Tag Archives: Perfect

Skarra Mucci flies high on Greater Than Great

Skarra-Mucci-Greater-Than-Great-Album-ReleaseOne of the best albums in 2012 was Skarra Mucci’s third album Return of the Raggamuffin. It was an energetic and uplifting effort with several bouncy cuts. Now it’s time for his fourth studio album, and I was thrilled when I listened to it the first time, because it’s made according to the same successful recipe.

Greater Than Great is surely a boastful title. And so is Skarra Mucci’s alias the Lyric Millionaire. But this versatile singay gets away with it. Partly thanks to his talent, but also because of the producers. A number of Europe’s best producers have namely been involved in this project – Dreadsquad, Bizzarri, Irie Ites and Weedy G Soundforce, to name a few.

And even though a truck-load of producers have put ingredients in this delicious dish, Greater Than Great sounds remarkably consistent with its potent blend of reggae, hip-hop and old-school dancehall. It offers lots of relicks of classic riddims along with bragging lyrics and sound system destroyers.

It’s hard not to stomp my feet and nod my head to tracks like Come fi Take Ova, My Sound with its sublime sample of Wendy Rene’s After Laughter, the Perfect combination Bomboclaat on a version of the mighty Stop That Train riddim and War Dem Get, with an opening close to Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.

The album title and its artwork might be a little cocky and exaggerate things a bit, but not much. Because Greater Than Great is definately a very worthwhile set.

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Perfect Giddimani’s wild mix

Perfect-Giddimani-Better-Off-Dread-Album-ReleaseThe eccentric Perfect Giddimani showcases his extensive spectrum of styles on his latest album Better Off Dread, a 14 track set with production helmed by a number of different producers from around the world – House of Riddim, Weedy G Soundforce, Dreadsquad and Sly & Robbie, to mention a few.

This is his ninth album and it’s a wicked and wild cocktail of roots reggae, rock, pop, dancehall and hip-hop. And over the course of the album’s 14 tracks Perfect sings, raps, deejays, shouts and whispers. From total aggressiveness to sweet pop choruses and back again.

He also uses lyrics from Yellowman’s classic Nobody Move, Nobody get Hurt, borrows the melody from 80s monster smash hit We Are the World and relicks Augustus “Gussie” Clarke’s mighty Rumours riddim.

But that’s not all. He also makes rock-inspired dancehall as well as mento-inspired ditto.

Certainly this eclectic album would have been even better off without a few tracks. But one thing is sure, it never gets dull or boring.

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Perfect Giddimani is as unpredictable as always on Over the Top

disc-3140-perfect-giddimani-over-the-topJamaican fiercely well-dressed singjay Perfect Giddimani returns with another European produced effort following two albums handled mainly by U.S. producers.

This time he has teamed-up with Austria’s top notch production team House of Riddim, responsible for several smashes in the past years. Over the Top collects 20 tracks built on live instrumentation with some additional drum machines and synths.

Perfect’s style is something of an acquired taste and will probably take a few moments to fully appreciate. He balances between high-pitched singing and ferocious and hot-tempered deejaying.

Over the Top contains lots of singing, which suits the mostly smooth and slick backing quite nicely, even though I’ve always preferred Perfect’s deejay side rather than his singing. He has a way of feeling out of control and he’s just as unpredictable as the weather here in Sweden.

It can be confusing, but at the same time interesting. It keeps the listeners on their toes and wondering what will happen next. Just check his yodeling-like singing on Never Fail. I didn’t see that coming.

Over the Top is a strong set. Not as great as Back for the First Time, but way better than last year’s Journey of a 1,000 Miles.

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Reggae albums to look forward to in 2013

Most of the lists collecting best of 2012 are now published – Reggaemani has one more on the way though – and I guess most of us are looking forward to what to expect of 2013. Only a week of the new year has however passed, but I know I’m already thirsty for new albums. Luckily enough several album releases have been made public. Some confirmed, while some are rumours.

There are a number of big releases ahead and since last year was tasty, expectations are high and to be honest I’m quite excited, particularly about the full-length studio sets from Tarrus Riley, Captain Sinbad, Sizzla, Meta & The Cornerstones and Lutan Fyah.

