Da Real Thing

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The leader of the Bobo Dread contingent continues to flirt with overexposure on this, his fifth release of 2002 (not counting Best of Sizzla: The Story Unfolds, also released in 2002). Luckily, Sizzla's energy seems to be unlimited and his bag of lyrics bottomless. And producer Bobby Digital appears to have an equally unlimited supply of neo-roots rhythms on hand; this is not the usual grab bag of familiar rhythms delivered in lackluster computer renderings, but a generous program of generally new and original instrumental arrangements played by actual human beings (and produced in the digitally clean style that is Bobby Digital's trademark). Not surprisingly, Da Real Thing continues in roughly the same vein as, er, last month's Ghetto Revolutionary: the "fire bun" rhetoric is still present, but no longer as fierce or prominent as before, and there are several tender love songs in place of the strident sexual lectures in which he and his brethren generally indulge. One of the album's most touching songs is "Thank U Mamma," in which he specifically thanks his mother for putting up with him in the womb for nine months and for preparing him to be a good husband and father. "Trod Mt. Zion" is a powerful chant of resistance to the blandishments of Babylon, while "Boom & Go Through" sets similar sentiments to a strutting hip-hop beat. The album closes with the surprisingly sensual (but musically weak) "Touch Me," on which he teams up with singer Rochelle. Releasing albums at this rate may not be the smartest long-term marketing move for someone in Sizzla's position, but it's hard to imagine a fan of neo-roots reggae who's going to complain.

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