Reviews Downloads Opinions/Articles Blog News Web Advices
Wha ah gwaan? Im Krikon and this is my blog, it's dedicated to everything i find interesting, esp. Reggae but also movies and graphic design. My reviews feature some low-quality, streaming samples but im not an illegal mp3 blog and will never be. Any artist or label who want their samples removed, let me know. If you want your album or movie reviewed here, post in the chat box and i'll get in touch with you.

December 14, 2007

Russian Reggae

By now y'all should be aware of this blog's international take on Reggae, Jah Jah's music truly has gone international and is everywhere now. Act's are popping up all over the Eastern Europe, one of these groups are "Jah Division" from Russia. They have a much polished and professional sound, well worth checking out if you dare to cross language barriers.

Another great act from Russia would be "Rebel Steppa" whit a more British Roots/Steppers sound, from what i have understood he's more of an producer/player of instrument than vocalist and has worked whit a few British acts, not very Russian sounding but very good.

November 22, 2007

Natural Way - 1924

Since I am from Sweden it has always made me extra happy whenever i hear good Swedish Reggae. In recent years there has been plenty of good artists and releases but i remember when there was hardly any artists or releases and far between any concerts. Natural Way is among the first, truly Swedish Roots bands there is. They formed 1982 in Uppsala and did sadly split in 2003, after only 2 releases. This is their first album and a classic among Swedish fans. The title, 1924 refers to the year Haile Selassie I visited Sweden and a photo from that visit can be seen on the cover which obviously is not that good looking (couldn't they have found an photo where it doesn't look like H.I.M is hunchbacked?). But as they always say, don't judge a book by it's cover because this is a very competent album. Fans of "Israel Vibrations" will absolutely love this group as their style (and the singers voice) strongly reminds me of them. It's not a copycat album though, far from it!

First up after the intro (which is a lil drum solo, not that awful but hardly an impressive Nyabinghi showcase either) is "God blessed music nah stop". This is not a lighthearted "lets smoke a spliff, listen to reggae and be irie" nonsense track that you might expect but deals more whit musics positive and uplifting qualities and Reggaes spiritual qualities. This is a very solid track whit top notch backing, singing and lyrical content, if "Natural Way" haven't won you over by the time this song ends you might wanna reconsider if you really are the Roots reggae fan you think you are. A couple of great tracks later we come to song 5, "10000 Volts" which is one of my favourites on here and i think I've spent about a week humming "why should the children in a Lebanon die" to myself and will probably hum it for a few weeks more. It's about the poor and unfortunate of the world and how much pressure they can handle. It has a melancholic vibe to it while still being kinda energetic, VERY GOOD!!!

Let's not forget about the next tune, "Remember" who at first seem as an man-woman love song but i really don't think he's singing about that sorta love but more about love to god and RastafarI prophets that we shall always "Remember", this song features an early (at least when we talk recorded material) appearance from Swedens top veteran Toaster, "Governor Andy" who has been very active in recent years. As whit every song on here it's a great one but (even though the message is a worthwhile one) the lyrics may not be as sharp as elsewhere on this album. Other good songs is "Coke locks" about drug dealers and the standout "Barber dread" an personal observation on how it is being a Rasta without dreads and how short hair does not necessarily mean you're a "baldhead". I can very much relate to this as I've struggled whit having dreads but always failed.

Well, I can't praise this album enough as it is everything I could ever ask for as far as Roots Reggae goes, you can tell that "Natural Way" stand firm whit their feet's in the 70'ies sound but that they have not got stuck there and tried to imitate, they have modern feel whit contemporary influences and some jazzy instrumentals to go. As far as lyrics go I would say that this album is very much "on point", they have taken classical "RastafarI" themes and made them their own, this is no cliched wannabe Rasta lyrics. Unf. "Natural Way" only released one more album before they broke up, 2 albums over the span of 20 years is not much but what they do not deliver quantity wise they make up for in quality. It will be hard to find any of their albums wheter you're in Sweden or not so thanks god for Internet and mp3'z, in cases like these i wholeheartedly recommend illegal downloading.

October 12, 2007

Khari Kill - Picture of Selassie

Among the billion or so countries who has a very active and talented Reggae scene is the small Caribean islands of Trinidad & Tobago where we find artists such as Marlon Asher, Queen Omega and last but not least Khari Kill who finally has released his debut album. It was a few years in the making and most definitely worth waiting for. Together whit Digital B and the others in New York (where Khari now resides) he made one of the top 10 albums of the year, next to "Lutan Fyah" id say Khari Kill is my favourite Sing jay dj.

Things start out kinda familiar but very strong whit "Bird pepper" who was available to download from Khari's Myspace page some time ago. It's a peculiar title but deals whit the current state of our youths whit some pleas to praise Selassie I thrown in. It's a nice uptempo cut bound to please. Next, we get more of the same (good) stuff whit "Humble as a lamb" where he serves us another dose of uptempo positivity, being of Scandinavian origins I'm kinda curious about the references made to Finland.

