Thursday, May 31, 2012

77 Jefferson drops "Truth & Love"


Who would of thought reggae this sweet could have ever come from the heart of Kansas City? Midwest reggae band 77 Jefferson has recently released their 4th full length album titled Truth & Love through Josh Heinrichs quickly growing label Ganjah Records. The album has unique style that is definitely characteristic of 77 Jefferson but distinguishes itself even from the midwest reggae that surrounds the band.

I have always loved the tracks highlighting the smooth vocals from lead singer Joel Castillo so naturally found myself gravitating towards songs like Lovely and Compare To Nothing. I also enjoyed the rootsy flavor of On The Run featuring Fortunate Youth's Dan Kelly. Check out the album for yourself on Itunes and hear these guys live on their west coast tour currently taking place (Tour Info Here)! PS. Is it just me or is that album artwork rad!?

                    PLAYLovely | 77 Jefferson 
                    PLAYCompare To Nothing | 77 Jefferson 
                    PLAYOn The Run ft. Dan Kelly | 77 Jefferson

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Million Stylez - 'Mind Travelling'

Check out Million Stylez' new video for Mind Travelling. It's a pretty uptempo riddim with some catchy, mono-tone rhyming and a reggae-rock'ish chorus. Can you pick out all the cameos throughout the vid? This is who I could see:

-J Boog (& crew)
-Busy Signal

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Toussaint: Where I Lead

One of my "dark horse" artists is Toussaint (the Liberator), who last month released his sophomore solo album titled, "Where I Lead." Toussaint has a deep, soulful voice that works well over many styles of music - reggae being just one them. In his second album, we see a lot of what we saw from his debut album, "Black Gold": a solid collection of roots and rocksteady production. Toussaint is not an artist you'll see popping up on a bunch of rhythms any time soon. That's just not his style. Same way you never see artists like Damian or Stephen Marley doing so -- (while the Marley's are no doubt much bigger artists, they share a similarity to Toussaint) they are all independent artists to the core, including their production.

Aside from his booming, rich voice, Toussaint delivers a lot of passion and history and upfullness in his lyrics and singing that is unmistakable. If you're looking for a good collection of roots/rocksteady reggae music with a little modern flare and a dash of soul, Toussaint's latest album, Where I Lead, is a great choice for you. Be sure to preview and download a copy for yourself on iTunes.

Toussaint with SOULIVE (below)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Five Quick Album Reviews

This last Sunday, I got the chance to step back into the studio for a Rudeboy Reggae Radio Show (on Radio 1190, Sundays 12AM-2AM EST).  To my surprise, I found a big pile of albums that had been sent to us for radio play.  After listening to them all, I wanted to share some of my favorites, hoping to spread the word for some of these bands.

I'll start off with the two most established artists' albums that got sent our way: Dust and Dirt by The Black Seeds and Survive by Garrison Hawk With Sly And Robbie.

I had high expectations for the Kiwis' fourth album, Dust and Dirt, as they have proven themselves to be one of the country's elite reggae bands.  This recent album is no exception.  I noticed that they chose to go with more of a low-key tempo overall, especially compared to their previous work; and it really works for them.  It's a perfect album to put on in the background, chill out, and when it's over you'll realize how good it was.

I don't know too much about Garrison Hawk but anytime an artist partners with the legendary production team, Sly & Robbie, for a full-length album, I'm interested.  This album brings the high quality heavy basslines that are to be expected from the duo, and Hawkins does his best with the vocals.  At times he comes with a roughneck sound, while at others he shows off his nice singing voice.  While it's impressive to see Hawk's vocal range, the roughneck style got a little old, and I thought he could have sung more.

As for my top three lesser-known artists:  Soul is Heavy by Nneka, then two samplers from Sinizen and The Lions.

Born in the Delta region of Nigeria, Nneka's musical journey started long before her first album released in 2005.  Soul is Heavy, her third album, dropped this last February.  While this album is more soul/R&B than reggae, it was such a surprise that I had to promote it!  Her voice has flashes of both Erykah Baduh and Macy Gray, and is accompanied by a band that that keeps the energy high, and makes it impossible to skip any song on the album.  Nneka's message is very similar to those of the reggae genre.  She declares the album "deals with issues that have to do with the day-to-day life of the people: corruption, false prophecies, religion, war conflict..." Out of the five albums mentioned, I would recommend this the highest to check out.

Sinizen and The Lions are both out of southern California, and both seem come through with a Sublime, Slightly Stoopid style of reggae.  Both bands have a real clean sound, with a solid horn presence.  The Lions seem to have a more old school sound, while Sinizen is a little more pop-infused. The female vocals in the Sinizen track is a nice addition.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Latest Dancehall Feud

Assassin – A.K.A. Agent Sasco – is apparently feuding with Dancehall up-and-comer, Khago. Assassin recently voiced his disapproval of Khago in one of his latest singles, Bun Freaky Ras, essentially accusing the new-comer of being a hypocrite - a fake Rastafarian. 

Khago has been perceived by many to be a Rasta because of his long dreadlocks. In reaction to Assassin’s accusations, Khago backfired, assuring the reggae and dancehall communities that he never claimed to be a Rasta. “Mi separate religion from music. Mi never tell nobody say mi a Rasta. Mi and nuh man never meet up a Bobo Hill. Dem a look a hype. Everybody can grow locks, but a nuh every man a Rasta,” Khago tells the Jamaican STAR.

This story echoes similarities to the Natural Black story a week or so ago. Black recently cut off his signature locks and left Rasta and reggae music behind to pursue Dancehall music, and to avoid being perceived as a hypocrite in the eyes of the Rastafarian community.

In Sasco's defense, it's hard not to think you're a Rasta when you have songs like Jah Protect Me (below). 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Romain Virgo: The System

Let me start by saying that Romain Virgo is easily one of the most promising young artists in Jamaica, hands down.  When I heard news of his most recent album, I couldn't wait to check it out.  Now having said that, I listened to The System for the last week and unfortunately must say that I'm not so impressed.  It's not that the album is of poor quality.  The production is there, and Virgo tries his hardest, but there is just something about the album that doesn't make it stand out to me.  I think a big part of it is that most of the songs seem to blend in from one to the next; nothing stood out to me except "I Am Rich In Love," which has been around for a while.

I will say that Virgo definitely tries his hardest to save this ablum with his lyrical content.  It is more than the love jams we have become accustomed to with Romain.  Songs like "The System," "Minimum Wage," and "I Know Better" are all examples.  However, through this album, I discovered that maybe I just like his love jams better.  Like I said, "I Am Rich In Love" was my favorite, but more importantly, this album made me want to play classics like "Should I Call Her," "Dark Skin Girl," and "Taking You Home."

I have heard that this album is one of those that grow on you, and I certainly don't want to be the one to tell you not to purchase it.  So check it out for yourself on iTunes!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Jr. Blender Reggae Remixes

Is it just me or does reggae make everything better? One of my new favorite producers, Jr. Blender, has some solid reggae remixes of popular music from artists like Rihanna, Usher, and Bruno Mars. Personally, I am amazed at the ability these days to be able to completely transform songs from something that is already good to something that's even better. Blender's riddims groove hard, so make sure you got your dancing shoes on. My favorites are You Da One (Rihanna), Marry You (Bruno Mars), and 5 O Clock (T Pain, Wiz Khalifa) And you can download all of his mixes for FREE off his site: Can't beat good free music!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Live In Love Riddim

 A BIG, BIG, riddim this is from TJ Records! It really needs no introduction or explanation, the music speaks for itself. I will say this though, that Tarrus KILLS it on this. Absolutely murders it on this riddim. This is all I've been listening to this week. I've been running it back again and again, and I'm confident you'll soon be doing the same.

