“IT WAS JUST MY CALLING, MY NUMBER, IN THE UNIVERSE”
The legendary dub engineer kindly spoke with me via Skype on a wide range of topics, from dub to religion to reggae to education… now thanks to some collaborative efforts you can read the full conversation!
Representing Kingston, Jamaica, Kabaka Pyramid spits pure fiya atop beats that merge the best of reggae and hip-hop. His latest, the Rebel Music EP, is full of powerful tracks. Opener “The Sound” could easily be by Jr. Gong, which ought to be enough for the download right there, but “Free From Chains” is equally strong and well-worth the video treatment. Mellower tracks do prevail, but even then the flows stay memorable, and cuts like “Real Music” show that Kabaka Pyramid is talented and versatile on any type of beat. As a bonus, there’s a video with Sara Lugo on the Reggaeville Riddim:
AND, here’s a killer downloadable mixtape from Free Roots Sound, with a delightful dub remix at the very end…
Snoop Dogg is now Snoop Lion?! The apparently new-and-improved rap star has embraced the red, gold and green, under the production tutelage of Major Lazer. With Diplo & Switch on the beats, this is smooth-sailing classically-styled reggae. Snoop doesn’t deliver much of an impressive flow, instead letting his delicate vocals mingle with the pared-back rhythm section and the supporting female part. “La La La” is an intriguing effort, the question is whether Reincarnation will deliver as an LP or not. Hopefully this track is just on the lighter side, and Snoop can deliver some reggae tracks worthy of the Lion moniker.
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars begin Radio Salone with a short dub interlude, before diving into the afrobeat rhythms of “Gbara Case.” Throughout this finely-crafted album the band moves between genres effortlessly, letting the global influences on modern African music shine through. Surely producer Ticklah deserves some of the credit for assembling such an eclectic and impressive collection of tunes: freebie “Mother In Law” opens with powerful funky horns, “Reggae Sounds The Message” and “Work It Brighter” sound straight out of Jamaica, “Kali” is playful and upbeat, and “Man Muyu” straddles the gap between the afrobeat and psych-funk traditions. Great stuff throughout, brought to you by the Cumbancha record label:
Addis Pablo’s Suns of Dub has finally hit the mark with Dub Inna NewAge Vol. II, unleashing an inspirational deep dub journey. As the son of the melodica maestro Augustus Pablo there’s undoubtedly pressure, but on this album Addis has stepped up brilliantly, avoiding the overly-atmospheric tones of Vol. I and allowing the strong melodica solos and dub-heavy riddims to come to the forefront. ”Axum Border” is hypnotic while “Zion I (Melodica)” and “Rain Fire Ground” are light and playful. The accompanying dubs make some subtle changes but keep the melodies and tempos intact. Direct download and streamer are now available:
Also worth a listen is the recent and rather spiritual collaboration with Ras Jammy, 13 Months In Zion:
The late Mickey Simpson is a relatively obscure reggae artist, but this absolute monster of a live acoustic recording ought to do a lot to change his public perception. ”Don’t Cry” was Simpson’s biggest hit, and this touching, mournful live rendition lends maximum poignancy to the lyrics about sadness, poverty, and governmental failure within Jamaica. For artist information, Reggae Spotlights provides a nice biography, and while the audio alone here is fantastic the video also shows some great vintage footage of both Simpson and Jamaica. Much respect to 7FT Soundsystem for featuring this track on one of their recent mixes. I’m featuring a fresh mashup/remix of this track atop a fierce dissonant riddim from Fira on my latest DJ mix, which should be out soon!
The aptly titled Marley, as in Bob, is an in-depth documentary of the reggae legend. It seems like most everyone who ought to have been has been included, and of course there’s going to be piles of archival footage and a presumably great soundtrack, meaning this April 20 will be even more Marley than usual. Official preview makes this look real promising… via Outlook Festival.
Tony Rebel’s early 90s digital dub “The Herb” is an UNClassic ganja anthem. UNderappreciated and Classic, this is a more wistful and poignant “Legalize It,” the words coming out fierce over a nice bouncy riddim. When Rebel says “Tell everyone one… good sensimilla, it used to run this land” and then laments the increased popularity of cocaine, the plight of Jamaica comes through clearly. This is a conscious reggae party rocker, so plan your volume accordingly: