Jah High Towa

Stenneth "Jah High Towa" Scarlett's Poor Man Cry is the Miami-based DJ's first release, a debut in the tradition of Bobo Ashanti/Rastafarian DJs à la Sizzla Kalonji, Capleton, and Anthony B. While the young, Jamaican born DJ makes a spirited effort, the fourteen-track release is a bit disappointing, considering his growing success as a local performer and considering the level of musicianship we've come to expect from his predecessors.

The practice of a dancehall DJ differs slightly from that of an American MC in that a "yard" DJ must be able to sing his or her own hooks (the way Sean Paul does in "Gimme The Light") and rap in a style that has been often termed "singjaying," which refers to its reliance on melodic invention. On much of Poor Man Cry, Jah High Towa is more often than not oblivious to the harmonic changes on his tracks, and does not adjust his pitch or flow when singing over bridges. Too often, his baritonesounds out of tune and lacks range. The album's title track, however, has been getting light airplay on Vibe FM (101.9 FM).

Most of the riddims used here, notably the instrumentals from Alton Ellis' "I'm Just A Guy (Soul Style)" and The Heptones "Party Time," are adapted. While that is standard, Jah High Towa's lyrical and songwriting ability shine on originals such as "Woman of the Soil." A tribute to childbearing women, it has a hit-humming melody and laudable lyrics.


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