Various Artists

The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems 2006

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When dancehall first emerged in Jamaica it was a music of deliberate slackness, a turning away from the socially conscious themes of roots reggae and an all-out embracement of Saturday night hedonism, making it, in a way, a truly rebel sound. In time, however, dancehall artists began drifting back to the center (which in Jamaica means singing about ganja and railing at Babylon and its inequities) and picking up roots themes again, a synthesis that has resulted in some wonderfully balanced sides, as this generous two-disc, 40-track collection shows. Among the strongest tracks on Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems 2006 are Marlon Asher's easy flowing and bright "Ganja Farmer," Natural Black's measured but worried "Will Life Be the Same Way," Richie Spice's call to action "Open the Door," Gyptian & Dwayne's sparse "Rude Boy Shufflin" (perhaps the most directly roots-influenced track here), and Sizzla's bold and ambitious "Show a Little Love." Dancehall isn't just thumbing its nose at the world anymore, it's trying to change that world for the better, and darn if you can't dance to it, too.

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