Black Uhuru

Sinsemilla

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Released on the Island Records subsidiary Mango in July 1980, Sinsemilla, named after a type of marijuana, was Black Uhuru's first album to be issued internationally, their third overall. Although the group was nominally a trio at this point -- consisting of Derrick "Duckie" Simpson, Michael Rose, and Sandra "Puma" Jones -- in effect, Sinsemilla was a solo album by Rose, who wrote all the songs and sang lead vocals. In addition to his writing and singing duties, Rose can be credited for bringing in the production team and rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, whose Taxi Gang provides the distinctive musical tracks. Rose's lyrical vision is revolutionary and radical, extolling the primacy of Africa, opposing apartheid, and praising the virtues of marijuana. But his sweet tenor and Simpson's harmonies soothe the message, and the music has a spare, rhythmic appeal that is distinctive and forward-looking, suggesting a hard, stripped-down direction for reggae. Sinsemilla is the sound of performers just finding their voices, and it excited hopes for the development of Jamaican music as Bob Marley's leadership was about to falter due to illness.

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