Various Artists

Strictly the Best, Vol. 29

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The Strictly the Best franchise continues to exercise its marketplace prerogative with this interesting DJ compilation that features such reliable talents as Capleton, Buju Banton, and Bounty Killer as well as up-and-comers like Sean Paul and new star Wayne Marshall (whose "Party Time" rhythm was already taking Jamaica by storm when this compilation was released). The thematic mix is nice, ranging from Sean Paul's vaguely slack party anthem "Like Glue" to the stern "fire bun" rhetoric of Capleton's "Tek It Off" (not to mention Sizzla's strange "Come On," which somehow manages in the same breath to celebrate both dancing with hot girls and burning down Babylon). One of the weirdest tracks comes courtesy of Elephant Man, whose "Tallup Tallup" alternates between slamming dancehall and a snippet of orchestral Baroque music (with which he sings along). Elephant Man also contributes the screechily operatic "Higher Level," which is less successful. But apart from Warrior King's out-of-tune "Jah Is Always There," "Higher Level" is about the only misstep on this solid collection.

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