Jamaican singjay Ras Zacharri, who is the nephew of Buju Banton, returns with a brand new album five years after its predecessor Rootstep.
On Love Over Hate Ras Zacharri join forces with French band My Name Is Band, aka MNIB, and together they have crafted an excellent modern roots album with live instrumentation and versions of classic riddims.
The set was recorded between Jamaica and France and has taken about four years to complete. But it was well worth the wait.
Ras Zacharri dropped his first single in 2000 as DJ Bogle in reference to his given name Bogle Broadie. The single didn’t make much impact and some years after he was picked up by Nick Manasseh and his Roots Garden Records. He had changed his name to Ras Zacharri and together they recorded four lethal cuts and Ras Zacharri was featured on Roots Garden Showcase Part 2.
Around the same time he also recorded for Shem Ha Boreh Records, and that label is also responsible for this new album, which is his best to date. Standout cuts include album opener Look What A Gwann, recorded over a version of the mighty Cuss Cuss riddim, the urgent Protect the Children, recorded over a version of the classic Swing Easy riddim, and the Horace Andy combination One by One.
Best of the bunch is however the bright and uplifting Life together with its breezy dub counterpart. It’s a repeat button moment. Ras Zacharri’s warm and raspy voice suits these elegant, and sometimes militant, riddims and arrangements very well.
Soundclashes are a vital part of reggae culture and soundmen around the world always aim to stay ahead of competition by having the toughest dubplates where the artists spits insults and boasts the sound they are singing and chatting for.
On the by Japan’s Dub Store Records’ recently reissued Soundclash Dubplate Style Vol. 1 & 2 this culture and style is highlighted through ten cuts complemented by their dubstrumental version.
The set is produced by the late engineer-turned-producer King Tubby and was originally released in the late 80s. It’s a solid collection of digital soundboy tunes showcasing the essence of reggae and dancehall culture with each track being introduced by hypeman Fuzzy Jones.
Johnny Osbourne delivers the blazing and pulsating Line Up. It’s by far the strongest cut on the album where Johnny Osbourne fuses tough boastful lyrics with a catchy melody. The grim Die Yu Die from Michael Bitas is another gem which will make competition run.
Reggae history right here.
Delroy Wilson and producer Bunny Lee. That’s always a welcome combination. On the by Pressure Sounds recently reissued album Go Away Dream these two musical giants team up with The Agrovators for a romantic reggae affair with rough and tough bass lines, much in the Roots Radics vein.
As usual when it comes to former child star Delroy Wilson it’s a mix of originals and covers. And he does a great job versioning No More Heartaches – originally voiced by The Beltones in the late 60s – and the extended version on the CD and digital version of the album also features an uncredited deejay.
Delroy Wilson has a golden voice and he shines throughout the album. He doesn’t rely much on backing vocals and his soulful and expressive voice is what you get on this excellent set from 1982.
Several years ago I wrote a story on what I called the Jamaican band craze. The story was about the fact that many new bands had emerged in Jamaica over just a few years. Some of the bands mentioned in the piece was Dubtonic Kru, Uprising Roots Band and Raging Fyah.
These three outfits have since been followed by numerous other acts and one of the most recent ones is EarthKry, a quartet that dropped their debut EP Hard Road in 2015. And that promising set has now been followed by a full-length album.
Survival is its title and it’s just as solid as the debut EP. EarthKry shares stories of survival from daily life – personal struggles, financial hardship – as well as commenting the state of the world with topics such as war and health issues.
Just like fellow Jamaican band Third World EarthKry shares a potent blend of reggae, funk and soul. Check the pulsating Praise Jah, the funky Do What You Got To Do or Table Turn, which is powered by a ferocious bass line and high – almost angelic – backing vocals. It’s a real treat.
Dubbing in the Backyard is the latest release from UK’s reggae reissue giant Pressure Sounds. It’s a slice of early 80s dub with riddims mostly laid by members of the High Times Band and mixed expertly by Prince Jammy at King Tubby’s studio in Kingston.