"Mary grandson" is among the more well known cuts on here, saying it's a hit may be too much but people into reggae should have heard of it. It's a call for peace among the poor people in the ghetto's and that inevitable criticism of Babylon who under the banner of police and military get away whit murder and violence, anotha strong tune but not the best on here. There is a couple of "smoke weed" songs on here such as "Smoking around" and "Marijuana pumpin" (built around the same riddim as Marlon Ashers hit "Ganja Farmer"). Usually the weed songs are not my favourite type of reggae songs but these 2 are very good and should not be ignored.

It would be crazy to not include the huge cultural anthem "Picture of Selassie" on here and of course it's on here, this was the tune who introduced me to Khari Kill in the first place and still remains my favourite song, check the video on youtube to this song where Khari can be seen in a classroom full of kids handing out photos of H.I.M. to the students, a great video full of goosebumb inducing footage of Haile Selassie I.

To sum things up i would have to say that this is one of the major albums of the year (god knows how many obscure but amazing albums i am missing out on) and one that has to be purchased, even if you like me is starting to think that there is too many singjay's out there. Not to be missed.

October 9, 2007

African Movies

Many moons ago I visited Gambia, it was one of the most amazing experiences in my life and I could talk about it forever but I will resist the temptation. As a movie geek I was amazed to find African movies, I am not talking about boring, artsy movies made in French and backed by European intelectuals either. This is the real deal, made by Nigerians for the African market and covering all the genres Hollywood does.

You may wonder how this relates to Reggae and RastafarI and there is no direct links, we are not talking movies about Jah, Dreadlocks or Soundsistims but considering how Afrocentric Roots Reggae is, any fan of the genre should be interested in them.

For years you could not get ahold of these movies unless you lived in Ifrica but Internet makes the world smaller and Nigerian movies more accesible. So, soon I wills tart covering Nigerian movies here. I will focus on the "traditional" movies about tribal matters but basicaly anything except the "Adult" genre will be covered.

For more info and ordering, check out these pages (that I am not affiliated whit or take any responsibility of):
Afrikan DVD

African Movies Direct

September 26, 2007

Jahranimo - Real life

Canada has a large, vibrant community of Jamaican immigrants and this has of course meant a very much alive Reggae scene whit plenty of artists, soundsystems and concerts. It's this scene that has given birth to the Jamaican/Canadian Dj Jahranimo. Just like others before him he converted to RastafarI a couple of years ago and this is something that is very visible in his artistry. What I did not know when i bought this CD was that his "Rap" influences where just as visible. Even though I love both Reggae and Rap I don't like when artists mix the 2 styles together to get some sorta bastard offspring (there is an truly horrible collaboration between Mad Cobra and Geto Boys who exemplifies everything i hate whit this cross pollination). But I guess there are exceptions to all rules and this may just be that exception to my disliking of "Rap/Reggae".

I pretty much bought this album on the strenght of the first song "Opposite" alone, it's a very good tune talking about those who are the "......opposite of everything that's right", exposing and discussing their wicked plans. It's one of the most rootsy tunes on here, very uplifting and catchy and would work perfect for any conscious soundsystem out there. Id love to go totally crazy on the dance floor to this tune. Next up is the heavily influenced "Up deh" who is way more representative of Jahranimos sound than the first song. It's very digital and bouncy sounding but most definitely whit a Rootsy message bigging up all church goers.

Fast forward a few "Hip Hop" sounding songs and we come to the title track "Real life", a biographical song about his upbringing whit his Grandma in Jamaica, his mom and all the tribulations Jahranimo went through growing up. It has a slight touch of R&B and would have been the perfect crossover pop hit whit it's soft but always qualitative sound. I really like this song and the lyrics feels very relevant and honest. After that it's back to the "Hip Hop" sounding songs whit "Must get betta" where Jahranimo spits uplifting rhymes about how things must get better when things feel as if they have hit "rock bottom". The beat is minimalistic and on a whole this is a song that tend to stick to your mind.

It takes a while for Jahranimo to find his way back to the Rootsier songs but it happens on track 16, "Jah jah love" that he does whit label mate Kirk Davis who has a very Yamie Bolo sounding voice, surprisingly enough i mus say that the more "Hip Hop" influenced songs sounds a little bit better even though this is not a bad song. Next comes "Judge not" who is as "Hip Hop like" as it gets on here. The album ends whit a remix of an earlier track, "Dance nice".

Over all i must say that this is a very good album, nothing for the fans of traditional or even newer Roots Reggae, the lyrics about Jah might be there but not the beats/music backing. At first I did not like "Real life" at all but it grew on me and turned out to be such a great album i just had to review it. One could tell that Jahranimo loves women (who doesn't ?) and many of the songs on here are dedicated to them. However, this is done in a respectful and positive way, you will not find no raps about hoes, bitches and sexual positions on here. If you're looking for a "Hip Hop" sounding dancehall album whit strong positive lyrics this is a good choice.

September 25, 2007

Bob Marley, the king of Reggae, now and forever

When we enter the realms of serious "music-nerds" one of the main issues is the search for and discovery of the latest underground talent, the one no one but you and a few fellow "nerds" have heard about. Once that artist is located a massive grass-roots information campaign can start to inform the masses about this artists virtues and how unfair it is that he/she is not more known.

I am very much a part of this phenomenon, i love to dig in the underground for artists no one has ever heard about. But somewhere something goes terribly wrong for a lot of "nerds" and they start to look down at the more known acts and those who likes them. I would say Bob Marley is one of the top victims for this music elitISM.

This guy was and will always remain the KING OF REGGAE no matter how popular he is or will be and no matter how many folks who does not care about Reggae that you will see wear his t-shirts. I mean, how many of us would even have discovered this genre and even more important RastafarI if it was not for Bob Marley? There is many good Reggae artists out there but none except Bob has achieved prophet status.

If you're one of the Bob Marley dissers, ask yourself if you're about good music (& messages) or if your interest in this genre is just some stupid & elitist attempt at boosting your own status. I am not going to hold back, it makes me cringe every time I hear some newbie fan hating on Bob and praising Burru Banton or St.Croix reggae (i am not hating on Burru or St.Croix though) just to boost their own status as a "Reggae-know-it-all".

So please, a Reality check might be of interest for some of y'all!!!!

September 19, 2007

RasItes - Urban regeneration

Except for Jamaica i would say that the UK boasts the strongest Reggae scene of all countries. This may be much due to all the Jamaican immigrants and their offspring, but still..... England has been holding it down almost since day one and the Brits are still going strong. You may know bout (& love) their "Lovers Rock" sound but please do not miss out on the Rootsier acts. These young locksmen in "RasItes" show that the RastafarI spirit is well and alive in the Great Britain. If you like the sound of the 70'ies but wants it a lil bit updated you might do good in checking out this Cd.

We start out whit "Chop the corruption", i have not seen this group live but this song would be just the perfect song to start out a concert whit. It has this anthem/theme music feel to it and the Cd could not get a better start, it's catchy and energetic and sums up the "RasItes" sound perfectly. Next comes "High grade", wonder how many Reggae songs who has that name? If y'all did not know it's a weed song, or more exactly dedicated to all who sell/grow/smuggle weed and at the same time a song that is against all other illegal substances (such as crack). It's a nice song, kinda uptempo and danceable, dunno if it's just me but weed songs tend to get a little boring to me (cant stop to think about retarded stoners who says "dude" too often when i hear these kinda songs).

One of my favourites on this album is "Crazy lazy" who is about people who is to lazy to bother whit work or anything else they are supposed to do in life, it's very catchy and sticks to your head. You will hum it for days and it just won't leave your mind, from this point all u need to do is to think about the song for a few seconds for it to play nonstop in your head again for a few days. There is also a few covers like he superb "Picture on the wall" (love the song but RasItes don't do much whit it) and the lovesong "Danger in our eyes" (which i heard first done by Mighty Diamonds).

To sum things up id say that this is a superb album and the perfect album to start whit if you want to familiarise yourself whit British Roots-reggae, you can often find it used on Amazon for like 0.99$ so there's no need to spend your money on risky imports or digging deep for rare records not available here in USA. As far as sound goes i would compare "RasItes" to a mix of "The Mighty Diamonds" and "Morgan Heritage" (something that should most def. be taken as a compliment) whit plenty of originality to spice things up further. If there is one thing that's negative whit this album it is that it gets you hooked to their sound so much that you will go out searching for more albums, only to find that they haven't made any. I've got the feeling that they still perform together so let's bombard them whit attention and e-mail requests for more albums.

September 10, 2007

This is me

I am not on no ego trip or nothing posting a photo of me on this page but personally I always find it interesting to see an photo or something of the owner of sites or blogs. If you think otherwise, too bad, just ignore this.

Downloading music, good or bad?

The everlasting question nowadays whit internet and mp3z is wheter it's good or bad to download music, personaly i have been downloading tons of stuff for years and I don't feel bad about it and will continue doing so. But i do also buy as much "real" Cd's as I can (the last few albums I got was 2 Mighty Diamonds cd's and 1 whit Shaka Man) and it also happens that I buy Cd's iv'e already downloaded.

I do not think that downloading is a problem if you make shure that you keep on buying music. Let's make one thing very clear, a lot of these artists only income is from their music and no matter how much our music has grown, IT IS STILL A SMALL GENRE compared to other music. If we see downloading for free as an viable option to buying music we do our beloved Reggae genre a lot of damage. So please, keep buying music no matter how much you download.

Lyrical Benjie - Rastaman Style

Anyone who has a clue about what goes on in Reggae knows that European Reggae (wheter it comes from migrated Jamaicans on natives) is thriving and growing like crazy right now. The UK-scene has been strong since the 80ies and the German reggae vibes been going strong for a while now but what about Holland? It would be strange if Reggae was not big in the original country of legal Marijuana. They've been kicking it for a long time, in fact the first live reggae act I saw was the Dutch "Revelation Time".

