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…

Jahmiel “Different Eyes”

“I wish there was a way that was better than this,” sings Jahmiel on the title track of the Different Eyes juggling. “Hungry man an angry man, and him no get a sandwich.” Casually catchy but incisive lyrics like these have helped the young dreadlocks singjay from Spanish Town emerge as one of the most exciting new talents in the current Jamaican scene. “How bout the youth who living prison life? Follow wrong and never listen right. Before you use them out and criticize, take a look upon fe we side.”

Vershon “Talk Bout Me Hype”

Where Jahmiel speaks as an ominscient observer, Vershon—another of Jamaica’s brightest new talents—takes up the argument as a first-person participant. “Nuff nuh know the fight,” observes the young Queffa from the West Kingston ghetto of Cockburn Pen. Coming from humble beginnings, he’s since bust edout big with his song “Inna Real Life.” Vershon now finds himself in demand by every producer in the business, and with that comes jealousy and hate. “But as me rise, them ah talk bout me hype.”

Delly Ranx “No Limit (Money Nuff)”

A veteran of the dancehall business Delly, aka the World General, is both the producer of this juggling and a standout artist in the mix. When he sings about having enough cash to live out his dreams, wearing the best cologne and taking his girl to dinner and the movies, it’s not just an idle materialistic boast—it’s a proud defiant statement. He will not allow anyone to place any limits on his success.

Liquid “Life Real”

“This world is not a paradise,” says ZJ Liquid. “Stray shot a catch you now if left you paralyze.” Liquid is a triple threat: radio personality on Zip FM, top producer, and accomplished lyricist. “Who can’t hear must feel—trust inna God, you can’t trust inna the steel.”

Bryka “Press On”

One of the challenges of modern dancehall is sifting through all the different vocals. Some listeners (and selectors) make the mistake of focusing on the big names without taking the time to fully appreciate the up-and-coming artists. The Different Eyes juggling is a prime example: even the lesser-known vocalists step up to deliver powerful tunes. Case in point: Daniel Anthony Rose, also known as Bryka, a 23-year-old artist from the small community of Iron River in St. Andrew, Jamaica who dreams of winning a Grammy with his music. “Nuff man ah bawl bout how life hard,” he sings, embodying the work ethic and persistence required to succeed. “Press man ah press on.”

Kappa “Who Feels It Knows”

Basing his tune on an old Jamaican folk saying that’s been sung by such greats as Jimmy Cliff and Bunny Wailer, rising talent Kappa spells out the agonizing decisions that face ambitious ghetto youths trying to pull themselves up out of poverty. “How me fe make it inna life and my mother still ah sleep pon cold concrete? Me nah spend my last go a party when my youth nah have shoes pon feet.” The only solution:  to hustle every day and night. And the juggling continues…

Sizzla “Never Gonna Stop”

At this point dancehall reggae superstar Sizzla Kalonji steps in to offer his perspective. Sizzla drops so much knowledge on this track he almost sounds like a professor or world leader. “How we fe idle when the youths them so hungry, when so much wrong doings go on inna the country? What about the youth’s education? What’s wrong with unification?” The bottom line, just like the younger youths on the juggling, he will never stop until he achieves his goals. Defeat is not an option.

Bugle “Every Youth”

Growing up in a economically strapped area of West Kingston called Callaloo Bed, Bugle got a chance to change his life when he began writings songs for—and touring the world with—his friend Elephant Man. He soon stepped out as an artist in his own right, reaching a new level with his 2013 hit “Nuh Compatible.” Riffing on the familiar saying, “To be poor is a crime,” Bugle envisions a world where each and every person has a chance to elevate themselves.

Tanto Metro & Devonte “Unfair Games”

The duo who hit the Billboard charts with tracks like “Everybody Falls In Love” shift gears on the Different Eyes juggling and kick reality. “You’ve got what is yours, give me what’s mine,” Devonte croons on this track’s ominous hook. “I don’t wanna resort to that option of crime.” His longtime sparring partner Tanto then jumps in narrate how economic pressures and dirty dealing can lead to dire consequences.

Da Professor “Untouchable”

Another little-known artist finds inspiration to turn in a big tune. “You feel like you untouchable,” he sings in this cautionary tale, “but bullets don’t have eyes.” The message has been the same, ever since The Slickers sang “Johnny Too Bad” on the soundtrack album to the film The Harder They Come.

Big Roundz “Give Me A Pound”

“Every day ah our 4/20,” asserts the artist formerly known as Roundhead at the top of this tune about his favorite topic: the healing of the nation. After so much hardcore reality , Big Roundz is ready to blaze a chalice and release his stress. “Give me a pound offa the ounce you gave me,” he sings. The metaphor makes sense when you vibes the full argument.

Jah Wiz “Suffer Down There”

“Seems every uptown place have a ghetto next door,” sings Jah Wiz, analyzing the inner workings of the Babylon system. Addressing the bigger heads who sit in first class plane seats and houses of parliament, Jah Wiz offers a who-can’t-hear-must-feel type of warnings:  “Ghetto youths have a real plight. Them nah go get justice if them no fight.”

Raytid “Even Though You Gone (R.I.P)”

Raytid closes out the juggling with an elegy to a friend lost to violence. “You’re forever in my heard until we meet again,” he sings, wrapping up the juggling on a haunting note. It’s not often that a riddim is this strong from top to bottom, but Different Eyes is an exception to the rule.

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