Artist – title (label/riddim)
Jesse Royal – Cool and Deadly (Ghetto Youths International/On the Corner)
Samory I – Scepter (Taitu/Go With Jah)
Torch & Bugle – Fire Man a Bun (Weedy G Soundforce/Gate 7)
Cornell Campbell – Good Old Days (Tuff Scout/God I God I Say)
General Degree – Feeling Irie (Germaica)
Protoje & Sevana Siren & Jesse Royal – Sudden Flight (Baco Records)
Major Lazer & MØ & DJ Snake – Lean On (Mad Decent)
Exco Levi – Love (Jugglerz/Reggaemiles)
L.U.S.T – She’s Pretty Like (Silly Walks Discotheque/Ram Jam)
Koro Fyah – Eyes Red
Luciano – Solid Like a Rock (Larger Than Life/Hungry Dayz)
Nattali Rize & Notis & Kabaka Pyramid – Generations Will Rize (Roots Level)
Lucas DiPasquale & Stylo G & Kardinal Offishall & Konshens – Do It Like (Universal)
Cadenza & Stylo G & Busy Signal – Foundation (Sony/Real Rock)
Rapha Pico & Mr. Patze – 45 (Area 026 Music)
Kristine Alicia – Freedom Fighter (Rorystonelove/Braveheart)
Brownie – I Was There (One Family Music)
The Wizard & Jesse Royal – Raging Storm (Tropical Storm)
Kranium & Ty Dolla $ign– Nobody Has To Know (Major Lazer & KickRaux remix) (Atlantic)
Rominal – Grow My Dread (Charmax Music)
Fantan Mojah – Nah Vote Again (Live MB Music/Visions)
Inner Circle & Kabaka Pyramid – We the People Ha Fi Talk (DubShot Records)
Jr. Thomas & The Volcanos – Get a Hold of You (Truth & Soul Records)
Chi Ching Ching – Watchy Wyah (Chimney Records)
Stylo G & Gyptian – My Number 1 (Jr Blender remix) (3 Beat Productions)
Wrongtom & The Correctional Horns – Repossession (Tru Thoughts/Possession)
Kiko Bun – Where I’m From (Island Records)
Kenny Knots – Watch How the People Dancing (Reggae Roast)
Jamie XX & Popcaan & Assassin & Konshens – I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) (Dre Skull remix) (Young Turks Recordings)
Earthkry – 9 to 5
Junior Cat – See Bobo Dread (Colonel Mustard)
Mortimer – Warning (Vibe Dub) (Treasure Chest Productions)
Ras Demo – Sekkle Up the Score (Maximum Sound/The Armour)
King Mas – Zombie Apocalypse (Royal Order Music)
Notis – Raggy Road (Notis Records)
Randy Valentine – Love Advocate (Maximum Sound/Selecta)
Trinity – Rock Ina Dancehall (Irie Ites/Cuss Cuss)
Samory I – Take Me Oh Jah (Rorystonelove/Zeen)
Burro Banton – Prosper (Massive B/Skateland)
Tom Fire & Soom T – Take a Walk
Ikaya – Lenient Wife (John John/Fragrance)
Reverend Danny Dread – Chatty Mouth Defeat (Colonel Mustard)
Shuga & Lone Ranger & Horace Andy – Every Tongue Shall Tell (Penthouse/Every Tongue Shall Tell)
Lutan Fyah – Too Much Ramshackle (I Grade Records/Lion of Judah)
Romain Virgo & Agent Sasco – Fade Away (VP Records)
Alaine – Hello (Adele cover) (Jukeboxx)
RDX – Linky (Cashflow/Sounds of the Heart)
Tifa – Rock My Body (Mixpak/Blacklight)
Sizzla – Think Positive (Special Delivery)
Shuga – In Deh (Penthouse)

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Top 25 reggae albums in 2015

It’s December and that means lists. Lots of them. Reggaemani will present top lists featuring albums, songs, EPs and reissues. And I kick things off with 25 albums that rocked my world in the past year.

The list collects an unusual large amount of productions from the U.S. I have been following the scene there for quite some time and reggae music produced in the U.S. just keeps getting better and better. I believe VI reggae trailblazers Midnite is partly responsible for the overall positive development.

25 best albums 2015

The list below is also – as usual I might add – eclectic. Included are artists from Jamaica, the U.S., Spain, UK and France covering roots, dancehall, dub, ska and hip-hop.

This year’s list is also a bit different compared to previous lists. I have taken the liberty to include two compilations, which I usually try to avoid. But these two were too good to be put aside.

The list below is presented in no particular order. If you’re curious about the albums – check my Spotify playlist with all sets. Download the playlist here. Enjoy!

Various – The Biggest Reggae One Drop Anthems 2015
Definitely the most consistent One Drop Anthems released yet and I hope VP will continue this successful new approach.

Kranium – Rumors
Urban and contemporary, but not the usual dancehall album. It’s slower, darker and more atmospheric.

Sr. Wilson – Paso Firme
Sr. Wilson shows his full range as an artist and he sounds comfortable with every eclectic riddim that producer Genis Trani has provided him with.

Macka B – Never Played a 45
The list of killer cuts could go on and on, and when Their God fades out you immediately cry out – rewind!

Junior Kelly – Urban Poet
An album with incredible live riddims, exciting musicianship and vocal artistry at its best. A landmark release.

Jr. Thomas & The Volcanos – Beware
Warm, organic and soulful to the bone with sizzling organs, picking guitar and infectious melodies.

Rampalion – Inside the Kete Heart
Probably the most accessible and easy-going nyabinghi album ever released.

Karl Morrison – Better Must Come
Stylish and mature debut that battles social issues and equality as well as celebrating the moral of Jamaican people.

Micah Shemaiah – Original Dread
A celebration of reggae and particularly rub a dub from the early 80s. Superb from start to finish with heavy and uncompromising riddims along with infectious melodies and catchy hooks.

Various – Nyacoustic Chants
Bubbling with consciousness and uplifting vibes this album is the sound of natural mystic. It’s a melodic and pulsating feast, so gather your friends and prepare them for a journey to another musical dimension.

No-Maddz – Sly & Robbie Presents No-Maddz
Cleverly produced and tailored to No-Maddz with engineered perfection.

L’Entourloop – Chickens in Your Town
A playful and creative album boiling with unexpected influences. It will heat up any dance floor with its multi-layered sound, sweaty grooves and electrifying beats.

Jahdan Blakkamoore – Order of Distinction
Well-crafted from beginning to end. Jahdaan Blakkamoore is an innovative wordsmith delivering positive and insightful lyrics, ranging from sexy lovers rock on Smood Blakk Skin and Everything I Love to the encouraging and electrofied Faith, the spiritual Come Back Around and the more boisterous and energetic Ting Tun Up! with Lady Leshurr and Melodic Yoza.

Cas Haley – More Music More Family
The album has an organic live-played vibe and draws influences from reggae, soul, blues, hip-hop and gospel. Some people might dismiss this magnificent set as too lightweight, but for me it’s all about pressing the repeat button again, again and again.

The Skints – FM
The Skints pull influences ranging from grime, garage and punk to summertime sound system reggae, dancehall, rocksteady and soul. It’s a tour of urban culture in its latest guise.

Protoje – Ancient Future
A cohesive set that balances rootsy reggae with hip-hop beats. But it also offers a few tasty slices of lovers rock and joyous ska. It’s definitely rooted in the 70s and 80s, but embodies the energy of the present.

Brother Culture & Manasseh – All a We
Follows the success of last year’s anthemic Sound Killer and on this new album Nick Manasseh unleashes some heavy as lead riddims for Brother Culture to ride. It’s socially conscious and spiritually devout.

The Expanders – Hustling Culture
Melancholic, yet positive, conscious, yet uplifting. Hustling Culture will definitely add a bit of Californian sun into your earphones or stereo. Let it in. Just let it in.

The Lions – Soul Riot
Hip reggae sounding like it did it in the late 60s and early 70s. It’s creative, playful and festive.

