Ah Long Time Mi Ah Dee-Jay

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Reggae history is littered with the dead careers of forgotten dancehall DJs. Especially thick on the ground are those who came up as part of the second (i.e., post-U-Roy) generation of toasters, many if not most of whom were imitators of the great pioneering chatters like U-Roy, Big Youth, and I-Roy. But U-Brown, a disciple though not really an imitator of U-Roy, has remained active and relevant since his debut in 1977. The aptly and accurately titled Ah Long Time Mi Ah Dee-Jay finds him still toasting in top form, delivering smooth-flowing rhymes and sweetly melodic sing-jay performances over rhythm tracks both old and new (the new ones courtesy of U.K. digital-roots maestro Jah Warrior, who also dubs up most of them to create a generous showcase-style program). The album gets off on the wrong foor with the title track, on which U-Brown is painfully out of tune. But it regains its footing immediately thereafter and does not falter again for the remaining hour of the program. Though one or two of the dub versions are a bit lackluster, most of them are very good and several of U-Brown's vocal performances are electrifying. Among these are the exquisite "Babylon Burning" and the gently anguished "Girl Why You Behave So." Highly recommended.