The dubs are crisp, tight and sometimes viciously heavy and are versions of vocal cuts originally voiced by some of Jamaica’s finest singers – Delroy Wilson, Cornell Campbell, Jackie Edwards and Johnny Clarke. However, traces of the vocals cannot be found.
The sleevenotes is partly a journey of the making of the reggae documentary Deep Roots and Bunny Lee reveals anecdotes from recording sessions as well as the making of this album. It’s a detailed and fascinating story.
The King, the Prince and the Gorgon have always been a great combination. And this set is no exception.
Special request to all rub a dub heads. There’s a group from Haifa City in Israel that has made a raw and eclectic album titled Ain’t No Future with No Past. It’s by the group themselves described as something of a musical Caesar Salad.
Trilion is not a band in the ordinary sense. It’s more of a collective of individuals aiming to merge and clash bass heavy beats without any musical boundaries. And when doing so it sounds like they have had a lot of fun. Just listen to the first single Stop Igle or the vintage-sounding Ole Sound Tradition and you’ll find out what I mean.
But there’s also a harder and more serious side. Check the musically intimidating Tolerance with its smattering drums and wobbling and booming bass or the melancholic Broke Family.
With one foot in the 80s and 90s and one foot in the future Trilion presents a fresh take on rub-a-dub.
The late and great Dennis Brown’s daughter Marla Brown comes forward with another solid EP. Survivor includes six cuts, of which two are combinations – one with Indonesia’s Ras Muhamad and one with Jamaica’s Hempress Sativa.
Survivor is all about self-motivation, faith and especially family and unity, which is celebrated through a heartfelt and triumphant homage to her own mother Yvonne Brown. Mumma Knows Best is up-tempo and melodic with catchy hooks and powerful backing vocals.
Marla Brown continues to impress with youthful energy, thoughtful messages and confident singing.
Jamaican singer and singjay Teacha Dee dropped his debut album Reggae Souljahs: Beating Babylon With Music back in 2011 and now he has released his second album Rastafari Way, a set borrowing its title from his hit song with the same name.
The album is in the same musical vein as Rastafari Way and fans of the Teacha will be familiar with production and flow. This is contemporary, positive and uplifting roots reggae with bouncy bass lines and strong melodies.
Highlights among the 13 cuts include the infectious Do Today, on House of Riddim’s Danger Zone riddim, Jah Jah is Calling, also a House of Riddim production, and the sweet Keep Me Away.
Teacha Dee is a popular performer in Europe and with this release he will hopefully gain fans both in Europe and other parts of the world.
Austrian label and its main producer Syrix has dropped an earth-shaking, yet melodic, dub album filled with versions of hits from some of the artists that have recorded for the label.
On Dub Station Syrix has turned up the bass and let all his creativity flow throughout the label. The version of Luciano’s Hard Road is a booming one with loads of vocals from the original cut. Another killer track is the pulsating version of Anthony B’s Freedom Fighter with its bright horns and Anthony B’s authoritative voice echoing back and forth in the mix.
Dubheads should not sleep on this one.
Rebellious spirit Nattali Rize – founder and singer in Blue King Brown – recently dropped her electrifying debut solo album Rebel Frequency, a twelve track set recorded in Jamaica and Australia using several different studios, including the legendary Tuff Gong.
On the album she is joined by Jah9, Julian Marley, Kabaka Pyramid, Dre Island, Raging Fyah and Notis Heavyweight Rockaz and three previously released singles are included – Natty Rides Again, Generations Will Rize and the acoustic One People. And musically and lyrically these singles are representative for the full album.
Even though the album is recorded in different studios with many different people involved the sonic atmosphere is cohesive with its infectious melodies, pulsating bass lines and pounding drums. Nattali Rize is fierce and vigilant and her socio-political awareness shines through throughout the set.
She transmits her music and messages via a rebellious frequency and aims at empowering people and changing mindsets. According to Nattali Rize the world is in urgent need of a new system. The current one is broken.