Album Review- Christopher Martin- ‘And Then’

Friday saw the release of Christopher Martin’s second studio album ‘And Then’ . The follow up to his hit laden debut album ‘Big Deal’ which was released in 2017. Which itself came almost 12 years after he had exploded onto the Reggae and Dancehall scene winning the Digicel Rising Stars competition.

‘And Then’ features 15 tracks, with 5 previously released tracks and 10 brand new tracks. The previously released tracks range from the Chimney Records produced ‘Can’t Dweet Again’ to the lead single of the album ‘Life’ , which featured heavily in the album’s promotion, to the standout track ‘Bun Fi Bun’ which was previously released on the Maximum Sounds produced ‘Twilight’ Riddim.

Having these singles featured on the album really helps to give the album a more familiar feel with the majority of these tracks coming early in the album, serving a good introduction to what is to come.

One of the clear standout tracks of the album is Martin’s cover of the 1990s classic rock ballad Mr Big’s ‘To Be With You’ with Martin giving the track a totally new lease of life, changing up the lyrics and using his silky vocals to give the track a totally new feel.

Christopher Martin was clearly not afraid to experiment with various elements of reggae on this album with a range of varying elements from the jumpy instrumental on ‘Don’t Tell’ to the almost Michael Jackson esque vocals he experiments with on ‘Tears In Her Eyes’. Martin is definitely pushing the boundaries of reggae with this album using his flawless vocals to bring the elements together.

But that does not mean that you shouldn’t expect traditional Reggae fare from Christopher Martin on ‘And Then’ with ‘Happy You’re Mine’, ‘I’m Tired’ and ‘ I Do It All’ not massively deviating from what we would expect from the genre. As always with Christopher Martin expect tracks with a pop feel with strong melodies.

‘And Then’ definitely does not disappoint, it has everything you would normally expect from Christopher Martin. His strong vocals, his forward thinking approach to the reggae genre and of course lets not forget his romantic ballads. Christopher Martin has much like his first album come with an album full of standout tracks from his previously released hits to his covers of 90s classic rock, to his forward thinking tracks that push the boundaries of reggae. Christopher Martin doesn’t seem to miss the mark with a single track on this album, providing a body of work with serious replayability, something which is increasing difficult to achieve in 2019.

Check Out Christopher Martin’s ‘And Then’ Below.

Album Review- Tommy Lee Sparta- ‘Reincarnation’

This Monday saw Tommy Lee Sparta come with a surprise album release on his new imprint Boss Lady Musik with 12 new tracks featured on the album with a play time of 32 minutes, so this is quite a short project from Tommy Lee Sparta with an Intro, Interlude and Outro also being amongst the 12 tracks. Of the 9 full length tracks on the album, none of the tracks have been previously released.

When first listening to the album, versatility was clearly a main focus coming into this project from Tommy Lee with tracks like ‘Top Shotta’ showcasing the music we are used to hearing from Tommy Lee, with that traditional gothic side we have come accustomed to hearing from Tommy Lee.

However, the majority of the album channels a variety of themes we are not particularly used to hearing from Tommy Lee from the Major Lazer-esque riddim on ‘She Don’t Care’ to the emotional acoustic ballad ‘Redemption Song’. Tommy Lee has been able to demonstrate his versatility very well on this album with his lyricism also on full display on tracks like ‘Be Free’ and ‘Gone’ as he focuses on the struggles that he has been through throughout his life.

The struggles that Tommy Lee has faced is a big theme in this album, with a number of tracks tackling the difficulties he has faced with the album title even looking to show that Tommy Lee hopes that this album will begin a new chapter in his career. With Tommy Lee even reflecting on his ‘demons’ on the opening track ‘Monster’.

This album almost plays out as Tommy Lee’s internal battle with some of the difficulties he has been through in his career. With the Intro, Interlude and Outro all playing into this theme as Tommy Lee seems to be reflecting on his battles with his demons throughout his career. Tommy Lee seems to reflect on his path so far on the final track ‘Kingdom Come’ as he takes aim at all those that have stood in his way and judged him during his battles.

Tommy Lee’s album ‘Reincarnation’ seems to be a powerful statement as he seems to deliver a message to all his naysayers and all the people that have come out to criticise him throughout his legal struggles. Tommy Lee is moving on and starting a new chapter. This is a powerful ‘Reincarnation’ statement Tommy Lee is looking as powerful as ever on this album and as ready as ever to prove why he deserves to be at the pinnacle of dancehall.

