Anthony B

Higher Meditation

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Anthony B.'s twelfth album is a study in modern roots-dancehall fusion, and something of a cautionary tale. His singing and chatting are as strong as ever, but he's running the risk of sliding into formula and cliché -- a risk he almost seems to be courting with such not-exactly-subtle song titles as "Smoke Weed Everyday" and "Jah, Jah, Jah, Jah." Celebrated producer Frenchie provides top-notch rhythms by the likes of Firehouse Crew and Mafia & Fluxy, and Anthony B. generally makes good use of them -- his take on the "Jah Power" rhythm, titled "Just Can't Live That Way" is quite strong, and his excellent combination track with Natty King is one of the album's highlights. Less exceptional are a mediocre cut on the "Waiting in Vain" rhythm and that regrettable weed anthem, a truly dumb (both lyrically and musically) attempt at reggae-hip-hop fusion. However, the album's final track is another very fine combination, this one featuring the similarly inclined singjay Turbulence and an uplifting anti-gun lyric that actually sets an example ("I could bust my gun but I won't") rather than falling back on facile sermonizing. This won't go down in reggae history as one of Anthony B.'s most spectacular albums, but there's plenty here for his many fans to love.

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