Tag Archives: Hip-hop

Hip-hop meets reggae on Raggamuffin Power

Front_CoverOn the compilation Raggamuffin Power Nico from Furybass has teamed up with Inity from Undisputed Records to create a dynamic and explosive set featuring a number of talented deejays and singers from Europe and Jamaica.

The 15 track set is built around five different riddims, hip-hop tinged relicks of classics and lesser known gems. Included are three already released songs along with one remix and six unreleased tracks. The digital version also comes with five riddim instrumentals.

The bouncy and inspired version of Bellyfull – originally recorded by The Gladiators – is murderous and both cuts – a wicked Tippa Irie & Million Stylez & Skarra Mucci combination along with a passionate version by Yami Bolo – are solid as rocks.

Hip-hop and reggae have a strong link and often work well together. And this is certainly the case with Raggamuffin Power.

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Wicked combination of reggae and hip-hop on Randy Valentine’s Radio Music

0a0720b89cUK’s Randy Valentine is one of the best and hottest contemporary singers around and he has recently put out his fourth project – a blazing mixtape where he has voiced hip-hop beats from the 90s, including Dr Dre’s Xxplosive, Dead Prez’ Hip Hop and Puff Daddy’s Missing You.

Radio Music Raptape collects 19 tracks and is produced by Hemp Higher and Tek-9 Movement. It’s a continuous flow – flavoured with sonic effects – mixed by Straight Sound and presented by Walshy Fire, Bobby Konders, Seani B, Jugglerz, Ninja Crown and King Lagaze.

It also contains only exclusive material and features guest performances from Kabaka Pyramid, Gappy Ranks, Cali P and Big Bullz.

I’ve been a huge fan of Randy Valentine ever since he dropped his first mixtape Bring Back the Love, which has since then been followed by two excellent EPs – Still Pushing and Break the Chain.

Randy Valentine has a unique urgency and energy in his delivery and every word and syllable is sung with passion and love.

Check Radio Music Raptape below and download the full set here.

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Confident and powerful debut from LMK

LMK_MusicalGardenVersatile French singer LMK (pronounced Lmkah) unleashes her debut album Musical Garden, a contemporary set recorded together with seven different producers.

It’s a tasty mix of reggae, dub and hip-hop where LMK showcases her electric flow, rapid-fire delivery and tongue twisting techniques. Just listen to Cry Me a River or So Bad where she effortlessly shifts from sweet singing in the chorus to blazing rhyming in the verses. She’s sounds like a female version of Tippa Irie.

LMK is in the same vein as Marina P and Soom T, two other powerful and very versatile singers that can handle any riddim. Be it slick and soulful or fierce and dread. They always nail it.

Musical Garden is an in your face debut album. The big and bad, and very hip-hip inspired, Best of What You Got with its air horns, pulsating bass line and confident delivery, is a telling example.

The energy is flowing across the first nine tracks, which are followed by three laid-back acoustic joints. Maybe it just got too intense and it needed to be rounded off.

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Soom T and Monkey Marc fire bullets on Babylon

a1533559532_16Indian-born and Scotland-bred singer, rapper and deejay Soom T has teamed up with Australian producer and beatmaker Monkey Marc on the dark ten track album Bullets over Babylon, a set that crisscrosses boundaries between reggae and dubstep and hip-hop and jazz.

The bass lines are charged to the max and Soom T’s delivery is edgy and she successfully blends fierce deejaying and tongue twisting techniques with airy singing. Monkey Marc’s forward-thinking and multi-layered beats are atmospheric and dystopic with plenty of nods to hip-hop from the early 90s.

And even though Bullets over Babylon is the soundtrack to the apocalypse there’s room for a bit of optimism between all darkness and dystopic views on the world. Drill has a catchy, almost infectious, melody, and The Rebellion has a funky groove and shout-along chorus.

Bullets over Babylon sneaks up on you and demands a few listens before it can be fully appreciated. It’s refreshingly original and will keep your head nodding and thinking for almost an hour.

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Yardie hip-hop from France

a0673224646_10After an EP and few strong mash-ups French reggae beatmaking duo L’EntourloopThe 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.

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A lethal mix of hip-hop and reggae on Sound Dynamik’s debut album

9244The French hip-hop scene went global in the 90s thanks to MC Solaar. The French reggae scene hasn’t been as successful on a global level, even though there are several popular local artists, including Pierpoljak and Raggasonic, and to some extent the late Serge Gainbourg with his reggae efforts recorded in Jamaica in the 70s and 80s.

French trio Sound Dynamik manages to successfully combine these two dynamic genres on their solid 18 track debut album Reste a l’ecoute [Still Listening].

Sound Dynamik is more hard and raw a ’la Raggasonic, and less sweet and smooth as Pierpoljak. The beats are powerful and the riddims are militant. Not for the fainthearted.

Sound Dynamik comprises three vocalists – Don Pako, Puppa Nadem and Singa Melody – and they chat and sing their lyrics in French in a raggamuffin style.

Reste a l’ecoute has a high degree of energy and includes several highlights, especially Pour ma soiree, a version of the dread Swing Easy riddim, the dark Ras McBean combination Ghetto People Song and the pulsating Skarra Mucci combination Revolution, where the vocalists aims for the record in fast chatting.

Sets like this is often overlooked outside France since the lyrics is in French and not in English, but I highly suggest you set the language aside here and add Reste a l’ecoute to your playlist.

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Wayne Marshall shows his true colors on new EP

Wayne_Marshall_True_colors_ep_304x304Damian Marley is one of the most talented reggae artists today and now it’s also clear that he’s just as gifted as a producer. Last week he showcased his production skills on Christopher Ellis’ vintage flavoured debut EP Better Than Love and now Damian Marley boasts another EP. This one is however a completely different affair.

Wayne Marshall’s five track EP Tru Colors is a rowdy dancehall and hip-hop oriented affair with slamming beats and grinding grooves. Wayne Marshall has previously worked a lot with Bounty Killer and Ward 21 and he certainly knows how to carry the swing, both as a singer and as a deejay.

The set features the bouncy Go Harder, a tough remix of Wayne Marshall’s 2012 hit song Go Hard featuring dancehall star Cham and rappers Ace Hood and Waka Flocka. In addition, the effort also includes the Agent Sasco combination Stupid Money, complete with a driving piano and a children sung chorus, the more reggae oriented I Know and two tracks taken from his older repertoire, To the Bank and Good Ole Wife. The latter is a cut on the popular Matrimony riddim.

On January 21 Wayne Marshall drops his second album in ten years – it carries the same title as the EP – and if that one is anywhere near the EP it will be a certified scorcher.

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Kabaka Pyramid has come a long way

lead-the-way-frontConscious roots reggae is on the rise in Jamaica with top bands such as Raging Fyah and Mystikal Revolution and single artists like Protoje, Chronixx, Dre Island, Jesse Royal, Iba Mahr, Loyal Flames, Jah9, Addis Pablo and Kabaka Pyramid. Over the past years they have helped each other gain worldwide recognition and several of these artists have managed to tour both the U.S. and Europe.

One of those is Kabaka Pyramid, a former rapper who in mid-2011 dropped his ten track Rebel Music EP for free. This project was a fusion of rootsy reggae, dancehall and hip-hop and caused waves all over the world.

Rebel Music EP opened several doors for Kabaka Pyramid and for the past year he has worked with a number of acclaimed producers and singers, including Tarrus Riley and successful European label and production house IrieVibrations.

His latest album is Lead the Way and for some reason this project is also referred to as an EP. To me it’s not since it collects a healthy 13 tracks. This is certainly a worthy long-player. And a great one, even though it’s more or less a compilation of re-mastered previously released singles and cuts taken from one riddim albums.

It offers a several fan favourites, of which the anti-big corporation anthem No Capitalist is one of the best. Here Kabaka Pyramid rails against the Babylonian system with big business plans and empty promises from the UN.

