The debut album from Jamaican production duo Natural High Music is a sensational one. It’s a 16 track compilation that’s dread, dense and surprisingly cohesive.
Urban Roots features singers from the new and old generation. Most are actually more or less newcomers and the only veterans are Lutan Fyah and Mikey General. Some of the others have however already proven themselves prior to this lovely set, for example Dre Island, Stevie Lightning from Rootz Underground, Jahvinci, Chezidek, Keida and the stylistically superior Jesse Royal.
It all starts off with Dre Island’s contemporary roots scorcher Live Forever and ends with an inspired dub version of the same track. In between these gems there are both dark and heavy and sweet and beautiful cuts. All are however influenced by dub mixing techniques and some explore booming hip-hop from the early 90s. The tempo is often slowly pulsating driven by rebellious bass lines and deadly drums.
An excellent compilation showcasing just how strong the reggae scene in Jamaica is at the moment.
For his brand new album New Paradigm U.S. reggae singjay Jah Sun has teamed up with Austria-based record label House of Riddim.
On the 16 track set they have invited an impressive roster of contemporary reggae artists from Jamaica and Europe – Dre Island, Million Stylez, I-Octane, Randy Valentine, Nikki Burt and Charly B.
House of Riddim has produced all tracks, which is rather unusual in reggae, and the album is solid, cohesive and firmly rooted in contemporary and up-tempo one drop reggae. Jah Sun sings, deejays and even showcases his rapping skills on a few tracks.
Best of the bunch are album opener New Paradigm, the Dre Island combination Carry On, with its dramatic strings, and the fist pumping Morning Sun, complete with intense horns and punky energy.
Included are also a few radio-friendly cuts, for example the slick I-Octane combination Peace Cry and Only Human, a cut sounding a bit like Paul Simon’s pop reggae smash hit You Can Call Me Al from the mid-80s.
Jah Sun is definitely a force to be reckoned with –as he also has proven on previous sets, particularly the excellent Rise as One – but this album means no paradigm shift in reggae; it’s actually rather traditional and the sound of reggae will probably stay the same.
Following Reggaemani’s top 50 tunes, 25 best albums and the best ten reissues come five favourite mixtapes.
All five mixtapes come from new and aspiring Jamaican Rasta singers. The new generation if you will, a generation following conscious giants like Luciano, Sizzla, Capleton and Buju Banton. Four artists that made names for themselves in the 90s and now they have serious competition from aspiring young singers and deejays that aim for world dominance with an eclectic mix of roots reggae, hip-hop, soul, rock and pop.
Chronixx put it eloquently in a recent interview with NPR.org – “We are not going to do it like Bob Marley did or like Burning Spear did. We are using their blueprint to bring on a new generation of works.”
Below is a top five list in no particular order and a link to each mixtape on Soundcloud. Check em’!
Protoje & Yaadcore – Music From My Heart
Exco Levi & Mighty Crown – Official Mixtape 2014
Kabaka Pyramid & Livity Moments – Accurate Mixtape
Dre Island & King I-Vier – Rastafari Way
Jesse Royal & DJ Tall Up – In Comes the Small Axe
Jamaican up and coming singer Dre Island is part of the vital cultural reggae scene in Jamaica with young artists such as Chronixx, Protoje, Jah9, Kabaka Pyramid and Iba Mahr. He is a classically trained pianist who has co-written material for Julian Marley, Ding Dong and Junior Reid.
His latest single is the smooth Rastafari Way, produced by Lloyd “Jam2” James. Now comes a mixtape with the same title. It’s mixed by King I-vier of U.S. Jah Warrior Shelter Hi-Fi and collects several big tunes, among them cuts on well-worn riddims like Police in Helicopter, Baltimore and Cuss Cuss.
Listen and download for free over at Soundcloud.