Reggae's infectious and adaptable one-drop shuffle rhythm, coupled with the music's tendency to deal with social and political issues, has made it a popular genre for musicians worldwide, and when combined with pop and hip-hop elements, has made for some fascinating hybrids. This Putumayo collection reflects both the diversity and the unified cohesiveness of these reggae-based forms, and makes a fascinating introduction to reggae in the 21st century. The disc opens with the bright-sounding "Pas de Problemes" by the French group Kana, which features some solid and efficient Jamaican-inspired horn work. Nigeria's Majek Fashek drops bits of highlife into the reggae stew with the Bob Marley-like "African Unity," while the French group Gnawa Diffusion fuses rap, rai, reggae, jazz, and funk into a patchwork quilt version of "Ya Laymi." The Welsh/Spanish conglomeration known as Mas y Mas adds a dose of Celtic fiddles to the mix on "Agua." French Guiana's Chris Combette (who sings "it's a rastaphobe world" in his selection, "Babylone Buildings") draws on East Indian elements, including an impressive sitar break, played here by Mungel Patasar. Perhaps the biggest name on this compilation, the Ivory Coast's Alpha Blondy, sings "Lalogo" in the Bambara language, a track that was recorded at the legendary Tuff Gong studio in Jamaica. As a sampler of the ever evolving international reggae community, World Reggae opens a wide window into some fascinating new music.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett