Various Artists

Triumphant

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When the young reggae artist Gyptian scored a major hit with his song "Mama," producer Kemar "DJ Flava" McGregor knew that he'd better strike while the iron was hot. So he enlisted an impressive roster of A-list reggae singers and DJs to bring their own interpretations to bear on the same rhythm. "Triumphant" is an unusually soft and traditional reggae rhythm, with a one-drop flavor and gentle, almost gospel-inflected feel that seems to bring out the thoughtful side of the artists featured here (and which may explain the absence of the usually ubiquitous, but militantly slack, Vybz Kartel). While that effect has led to a certain amount of sameyness in the program, it has also brought out the best in several participants, including Anthony B, whose hard-edged singjay style contrasts nicely with the softness of the rhythm, and the incredibly sweet-voiced Mr. Easy. Luciano is here, and is a natural fit for this sound, but doesn't seem to have his heart completely in it -- though it's a tribute to his natural talent that even when he's phoning it in, he tends to stand head and shoulders above the others. There's also a very fine singer-DJ combination track featuring Ghost and Roundhead. Only Perfect's overwrought and rather goofy "Shoulda Neva" truly disappoints. Recommended.

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