Vybz Kartel

Kingston Story

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    7
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As titles go, Kingston Story is merely a case of key track graduating to title track because this slow-rolling and electro-flavored album qualifies as Vybz Kartel's least "Jamaican" release to date, including his collaboration with Major Lazer. Recorded with Mixpak Records owner and tasty house music producer Dre Skull, enjoyment of the album relies on adjusting expectations as Skull's beats aren't the usual clever and Kartel's performance is at half-speed, a pace that causes him to crack less jokes and reflect more, even if heavy issues like jail time and arrests are not what Vybz cares to address right here. In fact, "My Crew" is lightweight stuff lyrically, with Vybz toasting champagne and rattling off porno video titles at a Southern, syrup-sipping, hip-hop pace, but it's also a highlight as Skull bangs the timpani and drops quirky bits of Vybz in full ecstasy. "Wine Pon Me" gives the strippers something Jamaican and slow for change, while "Fresh" is ready for its Chris Brown remix as much as "Good Pussy" could welcome Sean Kingston if he decides to go shameless. That's interesting stuff, with Kartel meeting R&B halfway for a change, but the closing "Ghetto Youth" is admirable and not much more, paling in comparison to Vybz's like-themed and Jamaican-born single "Life We Living." In the end, what seemed like the Vybz record to gush over winds up a welcome soundtrack to chill with, and with Kartel's discography missing such a piece, it's a welcome release with some towering highlights to boot.

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