Tag Archives: Jah Cure

Alborosie teams with The Wailers United on new album Unbreakable

unnamedFor his seventh solo studio album the dynamic Italian/Jamaican reggae star Alborosie has teamed up with The Wailers United, an outfit with original members from Bob Marley’s backing band The Wailers, including bass man Aston “Family Man” Barrett and keys maestro Tyrone Downie.

Unbreakable also boasts appearances from reggae household names – Kumar Bent from Raging Fyah, Chronixx, Jah Cure, J Boog and Beres Hammond. And they appear on some of the album’s brightest shining moments. The combination with Kumar Bent on a cover of Metallica’s heavy ballad The Unforgiven is just sublime and the positive and up-tempo title track with J Boog singing the chorus hits hard with its infectious horns and catchy whoo-whoo-whoo-whoa.

The first single off the album – the superb Chronixx combination Contradiction – addresses the current social and political climate in both Jamaica and abroad with links between they who rule and the bad men.

Unbreakable is one of Alborosie’s best albums to date and he manages to make a modern, yet staying close to the foundation, roots rock reggae set with pulsating grooves and memorable melodies.

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Sizzla is better than 876

disc-3284-sizzla-876It feels like every new album from Jamaican chanter Sizzla is marketed as a landmark set or a new masterpiece. But I’m often disappointed, very disappointed. There are however a few exceptions in his more recent output. Born a King was in fact a masterpiece and The Scriptures was very solid. But many other sets sound rushed and non-cohesive.

And the latest album from Sizzla is in fact not one of his better ones. 876 – which is the area code for Jamaica – was recorded together with producers Vychalle “Kid” Singh, Jason “J-Vibe” Farmer and “Bobby Digital” Dixon.

It was slated for release already last year, but was postponed until 2016. It carries 13 tracks, including several devoted love songs, and Sizzla unfortunately rather sings than deejays. His singing style – especially his falsetto – is an acquired taste, and he should stick to fierce and furious deejaying, as showcased on the hard and dub-infused High Grade or Bad Mind, on which he trade verses with the passionate Jah Cure.

There are a few major moments on 876, but too few to make a solid effort. Sizzla can do better than this.

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Jah Cure returns to the rootsier side of reggae

unnamedJamaican vocalist Jah Cure returns to a more roots-oriented sound on his latest album The Cure, a 13 track set where he blends reality checks with bedroom ballads. It’s a well-rounded album influenced by roots reggae and lovers rock fused with elements from R&B and pop.

Jah Cure is a controversial artist and did not have the typical way to stardom. He had just begun his musical career in the late 90s when he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison for rape and possession of firearm. When in jail he recorded new material and his popularity started to rise and he became something of a folk hero. In 2007 he was released and since then he has released four albums True Reflections… A New Beginning, The Universal Cure, World Cry and now The Cure.

He has a golden voice and on World Cry he aimed for crossover success collaborating with artists like Rick Ross and Jazmine Sullivan. That album was a mishmash of hip-hop, pop, R&B and reggae. He strayed and lost his way, but on The Cure he has found his way back to his roots.

The Cure finds Jah Cure at his most passionate and emotive. His chart-topping cover of John Legend’s All of Me is heartfelt and slick, while nyabinghi-tinged album opener No Friend of Mine is powerful aiming straight at the chest. On Corruption he successfully battles a dubby riddim, Stay With Me comes with militant horns and Rasta contains a pulsating bass line along with a catchy sing-along chorus.

In the late 90s Jah Cure was a leading light in reggae, but since he was released from prison it seems that he has struggled to find his sound. The Cure collects several attractive ballads, but balances those with edgier cuts. With this new set Jah Cure has created a sound that might attract both crossover fans and reggae purists alike.

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Jah Cure moves from riddim to rhythm

World-CryJah Cure’s sixth album World Cry was slated for release more than a year ago, and for some reason it was postponed several times. Now however it’s finally here, and it shows Jah Cure in a different light compared to his previous albums. Where The Universal Cure – his fifth album – was reggae influenced by contemporary R&B, it’s the other way around with World Cry. This set is mostly contemporary R&B and electronic dance music spiced with dancehall and reggae.

Those who wanted Jah Cure to go back to his early hard roots reggae sound will be disappointed, but I guess no one really thought World Cry would be full of commitment to Rastafarian ideals set to dread and eerie beats.

Jah Cure mostly sings passionate love songs and his voice is as usual intimate and heartfelt, but also a bit whiny and tiresome. The electric beats are bombastic and the arrangements are lush and the producers have gone all in on several tracks, for example the title track which has gentle strings, a melancholic piano and an army-styled snare drum. It could have been recorded by Coldplay and suits any football stadium around the world.