Check out the full album below

Album Review- Julian Marley- ‘As I Am’

Today marks the release of Julian Marley fourth studio album ‘As I Am’ which comes over 10 years since the release of his previous album ‘Awake’ which went on to be nominated for the ‘Best Reggae Album’ Grammy and won ‘Best Album of The Year’ in the International Reggae and World Music Awards. So continuing into this album, it’s fair to say that there were high expectations for Julian.

As soon as the first single arrived for the ‘As I Am’ album we knew that we should be expecting something different from Julian. ‘Are You The One’ really cemented that this album was going to be a lot different to the music we are used to hearing from the current Reggae scene, with Julian delivering an ode to the music he loves, Reggae.

This dedication and love for the traditional aspects of Reggae can be heard throughout the album, with ‘Papa’, ‘Family and Friends’ and ‘Straighter Roads’ sticking to the more traditional aspects of the genre, as Julian delivers not only musically through these tracks but also lyrically, as these tracks in a very traditional way are built around powerful messages .

Some of the real standout points of the album come from the fusion elements present on the album, whether that be a track like ‘I Am The Sound’ which sees Julian end the album with dub, ‘Chalice Load’ which sees Julian unleash a smokers anthem in funk-reggae fusion track that really livens up the start of the album or ‘Baby Lotion’ which sees Julian deliver a fast paced romantic dedication to his lover.

All these styles might seem like they’d make an in-cohesive album, but Julian has masterfully interwoven these styles on this album, with the underlying Reggae influence helping to glue the album together.

This cohesion is helped massively by the masterful segmentation of the album with ‘Baby Lotion’ being quickly followed by another uptempo romantic track with ‘Too Hot To Dance’ featuring Shaggy that continues this uptempo vibe from ‘Baby Lotion’, before Julian lowers the pace and releases a romantic ballad with ‘Magic of Love’.

In a similar way ‘Chalice Load’ is followed by another funky uptempo track with ‘Cooling In Jamaica’, which although not having the obvious funk influences of ‘Chalice Load’ still has a unique funky edge to it.

Another talking point of the album are the features, with Julian bringing in Shaggy, Beenie Man and Spragga Benz to feature on the album, with Shaggy featuring on the uptempo ‘Too Hot To Dance’, Beenie Man bringing his usual dancehall prowess to Julian Marley’s refix of ‘What’s New Pussycat’ (which is a refix of his father’s cover of the Tom Jones Oscar Nominated Classic) and Spragga Benz adding his dancehall flare to ‘Panic Mind State’, which tells the story of a broken relationship, with Spragga Benz upping the tempo at the end of track to reflect on the errors he made in the relationship.

Julian also delivers on tracks like ‘Hey Jack’ which tells the story of a friend that Julian hopes he can rely on if he falls, with Julian wondering whether if he has found the right friend in Jack, ‘Broken Sail’ that continues on from ‘Hey Jack’ as Julian feels isolated somewhat with his ‘Broken Sail’ “many miles away from shore” with Julian going in and out of feeling isolated on the track and reflecting on what is making him feel that way.

The traditional militancy of the early roots period is also seen on ‘As I Am’ with Julian, combating the issues in the world on ‘War Zone’ and calling for drastic changes in society of ‘Can’t Cool The Fire’ as he looks to “crush Babylon”.

‘As I Am’ definitely delivers on all expectations with Julian Marley showing not only his very apparent skill as an artist that has been present on his last three releases, but also showing his ability to interweave various genres into his music to develop his own unique sound, with Reggae serving as the backbone to each of these unique styles.

Lyricism is at the heart of Julian’s music as each track delivers an important message to the listener, whether that be focusing on the almighty on ‘Papa’ overcoming obstacles on ‘Straighter Roads’ or just enjoying life on ‘Cooling in Jamaica’. Julian knows how to deliver a message to his listeners and does this job brilliantly on ‘As I Am’.

We could not recommend ‘As I Am’ enough as Julian Marley releases his own unique sound in yet another classic album. Every track delivers a unique vibe and every track had it’s own message. This is not only a unique album within reggae but a unique album within music.

Check Out Julian Marley’s ‘As I Am’ Below

Album Review- Spice- ‘Captured’

Now this strictly isn’t an album review as this is not an album it is a mixtape, but Spice has dropped an incredible project being the first long length project drop in her career, with the deejay never dropping an mixtape or an album before in her career.

The title ‘Captured’ refers to the situation Spice has faced with VP Records, reflecting the lack of freedom she has had since signing with the label, including the continual delay of her debut album and her wish to be released from her contract, with these issues all being discussed on the title track. So from the very beginning on this album it is clear that Spice is here to prove a point, and prove a point, she most certainly did.

With the initial announcement of the mixtape, Spice posted a picture of herself appearing to have bleached her skin with the caption “Nothing wrong with a fresh start”, before releasing the incredible ‘Black Hypocrisy’, which calls to attention colourism within the black community.

Upon the release of the mixtape, Spice further addressed these issues on her Instagram calling out those that referred to it as a “publicity stunt” and going deeper into the discussion around colourism, before stressing that she “DID NOT BLEACH MY SKIN” and “had to go the extra mile to ensure my message be heard”.

Spice from the outset was making a point with the release of this mixtape. This continued throughout the project.

Spice fought many battles on this mixtape. With ‘Captured’ focusing on her issues with VP Records and issues within the music industry; ‘Black Hypocrisy’ focusing on colourism in the black community and the importance of unity; and songs like ‘ Romantic Mood’, ‘Big Horse’ and ‘Walk Out’ continuing Spice’s career long fight for the importance of female sexual expression.

Spice has used her platform as one of the most internationally recognisable dancehall artists to push across a lot of really importance issues on this mixtape and deserves a lot of credit for this, as it would have been very easy for Spice this mixtape to just further herself and her career, but she has really made a point on this mixtape of bringing to light a lot of important issues that she feels are not discussed enough.

Musically, Spice has tried a lot of different styles on this mixtape, with ‘Black Hypocrisy’ having a strong roots vibe;’Fiesta’ experimenting with the reggaeton sound, with Spice to voicing the entire track in Spanish; ‘Romantic Mood’ bringing back that 90s style, sampling the ‘Ting A Ling’ riddim; and ‘Body Right’ seeing Spice shout out almost every imaginable artist with shoutouts for Popcaan, Rygin King, Shenseea, Capelton, Beres Hammond and many more. With the inclusion of the previous hit records, ‘Gum’, ‘Under Fire’ and ‘Yaaas Goodie’ this is an incredibly experimental and diverse mixtape, really showing the full range of Spice’s skills.

This mixtape is really a moment in dancehall. Seeing perhaps the biggest and most popular female dancehall artist ever drop her first mixtape is something that is really quite incredible. Spice has overcome a lot of issues to release this mixtape, something which she has tackled brilliantly both on the mixtape and in the lead up to it’s release. For me, this mixtape is really a coronation¬†for the greatest female dancehall artist to ever grace the scene. Spice has triumphed over a lot of adversity to reach this point and still remains perhaps the most popular and well known female dancehall artist ever. LONG LIVE THE QUEEN OF THE DANCEHALL, SPICE.

Check out Spice’s incredible mixtape ‘Captured’ below.

Album Review- A.M.E.N- Nesbeth

Today saw the releases of Nesbeth’s debut album ‘A.M.E.N’ and it certainly did not disappoint.

With features from some of the biggest names in Reggae and Dancehall, with Junior Reid, Agent Sasco and Popcaan, it was clear this was going to be a great album.

That combined with the fact that the incredible singles ‘Success Story’ and ‘My Dream’ are also featured on the album, we already had the feeling that this was going to be an incredible album.

It certainly did not disappoint.

‘A.M.E.N’ opens with the incredible ‘Think Rich’, which like many of Nesbeth’s songs focuses on the route to success and aiming high in life. From this opening track Nesbeth continues to drop incredible song after incredible song. Whether that be ‘Trial’ the standout track featuring Popcaan, which it’s focus on the trials of life in the ghetto, the incredible ‘Trench Town’ featuring Agent Sasco, which focuses on the problems that are rife in Jamaica, especially in Nesbeth’s community of Trench Town, or the emotional title track ‘A.m.e.n’. Nesbeth has packed this album with amazing, inspirational, meaningful and relatable music. Nesbeth even displays some incredible lyricism and toasting ability on ‘Emotional Roller Coaster’. Nesbeth’s full skill set is on full display on this album.

This could quite possibly be one of the greatest reggae albums in recent years. Combining a variety of influences, whether that be with his more strongly roots tracks like ‘Think Rich’, dancehall focused tracks with ‘Trial’, his deeply emotional tracks like ‘Smile’. There is truly something for everyone on this album. This is an amazing debut album for Nesbeth and I’m sure this will prove to be a very successful first effort from the artist.

Check out Nesbeth’s album ‘A.M.E.N’ below.