By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
By Kat Bein
By Abel Folgar
By Laurie Charles
Ever since Sean Paul re-released last year's "Give Me the Light" as the first single for his sophomore full-length, Dutty Style, the blinding club and commercial radio response has shone a spotlight on Miami's Black Shadow Records. Now selectors internationally are getting their fingers dusty crate-digging for the tiny label's Buzz riddim comp (on which the track first appeared), in search of companion cuts to yield an easy -- er, thorough -- mix. Those who catch the Buzz may do well to sandwich Mr. Paul between wedges of Sizzla's fierce, raunchy "Front Lines" and Cobra's deep, smooth "Press Trigger."
Meanwhile the clap-happy Diwali riddim continues to please even as it fades from its summer glory, with the long beat-free lead-in to Wayne Wonder's "No Letting Go" still a tempting invite to any DJ to throw it into the mix, followed by Elephant Man's rugged sing-along "Elephant Message."
But let's get to the new-release bins. Look for VP Records' annual Strictly the Best series that dropped November 18, with volume 29 skimming the cream from the year's dancehall boomshots and volume 30 focusing on lovers rock and singers.
Over on Greensleeves, after offering the foot-miring sludge of the Sledge riddim, on which minimalist synthesizer noodling opened a void DJs of even the greatest girth couldn't fill, the label's normally bankable riddim series gets back on the good foot with two fresh comps. Bollywood (number 30 in the series), poised on the commercial crossover tip, is essentially the two-stepping instrumental from Rakim and Truth Hurts' "Addicted" -- which in turn was a doctored loop of B.T. Express's funk classic "Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)." So by now those opening congo knocks have been done to death -- satisfied? Still with its hallucinatory snippets of Indian singing it's catchy as a fever, and fits in with the trend of (East Indian dance music) bhangra-influenced riddims like this summer's Tabla and White Liva, and the upcoming, country music-tinged Golden Bathtub. Capleton's "Lock Up" fits snugly atop Bollywood, while Harry Toddler's charismatic talking on "Dig Up" takes the edge off Sizzla's raw-throated barking and blistering rhymes on "Heat is On." Somebody please buy Sizzla an ice cream.
Belly Skin (Greensleeves number 31) returns to the customary three-beat riddim, but with such funky guitar and hi-hat syncopation it seems to ripple constantly like a snapped rope. The ladies dem taking target practice with wide-ranging shots by Tanya Stephens, Cécile, Lady G, and Queen Ifrica. In Ras Moses's (a.k.a. Beenie Man's) grabby hands, Sr. Gong's "No Woman No Cry" chorus morphs into "More Woman for I." Would one call that irreverent or humorous? Yes. On "Chocolate Loving," Lexxus swings his heavy voice with amazing agility around Nydean Levy's (yes, Barrington's daughter) R&B crooning, for a tasty enough blend of bitter and sweet. Someone needs to explain to "Street Thugz" vocalist Alozade, though, that if you're singing about it, you're not really a thug -- although, with his incarceration for profanity having spawned last year's Bondage riddim, maybe I'm wrong. But never mind, when riddim dis kind, Selector, rewind!