Gyptian: Hold You




The lead track has proved that elusive commodity – a reggae track to interest urban radio DJs in America, who’ve helped lodge it in the Billboard and iTunes charts for months now. Its success, aided by a handful of remixes, has elevated Gyptian to the very top rank of current Jamaican singers and made this third album an important event in the reggae calendar.

Unusually, it also acts as a showcase for a new producer who’s relatively untried at this level. Jon “FX” Crawford didn’t produce Hold You – Imran “Kyle” Passard has that honour – yet he’s responsible for no less than nine of these fifteen tracks, including latest single Nah Let Go which has a similar, pop-friendly dancehall groove as those big Chakademus & Pliers’ hits of yesteryear. Gyptian even sounds like Pliers at times, which is no bad thing when you’re on the brink of crossover success. There’s no question the Brooklyn based debutante is a name to watch since he also produces So Much In Love, Na Na Na [A Love Song] and Rendevous – a late night jam that’ll have Gyptian’s army of lady admirers swooning. Gyptian made an unlikely sex symbol when making his entrance with Serious Times a few years back. Some, like myself, even doubted his ability but he’s transformed his career since then and presently stands alone as the Gregory Isaacs of his generation – i.e., a singer who can hold his own in both the roots and lovers’ rock fields and without appearing to break sweat, since he always seems relaxed.

Whilst there are no outright roots songs included here, Gyptian is no lightweight and reveals dancehall credentials to burn on Leave Us Alone and Where You Belong, which ride vintage rhythms by Junjo Lawes and Jah Thomas respectively. Call Gyptian is another powerhouse, and finds Steely & Clevie providing the musical muscle. He even reworks their classic Punanny rhythm on All In You, although the production isn’t quite up to the standard found elsewhere, when Jon FX’s at the controls. Together, he and Gyptian have delivered one of the reggae albums of the year, and given a welcome fillip to the whole genre.


About johnmasouri
John Masouri is a long-time author and music journalist specialising in reggae and its many off-shoots including dub, ska, roots and dancehall. The author of Wailing Blues: The Story of Bob Marley's Wailers, published by Omnibus Press in 2008, he is currently working on a biography of reggae singer Peter Tosh, due to appear next year. In addition to book projects, he continues to write articles and reviews for Reggae Vibes (France), Riddim (Germany) and Echoes - formerly Black Echoes - which is renowned as Britain's No. 1 black music monthly. His work has also appeared in Mojo, Music Week, the Guardian, the Observer and the NME, as well as magazines in the US, Caribbean and Japan.

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