Sunday, April 21, 2013

Riddims Galore: One Drop Collections Impress

March and April have been good months for quality one-drop-style reggae riddims. New producers, labels and camps from Jamaica to Spain have stepped up with impressive collections. Some of the best include:

Harp Riddim: This one from the Red Boyz crew is primarily a lover-rock affair, with solid ballads from UK veteran Maxi Priest, strong-voiced newcomers Herzon and Buggy Nhakente, plus a perfectly delivered cultural sing-jay track from Anthony B. The live band instrumentation includes string guitar and melodious backing vocals. The production reminiscent of Shane "Jukeboxx" Brown's work with Romain Virgo. Check it here.

Tallawah Riddim:  A melodically complex creation from the Larger Than Life Records crew, the riddim's chord changes and instrumentation prove that this crew know their way around a studio. Care was also put in to the artist line-up, which includes some of roots music's most important veterans (Luciano, Pressure Buss-Pipe), as well as talented and outspoken developing artists (Esco Levi, Droop Lion and Bobby Hustle). Levi's fiery delivery and insightful word never disappoint, nor do Droop Lion's weary observations; he's a true roots warrior. Put this one at the front of your Serato crate or 7" box.

Contagious Riddim: The Star recently reported about producer Troyton Hinds' dabblings in R&B production, and you can hear a taste of it in this richly melodic production. More importantly this set includes Mavado's "Always On My Mind," one of his strongest recordings in a while. Vado's sings a guilty gangsta's ballad of forgiveness to the woman he's wronged, and his pitch and delivery are perfect. I-Octane, Alaine, Chino and Voicemail also turn in extremely strong takes. The other standout track on this collection is Jah Vinchi's "Ghetto Youths," in which he admits he can't bare to watch the news due to all the suffering of the 'youts. Heavy. Check the YouTube  preview mix

 Insecurity Riddim: Markus Records, which has released solid dancehall and one-drop productions in recent months steps up with a lovers riddim. The track listing includes songs by Khago, Romain Virgo, Da'Ville, Nicky B, Christopher Martin and a nice appearance from innovative '90s singer Ghost–a master of the falsetto, and he's still got it. Da'Ville talks about being "Joe Grine," gruff-voiced Khago sings about being "Hurt So Bad," while Romain is in pursuit of a much desired female. PR has enabled blogs like us to spread the word, so you can grab this one right here.

Re-Birth Riddim: This set is lead by Chronixx's ode to locks'ing up, "Dread," in which he chants, "Grow your natty, grow your dread my youth!" If the riddim sounds a touch like Eek-A-Mouse's "Ganja Smuggling," you're not imagining it. The minor chords and bass riffs is very similar.  Lutan Fyah comes in with a strong track, "Pressure," while Spectacular riffs on a similar theme with "Ease The Pressure," – that's a lot of pressure! But ah so Babylon a go. Production on this collection is notably by one of reggae's all-time best session bands, the Firehouse Crew, whose legacy stretches back into the '80s with producer King Tubby. Buy it here.
Dreamland Riddim: Boasting big names like Capleton, Lutan Fyah, Frankie Paul and Sizzla this riddim compilation is a showcase of the vibe that Jamaica is on at the moment: reflective, spiritual and back to the roots. Mr. FP sounds just as criss as he did in the 80s, while up-and-coming artist Tyrical sounds strong and convincing on "Life Over Death." Hear a great preview mix too, just  follow this link. Or download here.