Like football, which means something entirely different in the U.S. than it does in the rest of the world, DJ is something of a misnomer. In the U.S., at least since people started taking notice, it refers to the art of playing records; in Jamaica it refers to toasting, the long standing tradition of talking over records to ignite a party, and a lot of people have marked it as the precursor to rapping. It started in the mid-'60s, but really took off at the end of the decade and exploded in the '70s. This Is Crucial Reggae: DJs takes its cues from that explosion, featuring many of the big names and delivering a few tracks that are indeed crucial. Big Youth with "Screaming Target," one-hit wonder Scotty with "Draw Your Brakes," and Prince Far I's "Heavy Manners" are all classics. As are Dillinger's early-'80s party anthem "Cocaine in My Brain" and "Man Ah Warrior" by Tapper Zukie. Hey, that's almost half of the 12 tracks right there. Add in solid hits from stars U-Roy, Dennis Alcapone, and I-Roy and this collection gets more crucial by the minute. The rest of this collection gives its time to lesser known -- but not undeserving -- cuts from Ranking Dread, Jah Woosh, Trinity, and Big Joe. Calling this set crucial might be going too far, but calling this set of boasting toasters anything less would be un-DJ-like.
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AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan