Jah Jah Solve Dem (Lion Inna Den riddim)

Here’s a really NICE song from Iron Gate Records.  Worth a few spins this fine Monday morning.

This is available for pre-order on Bandcamp here.  The price is, uh, curious (read: kind of insane), assuming this release has just one song on it.  Although the description mentions “remix,” so maybe this is one of those releases with a single and then a bunch of remixes of it?  It says the release date is September 9, so I guess I’ll wait and see then what the release actually entails, and if it comes to other platforms as well.

UPDATE: Iron Gate has verified that the release I linked to will be a remix EP with 7 tracks altogether.

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Lock Like Woe (Scheme Up riddim)

Here’s a peculiar track.  It almost sounds like a remix because parts of Sizzla’s vocal seem like they aren’t in the same key as the riddim.  Chorus is kind of pleasant I suppose.  No idea what to make of this one.

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My Lord w/ Lovd Ones

This is a nice collab that just popped up for digital download as part of a Lovd Ones album.  Check it!

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Set Di Trend (Coolie Ghee riddim)

I love this.  It’s just hypnotic.  Already on your favorite digital download sites, too.

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Random question: those Judgement Yard mixtapes…

If you’ve been following Sizzla a decade or longer, you might remember from years back when he released four mixtapes via Judgement Yard with all kinds of unreleased material (and a little previously-released stuff too) on them.  Each volume had a theme (e.g. dancehall, roots reggae) and was about 30 tracks deep, so it was a hell of a bonanza for hardcore fans.  At the time I was finding it hard to keep up with just official singles and albums, so I disregarded these mixtapes for a while; later I ended up buying them in mp3 form from the Judgement Yard site.  For all I know, you can still buy them there.

judge3Today I was doing some organizing of my digital collection and came across this song “If You Don’t Have Jah.”  I have two versions of it – one is about three and a half minutes, and is mixed together with other songs at the beginning and end.  It’s from vol. 3 of those mixtapes, “The Realest Thing.”  The other is over four minutes, ripped seemingly by well-known dancehall rippers VOD when I look at the file name.  I was trying to figure out where it came from and after some internet sleuthing, it seems like it might have been from the same mixtape.  Only it’s not the version I have, because the song is longer and has a proper, non-mixed beginning and ending.

My question (finally): were actual CDs released of these mixtapes?  The always-useful United Reggae indicates they might have been, by Consolidated Vibes (whoever that is).  Or was there some other version of them later replaced with the mixed-together versions?  There’s still a good number of songs on there that have never seen an official release (though over the years, a number of them have popped up on albums); if I could lay hands on full versions of those songs without the mixing, I’d be glad to.  Drop me a line if you know anything.

 

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Lock Dung The Place w/ G-Mac

This kind of slipped through the cracks – an album track from a G-Mac album released back in December.  Until this video was posted I had no idea Sizzla was on this song at all.  Makes you wonder how many other guest appearances he’s done that are hidden away!  Anyway, this is a weirdly enjoyable little song – I especially like the semi-off-key chanting.

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Miss You Like Crazy (Trail Blazer riddim)

A cut like this one makes me worried about Sizzla’s voice.  He was hard on it for years and it has showed signs of strain recently, but seldom as much as here.  Singing both low and high, he almost sounds like he’s got a bad cold and a sore throat.  Yikes.  Let’s hope this is just the product of an off day.

Otherwise this tune strikes me as rather mediocre.  The verses are OK, the hook seems like not much work went into it.  Overall, definitely one of Sizzla’s lesser reggae tunes, which is a realm he usually dominates.

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Hot and Peppery

This is one thing that’s great about being a Sizzla fan.  You can listen to the man for years, digging up every track you can lay hands or ears on.  You can obsessively document every shadowy corner of his career down to the most obscure mixtapes and dubs and remixes.  But still, there’s stuff out there you haven’t heard – it’s just guaranteed.

Today’s object lesson – this song, uploaded by YouTuber “Kalonji Albums” and hitting me right now like a glass of cold water to the face.  You could just about guess the era this comes from within a few years after listening for 15 seconds.  It’s not the most classic early Sizzla, but still, this was period when Sizzla made strong material constantly and just seemed ANGRY on every track.

I’ll shut up now and link the video.  Anybody got an mp3 of this one, reach out to me – it doesn’t appear it was ever released in any form except a long out-of-print compilation CD.

 

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Love Me (True Melody riddim)

I don’t know about this one. I need another listen – first impression is that it sounds kind of like Sizzla’s Don Corleon period (e.g. “Soul Deep”) but not that good.

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“Radical” revisited

Just wanted to weigh in once more on one of this year’s most problematic releases.

After listening to it several times back to back for my review, I shelved “Radical” and wrote it off as a low-grade disaster.  Not through-and-through bad, but a misuse and abuse of its best material.  In the last few days I had the chance finally to get into my audio editing program and fix the pitch on the five old songs here (and I was right, all of them were pitched and sped up – especially “Hardcore” which only needed Dave yelling “ALLLLVIIIIN!” to cement its status as a new Chipmunks anthem).  Then I sat down to give it another listen, in something closer to the form it should have been released in.

It still has problems, to be sure.  There’s still that pointless glitch in “That’s Why I Love You” that should have been fixed, or the track could have been left off entirely.  There’s still the two-eras-of-Sizzla-enter, one-era-leaves approach they took, which makes the album feel kind of schizophrenic.   And most of all there’s still the second half of the CD, which aside from the great “I Am No Better” is just lackluster.

That said, once you fix the speed on the CD’s five best songs, and focus more on that strong front half rather than the weak second, this isn’t a bad album.  It’s still the most flawed of the three to come out this year (“Born a King” in particular blows it away, though the highlight songs here are better).  But it’s a decent listen if you just tune out some of the lesser songs a little bit.

I’d still give the album out of the box a rather harsh 3.5/10.  With the five golden oldies corrected and made listenable, “Radical” gets a 6.5/10 from me.  (Yes, the speed issue is that annoying.)  An EP of just those five old songs would be worth a 9.5/10, and just underlines how much we need someone to really get in the vaults and clear them out.

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