SHOK WAVE is your weekly new REGGAE music blog. SHOK WAVE finds music that is out there in the form of Reggae, Dancehall, Soca, Ska, Dub, Reggae Rock & anything else musical with a Caribbean origin and in any language.
SHOK WAVE: BEST OF 2019
Here is what we found this week.......Enjoy!
There was not much this week so we are doing our annual best of Shok Wave 2019
First before we get into any of that, we must BIG UP the Ladies, the females, the mothers in reggae...The Lionesses of reggae. Female power is on and strong. Reggae music can attest to it, in so many ways. I'd like to recognize that energy first and by doing it in my back yard with the likes of Esther from Jahfe, Shantel from Jah Movement, Claire from The FreeCoasters, Logan from Artikal Sound System, Kat Hall, Sailor Jane, DJ C-Lioness, Gail Zucker, Stella McGaughlin and part timer to the area Tuff Like Iron. There are so many to recognize and the purpose is to recognize those thatcame out in 2019 through the releases that are based on my blog Shok Wave. So this is either what I received or what I found. If it's not on here, I didn't know about it.
Lila Ike was a big bright spot for 2019 while Koffee was the biggest thing in 2019 and probably will win the Grammy. There was a much larger contingent of newer progressive Jamaican reggae acts to step up in Jamaica. Many were the siblings of famous veterans: Naomi Cowan, Xana Romeo, Marla Brown, Nadia Harris McAnuff and Niambe Tosh
as well as those that took the lonely road: Nattali Rize, Zia Benjamin, Claude Fontaine an American girl with a French name and Hirie.
The Marleys introduced Magic & Shancia Payne to the reggae world while their grandmother Ms Rita kept her husbands name in the fore front again, as she was awarded & recognized for it. Earlier in the year she released 'The Lioness Of Reggae,' as the best of for her music.
Holding their space were Etana, Jah 9,& Kelissa, who released her best song in 2019.
Alaine made a quiet return.
The Skints have a great female talent by the name of Marcia Richards. Eva Lazarus also comes from England.
Kulcha Latino vibes wise came from Virginia Rivera, Sistah MaryJane of Emertians, Sista Carmen lead singer for United Flavour & SumeRR all based in Spain, Eljuri of Ecuador did a reggae album. Spain also released the ‘Women Soldier’ album featuring Matah, Sista Awa & High Paw.
Christy Delves, out of Grenada, comes with the first song we notice in "Jah Jah Love."
Brooklyn NY's Sundub is a group led by a brother & fronted by the sister.
Kenya's Cara Fergal released a great reggae track in 'Over & Over.' I could not find another good song from her much less a good reggae tune. Just adds to the strength of the Lioness of Reggae. AK Songstress 'It's Not Easy'
A Ghananian is a tribute to Lucky Dube (dont forget his daughter whos keeping his music alive in Nkulee Dube)
Natti Natasha made big strides in the Latin & pop music arenas. Her success was also based on the reggae she did in both those markets.
Chelsea Stewart of Canada has a voice and an album that will get on your radar one day. Another from our neighbor is Ammoye.
Japan's Megumi Mesaku 'Saxy Rocksteady' is great.
'Rocksteady' from Keisha Martin
Mae Muller is not a reggae artist yet she did a great reggae song in late December/early January of 2018/19
Lioness Order riddim helped set a vibe for 2019 with Kelissa, Queen Omega, the rising Aza Lineage, Sara Lugo, Treesha with 'Fyah Daughter' & Queen Ifrica, Yeza & Empress Kazayah.
USVI put out Tia who borders on the line between reggae & dancehall
Dancehalls biggest noise maker of underground talent was the new protege of Tony Kelly is Khalia.
Soca saw Patrice Roberts on the 'Ole Ting' riddim with 'Good' and 'Kiss & Tell' was on 'Sexting' riddim
Calypso Rose released music all year and all were nothing less than great with an end of the year EP 'Calypso Rose & Friends' that included all those songs
Reggae almost gospel was Empress Akua
Soultry Dubs is an interesting all female dub project
Older Jamaicans love country & reggae. The Dryes fronted by Katelyn combines the two in a pop fashion with a tune called 'Marley.'
