Over the past months at least three ultra-solid mixtapes have been put out. I’m talking about Kabaka Pyramid & Walshy Fire & Major Lazer, Jah9 and O.B.F. Soundsystem featuring Ishabel & Wildlife. All three are absolutely devastating.
Kabaka Pyramid & Walshy Fire & Major Lazer – Accurate
Kabaka Pyramid started in the music business as a rapper, but turned into reggae. On this musical gem Walshy Fire and Major Lazer let him rap and toast over classic riddims and hip-hop beats showcasing his ill skills. It also features a number of exclusives and collaborators like Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, Chronixx, Protoje, Pressure and Hempress Sativa. Just press play and enjoy.
Jah9 – 9 mm Vol. 2: Pre-Album Groundings
With this mixtape one of Jamaica’s finest and most honest singer’s gears up for her highly-anticipated second album 9, out on September 9. This part two instalment follows her 9 mm Vol. 1: Message Music – released in 2012 prior to her debut album – and features original and never-before-heard tracks where Jah9 shines both musically and spiritually. With a number of covers she also celebrates some of her musical role models – Nina Simone’s Misunderstood, Tracy Chapman’s She’s Got A Ticket, Ras Michael’s New Name and Dennis Brown’s Bloody City are all features. And so is a fresh Sizzla medley. Sit back, press play and enjoy.
O.B.F. Soundsystem featuring Ishabel & Wildlife & Friends – The Voice of Lightning & Thunder
This killer new mixtape from French soundsystem O.B.F certainly lives it to its title. Brimstone and fire with gravel-voiced vocalist Wildlife and the versatile Ishabel along with a number of other artists, including Jesse Royal, Charlie P and Pupajim. O.B.F has also enlisted the help from other producers and riddims from Dubkasm, Maximum Sound and Mungo’s Hi Fi are also included. This one is a certified scorcher, so turn up the volume, lock the door and hope the neighbours aren’t home.
About ten years ago I got into podcasts and online-based reggae mixtapes, partly thanks to BMC and his excellent work. It was thanks to his mixes that I got interested in contemporary reggae. I listened to his mixtapes, sets that always credited artist, label and riddim when available. I later bought the cuts or the albums that I liked.
After a few years I decided to make my own mixtapes and I used his recipe – no full tracks and added audio effects. These mixtapes were not about making money or exploiting the artists, producers or labels. They were meant to promote the music that I love. I wanted other people to hear my current favorites and then buy what they liked. Just like I did and still do.
Mixtapes have been around for ages (remember cassettes?). But they have also always been something of a grey area. And now the people at SoundCloud – the largest online audio distribution service – have started to remove mixes from their site because of copyright violations.
SoundCloud’s policy is clear – uploading copyrighted material is not permitted. That’s fine and the way it should be. They have however been more tolerant about it when it comes to mixtapes and radio shows. But that’s in the past. They now have a more aggressive approach, maybe because of new agreements with major labels and copyright violation tracking services.
My mixes are among those that have been removed from SoundCloud. And just like many others I received no notification or warning.
The question is how this approach will effect SoundCloud in the long run. They have been enormously successful and have for years been the preferred choice for top DJ’s sharing their work to the world. Now I note that several DJs are turning to SoundCloud’s main competitor Mixcloud, a service that even has a SoundCloud Import function.
I enjoy being introduced to new music through listening to mixtapes and radio shows. Consequently, I will follow the DJs, their content and hang out more at Mixcloud. SoundCloud will probably still be the preferred choice for producers and labels for a while longer, but I have a feeling music lovers will follow the DJs. Where the consumers go, labels have to follow. And the circle is complete when Mixcloud has grown too big.
It’s hard to keep up with album releases and when reading best of 2014 lists I have found a few gems. One of those is Back to Rub a Dub by singjay Sr. Wilson and producer Genis Trani. The album was selected by one of the best from last year by House of Reggae and that site also awarded Sr. Wilson the title artist of the year.
Sr. Wilson and Genis Trani are both from Barcelona. Genis Trani has previously produced and written a number of strong albums, for example Jahmali’s excellent We I Open from last year.
Sr. Wilson carries an old school flow and is heavily inspired by singers from the early 80s dancehall era and together with Genis Trani he has on Back to Rub a Dub embarked on an journey back to a time when Henry “Junjo” Lawes and Prince Jammy ruled the dancehalls and when Roots Radics pushed forward their taking no prisoners kind of riddims over at Channel One.
This 16 track album, or maybe mixtape is more accurate, is built on well-known and much versioned riddims. Sr. Wilson sings and deejays like he was Don Carlos, Sammy Dread or Barry Brown and Genis Trani has produced it with style and fashion.
Mixtapes like this has been done before, but this one superbly executed from start to finish. It’s currently available for free download over at Eternal Miusik. Check it here.
Jamaican singjay Kabaka Pyramid – who started his career as a rapper – has just put out a fresh mixtape together with Livity Movement’s Dev Kutta.
Titled The Lyricist showcases the talent and lyrical ability of Kabaka Pyramid who has been recently dubbed a conscious revolutionary lyricist.
“When coming up with the title it was so simple, because whenever listening to Kabaka Pyramid I always say he is ‘The Truth’ or a real lyricist. So I didn’t want to impose my views by calling the mix ‘The Truth’ I will let the listeners be the judge, but you can’t deny that he is ‘The Lyricist’,” says Dev Kutta.
The set collects 24 cuts and throughout the set one can hear excerpts of Kabaka Pyramid discussing different views on reggae and Rastafari. Included are combinations with Chronixx, Masicka, Exco Levi, Tarrus Riley, Protoje, Sizzla and Dre Island.
Several fan favourites can also be heard on the set, for example Liberal Opposer and Selassie Souljahz.
Check the mixtape below or over at Soundcloud.
DJ Andy Smith – a popular UK DJ – has curated a number of mixing compilations during his long career, for example The Document, Trojan Document, Let’s Boogaloo and Andy Smith’s Northern Soul. But he has also been Portishead’s tour DJ and supplied samples for their first two albums.
His latest project is a journey through Jamaican and British lovers rock. This 14 track selection – available as single tracks or a continuous mix – reaches deep into the genre and pulls out some gems, both classics and lost ones, all taken from legendary label Jet Star’s vast back catalogue.
This mix is a taster into lovers rock territory, and this particular genre is often synonymous with the UK, but this compilation offers an usually large proportion of Jamaican singers, for example Gregory Isaacs, John Holt, Al Campbell, Delroy Wilson, Barry Biggs and Dennis Brown. UK singers are of course also represented – Kofi, Sandra Cross and Carroll Thompson are featured.
The full album has been carefully and respectfully pieced together by Andy Smith and gives a broad view of a beloved and gentle style of reggae. So relax, dim the lights – as Winston Reedy sings on the set’s opening track – and press play.
While we wait for his debut full-length album Jamaican singer Jesse Royal has joined forces with Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire for a fierce mixtape titled Royally Speaking.
This is Jesse Royal’s third official mixtape and his first with Walshy Fire, a DJ and producer that has previously dropped storming sets with Addis Pablo and Chronixx.
Jesse Royal is part of Jamaica’s recent roots revival scene, a scene that features artists like the above-mentioned Addis Pablo and Chronixx, but also Protoje, Kelissa, Iba Mahr, Dre Island, Loyal Flames, Jah9 and Micah Shemaiah.
Royally Speaking comes with 25 tracks excellently mixed together by Walshy Fire. It comes with original cuts, interludes, dubplates and hip-hop-flavoured remixes.
Listen, download and check the full track list over at Soundcloud.
Recently got home from a one week holiday without Internet access. When at home and in front of the computer I immediately found four excellent and diverse mixtapes from Jahtari out of Germany, DKR and Double Tiger from NYC and Million Vibes from Sweden. Check them below.
Million Vibes – Eternal Fire
No less than 49 tracks and more than one hour of blazing reggae music including some of the finest contemporary cuts from 2014.
DKR – Digital Dollars 3: In the Racks
U.S. label and distributor DKR has unleashed an 80 minutes mix of wicked 80s digital dancehall. The selection is strictly from albums and no singles have been included.
Double Tiger – Dubcast Vol. 3
Double Tiger is the producer behind the bass heavy duo Tour de Force. For this foundation mix Double Tiger has hand-picked the artists, songs and sounds that have influenced him and Tour de Force’s music. Included are dubplates and tunes from the vaults.
Disrupt – Clash DJ mix
Disrupt – one half of the Jahtari crew – has put together a mix for Clash magazine. It features 17 productions from the Jahtari camp and it’s the usual deep and comupterized reggae sounds. Listen and download via the Clash website.
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
Two blazing mixtapes were put out today – one from the well-respected UK label Maximum Sound and one from Suns of Dub & Walshy Fire, one third of futuristic dancehall trio Major Lazer.
The Maximum Sound mix is a 20th anniversary mix covering 95 tracks from 1993 to 2013 mixed to perfection by Gussy from Silver Star Sound. It collects a truckload of big tunes, for example Bunny General’s Spy Fi Die, Fantan Mojah’s Stronger and Captain Sinbad’s Worldwide Rebellion. If you need the full tunes – and you probably do – they are easily available as digital download on the compilation Maximum Sound 20:20. Meanwhile, listen over at Soundcloud.
The mixtape from Suns of Dub & Walshy Fire is a completely different affair. Suns of Dub is an ethereal two piece group consisting of the late Augustus Pablo’s son Addis Pablo and his partner Ras Jammy. They are the next generation of Rockers International and for this project they have some of their contemporaries onboard – Chronixx, Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid and Randy Valentine. But included are also legends like Bob Marley and Luciano.
Walshy Fire has treated the original material brutally. It’s a perfect mess mixing all things with a big, bad and bold bass. It’s a journey through dub, reggae, dubstep and dancehall via hip-hop, drum and bass and electronic dance music.
If you dug Walshy Fire’s treatment of Chronixx’ material from last year, you’ll need this one also. Listen and download via Soundcloud and check the full story behind the project over at LargeUp.
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.