Tapper Zukie

Earth Running

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AllMusic Review by

Not much older, but already much wiser, Tapper Zukie's growing lyrical maturity is evident on Earth Running. Of course it was never the DJ's responsibility to provide stunning commentary on cultural issues, even when toasting over cultural backing tracks. But the best of the chattering bunch were able to make incisively pithy comments, something young Zukie had yet to master. But that was quickly changing, and across this album's nine tracks the DJ gamely tackles a variety of social subjects. A biblical general, marijuana, and contemporary events are now all grist for Zukie's verbal mill. The exceptions are the anthemic funkfest "Freak" and the chirpy "One More Chance." On the latter song, the DJ actually stops rapping and starts singing (and quite well at that) over a funky cover version of the Billy Ocean hit, with only the nyahbingi drumming saving the track from total pop meltdown. These rastafied African rhythms pound across much of Earth, a clever counter balance to the laid-back dub sound that predominates. Many tracks also included rousing rock-style guitars, this was a recent addition to the Jamaican musical lexicon, and one the DJ enthusiastically championed. Elsewhere, African-esque choral singing makes an equally effective backdrop to Zukie's toasts. Often the DJ's toasts created a secondary rhythm to counterpoint to the main one, while his mix of styles created exciting new hybrids. His unerring ear for rhythms, as well as styles, continued to impress critics and the public, both at home and abroad. It was these talents that set Zukie apart from the rest of the toasting crowd, and lay the groundwork for his equally successful career as a producer.