Tag Archives: Gyptian

A decadent crossover album from Gyptian

Gyptian-Sex-Love-and-Reggae-Artwork-2013A common expression is never judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what you can do with Gyptian’s fourth album Sex, Love & Reggae. It sounds like it looks. Sensual, boastful and frisky.

It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart and at #24 on the Billboard Heatseekers/Top New Artist Album chart. Not that hard to understand since the album is a logical follow-up to his 2010 album Hold You, a set that featured his monster smash single of the same name, a tune that ruled the Caribbean airwaves in the same year and led to a remix with no other than Nicki Minaj.

Sex, Love & Reggae is a contemporary pop and R&B album with island influences – reggae, dancehall and soca. And it features several guest performences, including appearances by Angela Hunte, Bunji Garlin, Estelle, Melanie Fiona and Kes the Band. Included are also two covers – Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors and Gregory Isaac’s My Number One. Be Alright is not a cover, but it owes more than just a little to Maroon 5’s chart topping single She Will Be Loved.

The album shows a Gyptian that has changed a lot since his breakthrough hit Serious Times. The Rasta influences have given way to bling-bling, sex jams and bass boosted beats signed and sealed by co-producer Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, known for cranking out hits for superstars such as Mary J. Blige, Lupe Fiasco and the Fugees.

The 17-track set features an eclectic mix of songs – from party starters like Non Stop, Wet Fete and the title track to affectionate bedroom ballads such as Wine Slow and Majestic Love. Gyptian is however at his very best when he showcases his desperate side in the militant I’m So and the haunting Good Girls.

An exciting and diverse set of crossover songs that will probably not go well will reggae purists.

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Contemporary flavors on Miss Lily’s Family Style

imagesMiss Lily’s is a restaurant in downtown Manhattan, New York City, described as a social and cultural hub for all things Caribbean. This eatery has together with reggae powerhouse VP Records brought out a brand new compilation series – Miss Lily’s Family Style.

The first edition includes 15 tracks full of island flavor selected by Miss Lily’s family of DJ’s and tastemakers. Their favorites are well-known dancehall classics from the 90’s and forward as well as contemporary anthems.

All of these big, bad and bouncy cuts are sure to heat up any dance floor, whether you’re in New York City shaking it to KonshensSo Mi Tan, in London moving your feet to Gappy RanksPumpkin Belly, in Kingston getting down and dirty to the Wurl Boss’ Whine, in Tokyo jumping up and down to Lil Rick’s Guh Down or in Moscow slow-whining to Gyptian’s smash hit Hold Yuh.

The CD comes in a vintage vinyl-inspired packaging with liner notes by reggae journalist and Radio Lily resident Rob Kenner along with a free download card of a 40+ minute mix by Miss Lily’s own DJ Max Glazer of Federation Sound.

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Decent debut album from Junior X

Jamaican Rastafarian singer, sometimes singjay, Junior X, or just Jr. X, made an impression on me in 2009 when I stumbled upon Love We Need, a duet with Zamunda and Perfect. The same year he also contributed to Pow Pow’s excellent Surfer riddim.

But Junior X started much earlier. In the early 90’s he auditioned for producer Dave Kelly, and in the early 21st century he recorded an album for Dennis Wright that wasn’t put out.

He recorded another album, this time for Herbs House. But this one wasn’t released either, apart from a few tunes. One of those was Plead My Cause, included on Junior X’ third album. A set that was released digitally earlier this year, and has now been put out physically as well.

Plead My Cause – as the album is titled – is a conscious effort full of social commentaries set to mostly contemporary one drop riddims, but also a few in the more dancehall oriented vein.

The strongest efforts being One More Night with its sing-a-long chorus and the hidden combinations Look No Further and Never Stop Trying with Queen Ifrica and Gyptian respectively. Hidden, because it’s not stated anywhere that these artists contribute to the songs. A bit strange since both Queen Ifrica and Gyptian are more well-known than Junior X himself.

Plead My Cause is a decent debut from this promising artist. I hope he can continue in the same strong style as One More Night, Love We Need or the recently released Sizzla combination Changes on SherKhan’s Electricity riddim.

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Reggaemani’s best tunes in 2010

Like with albums, 2010 has been a pretty decent year with some major tunes. Gyptian – for instance – scored one of the biggest reggae hits in recent years with his hypnotic Hold You.

Apart from Gyptian, Vybz Kartel had two very well received tunes – the anthemic Clarks that have some follow-ups and Jeans & Fitted featuring producer Russian.

In the one drop field producers like Not Easy At All, Frenchie and Irie Ites have kept their flag high in Europe. In Jamaica, Don Corleon and John John produced two of the best riddims this year – Major and Zion Gate.

