Run The Track: November 2010

Cham

CHAM FEATURING BOUNTY KILLER & MYKAL ROSE STRONGER REMIX [MAD HOUSE]

Cham’s Ghetto Story – again produced by Mad House’s Dave Kelly – is one of the greatest reggae hits of all time. Only a handful of artists get to voice a tune of that magnitude, but Cham now has another runaway anthem to his credit – one that combines stirring lyrics with powerful vocals and the kind of beats which serve as a rallying call for authentic Jamaican dancehall.

Written by Kelly, it’s a tale of triumph over adversity – a cry of defiance that’ll stiffen the resolve of anyone suffering from emotional scars, yet who still try and elevate themselves. With Mykal Rose singing his best chorus since Shoot Out and the Killer in support, Stronger is my Dancehall Single Of The Year, and with no apology.

BOUNTY KILLER THE MESSAGE [MAD HOUSE]

“Tell the world we’ve back again…” It was Dave Kelly who wrote and produced classic Bounty Killer hits like Look, Eagle And The Hawk and Can’t Believe My Eyes, and the old magic returns like it’s never been away on this long-awaited follow-up.

Whilst the actual production’s full of style and clever little hooks, Bounty’s message is deadly serious and addressed to Jamaican PM Bruce Golding, who’s taken to task for abandoning the island’s ghetto youths. If you loved hearing Bounty in his role of Poor People’s Governor, this is definitely the tune for you.

ASSASSIN DANCEHALL AGAIN [DASECA]

BEENIE MAN TELL A GAL [DASECA]

SERANI DAY MI BORN [DASECA]

People say Jamaican music’s in danger of losing its identity thanks to the overweening influence of r & b, techno and hip hop but here’s the antidote – a rhythm by Daseca that reactivates the Punany blueprint and restores that irresistible bounce to dancehall.

Assassin tells the story on Dancehall Again whilst reminding us of legends like Shabba Ranks, Shaggy and Chakademus & Pliers, who first took dancehall international. A legacy like that shouldn’t be cast aside so easily – just ask Beenie Man, heard here on a spirited domestic drama or Serani, who loves the rhythm so much, he’s voiced it three times. My Star is the second whilst Again & Again features Tony Matterhorn and is catchiest of them all.

There are plenty of other cuts by the likes of Bugle, Elephant Man, Future Fambo [paying tribute to Tiger on From When] and Mr. Vegas, but I’d also recommend Dexter Daps’ Ride All Night, which manages to make cycling sexy – no mean feat.

GAPPY RANKS FEATURING BEENIE MAN LONG TIME [SPECIAL DELIVERY]

GAPPY RANKS LONG TIME [SPECIAL DELIVERY]

GAPPY RANKS GIRL NEXT DOOR [MACRO BEATS]

Gappy has another album out in February and hopefully both of these songs will be on it. Produced for his manager Pierre Bost’s Special Delivery label, Long Time is reaffirmation of Gappy’s roots and a wonderful portrayal of everyday runnings in Harlesden, London NW10, where he grew up. With lyrics like “Long time me chill ‘pon the block and bu’n a big head,” it’s so evocative whilst Beenie Man’s guest slot is a bonus in truth, since Gappy does more than enough in his own right.

“Dutty romance” is the theme of Girl Next Door, which is one of those infectious tracks that’ll appeal to garage and dub-step heads, as well as hardcore dancehall crowds.

ELEPHANT MAN B.M.F.S [TRUCK BACK]

ELEPHANT MAN MURDER [TRUCK BACK]

ELEPHANT MAN INFORMER [CHIMNEY RECORDS]

Elephant Man nah ramp on this gangster rap with menacing hip hop overtones. It’s not even we hear lyrics this raw and uncompromising but then Elephant’s from Seaview Gardens, and tells it as he’s seen it. “I think them diss Zekes, sell out Dudus,” he warns on the chorus. “Ghetto youths yuh see it, the system nah love us. Big up Skeng Don. Willie Hagheart. Andrew Phang a bad man from the f*cking start…”

Murder and Informer are very similar. Both borrow a melody from Michael Jackson and describe the fate awaiting those who run to the police carrying tales. The Chimney version is the sharper and better produced of the two but there’s no one can match him in this kind of mood and be warned, because the Energy God’s not kidding…

MAVADO WHEN U FEEL LONELY [DASECA]

Mavado has had further problems with the Kingston police lately but the “Gully God” clearly left his bad man profile at home when setting out to voice this sensitive love song. It offers a welcome change of pace from an artist renowned for his gangster lyrics. The lyrics are full of tenderness, whilst that mournful voice is both loving and tuneful. A hit, and no sell-out please note.

VYBZ KARTEL SHE’S HOLDING ON [ZJ CHROME]

JAH CURE BEFORE I LEAVE [ZJ CHROME]

ALAINE UP [ZJ CHROME]

Mavado’s not the only one cooling out it seems. Even his great rival Vybz isn’t shy of turning his hand to gentle love songs as he pays tribute to an American lady called Sophie on She’s Holding On; a mother of two who stands by her man throughout a vale of tears. There’s a matching cut called Not A Love Song that’s just as compelling, whilst Jah Cure is still lighting up every rhythm he graces with that soulful voice. Alaine meanwhile is Jamaica’s r & b / reggae songbird, and surely destined for an international hit before long.

All are voiced over a lilting one-drop shared with a raft of other artists, including Bugle, I Octane, Chris Martin, Lutan Fyah, Ce’Cile and lesser-known names such as Raine Seville and Keida.

PEETAH MORGAN MY MAKEDA [SPECIAL DELIVERY]

J. BOOG SO FAR GONE [SPECIAL DELIVERY]

Lovers’ rock is alive and well and safe in the hands of Special Delivery, whose productions have continued to improve at a steady rate over the past few years. J. Boog is an exceptional new talent with just a touch of Tarrus Riley in his delivery, whilst Peetah has sang lead on the majority of Morgan Heritage tracks, and is therefore of proven quality. Can’t wait to hear his solo album in fact but both these songs are the genuine article, and will be playing in dances and on radio playlists long after the majority of 2010 releases have faded from the memory.

KY-MANI MARLEY NEW HEIGHTS [DON CORLEON]

PROTOJE & KY-MANI MARLEY RASTA LOVE [DON CORLEON]

Ky-mani Marley isn’t typical of Bob’s children. Ostracised by the Marley family for most of his childhood, he grew up in the ghettos of Trelawny and Miami and there’s more of an edge to his songs as a result. Rasta Love is an update of Fell In Love, taken from his album The Journey. That first version was shared with Peetah Morgan, but he and Protoje’s story remains the same – girl falls in love with a Rastaman, risking opposition from her family… It’s a winning tune, whilst New Heights will strike a chord in everyone longing for their working day to end, so they can finally reach for that spliff.

RAS KARBI RAS ANTHEM [KARBI]

Ras Karbi’s previous hits include Discrimination and Babylon Gravestone – songs he voiced back in the days when stars like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh ruled the reggae firmament. Both are mentioned in this Rasta hymn, which has the air of an old-time spiritual as he rouses members of Jah army. It’s nice to hear a veteran rallying the faithful with such enthusiasm, and from a learned perspective too, since his lyrics are infused with wisdom.

SIZZLA EVERYBODY NEEDS A LITTLE LOVE [KALONJI]

SIZZLA READ YOUR BIBLE [KALONJI]

SIZZLA REACHING OUT [KALONJI]

SIZZLA I DON’T WANT TO SEE THEM CRYING [KALONJI]

SIZZLA PUT YUH MONEY [KALONJI]

Sizzla’s own productions are a cornucopia of different styles and moods. They range from the light-hearted vibes of The Party Is On and the grimy slackness of Pump Up and Diggy Diggy to soundbwoy tunes like Big Bad Sound but it’s heartfelt roots and reality songs such as Reaching Out, the acoustic lament I Don’t Wanna See Them Crying and Everybody Needs A Little Love that define him best. No other Jamaican artist has spoken out on behalf of ghetto youths with such passion and commitment, and every one of these tracks are voiced with the same unbending spirit.

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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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