Inner Circle

State of da World

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While Inner Circle may still market themselves as a band, by the 2009 release of State of da World the name was really a front for brothers and formative members Ian and Roger Lewis and their Sly & Robbie-like cottage industry. Thinking of it that way makes Inner Circle's history all the easier to understand, since going from crucial cuts with Jacob Miller to pop-reggae hits ("Bad Boys,""Sweat [A La La La La Long]") before opening a recording studio in Miami and hanging with California punks Slightly Stoopid makes for a wild 40 years. The point is, the brothers Lewis have created a surprisingly good reggae revue on State of da World, with top-notch singers like Damien Marley, Luciano, Junior Reid, and the Circle's own official vocalist, Junior Jazz, fronting cuts from all over the reggae spectrum. While the brothers can play it like Sublime when the Slightly Stoopid crew show up for smoking session, their Miller sound comes out for the very Jamaican "Gun Ting," featuring guest DJ Lutan Fyah. The lyrics throughout the album focus mostly on social change and run from admirable to inspirational. When you add an intro from Rasta poet Mutabaruka you've got all the roots credibility you need. This Inner Circle won't remind you of the Miller band or the boys who gave Cops its theme song, but that doesn't make State of da World any less enjoyable.

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