Various Artists

Baghdad Riddim

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Winston Powell (aka Wee Pow) started the Stone Love Movement sound system in Jamaica in 1972, and over the years has built it into perhaps the most important sound system on the planet. Powell and his key selectors have also assembled an impressive archive of original dub plate rhythms, and their importance to contemporary Jamaican dancehall is inimitable. One of those rhythms is the so-called "Baghdad" rhythm, which is fairly ubiquitous once you've heard it (R. Kelly used it as a backdrop for "Snake," for instance), and this collection gives 20 (21 actually -- there is a hidden track) different audio views of the matter by such dancehall stars as Beenie Man, Sizzla, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man, and Capleton. This is probably as close as most will get to a true dancehall experience, where guest vocalists one after another step to an open microphone and rap over a dub plate in an escalating war of versions. For some listeners this disc will seem to blur into one huge version of an already fairly repetitive rhythmic groove, but if you play close attention to the subtle additions and subtractions the various singers work in (or out), and the different self-referential stories being presented, a fascinating process can be heard unfolding. Welcome to the dancehall.

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