Bunji Garlin

Differentology

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The first soca artist to crossover globally since Kevin Lyttle released "Turn Me On" in 2003, singer Bunji Garlin offers a much more rough and energetic take on the genre. Having collaborated with Busta Rhymes and been remixed by Major Lazer, his 2014 effort Differentology retains some of these pop influences with hip-hop beats and EDM production techniques scattered about. Album-opener "Red Light District" -- which begins "somebody give me a rhythm to activate the waistline on the feminine gender, NOW!" -- shuffles with an electro trap beat and features crystal clear production straight out of the R&B charts, while "Truck on D Road" appears here in its EDM-loving remix with rapper A$AP Ferg on board to add those dark hip-hop elements. Put a Major Lazer remix in the middle and this vibrant splash from the edge of dance is such twisted disco it could be on Diplo's label Mad Decent, but the base of the album is still party-time soca, with hyped-up highlights like "Touchless" offering the slang and insider spark so central to the dancehall-fast, salsa-bright, and Trinidad-born genre. Add the reggae-infused "Over the Hills" and the big, pre-Carnival anthem/title track and Differentology is a massive release, but jumbling the remixes into the album's regular track list is odd and redundant, and reveals that this isn't a tailored album but a catch-up compilation. That's fine, however, as Bunji has been on a roll as of late, racking up numerous soca hits while expanding the genre. He sees dance music as freedom and works James Brown-hard at delivering this message, while his combination of charisma and supreme leader stylings comes straight out of Paisley Park, even if Bunji is a much more gruff character than Prince. Filled with the tracks that made him Trinidad's Soca Monarch, plus a favorite among those who those who like to see the boundaries of pop music pushed, Differentology is a fine intro to this dynamic and vital artist.

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