From their earliest days, Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers had gloried in crossing over sounds and blending genres, shoving reggae into the pop world, then dragging it out to the discos. But now the group was swiftly outgrowing this teenybop phase, maturing into adults with more sophisticated tastes. Ziggy was no longer the main songwriter, as his siblings joined in, notably David, who composed many of the tracks on Jahmekya. The album has a much tougher sound than previous records, and its digitized beats are indebted to Jamaica's dancehalls. Stephen's growing interest in this scene is evident on "Raw Riddim," a pure dancehall number, stripped down to the beats. However, the other members of the group are pulling away from influences of their homeland toward the urban contemporary sounds pouring from the U.S. Much of Jahmekya explores this style, twining in funk, soul, and modern R&B into the group's mix. Of course there's still a sprinkling of reggae pop tracks and rootsy dance numbers, but it's clear that the group is moving beyond these old sounds and evolving a more contemporary style. This album would lose Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers much of their pop fan base, but earn them a more loyal adult audience. Once again, it was nominated for a Grammy; however, this time the group did not win.
by Jo-Ann Greene