One of the Dutch artists that has impressed me the most lately is Lyrical Benjie, a 100 % strictly Roots artist whit a powerful message and voice (you gotta check out his "Ten plagues" track, not on this release). He's heavily affiliated whit the soundsystem King Shiloh and to an extent also whit my Swedish natives in Shilo-ites. To my knowledge this is the first of 2 releases he has out (available thru Cafepress on Cd).

First up (of the 6 tracks) is "Rastaman style", an anthem like song praising the Rastafarian way of life and bigging up those who decide to live according to it's principles, it's a pretty upbeat cut, kinda relaxed but still whit a certain energy to it, very danceable. Next comes "Til Shiloh comes" and it's not about some certain movie stars much talked about son, lol :D It's about the message of Jah and the prophets who has chosen to preach it and how gods children must rise and create a new, righteous nation. Very informative and uplifting for shure. If we skip one (very good) track we come to "In the city" where Benjie sings"...tell me how you are living in the city or are the city living in you?" It's basically a plea to all folks to not let tough times in nasty cities get to them and to seek salvation in Jah, when times are tough as well as when they are good.

You might react to the fact that you have to pay full price for what at first may seem to be an EP, the 6 tracks included however, are often like 7-8 minutes long and include an extended dub so it's more like you get 12 cuts, kinda like those showcase albums which feature the song and then the dub mix right after it. If you are into modern roots music whit heavily religious (read RastafarI) lyrics this is a very good album from an artist who clearly have the heart in the right place. Lets support guys like this whit our wallets, if you want to he got a few tracks on Myspace to download.

Lyrical Benjie Myspace Page

The Official homepage

August 13, 2007

Culturellenium Vol.2

I dunno if y'all have started to notice a trend on this blog but i tend to try and focus on non-Jamaican Reggae as i feel there is so many talented artists out there that goes unnoticed due to geographical reasons. By now we should know that Reggae has gone international, there is tons of great groups from Europe and USA but also from a whole heap a West Indian islands. Among the best of them is the Virgin Islands.

They have been around for years and their output of conscious reggae is nothing short but amazing, i could throw superlatives for forever about them but let's just settle whit that their constant output of high quality Roots Reggae defies all logic's, a label from such a small place should not have resources to put out this much good music. For those not aware of this label and the Virign Islands Reggae scene, what could be better than a compilation? Culturenium pt.2 is a very good introduction to the scene!!!!

We get 17 tracks of pure fyah, based on 3 riddims and featuring both established artists such as Midnite and Dezarie while not forgetting bout the underground acts such as Ahjahmel and Boy Blue. On a ideological level this is a fairly conservative album, being against Gays, questioning science and modern health care, denouncing the sexual revolution etc... If you are not an Rasta you may have some objections to the lyrics. I'm not big on gay bashing myself but apart from that I don't find the lyrics too questionable.

No matter how good the artists on here may be doing no one is beating Dezarie on track 2, "Waiting on Jah". This is an amazing song, not so much because of the riddim (who is by no means bad) but because of the harmonising/singing of Dezarie, I've liked her since I've first heard her (she even looks great) but this is probably the finest song of her career. She manages to create an almost middle-eastern, melancholic atmosphere on here, very beautiful. The riddim demands a lot of the artist to make it work (since it's pretty anonymous) but Dezarie squeezes out the most of it.

Another track that stands out is track 6 with the to me unknown Ahjamel who does "Dr.Jekyl" a meditation on the crooked doctors of Babylon who only makes things worse for their patients. Roots reggae usually isn't that humorous but Ahjamel manages to pull a few heavy punches at Babylon but still keep it lighthearted and evoke a smile on the faces of the listeners, you can also notice that this is a seriously personal account on something he himself experienced. Not that the riddim is bad or nothing but it's the lyrics who makes this a truly great song.

Then we got the always good Ras Attitude whit "Stop chat" whit his recommendation to all folks who talk bull about Haile Selassie I being dead etc to just simply shut up cause they got no clue. Among the hordes of new Roots artists that has come out id say that Ras Attitude is among the better and he proves himself worthy of praise on here (he got another 2 songs on here).

In general i would say that this is a very strong compilation full of great contributions from both "well known" and newer talents of the Virgin Islands scene, if you're not familiar whit it this is a great introduction and fans of modern Roots Reggae will not be disappointed

August 6, 2007

Soldiers of Jah Army - Peace in a time of war

Nowadays it almost seems as if the best Reggae comes from outside of Jamaica (i know, it sounds blasphemous to say or write it) and Soja (Soldiers of Jah Army) is this collective of 5 conscious Rastas from Washington DC who's been releasing albums since 2000. This release is from 2003, their latest is from 2006. This can most definitely be defined as "intellectual Roots Reggae", they don't settle whit stating that babylon is bad and that we should praise Jah. They go deep into the reasons why and speaks about the media brainwashing us, "politrixians" and more substantial subjects.

The album starts excellent whit "Revolution cry", a much personal reflection about feeling alienated from society and what this world is coming to, what we leave to our children. Once may think it's your regular "this society sucks" song but it's so much deeper than that. It has a kinda "Rockers" vibe to it while never straying from the rootsy feel of this album. Next up is the equally great "Reality" who deals whit the conflict of intellectualism and religion and reminds us that Jah gave us the ability to think, analyse and find solutions to problems and that we should not value ourselves and our minds to high cause there are still a lot that we don't have the solutions to. It's a song whit a refreshing drive and energy to it, you wanna go out and act more than to sit home smoking after having heard this song.

"Peace in a time of war" is about "politrix", the Bush administration, it's policies and how the American people was thinking when they elected this much criticised man to be their president. One could probably write page upon page about this subject. What makes this song stand out is once again it's intellectual touch and how it's not really a Bush diss song but more one being critical to politicians in general. One of my favourites on this album is "Rasta courage" where the singer say "...don't defend no black and I don't defend no white, I defend the truth and all of that", much important lines shattering one of the biggest missunderstandings about RastafarI as some sorta vehicle for black Racists who want to kill all whites. It's not about that, it's about truth and righteousness and the often strong "pro black" sentiments being found in RastafarI is just a side product of this "truth and righteousness" stuff. The song itself is a little more laid back than some of the other songs on here but still not too slow.
As far as their sound goes it's a very clever blend of genres where Soja never looses focus on what is commonly termed as "Roots Reggae", they manage to blend in touches of Rock and contemporary music whitout ever alienating their core crowd. Im usually no fan of the fusion of genres (not even those i like) but i can live whit this (even thoroughly enjoy it) as SOJA knows exactly how far they can go before things turn into a missmatch of genres satisfying no one.

Well, this is a Cd that really get's my brain going and the lyrics are "top notch", smart and original but always from a RastafarI point of view. This is one of those albums whit no "filler" songs and is much recommended to those who want to exercise their brain a little. Now i just can't wait to discover the other albums SOJA has out, i guess i just made my already loooooong "want list" a little bit longer.

August 4, 2007

Biblical - Inborn precepts

It don't matter where you look in the world, everywhere you gon find Reggae and wherever you find it Rastaman stand strong.Warms my heart that the words of Jah have an revival in the music i love, when i started jammin Marley in the early 90 ies slackness reigned supreme but no more. This is one of many new Roots releases from beyond the shores of Jamaica, to be more close California and the Higher Bound Productions camp, a bunch of young Rasta's who live for this 24/7 and produces Rootsmusic whit a modern, updated sound and strictly conscious lyrics.

The first thing that hits you is the enormously beautiful cover painted by Ras Terms (you have to check out his myspace page) and I'm not kidding when i say that this is one of the nicest Reggae covers iv'e seen in a very long time, I'd love to have this on a t-shirt. But enough about it, you don't listen to a cd-cover. Biblical is a singjay dj and while keeping it Roots you can absolutely feel a dancehall vibe on this cd, not as rowdy as some less conscious acts but....

First up is "Jah works",music wise it kinda reminds me of the backing of a early Yammie Bolo track or something, strong digital roots vibes whit a touch of more organic sounds. Not a bad song at all but not incredible memorable either. As far as lyrics goes it's one of many songs on here paying tribute to Selassie I and Jah. Like I said, Biblical is a singjay Dj but whit a more "singy" style than toasting, nothing like the much prevailing Bobo chatters. His voice is what I'd call "rough lite", a lil raspy but not very much for still being considered that. Next comes "Let luv in", a plea to all warmongers out there to chill and let god and love into their lives, it does not feel quite as "digi-roots" as the first track, once again a good song but not amazing (this is the albums biggest problems, being good but not too memorable).

3rd track is "Eyes can see" about how obviously true Rastafari is to Biblical and how it stands for everything good in the world, it's a smooth track whit soft and relaxed backing. A few songs further in comes"deliver the poor" whit labelmate "Ishene" and deals whit Biblical wanting god to provide for the poor and make shure that they overcome all their problems. It has a strong backbeat and is so far my favourite on the album, it's also the first song whit another artist (and the last except for another one whit "Ishene"). The presence of "Ishene" ads to "deliver the poor" and makes it pleasantly stand out from the other tracks on here. Another good song is "Psalms and proverbs" and to keep things short it deals whit receiving the blessing of Jah and how you can't go wrong if you do receive it. It's once again a pretty smooth song but still Biblical at his most energetic and most toasting, this is no hype party album but you won't come closer to it here than on this song.

The rest of the tracks is pretty much more of the same thing. There is plenty to like about this album, Biblical is diehard Rasta and does not compromise,he does not rely on washed out riddims used to often by others and the lyrics are interesting if yet a bit repetitive. But I gotta be honest, it fails to be really memorable and Biblical is a little to monotonous in his flow sometimes. But he's very new artist and this is his first album, give him some time and i think he really will shine. Buyworthy if you have some money laying around but not essential.

July 30, 2007

We need a full lenght release now!!!

As we all know, Reggae is a single driven genre and most stuff hits 7 inch singles before it ever comes on Cd, a lot of artists albums are nothing but single collections. I don't know bout you readers but I don't buy vinyl no more and have no equipment to play it.

So it's a shame that the only releases I've found whit the singjay Cali P is on 7' inch vinyl or on riddim collections full of artists I'm not interested in. He needs a full lenght Cd release now, there is plenty of fans who would buy it and I'm one of them.

Until then we have to settle whit downloading whatever we can find whit him, this blogg is not to crazy about linking illegal downloads but search online and you will find enough Cali P to last you until he decides to release an album.

July 28, 2007

Artists etc.....

I assume all blogg-owners have amazing plans for their bloggs, so do I. Id love to make this the top destination for more obscure, unknown reggae acts from all over the world. Without support and stuff to review it's not gonna happen though, rite now I will keep the blogg going whit reviewing the stuff I own & buy and will continue doing so (this blog is no cheap attempt at getting free albums from labels and groups).

So please, get in touch whit me and we can make this an amazing blogg, perhaps even a regular site, but first i will see how much support I will get ( i mean like visitors and people adding comments etc, if this blogg grows popular but no review material arrives I will still keep going and expanding). One last thing, hope any eventual spelling errors will not distract from the content, I know im not a spelling bee champion, lol :D

July 27, 2007

Cocoa Tea - Biological Warfare

A new album by Cocoa Tea is always a cause for celebration in my book, the man has been around for a very long time and is still sounding fresh like few. When he drops something new one always wonder what sorta album it will be, either a soundbwoi/love song album or a more rootsy/dealing whit social issues one. I prefer the later even though it really don't matter, a Cocoa Tea album is always good to me.

This is however one of his rootsier ones, not any "my sound a deh numbah one" kinda songs on here, it's more about poor people suffering, the new world order, immigration and the injustices of the Babylon shitstim. You can tell Cocoa Tea is smart and knows allot, he keeps himself updated on what goes on in the world. Sometimes roots reggae are too general in criticizing Babylon and it's the same old rehashed words over and over again. Not whit Cocoa, you can tell he has observed and identified specific issues. But enough, let's get to the songs of this album;

First up is "Poverty" who is about how poverty is the source to most of the ills in the society and that we must eradicate poverty if we really want a better world and that we all should have some compassion and help those in need if we can. Sometimes some Reggae is called "Sufferahs music" but despite the subject this shure is not, the riddim is very upbeat and the song has a positive vibe to it. I dunno if this makes sense but it has a typical Cocoa Tea feel to it. Next up is"Blood and fyah" who deals whit "the new world order", for those who dunno about the subject, you need to read up on it, it's a very real threat and really scary once you know some bout it. Seriously, this is Satan in full effect and we need to educate our minds. It's a real mellow and smooth track on an extremely imp. subject.

It's not like things ease up whit next track, "Biological warfare" (Cocoa Tea means business on this cd and deals whit some heavy stuff) who is kinda self explanatory as far as the subject goes. Once again, the backing is smooth and easy on the listener to balance up the heavy subject. After that things ease up a little whit "Let the dancehall" who is a call for peace to the "Rudebwoi's" who populate the dancehall circuits, it's not a soundbwoi track but still as close as you gonna get on this album. It has a classical music feel to it whit the riddim built around a short sequence of violins playing.

the only love song on the album is "Too far from home" and it has way more substance than your average "I love you" song and deals whit Cocoa falling in love whit this Italian woman and how he has a hard time dealing whit being away from Jamaica to be whit her. As a foreigner leaving home to live whit the woman of my dreams i can relate to this song even though i don't feel like "....I'm too far from home". Bottom line, i like this song and glimpse of Cocoa Tea's private life.

There's 1 song on here whit a kinda "cross-over" feel, where Cocoa tea aims to win over the Urban/R&B/Hip hop market, "Rise up". I don't care for it too much but I'm at the same time not holding it against Cocoa, id love to see him blow up in the states and climb the charts as long as he keeps on making his usual songs he's always made. And, the lyrics shure ain't watered down, being another poor people's anthem telling them to "Rise up". The title "poor people defenda" may be taken by Chuck Fenda but Cocoa Tea is the original, he's been on the poor people's side, defending their interests for over 20 years now.

There is a coupla tracks i have not brought up in this review but do not make no mistake and think that they are not good, this is an very strong album, no "filler" songs and stellar performances throughout. If you're looking for something new and unique, never done before though, this is not the album. Cocoa Tea found his style years ago and has stuck whit it, why fix something that is not broke? I would be seriously disappointed if he ever changed his style, his tracks are timeless and his style perfected.

