Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Column, The Mixtape

Written for FACT magazine’s current American-themed issue

Given reggae’s omnivorously post-modern compositional palette and its frequent breaks into the global mainstream, it’s tough to find anywhere on earth in which this music sounds entirely out of place. And if such a ’hood does exist, it’s certainly not Jamaica, Queens: New York City’s Yard and home to the fabulous VP Records store.
A few blocks down from Jamaica Avenue’s jerk joints and wannabe-bling clothing retailers—all pushing rhinestone-studded name belts, made while you wait to a soundtrack of Vybz Kartel, Bounty Killer and Elephant Man—a visit to this place is the next best thing to actually being in the Caribbean for fans of roots, ragga and soca. With seemingly endless racks of albums surrounding a horseshoe-shaped counter festooned with the latest sevens straight outta JA, you just know you’re on to a good thing.
Even with the dollar as weak as it is, it’s still all too easy to give the bank account as hard a battering as your eardums get when you enter. However, a selection of this particular trip’s spoils is available, absolutely free, on the first of an ongoing series of mixes for Fact magazine, up for download right here, including Big League Productions’ re-edit of Bob Marley’s Sun Is Shining, with voicings by Abijah and Luciano & Tony Rebel, a quadruple-shot showcase of tracks by Jah Cure, probably the best roots singer around right now, and a Sizzla-voiced rework of Kanye West’s Jesus Walks by New York dancehall don Bobby Konders.
Also present are mixes on Cologne-based Pow-Pow Productions’ Superior riddim (beginning with the title cut by white German deejay Gentleman), Black Shadow’s Chat, Juke Boxx Productions’ Klymaxx!, Donovan “Vendetta” Bennett’s Double Barrel and Jah Snowcone records’ devastating Applause riddim. So, all told, it’s a pretty solid overview of tunes to keep ’em peeled for.
Heading back to base in Brooklyn and inevitably running late for drinks and dinner, the only thing to do was hail a Yellow Cab. Not always a pleasure, but it’s in every other one of these that musical tourists are most likely to encounter another mutation of the bashment gene: reggaeton—a piquant blend of dancehall, salsa and hip-hop, hailing from Puerto Rico and set to take the US mainstream by storm.
Thanks to the momentum of hits such as Daddy Yankee’s Gasolina and Pitbull’s Culo (on the Jamaican Coolie Dance riddim), this genre is now making headway into daytime radio playlists and catching the ear of hip-hop’s big league. King of Crunk Lil Jon has already racked up an array of guest appearances, and Roc-A-Fella rapper NORE has made an entire reggaeton album—the stand-out moment being Oye Mi Canto, his summer smash with R&B sisters Nina Sky.
Sadly most Latin music has taken the CD-only route, but head somewhere like Brooklyn’s Beat Street, or The Vinyl Room in New Jersey and a stack of bootleg 12-inches can be yours, full of tracks by the likes of Tego Calderon, Ivy Queen, Wisin Y Yandel and Don Omar. Needless to say, all these and more are in the mix. So, all that’s left to add is enjoy the music and, Bush administration aside, God bless America.

FACT Mix #1

Sun Is Shining riddim - Big League
Sun Is Shining – Abijah
When Will Things Change - Luciano & Tony Rebel
Most High Cup Full – Jah Cure

Nine Eleven riddim - Lion Paw
Searching – Jah Cure
Drop Leaf riddim - Don Corleon
Longing For – Jah Cure
Vertex Productions
So Free – Jah Cure & Vybz Kartel

Superior riddim - Pow Pow
Superior – Gentleman
Love Her Forever – Turbulence
Run Around Girl – Anthony B
Sweet Aroma – Tony Rebel
Inna Dem Ting Deh – Morgan Heritage

Jesus Walks riddim - Massive Sounds
Jah Never Fail I – Sizzla

Chat riddim Black Shadow
Feel Alright – Mr Easy
Kitty Kat – Rekha feat. Bobby Monroe
Jimmy Johnny – Kevin Lyttle
Version – Black Shadow
Speak Up – Elephant Man

Klymaxx riddim - Juke Boxx
Long Time Badman – Chico
Falling Apart – Daville feat. Macka Diamond
Move Up Time – Macka Diamond
Wrong Time – Lady Saw
Do Your Thing – Ward 21

Double Barrel riddim - Purple Skunk
Whey It Fah – Macka Diamond
Set Up Yourself – Timberlee feat. Flava Unit
Touch Me If Yuh Bad – Vybz Kartel
Lock Di City - Sizzla
Excitement – Bounty Killer
Famous People – Elephant Man

Applause riddim - Jah Snowcone
Point Pan A Gyal – Delly Ranks
We Work Gyal – Danny English & Mr Pang
Don’t Like You – Assassin
Touch The Sky – Tamone

Reggaeton session
Culo – Pitbull feat. Lil Jon
Me Voy De Caseria – Khriz y Angel
Only U (Reggaeton Mix) – Ashanti
Yo Quiero Bailar – Ivy Queen
Dem Bow (Remix) – Wisin y Yandel
Dale – Don Omar
Gasolina – Daddy Yankee
Sandungueso – Tego Calderon
Oye Mi Canto – N.O.R.E feat. Nina Sky & Tego Calderon