The Inspirators – The Inspirators
Excellent vintage-flavored album where Swiss producer Mathias Liengme’s has gathered four reggae veterans in the studio – Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, bass virtuoso Lloyd Parks, master guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith and acclaimed singer Anthony “Sangie” Davis from The Gathers.

Joe Higgs – Godfather of Reggae
Melancholic, yet positive, and best described as an astonishing slice of alternative reggae.

Jah Cure – The Cure
Collects several attractive ballads, but balances those with edgier cuts. With this new set Jah Cure has created a sound that might attract both crossover fans and reggae purists alike.

Exco Levi – Country Man
Veteran producer Donovan Germain is behind this one and that means sweet melodies, infectious hooks and grand arrangements.

Morgan Heritage – Strictly Roots
Their tenth album where the octet continues to wave the red, gold and green banner high and proud. Their version of pop-fueled and melodic socially conscious roots reggae is easy to fall in love with, and this album is no exception.

Naaman – Rays of Resistance
Potent and explosive, as shown on tracks like Big and Bad and Pop Dem Bubble, but also slow and ethereal, as showcased on cuts like Those Rays and the melancholic Soom T combination My Days.

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The world is upside down – no Marley nominated for a Grammy

Last year I wrote that there is one nature law in reggae – if one of the Marley’s has put out or produced an album it will be nominated for a Grammy that year. That is pre-determined and last year’s winner was to no one’s surprise since Ziggy Marley and his Fly Rasta won. Ziggy Marley has in total won no less than six Grammy’s over the years.

But this nature law apparently has its flaws since Ky-Mani Marley and his album The Maestro didn’t make the cut for the 58th annual Grammy Awards that was announced today.

The five reggae nominees instead include Rocky Dawuni’s Branches of the Same Tree, Jah Cure’s The Cure, Barrington Levy’s Acousticalevy, Luciano’s Zion Awake and Morgan Heritage’s Strictly Roots.

The sets from Rocky Dawuni, Jah Cure and Morgan Heritage are almost equally strong, but if I had to choose I’d go for The Cure, Jah Cure’s return to the rootiser side of reggae.

Other nominees include Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd. Winners will be presented on February 15 in Los Angeles.

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What about the verse?

Choruses usually get all the credit in a song. It’s often catchy and infectious and easy to like. But what about the verses? They are certainly more than just a highway to the chorus.

My favourite verses at the moment are from two of the main proponents of the Jamaican reggae revival. I’m talking about Chronixx and Jesse Royal.

It’s not often Chronixx voices a one riddim track compilation, but he is featured on On the Corner riddim. I guess when you get a call from Damian Marley you won’t let the man down. All cuts voiced are superb, but Chronixx’ Ghetto People stands out slightly above the others, partly thanks to the second verse where Chronixx lets loose his slick and unique singjay mode. Listen below at 1,07 minutes into the song.

Jesse Royal murders every time he stands in front of a microphone and his combination with Protoje and Sevana is no exception. He is stylistically superior and his verse on Sudden Flight is murderously slick. He rides the riddim like a surfer riding a wave. Listen below at 1,59 minutes into the song.

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Goodbye SoundCloud

About ten years ago I got into podcasts and online-based reggae mixtapes, partly thanks to BMC and his excellent work. It was thanks to his mixes that I got interested in contemporary reggae. I listened to his mixtapes, sets that always credited artist, label and riddim when available. I later bought the cuts or the albums that I liked.

After a few years I decided to make my own mixtapes and I used his recipe – no full tracks and added audio effects. These mixtapes were not about making money or exploiting the artists, producers or labels. They were meant to promote the music that I love. I wanted other people to hear my current favorites and then buy what they liked. Just like I did and still do.

Mixtapes have been around for ages (remember cassettes?). But they have also always been something of a grey area. And now the people at SoundCloud – the largest online audio distribution service – have started to remove mixes from their site because of copyright violations.