July 19, 2007

Reggaebooks Rundown

If you're a serious music fan it's of course not enough to just listen to the music, you wanna know about the artists, put the music in it's social context and basically just know a lot about it. What better way could there be to obtain that knowledge other than reading books (and watch documentaries)? Here I'll give you the rundown on a few of the great books about reggae that's out there, it's far from final and complete though.....

Reggae Island - Brian Jahn and Toby & Tony Weber (Da Capo)
A lot of books about Reggae have a focus on the 70 ies, talking about and featuring all those amazing artists from the "golden age", not this one, it does not try to be no definite history of the genre but more contemporary. Well, it's a few years old so that translates into the artists that where around in the early 90ies. It's made by Brian Jahn (& Tony Webber) who's an photographer whit a long commitment to Jamaican music.

There's photos a plenty and a whole bunch of shorter interviews whit folks like Yellowman, Tony Rebel, Michael Rose, etc.... You will also find a number of interviews whit classic 70 ies artists dealing whit their transition to new times. If you're looking for that deep penetrating knowledge of Reggae this may not be the book to get it in (the interviews are kinda short) but it's nevertheless a nice addition to your skankin' library and should be pretty cheap ordering used from Amazon

 Buy here

King Jammy's - Beth Lesser (ECW Press)
There has been no-one in the history of Dancehall Reggae that has been more important than producer extraordinaire, King Jammy, the man behind the insanely popular Sleng Teng Riddim. This is the book about him and the artists who was around him such as Half Pint, Junior Reid and many more. This book was originally published in 1989 by a small Finish company but the version you are likely to find is the expanded re-print (which also features articles from the authors now slumbering fanzine).

Some have criticized the design of this release which is by no means ugly but detract from the many amazing photos who came out better in the less fancy original. The author was there when everything happened so what we get is eyewitness accounts, interviews by artists in the middle of whatever is going on, not no "looking back at things" perspective as we get in many other books. My only complaint is that the format of this book is too small, what we get is sooo good that i wish there was more of the same stuff. Buy this whit the cd "King at the controls" (which includes an amazing dvd documentary) from VP and you get a good look at one of Reggae's most important.

Buy here

Reggae Explosion: The Story of Jamaican Music - Chris Salewicz & Adrian Boot (Harry N. Abrams)
When you want luxurious large format coffetable books whit plenty of stunning photos this is the way to go, it's laid out as a history of reggae from start to where it was at the time of publishing. The book covers all the big names in Reggae such as Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Luciano, Toots & The Maytals, Lee Perry, etc... Some has said that it's way to general and does not cover everything it should, something i find a bit unfair. Yes, it paints whit broad strokes and does not mention every obscure guy who has ever been in the business but id still say this is a great book whit amazing photos, good design and informative texts.

If you are a musicnerd in general without a specific genre of interest, who jumps from rock, to reggae to pop this is the only book on Reggae you will ever need, if you have just started getting interested in Reggae this is a good starting point as long as you're aware of that there is a lot more to explore. Either way,this is a good book and you have to like it for what it is other than to dislike it for what it's not.

buy here

Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music - Lloyd Bradley & Dennis Morris (BBC)
A companion piece to the excellent BBC 3 part tv-series by the same name, another history of reggae whit plenty of photos in both color & black and white. Some dislike when graphic designers are allowed going crazy over the photos and they will find it refreshing that the photos are represented without any design elements, just like they where taken, no borders, special-fx or anything else.

There is plenty of interviews whit old and new artists and well researched texts who covers a lot of ground while at the same time leaving a lot out. One could have wished for a thicker book whit longer chapters and more of everything but what we get is still very good. I really appreciate the section on British reggae & lovers rock, a subject often left out in other 100% Jamaicancentric books. As said, this accompanies a tv-series but still works very well on it's own, unf. the series is not out on DVD at the moment but do float around on the net as a "Torrent" or "Direct Connect" download.

Buy here

Reggae Bloodlines - Stephen Davis & Peter Simon (Double Day Anchor)
For all of you who prefers the Reggae of the 70 ies, the golden age of "roots" and "vocal trios", this is the top book, written at the times things went down and featuring artists like Max Romeo, Augustus Pablo, Mighty Diamonds, U-Roy and more this is a treasure chest of knowledge in the shape of a book. It comes in the mix of a music book and guide to Jamaica as a country. The authors obviously wanted to put the music in a social context and let us know how life is (or more correctly was) on the island.

Besides getting chapters dealing whit artists like Ras Michael, Fred Locks etc they also take time to explain Jamaican politics, Michael Manley, Gun Courts, Maroons and life on the countryside. Works just as well for folks interested in Jamaica as those interested in it's music life. Among all the books available this (the first book on Reggae) is my favourite and while it may cost a bit nowadays (as it's out of print) it's worth every penny you can pay, highly recommended.

