Tag Archives: Snoop Lion

Romantic reggae on J Boog’s Rose Petals

JBoog-Rose-PetalsTalented U.S. reggae singer J Boog recently dropped a new five track EP titled Rose Petals, a set where Stephen “Ragga” Marley, Chaka Demus and Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion contributes with verses on one track each.

It has been three years since J Boog released more than a single and this new EP is certainly very welcome. It offers contemporary and bouncy romantic – sometimes leaning towards the lewd – reggae with highlights such as the Chaka Demus combination Good Cry and the slick title track.

Brighter Days is sunny stadium reggae with an infectious sing-a-long chorus and motivational lyrics, while Good Feeling is a version of Dee Sharp’s lovers rock anthem Let’s Dub It Up. Snoop Dogg appears on the racy and funky No Pressure, a bonus cut which, according to The Island Sound, was recorded already in 2012.

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Grammy Awards Nominees announced

grammy_awardSo the time has come for the much discussed Grammy nominations and yesterday the nominations for the 56th Grammy Awards were announced by The Recording Academy.

Jay Z tops the nominations with nine; Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams each garner seven nods.

For the reggae genre, five artists fight for the lustrous award – Beres Hammond and his double disc One Love, One Life, Ziggy Marley and his live album Ziggy Marley in Concert, Sizzla and his The Messiah, Sly & Robbie and their Reggae Connection and Snoop Lion – as Snoop Dogg labeled himself at the time – Reincarnated.

Pick of the bunch is by no competition Beres Hammond. Second, and far from the top spot, is the surprisingly strong Reincarnated.

As usual I would have presented a rather different list of nominations, and I’m not surprised a Marley had to be thrown into the list. But for the bigger artist albums of the year I’m surprised that Etana’s Better Tomorrow and Shaggy & Sly & Robbie’s Out of Many, One Music did not make the final cut.

The Grammy process this time registered more than 22,000 submissions over a 12-month period ranging from October 1, 2012, to September 30, 2013. The Grammy Awards will be held on January 26, 2014.

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Another party-starter from Mr. Vegas

Mr Vegas Bruk It Down 2.0 coverFresh on the heels of his recent successful collaborations with Snoop Lion and Beyoncé, global dancehall phenomenon Mr. Vegas drops his ninth studio album Bruk It Down 2.0, the second set on his own label imprint MV Music.

The 16 track Bruk It Down 2.0 is named after his recent international cross-over hit single Bruk It Down, a catchy and whine-friendly effort with hard drums and whhooo, oooh ooohhh’s.

After last year’s reggae oriented double disc Sweet Jamaica, Mr. Vegas is now back in familiar territory. Bruk It Down 2.0 is more or less a full-blown and explosive dancehall album spiced with house, reggaeton, soca, dubstep and pop.

On the microphone he’s joined by a diverse set of artists, including Barbados’ very own soca queen Alison Hinds on a remix of the title track. Among the others we find reggae crooner Lukie D, gruff-voiced deejay Flourgon on a driving version of The Paragons’ On the Beach, reggaeton singer El Boy C on the propane-fuelled Vamos and songstress Terri on Take Off (Time to Hit the Floor), a tune far away from anything that has to do with reggae, but much like everything on top of the Billboard chart.

Bruk It Down 2.0 can probably set fire to any party with its reckless beats, infectious melodies and easy-going lyrics.

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Snoop Lion’s pop journey

Snoop-Lion-Reincarnated-CoverLast year I wrote a short piece about hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg’s Selassie praising Rasta alter-ego Snoop Lion and his debut single La La La. I wrote that his spiritual transformation seemed like a clever marketing ploy directed by hipper than hip producer Diplo from Major Lazer, but that the single, with its haunting Artibella sample, was very tasty.

Same goes for the full album that arrived a few days ago. The Rasta gimmicks are too much and the album isn’t profound or spiritual in any way. But a majority of the 16 tracks – only twelve on the U.S. edition – shouldn’t be ashamed of themselves.

Reincarnated is a clear departure from Snoop’s previous hip-hop albums and he has also abandoned rapping and changed his delivery to a more singing-oriented approach. As a rapper Snoop is the essence of smooth, but as a singer he isn’t as talented and has to rely on backing vocalists or one of the 14 guest artists, guests that on several occasions outshine him, especially Mavado, Popcaan, Angela Hunte, Jahdan Blakkamoore and Miley Cyrus. Yes, it’s the Miley Cyrus, and yes, it’s quite a surprise to hear her flexing her skills over a smooth reggae beat.

The album was mainly recorded in Jamaica with Diplo and Dre Skull – responsible for several rougher than rough dancehall riddims over the past years – handling production. They’ve cooked up a charming blend of sunshine reggae, smooth ballads, blasting electro, echo-laid dub and hip-hop beats with pounding drums and rolling bass lines.

It also samples vintage dancehall and has several nods to pastime classics, including an erratic take on the Sleng Teng riddim and a sample from Michael Palmer’s Don’t Smoke the Weed.

Highlights include Remedy, where Busta Rhymes sounds like Burro Banton, So Long, a version of Glen Washington’s There’s A Joy, the slow pumping Lighters Up, where versatile reggae singer Jahdan Blakkamoore lacks credit, and the sing-a-long friendly No Guns Allowed.

Reincarnated contains plenty of nonsense lyrics and homage to marijuana, but also bright and memorable melodies. And even though the album is credited to Snoop Lion it’s more a compilation hosted by him thanks to the guest performers.

Not sure about the target audience for this album. His hip-hop fans will probably loathe it, while the reggae crowd will view him as a fake. No one can however overlook the overall pop appeal of Reincarnated.

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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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A reincarnated and reggaefied Snoop Dogg

Reggae and hip-hop have been in a lovable and fruitful relationship since hip-hop was born in New York City in the 70’s. And some of the most successful rappers have actually been Jamaican, according to a superb and recently published round up by LargeUp.com.

That’s why it may not come as a surprise that Snoop Dogg – one of the most popular hip-hop artists of all-time – has turned to reggae with his new alias Snoop Lion and the brand new Major Lazer produced track La La La.

However, it’s hard to take this step seriously and assess if it’s a marketing gimmick or not. Snoop Dogg is known for being a devoted ganja smoker though, but Diplo and Switch – the people behind Major Lazer – is known for clever marketing.

The PR campaign that comes with La La La is well-directed and also includes a documentary titled Reincarnated that follows Snoop Dogg’s journey to Jamaica to record an album with Diplo and his encounters with Jamaican people and Rastafarian culture.

Despite some authenticity issues with Snoop Lion, La La La is a great song with Snoop’s smooth and almost whispering vocals over a version of the mighty Artibella by Ken Boothe. It also features back-up vocals from the always reliable and soulful Jovi Rockwell.

It will be an entertaining and fascinating journey with Snoop Lion and I look forward to the upcoming album and the documentary.

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