My best tunes in 2010 are a mixture of hard and sweet and dancehall and one drop. The tunes selected are not necessarily the ones that I’ve played the most, since I wanted a more diverse list than 20 tunes in one drop mode. You’ll probably notice that Hold You and Clarks are missing. Why? What can I say? The competition was just too fierce.

Artist – song title (riddim)

20. Gappy Ranks & Million Stylez – Life
Two European singjays that work very well together.

19. Jah Vinci – Me Alone (Wallabeez)
Bouncy dancehall at its best.

18. Maikal X – Get Away (Police in Helicopter Reactivated)
One of the loudest bass lines in 2010. Ouch.

17. Sena – Work in It (Eyes On My Purpose)
Sena was in the top of my list last year. Work in It is a wicked combination of hip-hop and reggae.

16. Chris Martin – As I Walk Away (Jah Protect)
Beautiful ballad with Chris Martin’s emotional voice over a riddim with acoustic guitar and strings.

15. Jimmy Riley & Fantan Mojah – Tell Me Your Name (Best Trick)
Hard and pulsating riddim that makes you want to dance.

14. Nas & Damian Marley – As We Enter
Hip-hop and reggae fusion at its best.

13. Vybz Kartel & Russian – Jeans & Fitted
Combination of dancehall and hip-hop with pop melodies.

12. Protoje – J.A
A great homage to Jamaica.

11. Kali Blaxx – Nah Trust Dem (Clearly)
Way too under recorded singer on a nice one drop riddim.

10. Chezidek – Walk With Jah (Collie Weed)
Slow and sweet riddim with Chezidek’s distinctive voice.

9. Papa Dee – My DJ Friends
Swedish veteran deejay on a riddim that echoes from the 80’s.

8. Skarra Mucci – Jah Blessings (Jaguar)
Tough tune from this Jamaican singjay.

7. Romain Virgo – Live Mi Life (Boops)
Producer Shane C. Brown revitalizes this great 80’s riddim and Romain Virgo does a great job with it.

6. Sizzla – Music in My Soul (Zion Gate)
King Jammy’s son John John produced this relick of a Bunny Lee riddim. Sweet old school reggae.

5. Johnny Clarke & Fantan Mojah – Rebel With A Cause (Rebellion 2010)
Another great relick. This time from Frenchie who lays his hands on the Creation Rebel riddim.

4. J-Boog – Coldest Zone (Hustlin’)
Very emotional from Hawaiian singer J-Boog. Tough riddim from Bost & Bim.

3. Chezidek – Live and Learn 12”
Some wicked horns arrangements compliments Chezidek’s emotional singing very well.

2. Tarrus Riley – Wildfire (Major)
Tarrus Riley’s take on one of the best riddims in 2010. Smooth and uptempo at the same time.

1. Pressure – Ina Dancehall (Strange Things hip-hop remix)
Pulsating to say the least and Pressure’s flow is beyond belief. I must admit that this was released late December 2009, so it could have been disqualified. But it’s just to good.

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Powerful trio visits Sweden

In late October, Sweden is visited by a powerful reggae trio – Gyptian, Etana and Nitty Kutchie. On October 26th the trio performs at Babel in Malmö and the day after at Göta Källare in Stockholm.

Few have probably managed to avoid Gyptian’s monster hit Hold You this year. A pop reggae piece with a nice piano hook that has been versioned by American rapper Nicki Minaj and Major Lazer as well as an intense soca refix on the compilation Soca Gold 2010. The sophomore single from his latest album entitled Hold YouNah Let Go – has also had some success, though not in the same extent as Hold You.

Etana performed at Uppsala Reggae Festival last year and did a decent performance. She has a planned follow-up to her impressive debut The Strong One from 2008 and put out the strong singles August Town and Heart Broken together with Curtis Lynch at the end of last year.

Nitty Kutchie is the most unknown in this trio. His voice is reminiscent of Bushman and Luciano and has dropped a full-lenght album and some nice tunes. For example Welcome on Ghetto riddim, a riddim produced by Kemar “Flava” McGregor, and probably best known for Unfair – a Busy Signal and Peetah Morgan combination.

Not living on Sweden? Check out Gyptian’s European tour dates below.

