During the late 80s and throughout the 90s Bobby “Digital” Dixon produced a truckload of superb singles and albums, of which several are today hailed as some of the greatest reggae and dancehall ever released.
Bobby Digital grew up in the 70s listening to roots acts such as Black Uhuru and Wailing Souls and his journey in the music industry began when he from an early age attended sound system dances. He was an apprentice of King Jammy and he later branched out on his own creating a musical revolution that took Jamaica by storm.
He started out producing lethal dancehall and later helped the roots reggae resurgence in Jamaica with artists such as Garnett Silk, Jahmali, Sizzla, Capleton and Buju Banton.
And VP Records has through its subsidiary 17 North Parade now released two compilations dedicated to Bobby Digital’s productions. The first anthology X-tra Wicked covers his dancehall catalog, while the second anthology, Serious Times, showcases his rootsy side. These two albums cover a neat 80 tracks, including many classics, for example Shabba Ranks’ Peenie Peenie, Mad Cobra’s Tek Him, Morgan Heritage’s Don’t Haffi Dread and Buju Banton’s Til I’m Laid To Rest.
This double anthology showcases a musical genius and a game-changing producer. Now I’m waiting for an anthology dedicated to the works of Richard “Bello” Bell, another producer responsible for some of the greatest reggae released in the 90s.
A common expression is never judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what you can do with Gyptian’s fourth album Sex, Love & Reggae. It sounds like it looks. Sensual, boastful and frisky.
It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart and at #24 on the Billboard Heatseekers/Top New Artist Album chart. Not that hard to understand since the album is a logical follow-up to his 2010 album Hold You, a set that featured his monster smash single of the same name, a tune that ruled the Caribbean airwaves in the same year and led to a remix with no other than Nicki Minaj.
Sex, Love & Reggae is a contemporary pop and R&B album with island influences – reggae, dancehall and soca. And it features several guest performences, including appearances by Angela Hunte, Bunji Garlin, Estelle, Melanie Fiona and Kes the Band. Included are also two covers – Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors and Gregory Isaac’s My Number One. Be Alright is not a cover, but it owes more than just a little to Maroon 5’s chart topping single She Will Be Loved.
The album shows a Gyptian that has changed a lot since his breakthrough hit Serious Times. The Rasta influences have given way to bling-bling, sex jams and bass boosted beats signed and sealed by co-producer Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, known for cranking out hits for superstars such as Mary J. Blige, Lupe Fiasco and the Fugees.
The 17-track set features an eclectic mix of songs – from party starters like Non Stop, Wet Fete and the title track to affectionate bedroom ballads such as Wine Slow and Majestic Love. Gyptian is however at his very best when he showcases his desperate side in the militant I’m So and the haunting Good Girls.
An exciting and diverse set of crossover songs that will probably not go well will reggae purists.