Green Tea is one of several subsidiaries of the notorious On-U Sound label, which is responsible for some of the most adventurous neo-dub and roots reggae albums of the 1980s and 1990s. This is the first Green Tea release since 2002, and the one that departs most completely from the label's reggae roots. LVX Collective consist of composer and producer David Harrow (whose name will be well familiar to the On-U Sound massive) and rapper Zen, and the music they create is a fascinating blend of hip-hop, dancehall, and roots reggae -- with a definite emphasis on hip-hop, of the conscious and forward-thinking variety. This is one of those albums that reveals its layers of complexity slowly -- notice how the loping reggae groove of "Medicine Man" maintains a gentle but insistent pressure against Zen's double-speed chatting, and how the minimalist and slightly jazzy "The Way It Is..." swings in the subtlest way. Also notice the quiet and unassuming undercurrent of darkness flowing beneath the cool surface of "David's Hoop" and the gorgeous female vocals on "Wake Up" and "Happiness" (the latter an unusual paean to romantic codependency). Apart from the melodically dry and lyrically rather dull "Tomorrow's Right Now," there are no weak tracks on this very impressive album. Highly recommended.
by Rick Anderson