Soundclashes are a vital part of reggae culture and soundmen around the world always aim to stay ahead of competition by having the toughest dubplates where the artists spits insults and boasts the sound they are singing and chatting for.
On the by Japan’s Dub Store Records’ recently reissued Soundclash Dubplate Style Vol. 1 & 2 this culture and style is highlighted through ten cuts complemented by their dubstrumental version.
The set is produced by the late engineer-turned-producer King Tubby and was originally released in the late 80s. It’s a solid collection of digital soundboy tunes showcasing the essence of reggae and dancehall culture with each track being introduced by hypeman Fuzzy Jones.
Johnny Osbourne delivers the blazing and pulsating Line Up. It’s by far the strongest cut on the album where Johnny Osbourne fuses tough boastful lyrics with a catchy melody. The grim Die Yu Die from Michael Bitas is another gem which will make competition run.
Reggae history right here.
Forward-thinking Scottish outfit Mungo’s Hi Fi has put out their first compilation featuring some of the key musicians and producers that have influenced them. And it’s a bass heavy bunch of people working out of Europe.
Puffer’s Choice comes with material that has previously appeared on singles along with in-demand dubplates played in dances and a few brand new cuts.
Prince Fatty kicks things off with a chilling and atmospheric version of Kraftwerk’s The Model – with an uncredited vocalist sounding a lot like Hollie Cook – and from then and there it’s a ground-shaking journey with wobbling bass lines, smattering drums and lethal chatting from Danny T, Parly B, Solo Banton, Daddy Freddy, Macka B and Mr. Williamz along with a few more.
A flavorful compilation for those aiming to annoy neighbors.
UK MC Parly B first grabbed the mic on the 90s as part of the local jungle scene and it wasn’t until quite recently he burst into the dub, reggae and dancehall scene. He has recorded a number of tough tunes and several of them are now collected on This is Digital, an eight track set released via Mungo’s Hi Fi’s Scotch Bonnet label.
Two of the cuts are brand new, while six are previously put out different labels and for different producers. The audio landscape is dark and grim with dry melodies and bass lines echoing over oceans. And it suits Parly B’s authoritative vocal style very well.
The title track is an homage to King Tubby’s Firehouse label and was originally cut for Top Cat’s Herbalist and was latest heard on YT’s No Wata Down Ting. The brand new Duppy is produced by Greece’s Fleck and borrows the 19th century Russian folk song Korobeiniki widely known as the being the Tetris theme song.
UK label Reggae Roast has by now a number of strong releases in their catalogue. The latest addition is producer Interrupt and singer Tenor Youthman’s We Rule the Dance, a ten track set packed with computerized sounds, keyboard licks and airhorns ready to test any sound system.
We Rule the Dance is upbeat and digital reggae 80s style. That means drum machines, colourful sounds from Casio keyboards and bouncy bass lines. Add Tenor Youthman’s haunting singing style, which is heavily influenced by Nitty Gritty, King Kong and Tenor Saw, three singers that made a huge impact in the mid to late 80s with their nasal and non-melodic style, and you are at a yard dance in Kingston circa 1986.
On Flash Hit Records’ Time Machine EP they have worked with veteran artists from the early dancehall era and the digital dancehall craze. Papa Michigan, Lieutenant Stitchie, Derrick Parker and Carl Meeks all showcase their talents over explosive riddims created by the team behind Flash Hit Records along with the insanely productive Manudigital, an expert in recreating 80s digital reggae with a contemporary flavour.
This short set – four vocal tracks and two instrumentals – is boiling with energy and Lieutenant Stitchie spits lyrics over a crazy, pulsating beat, while Carl Meeks’ dramatic singing bounces over a lively riddim.
An excellent introduction to the Flash Hit sound.
Versatile singjay Skarra Mucci returns with another energetic, bouncy and playful album with influences from back when, now and then. And it carries another boastful title – Dancehall President. The album before was called Greater Than Great. Skarra Mucci isn’t short on confidence. That’s for sure.
Dancehall President is his fifth studio album and it comes with the same tasty ingredients as his previous sets – reggae, hip-hop, and old school dancehall. This set also add some dubstep, as showcased on the meaty Handz Ina Di Air.
Skarra Mucci effortlessly raps, sings and singjays over contemporary riddims and beats sprinkled with vintage vibes, including It Wasn’t I recorded over a relick of Keith & Tex’ melancholic Goodbye Baby.
The album carries 15 blazing cuts featuring combinations with artists like Beenie Man, Yanis Odua, Mandinka and Horace Andy with production helmed by Irie Ites, Weedy G Soundforce and Deebuzz.
Another sharp and party-starting album with enough energy to keep one rocking and swinging through the night.
German label and production crew Jugglerz recently released a various artists compilation with an impressive line-up and a hefty 21 cuts. Singers and deejays from no less than eight countries are featured on Jugglerz City, which boasts a tasty mix of released and previously unreleased cuts. It almost has the feel of a cohesive mixtape, but with full tracks and no sound effects.
Jugglerz City gives a great chance of discover fresh one drop and lively dancehall as well as a new generation of singers and deejays since talents like Randy Valentine, Christopher Martin, Bugle, I-Octane, Jemere Morgan, Zagga and RC aka Righteous Child are included. The provide the set with youthful energy and vitality.
The highlights are numerous, but some of the brightest moments are Luciano’s Where Are the Hearts on Reggaemiles riddim, Randy Valentine’s album opener My Team, Miwata’s pulsating Daylight and Christopher Martin’s Is It Love with its underlying infectious keyboard hook.
J Boog does what he does best on Worth My Time – sun-drenched reggae – while Etana shows a different and fiercer side on Money is the Motive. This Beenie Man combination is ska-fueled dancehall turning into a frenzy.
Jugglerz has managed to get the best out of a number of highly talented artists.
Canadian producer Poirier isn’t afraid of sonic experimentation. This is clear after listening to his new album Migration, an eleven track set with a global audio landscape. He moves effortlessly from up-tempo soca on Keep It Rolling over digital reggae on Serena to naked dancehall on Jump.
Migration is a mix of live instrumentation and computerized sounds. It draws influences from all over the world and the focal point is the Caribbean with heavy bass and lively energy.
All different styles and guest artists – including long-time collaborator Face-T, the eclectic Dubmatix and dancehall veteran Red Fox – flow gently together creating a tropical, cinematic and forward-thinking album for an international audience.
Japan’s Dub Store Records has recently initiated a reissue program covering the late and great producer and mix master extraordinaire King Tubby. Part of that program is a scorching digital set – Red Rose & King Kong’s Two Big Bull in a One Pen, originally released on King Tubby’s Firehouse label in 1986.
This was at the dawn of King Tubby’s production days and at the time he had just dropped Anthony Red Rose’s monumental Sleng Teng killer Tempo. And on Two Big Bull in a One Pen he pairs Red Rose with the similarly-voiced King Kong. The two were among the brightest shining stars of the early digital era and on the album they go head to head on a few cuts, including the anthemic title track. The album is actually worth getting just because of that particular song. It’s deadly.
The original copy of this album is hard to come by and fetches prices around $50. But thanks to Dub Store this essential set is readily available to all. For the full King Tubby experience – pair it with its dub counterpart Two Big Bull in a One Pen Dubwise.
I enjoy technology development, like streaming and digital download, but in some cases old school is the way to go. Take for instance the LP with its limited running time. A single album has about 45 minutes. That’s it. You can’t fit any more music. A digital album allows for an unlimited amount of music, which can cause quality issues. No need to kill your darlings.
This is the case with Anthony B’s new album Tears of Luv which collects a hefty 18 tracks. About half of them are massive and the other half is somewhat weak. If Anthony B had decided to focus on his strengths this album could have been a bona-fide killer.
This partly self-produced set opens with There’s A Reward for Me, a heartfelt combination with Richie Spice and a tribute to the late and great Joe Higgs, a Jamaican singer that taught Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer how to sing harmonies.
Other highlights include the murderous Bring Back the Vibes, the uplifting Hold Again, the powerful Mau Mau Warrior and the catchy Vow the Nazarene.
But as the album title suggests this set also collects a number of soft tunes and several of those could have been left out. But unfortunately they were not. Anthony B is on top of the game when he flexes his blazing deejay skills chanting down the walls of Babylon and not when singing love songs.