SoundCloud’s policy is clear – uploading copyrighted material is not permitted. That’s fine and the way it should be. They have however been more tolerant about it when it comes to mixtapes and radio shows. But that’s in the past. They now have a more aggressive approach, maybe because of new agreements with major labels and copyright violation tracking services.

My mixes are among those that have been removed from SoundCloud. And just like many others I received no notification or warning.

The question is how this approach will effect SoundCloud in the long run. They have been enormously successful and have for years been the preferred choice for top DJ’s sharing their work to the world. Now I note that several DJs are turning to SoundCloud’s main competitor Mixcloud, a service that even has a SoundCloud Import function.

I enjoy being introduced to new music through listening to mixtapes and radio shows. Consequently, I will follow the DJs, their content and hang out more at Mixcloud. SoundCloud will probably still be the preferred choice for producers and labels for a while longer, but I have a feeling music lovers will follow the DJs. Where the consumers go, labels have to follow. And the circle is complete when Mixcloud has grown too big.

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The five best reggae EPs in 2015 so far

This is the fourth and final best of 2015 so far list. It collects the five best reggae EPs. But the list could actually have been a bit longer since the year so far has been very strong when it comes to EPs. Just outside top five comes efforts from Naptali and Christopher Martin. Included is only single artist sets and the list is presented in no particular order.

Best EPs 2015 so far

If you’re curious about the EPs – check out this Spotify playlist with all sets. Enjoy!

Artist – title
Keida – Ebb and Flow
This fresh set showcases a mature singer comfortable with both up-tempo and hard-edged dancehall as well slower roots.

Randy Valentine – Still Pushing
Another beautiful set from Randy Valentine and after two EPs and several strong singles and one riddim album cuts I’m definitely ready for this emotive singer’s debut album.

Toian – Retrospect
An excellent and youthful debut from a fresh new voice.

Omar Perry – Be Cool
Produced by Sly & Robbie. And as usual with this ground breaking duo the set is well-crafted, expertly executed and with intriguing arrangements and song structures. And when Omar Perry shows no mercy on the microphone there is need to put up a fight against a set like this.

Clay – Clay:List
Clay is an emotional singer with a deep feel for catchy melodies and infectious choruses, which was showcased already on his debut. And Clay:List continues in the same vein.

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The five best reggae reissues in 2015 so far

The third list summarizing 2015 so far collects the five best reggae reissues and as usual reissue giants like Pressure Sounds and Digikiller are represented, but also Hot Milk.

The list below collects five essential items and the list could actually have been a bit longer since the year so far has been very strong when it comes to reissues. Just outside the top five comes albums from Tetrack and The Inturns. Included in the list are both single artist albums and compilations and it’s presented in no particular order.

If you’re curious about the albums – check out this Spotify playlist with four of the sets. Enjoy!

Best reissues 2

Artist – album title
Gladstone Anderson – Sings Songs for Today and Tomorrow
U.S. based label Digikiller has teamed up with France’s Only Roots for the reissue of pianist Gladstone “Gladdy” Anderson’s rare Sings Songs for Today and Tomorrow. But this album is more than that particular set since it comes with its almost dub counterpart Radical Dub Session by Roots Radics

Jimmy Riley – Live It to Know It
This album has everything a great reissue should have – excellent music, discomixes, devastating dub versions, good audio quality, scarce material and vivid liner notes. It collects nothing but the best and it captures Jimmy Riley at his finest.

Yabby You – Dread Prophecy: The Strange and Wonderful Story of Yabby You
Don’t think for a second that you can sleep on this epic collection of mystic, powerful and anti-establishment music where Yabby You and his friends chant down Babylon again and again and again.

Various – Strong Like Sampson: Linval Thompson Presents the 12” Mixes
Nearly two hours of some of the most uncompromising early dancehall to be put on wax. The fearsome Roots Radics do not apologize for their sparse and heavy as lead riddims.

Mr. Spaulding – Twelve Tribe of Israel
I have listened to reggae for almost 20 years and I can’t say I have heard frequencies as low as these before. The bass line on cuts like Tell Me and Mankind are as deep as the Mariana Trench and custom-made for crashing down the walls of Babylon.

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