Jimpster “Amour” [Freerange Records]

Mr. Lucky   10/3/2006   A Library, CD

The UK’s Jimpster is a DJ turned producer bringing us his third offering “Amour”. True to its title “Amour” is a celebration of love via sultry downtempo and club sounds. The album’s songs seem to flow into each other with ease, setting a mood even through the many changes in style, tempo, and energy. Some songs like “In an Analogue Way” are mellow and most definitely in the triphop or downtempo veins. Others are more upbeat or dancey, at times very electronic sounding, such as “In So Deep”, “Seventh Wave”, or “Love You Better”. There are instrumentals, but Jimpster (aka Jamie Odell) doesnt’ shy away from working with vocalists, especially on the club songs where some vocals play a more dominant role or sometimes are just atmospheric nuances. There is even a rap performed by Capitol A on “Left and Right” where Jimpster’s production easily works with the MC’s vocal. Good solid release! -Mr. Lucky

Strictly the Best 34 [coll] – [VP Records]

Mr. Lucky   10/3/2006   CD, Reggae

The latest installment of VP Records’ long running collection of reggae hits finds the Island in the roots mood. While in the Dance roots and dancehall share equal billing, STB 34’s selection includes maily Roots and Lover’s Rock songs from a range of artists old and new. It kicks off with a couple of slower, one drop riddims that were this years biggest tunes: Jah Cure’s “True Reflections” (contemplating his prison experience) and newcomer Gyptian’s “Serious Times”. Richie Spice’s laid back affirmation of upright ghetto youths “Righteous Youths” picks up the pace, alongside Jr. Kelly’s rocker “Recieve” (Tsahai Riddim). I Wayne and Anthony Cruz represent for the dancehall style with “Don’t Worry” (on the Wait in Vain Riddim) and “Inna Dance” (Real Rock Return Riddim). There are also a number of veteran artists like Marcia and Beres teaming up on the bouncy “Focusing Time”, Freddie MacGregor on “Lock it Down” (Love Me Forever Riddim), and Norris Man on “Home and Away”. But the real killer on this collection is young gun Roger Robin who comes out of nowhere with the throwback hit “Take It Slow”. Up to di time! -Mr. Lucky

The Brazilian Funk Experience [coll] – [Nascente Records]

Mr. Lucky   10/3/2006   CD, Soul

This is a beautiful collection of sounds by Brazilian players doing what they do best. These South American song crafters have an uncanny knack for composing fun, hip shaking songs who’s pop laden melodies meld with funky beats. We’re hearing Samba, Bossa, and traditional Brazilian percussive rhythms combining with Pop, Funk, Soul, Psyche, and Rock sounds drawn from their influences world wide. The varied cast of players/composers all seamlessly blend these sounds to create something distinct and uniquely Brazilian. It’s hard to name a favorite since most of these songs contain something attractive to my ear. There’s the diva Samba Soul of Elza Soares on “Chove Chuva”, the somber string arrangements of Marcos Valle’s “Garra”, Doris Monteiro’s delicate “Maita”, Joao Donato brings the funk on “Cata Boca Menino”, Simone’s countryside groove on “Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser”, Djavan’s synth-trip on “Aquele Um”, and the list goes on. This is an excellent collection, so don’t pass it up! -Mr. Lucky

Orchestre du Bawobab/Don Isaac Ezekiel Combination “Kelen Ati Len/The Preacher Man” [Soundway]

Mr. Lucky   9/13/2006   7-inch, International

There’s nothing about this 7″ I don’t like. Side one is the Orchestre du Bawobab coming staight outta Senegal and doing some funky thangs! “Kelen Ati Len” is a nasty funk hitter with some beautiful wah guitar action over some fatback drums. I can’t understand what is being said, but I’m sure it’s something like “Get yo ass up and dance!”. Side two is The Don Isaac Ezekiel Combo getting down on some Funky-gospel stylings with some call and response vocals, a bongo happy rhythm section, and strummy guitar hopping all over the track. I would say that the only thing I don’t like about this is the fact that it ends, but there’s a lovely locked groove to save your needle from the label at the end. Like a toddler in the dirt, this is short and funky! -Mr. Lucky

Julius, Orlando & His Afro Sounders “Orlando’s Afro Ideas ’69-’72” [Soundway]

Mr. Lucky   9/13/2006   12-inch, International

Orlando Julius isn’t necessarily the name that comes to mind when speaking of African Funk music. But this man and his band were peers of Fela and the Africa 70, and are credited with infusing African traditional musics with the stylings of Stateside music. And really, while Fela and crew were the Kings of Afro Beat, Julius and the Sounders were the Kings of Afro Soul. Taking elements of Highlife and fusing them with the American sounds of Soul, OJ and the Sounders have here a music that is soothing to the ear and exciting to dancing feet. Jazzy solos on saxaphone waft among the shuffling drums, wailing horns, gliding bass, and ringing guitars. They even released songs on Polydor, and composed a welcome song to the Godfather himself, who would come and visit them in Lagos. This is lovely stuff that shows a different side to the vibrant Afro-Music scene of the late 60’s-early 70’s in Nigeria. -Mr. Lucky

The JB’s “Funky Good Time: The Anthology V.1” [Polydor]

Mr. Lucky   9/13/2006   12-inch, Soul

This is it! It’s hard to know what to say about a body of work like this. The band that would replace The Flames as James Brown’s stage and studio band can easily go down as one of the tightest, most influential bands of the last century. The J.B.’s not only spawned countless copycat funk bands in the U.S., but would go on to be an influence on musicians worldwide. They would also lay the groundwork for groups like Funkadelic/Parliament, Prince, and countless others. And once samplers came along, the J.B.’s would be the foundation for another genre of music that would soon rule the world, HipHop. KFJC’s library holds MANY records that have sampled works by this badassmotherfuckin’band, and the hits don’t stop coming. Handpicked by the Godfather himself, this group was a ferocious funk monster that laid down the baddest grooves ever committed to wax, and here on this anthology we witness all their glory. From the famous (and also oft-sampled) intro to the final cut, this is all thriller, no filler. If I had to pick one at gunpoint it would have to be the ear splitting “The Grunt”, to which you can find me freaking out every time. -Mr. Lucky

Lutan Fyah “Time & Place” [Lustre Kings Productions] (33 rpm)

Mr. Lucky   9/6/2006   12-inch, Reggae

There has been a huge surge in the popularity of New Roots reggae, presumably a backlash to the slack and often violent lyrics that were so prevelent in Dancehall reggae in the 90’s. A number of artists have melded the teachings of Rastafari together with the singjay style, the result of which is a movement of music that tries to reach back to the sounds of the Rasta artists of before. Lutan Fyah is one of the new school of roots singjays who has made a name for himself in the past few years. His style is definitely more singsongy than others, although he has the ability to call on his more raw voice if the need arises. Rasta living, Babylonian oppression, life in the ghetto, love, and praise of the Queens of the Earth are all themes here. Musically, the album’s riddims are comprised of original compositions which is somewhat unique in a genre which constantly borrows and reuses elements of itself. Check out “She’s like the Rainbow” which contains an excerpt of Neruda’s “Cien Sonetos de Amor”. -Mr. Lucky

Ammoncontact “With Voices” [Ninja Tune Records]

Mr. Lucky   9/6/2006   CD, Hip Hop

“With Voices” dances on the lines that converge between the genres of hiphop, jazz, world, and electronic music. Carlos Nino and Fabian Ammon make music that penetrates the listener with emotion, combining the necessary elements to stimulate the mind and body accordingly. We hear percussion & programming, synths & strings, singing & rapping, all woven together to create something organic yet simultaneously electronic. The list of collaborators is impressive: Prince Po, Yusef Lateef, Cut Chemist, Mia Doi Todd, Lil Sci, and Sach among others. Each guest brings an element to add to the recipe that Ammoncontact created, usually done subtly enough that you might not notice. But Nino and Ammon have the pots on and are cooking some goods for your musical palatte. There’s something here for everyone tastes. -Mr. Lucky

