Alborosie

Specialist Presents Alborosie & Friends

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Familiar to the reggae faithful but a certifiably "slept on" artist otherwise, this 2014 set from VP rounds up a bunch of collaborative tracks and collaborative singles from Alborosie, a Sicilian-born, Jamaican-bred singer/producer with a fat stack of reggae hits behind him. Even with just these "& friends" cuts as examples, his name should really be "household," especially when "Presented" by Clifton "Specialist" Dillon, the management man who made Shabba Ranks and Mad Cobra worldwide reggae stars in the '90s. The set makes catching up a hit-filled experience, kicking off with the vital weed anthem "Waan the Herb" with Black Uhuru's Michael Rose, before Gentleman's "Celebration" offers Euro-reggae at its finest. The two opening cuts display how pleasingly free the set plays it as "Herb" is an Alborosie cut featuring Rose, while the Gentleman number is vice versa, then later, the great "Tribal War" comes from a recording where singer Luciano was credited as a solo artist, although Alborosie's production and background vocals warrant its inclusion here. Then there's the singer's take on "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," which "features" Black Uhuru via sampling, but with the beautiful "Blessings" with Etana, the cute and punky "Informa" with Lady Ann, and the gangsta anthem "Murderer" with Busy Signal, disc two ends up just as packed with highlights as disc one, because here, the grooves are as loose as the rules. What's important to know is that some truly vital solo hits like "Kingston Town" aren't included, but the hip-hop industry could learn something from reggae's love of the collaborative comp, as the full Alborosie picture becomes clearer thanks to this fantastic set.

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