The project features producers from both Jamaica and abroad, but for being a compilation of singles for a broad variety of players it sounds remarkably cohesive and consistent. It’s a tasty cocktail of reggae, dancehall and hip-hop where Kabaka Pyramid both sings and deejays.

Unfortunately a few of the man’s best cuts are left out. I would have liked to have both Foundation, a combination with Jah Sun, and Pon Di Wings, a combination with Italo Skarcha over the Game Theory riddim, included on the set.

Kabaka Pyramid has certainly come a long way since he dropped his debut in 2011 and he’s not a promising talent anymore. He’s a major talent. Period.

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Nomad Carlos travels back to the 70’s and 90’s

In reggae the 70’s is usually referred to as the golden age. According to several writers hip-hop also has it’s golden era – a period ranging from the late 80’s to the mid to late 90’s with artists such as Public Enemy, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan and many, many more.

It seems like several of the hip-hop artists coming Jamaica have been influenced by this period, and one of the latest additions is U.S-born, but Kingston raised, Nomad Carlos.

His first release was the mixtape Live From Yard hosted by DJ Ill Will and DJ Rockstar. Now it’s time for his debut album called Me Against the Grain.

This excellent album is available as free download and contains 15 tracks produced by nine different producers with their own sound. But somehow the album sounds surprisingly cohesive, and the only odd – in a good way – track is the Bob Marley-tinged reggae effort Make it Work.

There is however reggae influences throughout the album with some dub effects and reggae bass lines, but also the fresh Barrington Levy sample in Murder Mystic.

The eclectic beats range from the grim and militant, such as Track Killaz, to the dreamy acid jazz feel of The Grain and the initial single As Real As It Gets.

Nomad Carlos mixes his patois accent with standard U.S. phrasing and reflects on personal life and day to day experiences growing up and living in Kingston. And he doesn’t shy away from criticizing the government or the authorities, as could be heard in Murder Mystic, a love and hate story about living in Jamaica:

“…When election come around you hear the real murder music, gun fire beat its own rhythm, politicians stay in power when they should be in prison…”

“I grew up where corruption determines the life, you could pay of police and not get logged, it’s like we make crime look like it’s legal, you got a church every square mile, but the living still evil, you get by off the links you possess, pull a few strings, money they always accept, if there’s a murder, a robbery, a break-in, the cops takes an hour to get to the scene, yo, a joke thing, ain’t nothing gonna change…”

In the golden age of reggae lyrical political militancy was a key ingredient, and in the golden age of hip-hop militant beats and innovative sampling was hugely important. Nomad Carlos’ debut album is a melting pot of 70’s reggae and 90’s hip-hop done with a great deal of love.

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A reincarnated and reggaefied Snoop Dogg

Reggae and hip-hop have been in a lovable and fruitful relationship since hip-hop was born in New York City in the 70’s. And some of the most successful rappers have actually been Jamaican, according to a superb and recently published round up by LargeUp.com.

That’s why it may not come as a surprise that Snoop Dogg – one of the most popular hip-hop artists of all-time – has turned to reggae with his new alias Snoop Lion and the brand new Major Lazer produced track La La La.

However, it’s hard to take this step seriously and assess if it’s a marketing gimmick or not. Snoop Dogg is known for being a devoted ganja smoker though, but Diplo and Switch – the people behind Major Lazer – is known for clever marketing.

The PR campaign that comes with La La La is well-directed and also includes a documentary titled Reincarnated that follows Snoop Dogg’s journey to Jamaica to record an album with Diplo and his encounters with Jamaican people and Rastafarian culture.

Despite some authenticity issues with Snoop Lion, La La La is a great song with Snoop’s smooth and almost whispering vocals over a version of the mighty Artibella by Ken Boothe. It also features back-up vocals from the always reliable and soulful Jovi Rockwell.

It will be an entertaining and fascinating journey with Snoop Lion and I look forward to the upcoming album and the documentary.

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