Ginjah "Africa Calling" Ginjah is probably the best vocalist taking inspiration from (and sounding more than a touch like) the late Garnett Silk. Others, including Singer Jah and I-Wayne, have their own takes and distinctions, but Ginjah embodies Silk's gentle vocal presence and soaring consciousness. Taken from the sunny riddim collection Planet Reggae Rock Vol 1: Holiday Riddim "Africa Calling" features an inspired ode to the Motherland's glories over production that recalls Phillip "Fat Eyes" Burrell or Shane "Juke Boxx" Brown's best riddims. The vibe is joyful, and will definitely have you singing the chorus: "Calling, calling, I can hear Mama Africa calling for me..."
Mel Dubé "Extra Side" (video) This heartfelt lovers rock cut on JohnJohn's remake of the Water Pumping riddim shows this Canadian singer's sassy R&B-influenced approach. You can hear everything from Mary J Blige to Tessanne Chin in her delivery: its both earthy and powerful. And you can't go wrong singing over a classic Channel One-era rhythm; "Water Pumping" – memorably sung by Johnny Osbourne – was the pinnacle of rub-a-dub dancehall reggae and works its magic again via Dubé's confident track.
Protoje "Answer To Your Name" (Listen) Taken from Protoje's new album Ancient Future, this absolutely brilliant ska number is a fond nod to the great pre-reggae beat that Jamaica exported around the world. The song describes via clever wordplay a relationship set in early-70s Brixton, England, and the Prince Buster sample in the chorus seals the mood perfectly. Watch him perform it live on BBC 1Xtra!
Exco Levi "Country Man" (Watch) This is the title track from Exco's autobiographical new album. It serves a fitting introduction to the tour-de-force music that comes after. This track chronicles the differences between life in rural Jamaica, with abundant fruit trees and clean rivers to wash in, and city life in Kingston with its attendant perils. This album further chronicles Levi's country life via the songs "One Shirt," "One Room Shack" and "Suffering Man." Levi covers the Twinkle Brothers "Since I Throw The Comb Away"–a Rasta anthem long overdue for a tribute. The crisp production from Penthouse Studios' Donovan Germain couldn't be better. But really, Exco shows why he's won three consecutive Canadian Juno awards and quickly becoming roots reggae's most important breakout artist.
Through The Roots "Bear With Me" A hybrid roots reggae and EDM track, San Diego's Through The Roots show why they're one of the West Coast's most promising up and coming bands. The catchy track conveys a hopeful, positive spirit through times of adversity. And, actually, the band experienced just that recently when their tour bus caught fire and burned, destroying much of their music gear, laptops and more. But they are a band with a bright future, and keeping true to the "Cali Roots" vibe the "Bear With me" video (see below) was filmed in Santa Cruz, California, with great shots of the beach and coastline.
Video: Through The Roots "Bear With Me"