Buy here

Solid Foundation: An oral history of Reggae - David Katz (Bloomsbury)
For sheer information this book is quite amazing, mr.Katz has done an amazing Job of finding "everyone and their Mamma" and sucked them dry of information. Lotsa obscure guys from the childhood of Jamaican music are in here, do y'all know about guys like Ken Khouri or Charlie Motta and what role they have played in Jamaican music history? Hmm, didn't think so. There's actually so much information here that you can only read a few pages a time or your system are bound to suffer from "information overload".

Those who demand a whole heap a photos, a flashy design and colors will be disappointed of this book, it's all about the text in "Solid Foundation". Sure, there's quite a few photos in here but they are small and not of any higher quality than you would find in a newspaper. As mentioned in the title this is a "oral history" and there is plenty of "X said this and this but on the other hand, Y claims it more like that and that". Sometimes there is conflicting statements and Mr.Katz mentions this and how he has tried his best to verify all information. But, sometimes it's just not possible, deal whit it or avoid this book.

If you're a 100% Reggae fanatic who want to know exactly everything there is to know about your genre and everyone in it id say this is your best choice, the information contained here is quite overwhelming in it's volume. However, this is not a book you glance thru for a few minutes, it demands your attention and a major interest in Jamaican music.

Buy here

Reggae & Caribbean Music - Dave Thompson (Third Ear)
Out of all the books on Reggae i own this is the one that has impressed me the least, it's some sorta encyclopedia on Reggae & Caribbean music dealing whit artists, releases and carnivals. It's a thick & fairly large book, 532 pages, whit mostly written material (and a few photos here and there). Thick or not, it bites more than it can chew and i would have preferred if it had only dealt whit reggae artists/producers. As it is right now, too many important names are left out and no matter how much the book contains it feels way too incomplete to be satisfying.

You can't take on such a wide subject as "Caribbean Music" in general and expect to do a good job, imagine someone doing a book on European music having to cover all the genres and artists that exists on that continent, IMPOSSIBLE! And why would anyone into reggae really care about who won carnivals on Trinidad? It's not a worthless book but still far from essential, if you find it cheap in some bargain bin, go ahead and buy it but never pay full price.

Buy here

That's it for now, as said this is not a complete list, there are still many books i am yet to read so expect me to be back whit another rundown of books, just dunno when.

July 18, 2007

Uwe Banton-Jah roots

If someone would have said a couple years ago that one of the best reggae albums that i would ever hear was by a German artist going under the name "Uwe Banton" i would have laughed my ass of and said they where delirious and out of their minds. This however, is now a fact and i can't praise his album "Jah Roots" enough.

I'm kinda going thru some rough times at the moment and this album is performing miracles as far as getting me in a better mood goes. Take any Jamaican or international roots artist you want but nothing will beat this (a few selected may be just as good though) album. It's straight fyah and positive vibes from start to finish.

It start of whit a favourite (even though that is a kinda silly statement as all songs on here feels like favourites), "Don't Cry" about how folks shall not give up when faced whit hard times cause Jah is always looking out for his children.

"But JAH is not sleeping, he’s watching over his children While we are weeping, the comforter takes up our burden, saying: Don’t you cry, hold your head high, ‘cause JAH is standing by He lives in the I, not just in the sky, you got to give love a try!”
If you ever wanted an inspirational and uplifting song this is "THE ONE", next up is another gem who goes by the name "I know" who continues in the tradition of the above mentioned first track telling us that no matter how much evil there is in the world and how enslaved we are "the lion of Judah" will break our chains

"But I know That in spite all these things we’re gonna make it And all those chains that hold us the Lion Of Judah will break it Redemption come - Babylon your system must go down No matter how rough it may seem We still keep chanting JAH Word, Power And Sound"

Then a couple more great tracks follow until we reach song 7, the title track "Jah Roots". It's a great roots anthem, very catchy and a perfect selecta choice to get every rootsman up on the dance floor and rule the soundsistim dance. The song reminds us to always pay attention to Jah and warns about false prophets who may cloud our judgement. It's kinda uptempo and energetic while still keeping the thoughtful spirit who runs thru this great album.

Another song that catches your attention is the highly controversial "11th September", no matter wheter you agrees whit the lyrics or not it sticks to your head and is of the nature that you will hum along to by yourself, sit on the buss singing, I am shure y'all know what i mean.

All in all there is 17 songs on here and 1 interlude and even though i have not mentioned every song in this review there is not even 1 "filler" track on here, all songs are essential rootsreggae tracks worthy to be on here. Uwe very much has his own style of 100% uncompromising roots reggae but for those who want comparisons to other artists you can absolutely feel hints of Freddie McGregor (at his rootsiest moments) and Israel Vibrations (thinking mostly of the ending track "The goal"). There's not to many features on here, on 2 tracks Uwe shares the spotlights whit toasters. They are given the perfect amount of time to shine while still not outshining Uwe himself.

Well, i love this album whit all my heart but do not recommend you to buy it, I ORDER YOU TO!!!!! Who knew one of the best reggae artists around would come from Germany?