RAS Portraits

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The first half of the '80s belonged to Yellowman, the first of the superstar DJs. Unleashing a deluge of records, all featuring top riddims from Jamaica's hottest producers, King Yellow was unstoppable. Eventually, the local pretenders to his throne would unseat him at home, but that in no way stopped the toaster from continuing to turn out the excellent albums that his large and loyal fan base craved. RAS Portraits doesn't feature any of Yellow's early hits, drawing instead from the group of albums the DJ released on the RAS label beginning with 1987's Yellow Like Cheese and ending with 1995's Message to the World, six albums in all. Although the set eschews chronology, thought obviously went into the sequencing, and so even though the compilation jumps madly about in time, the hops are barely noticeable. Careful consideration is also given to themes, with the party songs counterpointed by heavier cultural toasts. The selection is top-notch, and few fans will complain about the tracks featured within, for it's highly unlikely that anyone's faves have been omitted. As a sampler of Yellow's RAS material, you couldn't do better; as an overview of his later work, it's a winner as well. There were a few weak moments during these years, but by and large these albums equaled his earlier ones, each backed by top-notch musicians -- the Roots Radics, and Sly & Robbie among them -- turning out lethal riddims. Yellow rises again, but in truth his sun never set.

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