Check the full list below and you’ll hopefully be as wound up as I am.

The list doesn’t cover reissues or compilations and is no particular order.

Anthony B
The recording of the album has just begun. It’s produced by Austria’s House of Riddim and will hopefully see the light of day in March.

Captain Sinbad
This veteran, old school deejay released his debut album with Henry “Junjo” Lawes back in the early 80’s and since those days he hasn’t recorded much. But last year he put out three must-have singles on Maximum Sound and producer Frenchie has announced that he and the Captain has something very special cooking.

Christopher Ellis
The son of the great Alton Ellis has had his debut album produced by Stephen and Damian Marley and that is certainly promising.

Dubtonic Kru – Evolution
Has been in the making for over a year and the recently released single Jah Love promises well.

Etana – Better Tomorrow
Etana’s much anticipated third album is mostly produced by young mastermind Shane C. Brown, who was responsible for Busy Signal’s highly praised Reggae Music Again released last year.

Iba Mahr
Together with Chronixx Iba Mahr is one of the most promising young talents from Jamaica and hopefully he’ll be able to deliver on a full album set.

Jah9
Hyped Jamaican singer that has been taken under the wings of producer Rory Stonelove and her latest single Jungle showcases an interesting jazz-influenced talent.

Jesse Royal
One of the strongest singjay’s from the XTM. Nation camp, led by the late and great producer Phillip “Fattis” Burrell’s son Kareem Burrell.

Lutan Fyah
The always reliable VI-based producer Tippy I of I Grade Records is putting finishing touches to an album with the prolific Jamaican chanter. Collaborations between Jamaica and the Virgin Islands are usually interesting and this will probably not be an exception.

Meta & The Cornerstones – Ancient Power
After his debut album Forward Music – released in 2008 – he was dubbed the African Bob Marley by the New York Times. This follow-up album was recorded and produced in Jamaica and has lots of great collaborations – Capleton, U Roy and Damian Marley. It was supposed to have hit the streets last year, but was pushed forward to March 2013. I’m confident it was worth the wait.

Morgan Heritage – Here Come the Kings
In August last year the royal reggae family released their first new studio recordings in years and at the same time they announced a new album, a set due in March.

Nazarenes
Early last year Tippy I announced a dub reworking of Nazarenes’ album Meditation released in April, but it was pushed forward due to albums from Ras Batch and Lutan Fyah.

Perfect
Has almost finished his brand new album with House of Riddim and it’s set for release in March.

Protoje – 8 Year Affair
Protoje has once again teamed-up with his producing cousin Don Corleon for the follow-up to his highly regarded debut album 7 Year Itch released two years ago.

Queen Ifrica – Play Day
The fierce queen of contemporary reggae has released two scorching albums and several top notch singles, of which Tiad of da Supm Ya is the latest and certainly proves she’s still a force to be reckoned with.

Sizzla
Every Sizzla album is met with huge anticipation, but when I heard he had recorded an album with Australian producer Mista Savona to be released in 2013 I got a little more excited than usual.

Snoop Lion
I was not the only one that got a big surprise when hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg turned Snoop Lion and dropped three Major Lazer produced singles, of which two were well-above average. Let’s now wait for the album and see if this is a marketing gimmick or not.

Tarrus Riley
His new studio album follows last year’s acclaimed acoustic set and is supposed to hit the streets in May.

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Skillful harmonizing on the Nazarenes’ fourth album

Ethiopian brothers Noah and Medhane Tewolde are known as the vocal and multi-instrumentalist duo Nazarenes, a duo that has been based in Sweden for many years.

They established themselves in 2001 with their self-produced debut album Orit. Their breakthrough came three years later with the acclaimed set Songs of Life, a set followed by Rock Firm in 2008.

Now the Tewolde brothers are back. Back in full swing with an album produced by Tippy I of Virgin Islands-label I Grade, a label known for working closely with Vaughn Benjamin and Midnite.

The first collaboration between the Nazarenes and Tippy I was the single Everlasting which was included on the various artists’ compilation Joyful Noise put out in 2009.

On Meditation the Nazarenes have made an album that confirms just how great roots reggae can sound in 2012. Meditation is reggae in the same school as excellent vocal harmony groups like The Meditations or The Mighty Diamonds. And hearing these two brothers sing together is a soulful experience.

Meditation re-uses some of the riddims used for previous Tippy I productions, and if you’re familiar with Jahdan Blakkamoore’s Babylon Nightmare, Toussaint’s Black Gold or Perfect’s Back for the First Time you’ll most likely enjoy tunes such as Mamy Blues, Everlasting and Lonesome Lady.

But there are also a number of new riddims. The dreamy Alive is one such, Politrickcians, in a UK dub style, is another.

Several of the songs come close to pop and rock arrangements and Get Together will probably make Chris Martin of Coldplay proud with its catchy sing-a-long chorus. It sounds like it’s made for playing at large festivals or stadiums.

The Nazarenes might have a long way until they’ve achieved a following as big as Coldplay, but if Noah and Medhane Tewolde keep making music as good as Meditation it’s just a matter of time until they play at Glastonbury or Madison Square Garden.

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A perfect time travel

Perfect, aka Perfect Giddimani, has managed to deliver yet another accomplished set of songs.

His latest album – Back for the First Time – is produced by Zion I Kings, and that usually means reggae of the highest quality. And this album is far from an exception. These masterminds were namely responsible for Toussaint’s and Jahdan Blakkamoore’s very worthwhile sets released last year.

Perfect’ previous album, French Connection, was an excursion into innovative dancehall with hip-hop ingredients. Back for the First Time has a completely different sound. It’s more polished and soulful with live instrumentation and fine tuned arrangements. This album is like a 70’s soul album done in a modern reggae style.

It also reminds me of Sizzla’s latest album effort The Scriptures. Both albums have their respective singer going back to the roots, and both do more straight singing than usual.

Perfect’s delivery is edgy and moody. He can just like Sizzla easily travel from passionate heartfelt singing to fiercely spitting out his lyrics. One fine example of the former is the love tune HIM Smile with its simple, yet so sincere, yet so devout, lyrics of Rastafarian praises:

“I got a picture on my wall with Selassie I smiling, Jah Rastafari smiling, for us. There’s a picture on my wall with the Most High smiling, the King of Creation smiling, for all. Cherish this picture, now and forever, King Rastafari, I love you so, much more than money, this is a treasure, cause I never seen nobody else in the world smiling like this before.”

It’s one of the finest love songs I’ve heard, and Perfect’s singing is so earnest I almost feel bashful listening to it.

There are also some mighty fine horns on this album. And I have a confession to make. I’m a sax addict. And this album quenches my sax thirst. 

Check the upbeat Lion Haffi Roar or Slave Driver with a nanana reminiscent of Bob Marley’s Them Belly Full (But We’re Hungry). The sax solo comes rather late in the tune, but it’s well worth the wait.

This is the first time Perfect comes back, and I hope to see him back several times more.

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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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Nästan Perfect

Ettrig och ansträngd. Så skulle jag beskriva singjayn Perfects sångstil. Kanske är den också en smula gäll.

För att hålla kvar lyssnaren krävs därför en hel del av Greg Rose, som Perfect egentligen heter. Välskrivet material naturligtvis. Men även tajt och intressant produktion.

Perfects fjärde platta – French Connection – har allt som krävs för att jag ska ha plattan på repeat i skivspelaren. Franska producenten Sherkhan har skapat en modern och urban ljudbild som friskt blandar olika stilar. Plattan befinner sig någonstans i gränslandet mellan reggae, pop, soul och RnB. Den är inget för roots-traditionalister med andra ord.

Vid en första genomlyssning verkar French Connection nästan schizofren. Men den växer efter ett antal spelningar och jag märker att jag lyssnat på plattan i tre timmar i sträck. Det går inte att värja sig. Jag hittar finesser i produktionen, i musiken och i Perfects uttryck som jag vill höra igen, igen och igen.

Jag kan inte påminna mig om någon reggaeplatta som låter som French Connection. Ingen som skapat en så spretigt genomtänkt skiva. Perfect lyckas till och med göra soulstandarden Ain’t No Sunshine intressant.

Förhoppningsvis tar fler rygg på stilen och vågar gå utanför ramarna utan att för den skull mista sin identitet. För det här är Perfect nästan rakt igenom.

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