Oh No “Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms” [Stones Throw Records]

Mr. Lucky   9/6/2006   CD, Hip Hop

Oh No has crafted an album where all of the source material for the beats has been sampled from the catalogue of composer Galt MacDermot. MacDermot is best known for his work in the late 60’s-70’s, most notably his contributions to the writing of the musical “Hair”. After the success of “Hair” MacDermot went on to start a label Kilmarnock Records, continuing to create music that had the theatrical components of a broadway show mixed with the groove of R’n’B & Funk. “Exodus…” contains much of that same crossbreed of theatrics & groove. Oh No cut & pastes a range of sounds that are unique to the ear of the average HipHop listener. True his style owes some of it’s flair to his older brother Madlib & his sometime collaborator J Dilla, but Oh No still puts his own stamp on the production. A number of MC’s contribute to the album, all of whom put forth very solid efforts and truly help color this project with their rhymeschemes and subject matter. Excellent effort all around. -Mr. Lucky

Spice, Richie “Marijuana” [Jah Warrior] (33 rpm)

Mr. Lucky   9/6/2006   Reggae

This is a fun pair of remixes that are sure to make your playlist a bit more Irie! Richie Spice had a huge past 2 years in reggae music, propelling him from relative obscurity to the head of the New Roots class. One of his bigger songs was his ode to that sweet herb “Marijuana”, which was originally voiced on the I Swear Riddim. Jah Warrior Shelter HiFi has released this 7 Inch where they couple Spice’s accapella with 2 big riddims: The Jamrock Riddim (on which Damian Marley scored a monster hit), and a mid 90’s mix of the Sleng Teng Riddim (Wayne Smith’s ’83 tune). Enjoy! – A Mr. Lucky Donation

Prince Po “Holla B/W Mechetti Lightspeed” [Traffic Entertainment Group]

Mr. Lucky   8/16/2006   12-inch, Hip Hop

Since ending his collaboration with Pharoah Monch as Organized Konfusion the Prince has bounced around from cameo appearances to “The Slickness”, an album that recieved much-critical/little-commercial attention. Now he is greasing us up for his next full length with “Holla”- a self produced boom bap track under Po’s dancing words. The flipside is a Madlib produced killer “Mechetti Lightspeed”. While “Holla” is a good stand alone track, Madlib’s production brings a bit more of a funky flavor that gets Prince Po wide open. Both solid tracks from a re-emerging rap vet. Keep your ears open for what comes next. -Mr. Lucky

KRS One “Life” [Antagonist Records]

Mr. Lucky   8/16/2006   Hip Hop

Knowledge Reigns Supreme aka KRS-1 aka The Blastmaster aka Lawrence Parker. All are names synonymous with HipHop at it’s purest form. “Life” is an excellent album that reveals the next phase in the rapper’s shining career. Initially I was not that impressed by the album because the first couple of songs weren’t what I was used to hearing from the rapper. “Bling Blung” is a scorching rebuttal to the material rap that oozes out of the radio these days, but the rhyme scheme was so simple and ridiculous that the message was lost to me. The Middle Eastern bump on “The Way We Live” is very tasty but once again KRS-1’s lyrics fall short. Luckily as the album progresses the songs get much better. The Jamaica-inspired “Mr. Percy”, the strings & things coupled with KRS’s lyrical gait on “Freedom”, the distorted-harmonic-rock-approaching drum&bass of “Gimme Da Gun”, etc. Nearly all the songs later on in the album are KRS in his classic form: lyrical titan blasting your eardum. Even the brief Interludes are compelling. The success of this album is due in big part to the production of The Resistance (Dax Reynosa & Dert). They really bring an element to this album that seems to rejuvenate the elder rap statesman. The beats are diverse and rock your head as hard they they rock the crowd. The album culminates in the autobiographical “My Life” where KRS looks back on the life that led him here. -Mr. Lucky

The Eternals, “Out of Proportion” [Antifaz]

Mr. Lucky   8/14/2006   A Library

The Eternals? Out of Proportion is the next wave of reggae’s influence in the States. This Chicago outfit fuses their punk roots with the roots of Jamaica and a post-electronic dub ethos. The results are songs with production that applies the atmospheric techniques of dub, the rhythms of roots and dancehall, electronic organs & samples, dry sifting drums, and lyrics attacking our world’s unjust systems all with a feel that is distinctly American. Keeping with the tradition of reggae the drums and bass play the most important roles in the music, along with the politically charged messages of the songs. But the guitar, organs, samples, and effects have a futuristic electro quality that is more akin to the newer digital production so popular in dancehall reggae, or even glitch but only sparingly. I think the best song on the album is the moody dub of ‘MOAB?, which contains all the strongest elements of their fusion plus Damon Locks? fine vocal, but the whole album is great and is definitely worth a listen. ‘Mr. Lucky

Lone Ranger, “Top of the Class” [Studio One]

Mr. Lucky   8/14/2006   A Library

Old time DJ Lone Ranger (aka Anthony Waldron) bubbles over on this Studio 1 collection. Like many other classic DJ’s LR first came on the scene under C. Dodd’s wing, for whom he voiced the hit ‘Love Bump?. He would eventually record ‘Barnabas Collins?, a huge tune under GG Ranglin, which topped charts in JA and UK in 1980. This ranking DJ is in top form on this collection of Studio 1 tunes voiced between ’85 and ’89. The tracks are a blend of classic and digital Studio 1 riddims. He covers a variety of subjects, but never loses his sense of humor. The energy that made him a dancehall favorite translates well in these tracks, such as the ‘oinks? and ‘ribbits? that would go on to be imitated by scores of other DJ’s. Rrrright! Mr. Lucky

Xingu, “El Combo Xingu” [Payback Recordings]

Mr. Lucky   8/14/2006   A Library

UK’s Payback Recordings unearths this RARE 1970’s funk gem by El Combo Xingu. It’s gritty latin-infused psych-funk. They sweat hard over over a range of covers: Lou Reed’s ‘Bright Lights?, JB’s ‘Hot Pants?, as well as covers of Santana, Nite-Liters, Simon and GarFUNKel, & The Animals. But the winners of the batch are the Herbie Hancock’s ‘Baja las Chiquillas? (retitled in Espanol) and the Monster version of Led Zep’s ‘Moby Dick?, complete with drum solo. Only a few copies of the original release survived, with this re-issue made from a Peruvian plate. There is a real raw power behind the playing of this band, and they attack all the songs unrelentingly. Could the ferocity of the players be a reflection of living under Pinochet’s fascist government, which rejected the play of any black music? Listen and find out. ‘Mr. Lucky

Buju Banton, “Mr. Mention” [Penthouse]

Mr. Lucky   8/14/2006   A Library

Before he threw away the comb Buju Banton (aka Mark Myrie) was a ragamuffin youth who exploded onto the early nineties dancehall scene like ‘dandimite?. At the time, the ranking dancehall deejay Ninjaman was the only one who could challenge Buju’s rising popularity, and even that didn’t last long (especially after the ’92 Reggae Sunsplash where Buju nearly stole the show from headlining Ninja). Armed with his deep, grating voice and clever wordplay he soon became the biggest star on the island, scoring hit after hit alongside his producer Donovan Germain (Penthouse Records). Mr. Mention is a full length that contains many of his earliest hits, including ‘How the World a Run?, the dancehall smash ‘Batty Rider?, ‘Man Fi Dead?, and his classic combo with Wayne Wonder ‘Bonafide Love?. Careful with the subject matter on the slack tune ‘Dickie?! Much of the subject matter has to do with the woman of Jamaica or being the wickedest DJ/shotta, so don’t expect much in the way of his rootsier, more spiritual songs. Germain’s production during this time may be considered his finest, and is sure to get you moving. Dancehall Queens and Rude Bwoys haffi give this a spin! -Mr. Lucky

Mr. Lif, “Mo’ Mega” [Definitive Jux]