The reggae tracks include a version of The Gladiators Mix Up and a cut of House of Riddim’s brilliant up-tempo riddim The Sensimillionaire. Best is however the heavyweight hip-hop and dubstep-tinged Like I See It with Mavado (the non-album version also features U.S. rapper Rick Ross). The mariachi trumpets in the chorus seem a little out of place though.

There was a time when Jah Cure was seen as one of the leading lights in roots reggae. But that was then, and this is now, and now he has travelled down the same path as Sean Paul. Hopefully this direction will be successful in the mainstream charts.

World Cry is now available on digital platforms. A CD version will be available in January.

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Catch the fever

My first acquaintance with Swedish singjay Joey Fever was Youth Dem Rise on Pleasure Beat’s Majestic riddim put out in 2007. Since then he has voiced one great riddim after another, for both domestic and international producers, including Partillo, Curtis Lynch, Fast Forward and Lockdown. These singles showed a great talent and a huge promise for the future.

And he must have made an impression on Lockdown since they decided to put out his debut album In a Fever – a varied set that consists of 16 tunes and two bonus tracks. It spans from contemporary one drop and dancehall to ska. All spiced with a retro 80’s feeling.

The debut album boosts a number of different producers, but the majority has been handled by Sweden’s Mastah L, responsible for Million Stylez’ breakthrough single Miss Fatty.

Joey Fever is a clear example of the new generation of reggae singers. He’s equally at home with singing as with deejaying.

His is voice is similar to Jah Cure’s nasal tone and the singing style is reminiscent of Waterhouse legends such as Michael Rose and Junior Reid. Just listen to Someone Out There and Traffic, complete with Michael Rose vocal gimmicks.

When he switches to deejay mode he’s in the same vein as UK’s finest early MC’s with their fast chatting style, and on Till the Night Is Over he measures up to Tippa Irie himself.

All his promising singles weren’t just empty promises. Joey Fever has delivered a mature and varied set.

In a Fever hit the streets on May 17.

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The third day of Uppsala Reggae Festival – several highs and one all-time low

The second day of Uppsala Reggae Festival offered lots of great roots reggae and it was almost a veteran get together. The third and final day was a more mixed bag of artists and range in quality.

Saturday in Uppsala is grey and drizzling. When I walk into the festival area about 6pm, the area is much muddier than the day before. But it is not raining, not yet anyways.

When teen favourite Jah Cure enters the main stage about half an hour late the rain has both started and increased in strength and many people are soaked. But several defy the weather and attend the concert. In particular girls, who are heard loud when Jah Cure sings some of his languorous ballads, which are gladly enough mixed with heavier songs such as King in This Jungle and Sunny Day, a tune that turns into heavy dub excursion. The shrilling cries increases when he starts to undress – from black jacket and white shirt, to a white tank top, to bare chest.

When Alborosie performed at the festival in 2008 he ran into legal complications that led to the song Operation Uppsala. It’s therefore probably no coincidence that he starts off with two songs about drugs – No Cocaine and Herbalist. He of course also plays Operation Uppsala. To get extra strength behind the message, he sings parts of the verses a cappella to great applause. The audience is caught on during the show and if it wasn’t so muddy because of the rain, I would probably have had knees up to my chin during the entire performance.

Busy Signal at Uppsala Reggae Festival 2010. Photo by Stefan Gunnarsson/Reggaefoto.se

Dancehall superstars Busy Signal and Mavado makes one fifty-minute concert each. Busy Signal is up first. He jumps onto stage backed by a lonely dj and tears of a veritable hit song extravaganza with favourites such as Unknown Number and Wine Pon the Edge. Best is Hustlin’ on the heavy Baddaz rhythm. The crowd sings the entire chorus in Hustlin’ as well as in the Commodores cover Night Shift, a song that Busy Signal does not really do justice. He seems to have throat problems and when he sings it doesn’t nearly sound as good as it should. But it certainly doesn’t seem to bother the crowd when he takes off his sunglasses and wiggle his hips.

One that also has problems with his voice is Mavado. He makes a Busy Signal with throat problems sound like Celine Dion. Many had looked forward to see him live, but he did not do any of his hit songs justice. He moves back and forth across the stage and sings randomly to pre-recorded material. He makes less than a minute of each song, which helps the energy. But it hardly helps when both pre-recorded parts and live singing is so false it’s embarrassing.

When I leave the rainy festival area to the sounds of World A Music by Anthony B the bass echoes over the outskirts of Uppsala. This year was the tenth anniversary and hosted a magnificent line-up. Hopefully the festival will live on at least a decade longer and that this is only the beginning of a proud Swedish tradition.

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