Pierpoljak is one of the most successful French reggae artists. He dropped his debut album in the mid-90s and has managed to sell both platinum and gold. Over the years he has made many trips to Jamaica to explore culture and music. And his new album Général Indigo got its title from an incident during a visit.
According to a press release Pierpoljak was in a parking lot in Kingston, smoking weed and waiting for a friend when a security guard turned up. They argued, but soon made friends, and the security guard christened him General Indigo because of Pierpoljak’s blue eyes.
Général Indigo is his tenth album and to have creative freedom Pierpoljak established his own label Garvey Drive. It collects twelve tracks recorded in Paris together with some of the most talented reggae musicians from France, including Bost & Bim, Manudigital, Kubix and TnT.
This is warm, emoitional and melancholic roots reggae with the usual messages of freedom, love and unity. But Pierpoljak also get personal on a few cuts. On Papa Du Week-End he sings about parenting and child care, on Keep On Dada – on which he also gets into Burning Spear mode – he criticises the social security system and on Puta Vida Loca he tells the story of a Parisian drifter.
The French reggae is one of the hottest in Europe and both veterans and newcomers are putting out excellent roots, dancehall and dub. And after more than 20 years in the industry Pierpoljak still manages to sound relevant.
Following two remix EP’s comes a new one artist album from the Mungo’s Hi-Fi camp. This time it’s a collaboration with an up and coming youth – Charlie P. He first introduced himself to the collective five years ago at a show in Glasgow and they have since spent many recording sessions together and also toured across the globe.
You See Me Star is a result of the long collaboration and the ten track album brings together a variety of styles for the digital age – from roots and dancehall to more contemporary bass heavy music.
Mungo’s Hi-Fi has your years championed the sound system style and been fore runners in the evolution and revolution of reggae, dub and dancehall. They have successfully merged these styles into a modern cocktail fueled by an extreme amount of bass.
On You See Me Star Charlie P sings and showcases his tongue twisting techniques over digital and wobbling bass boosted originals and relicks. He tells stories from sound system dances, and particularly tasty is album opener and title track, a cut about rising in the sound system hierarchy.
You See Me Star is adventurous and fresh rub-a-dub for the 21st century
After an EP and few strong mash-ups French reggae beatmaking duo L’Entourloop – The Architect and Deej’o – is back with a colorful debut album – Chickens in Your Town.
This set combines reggae with razor-sharp beats, clever samples and roaring vocal collaborations with a roster of reggae and hip-hop artists from around the globe; ranging from Jamaica and the U.S. to the UK, Austria, France and Senegal.
The tight relationship between reggae and hip-hop go way back and the two genres have over the years been successfully combined by several artists and producers. And one of the most recent additions is Protoje’s acclaimed third album Ancient Future, an effort that successfully combined reggae with hip-hop creating a smashing soundscape.
There are no rules allowed on Chickens in Your Town. Anything goes as long as it’s positive and uplifting. This makes Chickens in Your Town a playful and creative album. It boils with unexpected influences.
It will probably heat up any dance floor with its multi-layered sound, sweaty grooves and electrifying beats. Definitely a certified head-nodder.
Jamaican-born and UK-raised singer Randy Valentine has teamed up with Mad Professor’s son Joe Ariwa for another strong EP.
Still Pushing is just like its predecessor Break the Chain released via Hemp Higher and it offers more of the same rootsy reggae with a contemporary flavour. This new set might however be a bit more on the dubby side of reggae.
Randy Valentine is one the best – if not the best – European singers right now. He has a great energy and melody in his voice and he can probably make any track interesting.
Still Pushing comes with eight tracks, of which one is a dub version and one is a mighty fine slice of a cappella where Randy Valentine gets the chance to showcase his strong and emotional vocals.
This is another beautiful set from Randy Valentine and after two EP’s and several strong singles and one riddim album cuts I’m definitely ready for his debut album.
Garnett Silk-influenced Jamaican singer Mark Wonder, aka Dragon Slayer, has a fresh new album out. Scrolls of the Levite collects 13 tracks, including one dub version, produced by U.S. Nowtime Sound. And the result is an uncompromising and cohesive effort with clear hip-hop influences throughout.
The soundscape is often dubby and dread. The often emotional Mark Wonder signs praises of the Almighty, hails Jah and warns the youth against going astray. Onboard the journey is skilled hornsmen Dean Fraser and Nambo Robinson on saxophone and trombone respectively.
Best of the buch is the slightly offbeat Rude Boys in Town, the militant Buzzrock Soldiers with its infectious electronic instrumentation, Long Road, on a hip-hop-tinged version of Ras Michael’s mighty None a Jah Jah Children, and the haunting Rebels.
Scrolls of the Levite offers a tasty mix of beats and riddims with forward-thinking arrangements and song structures and its definitely Mark Wonder’s best work to date.
Following monumental reissues from Pressure Sounds – the beautiful Live it To Know It from Jimmy Riley – and Shanachie – the haunting Dread Prophecy from Yabby You – comes another set that is wicked than wicked.
U.S. based 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.
Gladstone Anderson has been in the music business since the birth of reggae and he has played on several immortal reggae albums, including several scorchers with Roots Radics. He started as one part of vocal duo Stranger [Cole] & Gladdy, but from the 70s and onwards he mainly worked behind the scenes as pianist and arranger for various producers.
Sings Songs for Today and Tomorrow and Radical Dub Session were originally released in the early 80s on the Jahmani and Solid Groove labels respectively and didn’t make much noise at the time. Both sets are however fantastic and Gladstone Anderson has a velvety voice clashing the brimstone and fire riddims laid down by Roots Radics powered by Style Scott on drums and Errol “Flabba” Holt on bass. The dub album comes with deadly mixes provided by Channel One regulars Barnabas and Maxie.
The album comes in a beautiful 2LP gatefold sleeve with both sets complete with their original sleeves. And it’s obviously a work of love provided by two of the best reissue labels today.
With producers from about eight countries Niyorah’s fourth album Rising Sun would be destined to being a much varied and erratic set. But it’s actually not. And somehow it all balances very well.
The album collects 13 tracks with production credits from acclaimed producers like France’s Bost & Bim, Austria’s Irievibrations, Zion I Kings from the U.S and DJ Frass and George “Dusty” Miller from Jamaica. And it presents some of Niyorah’s best material to date.
Apart from Midnite and Pressure he’s probably one of the most prominent artists from the Virgin Islands. He has for many years dropped conscious and spiritual music telling stories from the streets and from the heart.
Rising Sun is no exception. Rain Forrest is a beautiful environmental prayer, Media Portray is an unforgiving attack on popular culture, War is Not the Answer is a plea for equality on Zion I Kings’ gorgeous Song Bird riddim and Medicinal Ganja is an angelic marijuana anthem.
But the best cut is the infectious and pulsating Let Love Flow, a track that might be a highlight of Niyorah’s career. He is a talented performer and has a slick way of mixing sweet singing with fierce deejaying. And it might just be his captivating flow that keeps the set together.
Listening to the latest Peter Tosh compilation Peter Tosh & Friends – An Upsetters Showcase. This 15 track set is described as a Peter Tosh compilation, but there are a lot of friends and only five of the 15 songs are by the man himself. The other ten tracks are singles from the likes of pioneering deejays U Roy and Big Youth along with the gritty Carl Dawkins and the soulful, and underrated, Dave Barker.
All tracks are however produced by the Upsetter himself and during the period covered on this album Lee Perry recorded some of his best work, including Bob Marley & The Wailers’ post-Studio One and pre-Island days.
All songs on this compilation has been reissued before and several are available on Trojan’s six disc compilation Bob Marley & The Wailers Complete Upsetter Collection. Nothing wrong with reissuing these fine tracks again and making them easily available, but the title could be more accurate.
Honey-voiced Jamaican singer Christopher Martin inked a deal with reggae powerhouse VP Records almost two years ago and finally a result of this collaboration has been put out.
Steppin Razor is a five-track, digital only, release that balances sweetness with sex and showcases this reggae loverman at the top of his game.
Christopher Martin is versatile singer that won Jamaica’s televised talent show Digicel Rising Star in 2005. He has since build a strong fan base around the world and on this set he shows great confidence, especially when it comes to ladies.
Just listen to the title track – which isn’t a cover of the Peter Tosh cut, even though it borrows from it – and lines like “Now ladies love to be next to me, if they are down and am around, I am the remedy” and “they get addicted to my vibe, a make dem feel so good inside, intoxicated by my smile, these girls fall in no time”. Or the swaggering I’m a Big Deal with its introduction “#I’m a big deal”.
Christopher Martin is a certified reggae crooner with a passionate and urgent voice. Lyrically he might be a bit self-centred, but ladies might fall for his confidence and high self-esteem.
Veteran Jamaican singer I Kong aka Ricky Storm started his career in the 60s as part of vocal harmony group The Jamaicans. He left and started recording with Yabby You’s harmony group The Prophets, followed by sessions with Lee Perry and future Third World singer Bunny Rugs under the name Ricky & Bunny.
His first album The Way It Is dropped in 1979, a set that included the title track, which was an underground hit at the time. Since the release of his debut album I Kong has only recorded sporadically and his new showcase album A Little Walk is his sixth set and his first in eight years.
The effort collects ten tracks, of which four are dub versions and two are extended mixes. It was recorded in Kingston with Swiss band Najavibes accompanied by percussionist Scully Simms and guitarist Dalton Browne. The riddims are powerful and the backing has a sweet and melodic richness. This is effective roots mixed by Spanish maestro Roberto Sanchéz.
I Kong’s voice may be a little thin, but it’s emotional and original, yet sounding a lot like one of his contemporaries – the late Prince Lincoln Thompson of The Royal Rasses.
A Little Walk collects highlights like the up-tempo Groovy Feeling, with a dub version including razor-sharp guitar, album opener Guiding Light with a fanfare-like horns and the uplifting Live as One.
I haven’t heard much that I Kong has recorded previously, but it’s nonetheless great to have him back on the scene. There is certainly something special with vintage Jamaican singers.