Mr. Lucky   8/14/2006   A Library

Consistency is the key for this latest release from indie rap darling Mr. Lif. Mo? Mega is Lif’s ‘juxtaposition of the slave and the elite with no common ground between the two?. In other words the songs aim to illustrate the emcee’s view from the middle, communicating the gaps between rich & poor, right & wrong, and man to man. The beats are awesome, something like the sound of the Mothership landing in NY during the dead of winter. El-P’s crystalline boogie bounce dominates the album, with Lif contributing on 2 songs and Nick Toth putting and exclamation point on the album with ‘For You?. There are lots of good songs on this, and I especially enjoyed the dancehall stylee of ‘Washitup?, on which Lif explores his island roots. It may be a bit much for some to listen to Lif’s cartoonishly nasal delivery for a whole album, so luckily Def Jux labelmates Murs, El-P, and Aesop Rock drop by to give Lif some love. ‘Mr. Lucky

Dr. Octagon, “The Return of…” [OCD International]

Mr. Lucky   8/14/2006   A Library

Does somebody need a doctor?! Well you may want to consider a second opinion from Dr. Octagon aka Kool Keith. He’s gone back to the lab alongside production crew One Watt Sun to bring you The Return Of?, the next chapter in the ever evolving, mind boggling, sci-fi hiphop oddyssey of the Ex-Ultramagnetic MC. Kool Keith has always been an avant-garde emcee, able to verbally spar with the best of them & out-weird the strangest of them. Is there a point to this album? Maybe, but then again it’s just as likely that he has no method to his experiments. There seems to be apocalyptic themes throughout the album mixed in with some hip hop posturing & overall wackiness, but the Doctor is more concerned with the exquisite intricacies of the sonic surgery he & his cohorts are engaged in. Whether or not the patient survives is of no consequence. The result of his experimentation is a bio-electro-hiphop-turntable-glitchy-funky-monstrosity hell bent on tearing the world to shreds.
‘Mr. Lucky
Language & content on #1, 7, 8, 14

Capleton, “Reign of Fire” [VP Records]

Mr. Lucky   8/14/2006   A Library

The heat is on! After his last lukewarm album Capleton has risen from the ashes with Reign of Fire. This album has Capleton back in top form, blazing lyrics in his signature rasp. He manages to stretch his voice back & forth between a sputtering blast, a straining throaty growl, & a comical falsetto, sometimes all in the same song. The subject matter bears heavy Rasta influence with constant praise for H.I.M. throughout, but there are also a number of love songs (Sunshine Girl w/ Steven Marley & In Her Heart) as well as warnings for the heathen dem (That Day Will Come, Steppin Up, Never Share). His fiery delivery is compelling & is no doubt the reason this deejay has remained one of the most popular among the reggae massive, rootsmen and rudebwoys alike. Another reason why this album is his best since More Fire is the selection on riddims is excellent this time around. The Hard Times, Kopa, Red Alert, Forever Loving Jah, and Chrome are some of the riddims you’ll hear. Keep it blazing with the Prophet! – Mr Lucky
Watch for language on # 12!

[coll] Toe 2 Toe Vol. IX

Mr. Lucky   8/14/2006   A Library

Jet Star Records has put together a string of excellent collections entitled “Toe 2 Toe” in which they pair up 2 of Reggae’s prominent Deejays or Singers “inna tune fi tune clash”. This edition features Jah Cure & Richie Spice, two of today’s hottest dancehall singers. Richie Spice is from a family of successful singers (his brother Spanner Banner appears on #9) & has seen much success in the past couple of years as he’s dropped a string of hits. His sweet, near falsetto voice & sing-jay style have won over the dancehalls worldwide, & his talent is evident in many of the songs on this collection. Jah Cure’s rise to fame was also helped along by his mentors & peers, but his unique voicings and style are what made his a favorite in the new roots movements of the last few years. The tragedy is that many of these songs may have been recorded from jail. Jah Cure was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in 1999 for two , all arising from the same incident. At the time, he was 19 years old & had barely begun to make a stir in the music scene. He has since released 2 albums & a number of singles from jail, including a huge hit recently with “Reflections”, a song about his experience in the GP. Nonetheless the pairing of these 2 talents is excellent and is required listening. -Mr. Lucky

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