Monthly archive June, 2016

NO LONG TALK: Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor on the Red Bull & Guinness Decade

NO LONG TALK: Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor on the Red Bull & Guinness Decade

Dancehall’s First Podcast Hits #10 In Fine Style

To commemorate the series tenth episode, Man Like Marvin Sparks drew for the decade’s defining producer, Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor. 2016 marks ten years on from his classic breakthrough riddim, Red Bull & Guinness. The riddim boasted voicings from Vybz Kartel, Wayne Marshall and Sizzla to a then-emerging singjay called Mavado. “Weh Dem A Do” went on to become an immovable anthem which still draws gun fingers and pull-ups as it did all those years ago. Audio After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Sojah “Pon Di Corner” In Memory of Delus

WATCH THIS: Sojah "Pon Di Corner" In Memory of Delus

Delmark Spence Is Gone But Not Forgotten

When people say, as they often do, that music lives on forever, they don’t mean that songs stay the same, like fossils or footprints set in cement. Music literally lives—it’s an organic, ever-changing force that unfolds within its own time and affects each listener a different way. Sometimes a song we’ve heard hundreds of times before will hit us from a whole new angle depending on the time and place and our own meds at the moment. This effect is particularly powerful after an artist passes away. Inevitably his fans will revisit that artist’s catalog, gaining new appreciation for what is often referred to as their “body of work,” a kind of audio autopsy if you will. We’ve seen it this past year with David Bowie and Prince, but the same process takes place for artists who didn’t get quite as much attention as they may have deserved. Consider, for example, “What Tomorrow May Bring” a lesser-known 2012 release by Delus, the dancehall artist born Delmark Spence who tragically and unexpectedly took his own life earlier this month. In light of recent events this severely under-rated song now rings out like an anthem. Delus’s brother—the dancehall star Konshens—recently appeared on the popular Jamaican TV program OnStage to say how much his older brother inspired him. The Spence brothers first entered the music business together as a duo called Sojah (Sons of Jah). Following the worldwide success of their debut release “Pon Di Corner” (on Cashflow Records’  “Guilty Riddim”), Konshens emerged as a major breakout star while Delus continued to do his own thing at his own pace. Still they never stopped repping Sojah, something Garfield Spence must now do on his own. Although Delus is no longer here in physical form, his music lives on forever. Videos After The Jump… Read more »

HEAR THIS: Morgan Heritage “Modern Man” (Umberto Echo Dub Mix)

HEAR THIS: Morgan Heritage "Modern Man" (Umberto Echo Dub Mix)

The Mad! Sick! Riddim Is Pretty Much Exactly That

Our peoples over at Reggaeville linked up with Munich-based production team Oneness Records to drop an energetic roots rock juggling called the Maad! Sick! Riddim that mixes well with the Rootsman and other top-shelf culture cuts. The lineup is stocked with the likes of Exco Levi, Perfect Giddimani, Gappy Ranks, and Kelissa. Herewith we present an exclusive mix of Morgan Heritage’s “Modern Man” dubbed within an inch of its life by the man called Umberto Echo. Not to be confused with Mr. Eco—the linguist, philosopher, semiotician and author of Foucault’s Pendulum and many more—nor with the Bunnymen—the audio phenomenologist Mr. Echo adds his H for hextra echo.   Audio After The Jump… Read more »

HEAR THIS: Kabaka Pyramid “Accurate” Mixtape DOWNLOAD

HEAR THIS: Kabaka Pyramid "Accurate” Mixtape DOWNLOAD

Walshy Fire & Kabaka Pack ‘Nuff Fire

If your summer was missing a proper mixtape that perfectly blends dancehall riddims with hip-hop instrumentals, this Major Lazer-stamped soundclash between Bebble Rock’s Kabaka Pyramid and the mighty Walshy Fire is right up your alley. Kingston’s Kabaka doesn’t shy from any banger that Walshy throws his way, coasting over everything from the Desiigner’s “Panda” to the legendary “Dipset Anthem,” and Biggie’s “Gimme the Loot,” as well as original tracks from Major Lazer, KickRaux, and Walshy himself. There’s even enough room on the mic for guest lyricists including Raekwon, Jahdan Blakkamore, and Chronixx. The combined forces of Walshy and Kabaka are massive enough to make you cop another pair of speakerboxes, as this might be too much heat for weak systems. Audio After The Jump… Read more »

Mixpak Wins Red Bull Culture Clash

Mixpak Wins Red Bull Culture Clash

A Big Assist From Popcaan & Drizzy Drake

Friday night at London’s O2 Arena four sound systems representing Dancehall, Hip Hop, UK Garage and Grime battled before a 20,000 seat venue for the 2016 staging of Red Bull Culture Clash. Wiley’s Eskimo Dance and UK Garage All-Stars featuring So Solid Crew had the place rocking with the hometown hits, and Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang linked with Supa Dups and Black Chiney Sound to drop some big dubplates, but in end Brooklyn NY’s Mixpak sound who took the trophy with support from dancehall stars Tony Matterhorn, Spice, Kranium, and Popcaan. The Unruly Boss sealed the win in the final round with a Drizzy Drake dub plate of One Dance that done the place. Video After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Rakim Bigs Up Stephen “Ragga” Marley: “He’s Keeping It Lit For The Next Generation”

WATCH THIS: Rakim Bigs Up Stephen "Ragga" Marley: "He's Keeping It Lit For The Next Generation"

The Making Of Revelation Part 2

“Doing a song with Rakim, I couldn’t do it lukewarm,” says Stephen “Ragga” Marley. “It still did haffi rock heavy.” The song in question is “So Unjust” the third track on Revelation Part 2: The Fruit of Life. The long-awaited sequel to Ragga’s Grammy-winning 2011 album Revelation Part 1: The Root of Life picks up where part one left off, highlighting Ragga’s versatility and expanding his sonic terrain with a wide range of styles and collaborations, from roots reggae to dancehall, hip hop, soul, R&B and dance music. Complex Media enlisted acclaimed director Stephanie Black to document the process of making the album. “Something to wake up the masses,” is how Rakim describes this parrticular track. “That’s right up my alley.” The hip hop icon goes on to praise Stephen’s role as a producer and a cultural force “It’s like the Bible of music, when the Marleys speak,” says Rakim, who estimates hip hop’s current consciouness level “at zero.” Although Rakim says he means no offense to the artists who are out today, in his words “Something ain’t right…. We definitely need conscious music and it has to come from the superiors, you know what I mean? Stephen Marley is definitely one of them cats who can stand anywhere with a bullhorn, and say Hey!” says Rakim. “It’s a blessing to be part of the march.” Video After The Jump…
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Vybz Kartel Tops the Charts & Claims His Crown on “King of the Dancehall”

Vybz Kartel Tops the Charts & Claims His Crown on "King of the Dancehall"

The World Boss Backs Up The Big Chat

“So all my time just gone?” Vybz Kartel intones at the start of the tenth track on his thirteenth album, King of the Dancehall. “All these years—them waste it. If me rob every watch inna the jewelry store, me can’t get back the time.” This is the closest Adidja Palmer comes to addressing the five years (and counting) that he’s spent behind bars on his new album King of the Dancehall, which debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Reggae chart today. Then again, he hasn’t exactly wasted his time. The album, produced by TJ Records, is a powerful piece of work, displaying all aspects of Kartel’s artistry and backing up its bold titular boast. While Beenie Man, the last Jamaican superstar to claim the title of dancehall king, has expressed his doubts about Kartel snatching the crown, Bounty Killer—who had a serious falling out with his former protege—recently appeared OnStage and weighed in on the musical game of thrones, openly admitting that 1) the album title is obviously designed to provoke Beenie Man and 2) there is no denying that Kartel is this generation’s dancehall king.   Review Continues After The Jump… Read more »

RIDDIM UP: The “Different Eyes” Juggling

RIDDIM UP: The "Different Eyes" Juggling

A Warm & Easy Reality Set Featuring Jahmiel, Vershon, Sizzla & Delly Ranx

Over the past half century or so Jamaican music has evolved through so many different styles and sounds that it can sometimes be hard to discern the various strands of musical DNA. From mento and calypso to jazz and bluebeat on through ska, rocksteady, reggae and dancehall, the musical morphology continues to this day. Boomshots’ Riddim Up series digs deep into certain outstanding riddims, seeking to identify the unique qualities that make them certified Boomshots. We kick off today with “Different Eyes,” a new juggling from Pure Music Productions, distributed by the mighty 21st Hapilos Digital, which hit iTunes today. The understated, slow-burning instrumental is a prime example of the sonic changes within modern dancehall.  Because none of the usual hallmarks of vintage reggae or dancehall are present—from the drum pattern to the familar “skank” guitar or piano—we have to hear the Different Eyes with different ears. Even the bassline is subtle, overpowered by a mournful, hypnotic guitar figure and a few gentle rimshots. The minimalist riddim sets a mood that inspires all the vocalists to hold a similar vibe. Each tune on the riddim complements the ones that come before and after it, and the whole becomes one unified statement that’s greater than the sum of its parts.  Audio & Track-By-Track Review After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Pritty Di General ft. Pamputtae “Sidung” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Pritty Di General ft. Pamputtae "Sidung" Official Music Video PREMIERE

“Don’t Fall In Love,” Some Say, “Stand In Love.” But Sometimes You Have To Sidung

Dancehall culture celebrates the female form to the max. The bigger the better seems to be the rule—and as bare as you dare. Far from being “sex objects,” strong women like Pamputtae and the dancers in this video are very much in control. In this video, directed by Robert Cooper, the  ladies call the shots and Pritty Di General plays his position. Video After The Jump… Read more »

Flex Masters: A Guide To Brooklyn’s Own Dancehall Hybrid Scene

Flex Masters: A Guide To Brooklyn's Own Dancehall Hybrid Scene

Who’s Building The Best FDM Riddims Right Now

It’s been over a decade in the making, but Brooklyn’s homegrown style of dance music is beginning to make waves outside of battle circles. Called FDM (short for flex dance music), the sound is a critical component of the flex dance culture that it grew up alongside. While the dancers were refining their styles into a distinct set of movements, producers were doing the same, creating their own sound fashioned out of a wealth of dancehall riddims and sound effects that would provide the soundtrack for major dance competitions. I went deep into the scene over at Pitchfork, so please go read that when you have time. Meanwhile here’s a quick guide to the producers (many of whom are also dancers) responsible for making the sound what it is today. This weekend, Boiler Room will feature its first flex dancer and FDM producer—a sure sign that big tings ah gwan—although they’re keeping the details a secret for now. They’ve also got more plans in the works for FDM later this summer, so this is just a starting point. We figured this would be a good time to provide some basic info about the scene before everything starts to blow up. Audio & Info After The Jump…
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HEAR THIS: Chronixx “Out Deh”

HEAR THIS: Chronixx "Out Deh"

Straight Outta Spaintown

Teased on the masterful Roots & Chalice mixtape released earlier this year, the official full length version of the latest Chronixx single to touch the road is here. “Out Deh” showcases Di Steam Ministah hitching a ride upon the Shiah Records’ rugged “Lion Paw” riddim with a true king of the jungle flex. Chronixx does what he does best, displaying his knack for paying subtle if not outright homages to the reggae/dancehall days of old, wrapped in the cloak of swag that defines today’s younger generation. Stepping up with a nod to Shabba’s classic King Jammy’s selection “Get Up Stand Up and Rock,” Chronixx tips his hat to the Rankin as if to say I, Chronixx, am the reggae future as well as the reggae now—because I & I never forget I roots—and yes those roots reach all the way into the street. (Folks keep filing his music under “roots revival” although Chronixx has always maintained that “me’s a dancehall man.”) The riddim—produced by Shiah Coore, son of Third World’s guitarist/cellist Cat Coore, and musical director for Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley—is fierce. Chronixx’s vocals are crisp and laced with grit, his lyrics both “wise and street smart” as the tune specifies. The stage is being set for a full-scale Chronixx uprising. Our  job is to make sure we stay tuned and don’t miss the opportunity to witnesses what’s next. Audio After The Jump… Read more »

HEAR THIS: Protoje “Can’t Feel No Way” DOWNLOAD

HEAR THIS: Protoje "Can't Feel No Way" DOWNLOAD

New Music From Diggy British!

First things first: Protoje’s debut album Ancient Future was a masterpiece. The fact that it did not receive a Grammy nomination was a grievous oversight, but then again the Grammys have a long history of fuckry. Ancient Future joins a distinguished group of reggae albums that were slept on by the Recording Academy. Diggy speaks on these and other matters on a dynamic new song—the first taste of a soon-to-drop album, Royalty Free—which is currently downloadable for free on his Soundcloud. Produced by Hartford’s own Tracker John MD, the track—built around a ghostly Horace Andy sample—is str8 fiyah. (Shout out to Taj Francis on the ill single illustration; attention to detail we say!) The song’s title notwithstanding, we can’t help but feel like the DJ feels some type of way. Listen and draw your own conclusions.  Audio After The Jump… Read more »