Various Artists

Dancehall Liberation

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Although this compilation is on Heartbeat, its content is all licensed from Everton Blender's Blend Dem label, which has released an impressive amount of conscious dancehall reggae in recent years. Dancehall Liberation comes close to being a "one rhythm" album: Of its 16 tracks, ten feature deejays and singers riding the Kanta rhythm, sometimes in slight variations. There's nothing wrong with that, and some of the album's best performances (including Blender's own "Kanta" and Yami Bolo's excellent "Black Liberator") are among those tracks. But most of the program's highlights come from other source material: "Future Is a Head to Come," apart from boasting the best song title, is also built on the most propulsive rhythm and features a great singjay performance from Norris Man, while Jah Mason uses that same rhythm for the equally fine "Mr. Compromise." A couple of tracks suffer from a problem that seems endemic to the dancehall -- music in one key, singer in another -- but most of the album is solid. Recommended.

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