Oct 16  Zurich, Switzerland – Alte Kazerne / Zeughaustr 60
Oct 17 Paris, France  Cabaret savage
Oct 18 Luxembourg   Kulture fabric
Oct 21 Leicester, UK
Oct 22 Montpellier, France – Mamacita
Oct 23 Rennes, France – Platinium
Oct 25 amsterdam, Netherlands – Melkweg Lijnbaansgracht 234
Oct 26 Malmo, Sweden – Friesgaten 26
Oct 27 Stockholm, Sweden – Gota Kallare
Oct 28 Copenhagen, Denmark – Amager Bio
Oct 29 Oslo, Norway – Cosmopolite
Oct 30 Helsinki, Finland – Helsinki club
Nov 2nd-  w/Mary J Blige (o2 Arena- London)
Nov 3th- w/ Mary J Blige (Birmingham LG Arena- UK)
Nov 4  Berlin, Germany – Festzal club
Nov 5  Arnhem, Netherlands – Club Uniq
Nov 6  Utrecht, Netherlands – Tivoli de Helling
Nov 5  Almere, Netherlands – Mambo

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Gyptian delivers a crossover album

Gyptian has probably scored the biggest reggae crossover tune in recent years. His smash hit Hold You has been on Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Chart as well as topping the Reggae Digital Songs chart for nine consecutive weeks.

His newly gained popularity also got him to join forces with Distant Relatives Nas & Damian Marley on tour this summer.

On top of all of this he drops his third album titled after his hit single.

Hold You – the album – will probably gain him further crossover success. This is basically a pop album with elements of reggae and contemporary R&B and dancehall, mostly electronic.

Gyptian and his producers are big fans of auto-tune, an audio processor whose main use is to correct pitch in vocal and instrumental performances. Here it’s used to distort the voice, which in many cases ruins the singer’s performance.

Gyptian can sing and doesn’t need auto-tune. However, I have a hard time coping with his voice. It’s nasal, hissing and too frail for my taste. Sometimes he sounds off key, when he’s actually not.

In the songs where Gyptian uses his voice from the chest it certainly sounds better, for instance the smooth lovers tune Rendezvous or the up-tempo Leave Us Alone on the Mad Mad rhythm, probably best know for Diseases by Michigan & Smiley.

He has been labeled as the “sexy rasta” and lyrics-wise this is a lovers rock album. In most songs he shows his love of women. But I want my lovers rock a bit more classic than this and instead I’ll listen to Romain Virgo or Sanchez. Those guys know lovers rock.

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Joey Fever unleashes Hold Yuh version

Gyptian’s chart topper Hold Yuh, with its addictive piano hook, has according to VP Records racked up 10 consecutive weeks at number one on Billboard’s Reggae Digital Songs chart, selling 95.000 downloads.

Such a hit song has of course rendered a lot of versions, ranging from Major Lazer’s electro sounding version through the hip-hop flavoured version with American rapper Nicki Minaj to the soca refix available on the album Soca Gold 2010. And last but not least, the answer tune, Hold Me, by Shani from St. Lucia in the Caribbean.

Now has Swedish singjay Joey Fever recorded a version entitled Sweetness 2010 produced by fellow Swede Partillo. Download Sweetness 2010 for free here.

Joey Fever did the huge Million Stylez combo Young Gunz last year with UK-based producer Curtis Lynch and is about to release his debut album Unleash It later this year. The debut is produced by Mastah L of Jamtech Foundation and you can download the title track here.

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Sånglektioner för Gyptian

Gyptians senaste singel Hold Yuh klättrar på listor världen över. Det är en trevlig historia med en sällsynt catchy pianoslinga.

Ungefär samtidigt som Hold Yuh nådde skivdiskarna passade producenten Kemal ”Flava” McGregor på att släppa en samling Gyptian-låtar från de senaste åren.

Revelations heter samlingen och innehåller 14 låtar som alla bär tydliga spår av Kemal McGregors produktionsstil – mjuk och lugn med tydlig balladkänsla. Inga tuffa dancehallrytmer eller galna idéer med andra ord.

Jag har förstått att Kemal McGregor är en uppskattad producent och att Gyptian är en populär sångare. Men jag hajar inte deras storhet. Den här plattan är osannolikt ojämn, och mycket handlar om Gyptians röst som sällan håller genom en hel låt. Ojämnheten kan bero på att det är en samling låtar från olika perioder, men det ursäktar ändå inte.

Ett antal av låtarna håller hög klass, exempelvis titellåten Revelations, en uppdaterad version av Fade Away rytmen, och Rude Boy Shuffling, en duett med Duane Stephenson som sjunger skjortan av Gyptian.

Men det finns gott om dikeskörningar och många vita linnekostymer. Exempelvis sötsliskiga Togetherness, ett samarbete med Chezidek, Norris Man, Lutan Fyah och Perfect. I singjaypartierna funkar den, men när Gyptian och Chezidek står framför mikrofonen så undrar jag vilket fyllo som gav dem skivkontrakt. Det finns kanske någon form av innerlighet i deras röster, men den kommer inte till sin rätt här.

Gyptian måste hantera sin röst med yttersta varsamhet. Ska han leka Usher och waila behöver han träffa en sångpedagog eller en arbeta med en producent som vet var han ska sätta stopp.

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