Ragamuffin Hip Hop 2

Various Artists

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Ragamuffin Hip Hop 2 Review

by Rick Anderson

The fusion of reggae and hip hop has been a fruitful one for more than a decade, and the fusion of reggae with Christian gospel music has been generally successful as well, at least on musical terms, over the past few years. This compilation, the second in an ongoing series from the Lion of Zion label, brings together all three elements to produce a kaleidoscopic array of beats, styles and lyrical messages. Well, okay, maybe that's an exaggeration in regard to the lyrics -- much like the Rastafarians who preceded them, Christian reggae artists have three or maybe four lyrical themes. But it is reggae's great strength that it can overcome consistency of message by sheer force of groove, and it certainly does so on this compilation. Sherwin Gardner, one of Lion of Zion's most promising young artists, weighs in with "Never Let You Go", which combines soca and R&B rhythms with one of those ambiguous love-song/praise-anthem lyrics, while Christafari brings the low-and-slow hip hop flavor on the dark-hued "One for Me (I Need Your Love in My Life)", which features some fine turntable work by Haru Ikeda. Spiritual Ninja takes an ill-advised turn speaking for God in the first person (always a dicey proposition) on "El Gibbor", but Richie Righteous' "Same Riddim" is a complex and thrilling piece of straight-up reggae hip hop and Gardner comes back again with the nicely swinging "All Day Long". There are other worthwhile entries from Monty G, Blood Brotherz and the ubiquitous Tiko & Gitta. Strongly recommended.