Run The Track: July 2010

Elephant Man

DRAKE FEATURING SHAGGY FIND YOUR LOVE [MIKE D REMIX]

“I’m more than just an option. Refuse to be forgotten…” You’ll find the original cut on Drake’s Thank Me Later set but this is the “Tropical blaze” mix, and a heavier, dancehall spin on the singer’s hit tune. Whilst it now lacks lyricism, the Mike D Remix is more of a banging club track, aimed at DJs. Shaggy sounds pretty good on it too, promising the girls they’ll soon be “high as a stalk of sensimelia…”

ELEPHANT MAN EVER FRESH [BIRCHILL]

BEENIE MAN FLY OUT & FLY IN [BIRCHILL]

VOICEMAIL GOOD GOOD [BIRCHILL]

Chris “Long Man” Birch already has a multitude of big dancehall rhythms to his credit and Get Fresh is another with its pounding beats, synthetic string sounds and Dave Kelly style FX.

Few artists capture the excitement of a full-blown dancehall session better than Elephant Man whilst Beenie boasts of his sex appeal and sixteen children in such a way it provokes warmth, rather than resentment. Assassin [with Girls Dem], Nicky B and Ce’Cile all voice cuts to the same rhythm but spare a thought for Voicemail, whose kingpin O’Neil Edwards was murdered earlier this summer, and ensured their version brims with humour and tight harmonies.

SERANI WHAT YOU NEED [CHIMNEY]

T’NEZ ANYWHERE YOU WANT IT [CHIMNEY]

MAVADO HOLD ME [CHIMNEY]

This label’s a market leader where dancehall’s concerned. Their latest rhythm is Sex Appeal, which flirts with techno [as do so many Jamaican beats these days], and yet still retains a yard feel.

Serani’s now a major star after his crossover hit No Games and a vocal style marrying r & b with authentic dancehall flow. What You Need is fresh as daisies although he’s met on the same exhilarating turf here by T’Nez, whose Anywhere You Want It pays homage to a party girl. Better known for gangster lyrics, Mavado can bust wicked girls’ tunes when he’s in the mood and that’s certainly the case with Hold On, which is available as Clean and Dirty Mixes.

Aidonia, Blak Ryno, Chase Cross, Elephant Man and Delly Ranx [with the reality song Life Is What You Make It] are among the roll call of artists chatting on the same rhythm, but it’s this trio that stands out.

BEENIE MAN KNOW BETTER [DON CORLEON]

VYBZ KARTEL WINE FI MI NUH [DON CORLEON]

DA PROFESSOR ‘LOW WE [DON CORLEON]

Don Corleon’s last rhythm, the Major Minor, was a one-drop but Bank Robber heralds the producer’s return to the dancehall style he started out with. Beenie adopts a hot stepper persona and teases Bounty Killer by quoting from Sufferer on Know Better. Provocative or what? Ever the lyrical magpie and attracted to anything that shines, he drops some blistering fast style chat as well.

The Raw version of Know Better is the one for rude boys to get; Da Professor makes a splash with ‘Low We, Gaza Slim steps up with a rare, female herb tune and Don drenches Kartel’s vocals in Autotune on the chorus of Wine Fi Mi Nuh, which is clever and entertaining by turns from Jamaica’s Dee-Jay Of The Year.

SEAN PAUL COME AND GET IT [DI GENIUS]

Few can deliver dancehall tunes as catchy and hard-hitting as Sean Paul and Come And Get It is no exception. The beat’s slamming, but it’s his vocals and flow that’ll get dancers on their feet. Whether urban radio in the States is ready for this new style of Jamaican dance music is a moot point but this track has lots of energy [especially the JA Radio Edit], and Sean himself is still a world-beater, with a young, international audience at his fingertips.

MAVADO CHANGE RIGHT NOW [DI GENIUS]

Mavado has been criticised for his graphic portrayals of ghetto life in some quarters, and yet it would be a mistake to categorise him as a gun ark alone. He’s calling for a change to the system on this tune, which is a curious but compelling blend of reggae, dancehall and hip hop produced by Freedie McGregor’s son Stephen, who’s not called “Di Genius” for nothing.

Rude boys may argue, but Change Right Now is surely among Mavado’s best-ever tracks to date and could even win him new fans given the right kind of exposure.

MAD COBRA WORDS [PHAT TRAX]

Cobra nearly lost his life in a hail of gunfire the other month. Apparently, the incident occurred after he’d inadvertently driven into a Kingston ghetto area and his headlamps had fell upon a group of youths up to no good.

Words, like former hit Praise, is a Biblical style chant from Cobra who topped the Billboard charts during dancehall’s heyday. It’s addressed to world leaders over a throbbing nyahbinghi rhythm, and stands as a true Jamaican classic, with no apology. Try it and see.

BUSY SIGNAL FEATURING BOUNTY KILLER SUMM’N A GUH GWAN [VP RECORDS]

BOUNTY KILLER GOD ALWAYS BE THERE [OPEN EAR]

“A hungry man is an angry man,” warns the Killer, who teams up with Busy for a no-holds-barred attack on Babylon system that keeps the majority poor whilst enriching the few. Lyrics like this make us wonder who the real criminals are, and the pulverising rhythm takes no prisoners either.

God Always Be There is no less restrained, and is again voiced over relentless dancehall beats. It’s fast, hard and uncompromising, just how we like to hear Bounty, except unlikely to register with anyone outside of hardcore fans.

ELLY ESS FACE DOWN [ROCK STARS ENT]

Every so often a tune comes along that’s so evocative and with lyrics so graphic, it’s as if you’re watching a film with your eyes shut, if that makes sense. Face Down is a song about a robbery that goes wrong, rapped over a tough cut of Lloyd Robinson’s Cuss Cuss rhythm and with a stop / start dancehall mix added for good measure. “Nobody move, nobody get hurt” as Yellowman would say, except that line comes a little too late for one of the characters.

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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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