Rootsman

New Testament

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AllMusic Review by

Those expecting another excursion into tastefully mainstream modern roots reggae may be taken aback by this effort from U.K. producer Rootsman, which spends as much time exploring trip-hop and down-tempo electronica textures as traditional reggae rhythms and instrumentation. Even when working with classic Jamaican vocalists like Earl Sixteen (on the dark and exquisite "Shelter From the Storm") and U-Brown (on the darker and less-exquisite "Rocky Road"), the grooves Rootsman whips up are more hip-hop than one-drop. When speed-rap master Daddy Freddy steps in on the bracing "Live Forever," the lyrical results are surprisingly violent and nasty. Determine strikes a placating posture on "Let's Be Friends," but his message is undermined somewhat by a menacing minor-chord mood and quirky rhythm. That general mood is in control throughout the whole album, resulting in a listening experience that is unsettling but ultimately rewarding. Highly recommended to all fans of forward-looking reggae and hip-hop.

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