Various Artists

The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems 2007

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The "one-drop" family of reggae rhythms (defined by their radical deemphasis of the first beat in each measure) was preeminent during the early and mid '70s, when roots reggae ruled the airwaves with its messages of political resistance, spiritual purity, and cultural solidarity. Then came the 1980s and the advent of the dancehall era, with its aggressive beats and decidedly secular lyrical tendencies. Dancehall and ragga, its electronic offspring, have been the reggae style of choice in Jamaica ever since, even as rootsier sounds have maintained a certain level of popularity in other parts of the world. But in recent years the one-drop sound has made a comeback in Kingston's dancehalls, and this collection brings together a third collection of 18 recent hits by such established stars as Sizzla, Lutan Fyah, and Jah Cure, as well as such up-and-coming artists as Tami Chynn, Nesbeth, and Alborosie. Inevitably, a compilation like this is going to be uneven, and about half of the songs here are pleasant enough but not the kind of thing that's likely to make very many new reggae recruits. But the high points on this program are excellent: a brilliant singer-DJ combination track featuring Beres Hammond and Buju Banton, a very hooky and subtly funky track titled "Roots" by Etana, and Jah Mali's nicely bubbling (if lyrically weird) "Roadblock." Everything else varies from pretty good to very good, and no track is a complete loss. Recommended. [The package includes a bonus DVD with videos for ten of the album's 18 songs.]

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