Artists as they appear on the mix above:
I-Octane -- "Can't Get Over"
Bugle -- "It's A Journey"
Tarrus Riley -- "Sorry Is A Sorry Word"
J Boog -- "Love You"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Natural Black Cuts His Locks

Reggae singer, Natural Black, cut his locks off this past Sunday, and in turn said good-bye to Rastafari. A shocking act that I don’t think many people expect to see from any popular reggae artist. The reason? To pursue Dancehall music. My response: good riddance.

Natural Black never did it for me, really. He had two, MAYBE three good singles. I can only think of one right now, and that's Far From Reality, on Don Corleon's, Seasons Riddim. So with that said, I’m not sorry to see him go. It’s too bad, though, to see someone just completely transform himself spiritually and physically, in such a drastic and seemingly negative way.

The one thing I do give some respect to Black for, is that the cutting of his locks was done so to avoid being a hypocrite in the eyes of the Rastafarian community. “I looked around at my surroundings and realized that I have not been living a Rastafarian lifestyle… I can’t be a hypocrite, that is why I take a pair of scissors and cut my locks myself,” said Black. Contrastingly, Natural Black, throughout his explanation for his actions, called out the Rastafarian community for being hypocritical, and for not living the life they preach - the lifestyle their religious foundations tell them to live - in a way, calling himself better than the other Rastas.

Really, it sounds like a nasty split. But like I said, good riddance. Best of luck in the Dancehall.

Gramps Morgan: Reggae Music Lives

It's been a big last few weeks for the talented Morgan family.  Not only did Morgan Heritage declare their return with a single and tour announcement, but Gramps Morgan continued to prove his solo career by releasing a solid sophomore album, Reggae Music Returns.  As if that's not enough, remember to keep an eye on Gramps' son, Jamere Morgan, continuing to make strides in his young career.

Anyone that is familiar with Morgan Heritage knows that when an album is released with the Morgan surname, you should pay attention.  When the group decided to work on solo projects in 2008, I was really curious to see how each artist would fare.  Originally, Petah was always my personal favorite, while I always recognized Gramps for killing it his deep, soulful voice.  Since 2008 though, I have been impressed with how Gramps has continued to progress his style and prove himself as a solo artist. It makes me think the solo move was a good one for him indeed.

Reggae Music Returns is filled with solid production, amazing vocals, and great vibes throughout.  I was most impressed, however, with the consistency of the lyrical content in each song — intelligent, thoughtful and relevant.  Topics ranging from his bond with Africa ("I Hear You Calling"), to a life [dedication to Trayvon Martin] cut short ("Life Too Short"); from defending the current state of Reggae music ("Reggae Music Lives") to providing a motivational message as well ("DREAM").  Of course there are a number of classic love jams as well.  I really enjoyed how the style of production and vocals vary throughout the album to keep me on my toes.  You'll hear some slow jams accompanied with smooth soulful vocals, as well as some upbeat tunes with roughneck deejay vocals.

The heavy hitters are "Life Too Short", "Part Time Soldiers" and for some reason I really like "Coulda DJ (Dem Neva Know)".  I think it's because of the classic rock guitar that I was first surprised by, but became accustomed to, with Morgan Heritage.


Live In Love Riddim - TJ Records. Riddim Mega Mix comming soon!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nas "The Don" Music Video

Nasir Jones a.k.a. Nas recently released a new music video for a track called "The Don" off his upcoming album Life is Good set to release in June. A heavy track with some nice dancehall flavor. Good to see Nas following up strong after Distant Relatives, a legendary hip hop/reggae collaboration album with Damian Marley that has left the rapper with a whole new fan base in the Reggae community.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stephen Marley, "Made in Africa"

 Check out 8-time Grammy award-winning reggae artist, Stephen Marley, in his latest music video, Made in Africa, feat. Wale. This single is the first track off of his latest album, Revelation Pt. 1: The Root of Life, which took home this year's Best Reggae Album at the 2012 Grammy's. The video is very well produced, and has some beautiful footage of what looks to be the sprawling mountain ranges of Ethiopia? That big, bright blue sky that is so evident throughout many of the savanna shots makes me miss Africa...