Now onto our best of 2019
In case many of you do not know, my career started in college radio. It was the 'alternative' to mainstream radio. I helped start one in college. So I was a punk rocker fan and still am. So the song of the year for me came in the form of reggae & punk rock. It comes from my favorite band of the year & my favorite album of the year and happens to be the title track to that album of the year. The album is called "Swimming Lessons," the title track is 'Learn To Swim' and the band is The Skints.
The Skints 'Learning To Swim'
This is a reggae song that seamlessly turns into an alternative/punk rock song reminiscent of the Pixies or White Stripes sound. Interesting that they can actually write a song about 'Learning To Swim' and make it sound so good. I am sure I am missing something here with this song. Must be more to it. It doesn't take away from how good the song is and the actual melody of the song to make it sound good. Be warned it's a bit hard at the end.
I have never heard another band so seamlessly do it so well. Ultimately, it's that raw energy.
There's a whole new breed of soca artists and at the forefront of this movement is a new sound in Turner. His song 'Crab In The Barrel' was my favorite soca song for 2019.
Here's a riddim where you can get a taste of this new breed
Various Artists "Bring It Back" riddim
What makes this riddim special is it has all of my favorite new soca artists all on one riddim. The riddim sound good The songs are decent no hits or real bangers so it's a focus on the artists that are on this riddim. It's more to make you aware of these artists, more than anything. Those artists are, in order of appearance, Kerry John, Aaron Duncan, Marge Blackman & my favorite Turner and Viking Ding Dong is coming on good too. Bunji has the best tune on the riddim. Just be aware there are others on the riddim.
2019 was a great year of music. Unfortunately, also a great year of loss and a great year of return. Roger Rankin returned with 'Maniac' and sounds like where 'Twist & Crawl' & 'Mirror In The Bathroom' left off. This came off the years best 2 tone/ska album of the year "Public Confidential." It was also the year we lost him. This song & album were basically a tie to my other favorite ska 2 Tone band, album & song from The Specials. Their song is '10 Commandments' from the album "Encore." It also picked up where they left off and is a 2019 rendition of the same named tune from Prince Buster.'
The years best reggae/rock album comes from 3 California bands. The first tis a band thats been at it since 2010. So in 2019 I believe they hit their stride, found the right sound and did it on their own terms. At first, I could not wrap my head around the album. Then it grew on me and I found their melodies, simple sounding lyrics and music started to take over my thoughts. I couldn't stop listening to the album. Everytime I heard it, after putting it down, I couldn't believe how good it sounded to me and I would get sucked in again. Here's their review from the blog for their album ''Avocado''
The second is one of the best in the game and they add a dub feel to their reggae. Can you believe this band, when it started didnt perform, tour or play out.
Stick Figure "The World On Fire"
Stick Figure is Scott Woodruff. Scott was just a studio musician that played everything on all their albums until one day, a booking agent said lets try to put together a full band and do some shows/tours. In this case, the rest ain't history because history is being made. Scott has gone from his bedroom to headlining the biggest stages in the world of reggae. He's out to set 'The World On Fire.' A song originally released in June 2018 with Slightly Stoopid. Then on the album the remix with Tribal Seeds, Common Kings, The Movement & The Green put it over the top. Can't stop singing this one. We all have our angels and Scotty is looking to secure his in 'Angels Around Me.' The key to success is to improve and rise above with every step in life. 'Stick Figure is ready to 'Shine' on like the sun with this new album. "All For You' is a really poppy track. It's truly very simple & very infectious. There's almost a daunting feeling to it. The simplicity is that which will"stick' with you for as long as you can remember, especially if you can do it 'All For You.' It is also the newest single.'Summertime' is a different type of tune for The Stick and Citizen Cope matches that difference with it's light hip hop feel more synonymous with Citizen. I do think you can 'Cope' with it. On 'Easy Runaway' the best thing to do is watch the great natural visuals and just 'take it easy,.' 'Life IS A Party' period. It's about having fun. So have fun and see if you can recognize the very familiar music in the song. Very impressed with not only the choice of 'Cocoa De Rock' and the esecution of this great Alpha Blondy tune. Typically humans are not nocturnal. We need water and love the light of the sun, which has played a big role in this album. So we always 'Welcome The Sun.' Focus on the Sun today because yesterday was yesterday. This is Stick Figure's best album yet.
The third is a band that does not release too much so when they do, it's a banger
One Drop "Far From You'
One Drop is James Alger and has found a great musical balance in pop melodies, rock and tight reggae riffs with solid bass lines. A product of Florida with a band based in California, Alger has found harmony in his music as an outlet and way to express himself.
The band has not released a new album since 2012. Their new EP "Far From You" is long overdue especially since they are touring again. Capt. Hook is the nickname for the lead singer for the band The Movement and if he doesn't want that name anymore, I suggest lead singer James Alger of One Drop. The melodies are strong and the hooks are sweet & infectious. The album starts with 'The Last Star.' A song about a relationship that was trying to bring you down. I love the line 'as long as the sun rises above me I take orders from no one other than His Majesty.' There's also a dub version of this tune. The apparent problem in that song is solved 'Far From You,' as now James has found that someone new. The only problem is he's 'Far From You.' Bob Marley's is covered next in a ska version and its a great version and a bit different. The saxophone is utilized very well on the album and it shows on 'Don't Make Me Wait' in the beginning of this song. James is in love and that's why these songs sound so sweet. This song is NOT a reggae song and was released as a single to not much excitement. 'My Heart Beats For You' is the last full vocal track and officially makes "Far From You" a love story. Regardless if you like that type of stuff, "Far From You" is musically great and will create a few classics that will be added to the list of the likes of 'Little Black Dress,' 'She's Gone' and 'No Good Reason.' Then again what else drops out of One Drop's speakers.
Our Producer/label/production outfit of the year comes from one man. It comes from a place that continues to be a hot bed for music and our favorite for the past 3 years: Spain. 2019 saw this small, one man operation release four great albums. I was introduced to Virginia Rivera this year through her soul inspired reggae album: "Roots For The Soul"
Also an introduction to Roots Ark with "Awake"
The third introduction was to Benjammin and song & his album "Sons and Daughters Showcase"
The fourth release is what solidifies Robert Sanchez, Lone Ark Productions as bread winner in this category. It's Clive Matthews "Jah Live" LP
Here's an interesting one. These two bands toured together in the summer of 2019. This provides so many opportunities for each. The first interesting part is these two bands have never done reggae and the one song they collaborated together was a reggae/rock song. I like both bands and really liked this song they did called 'Night Running" it's Cage The Elephant feat. Beck
So I was surprised to hear this song 'Night Running.' It's more on the reggae rock side, as to be expected, with a dub feel to it, too.
This next one I expected much more from it. It has two of the biggest pop artists of the time on a dancehall remix with the 2 biggest reggae artists of the time. It did not do anything close to what I expected it to do yet it's a really good song and the production of a big tune remixed. The song even lets the reggae artists start it. At the end of the day it's the people, the supporters, the listeners, those who buy the music that ultimately determine the destiny of everything in life and music is no exception. We can speculate that maybe the big artists: Justin Bieber & Ed Sheeran should have started the song since it's originally theirs. So Koffe & Chronixx were the remix. 'I Don't Care' was #47 on Biilboard's staff top 100 songs of 2019. Interestingly enough Koffee was 96 with 'Rapture' and Snow's career got revived by his remix with Daddy Yankee on 'Calma' was 57 on this list. Heres the song at hand.
The best cover of a cover song. The original was done by Percy Sledge. Then in the 1980's the great duo of Tinga Stewart & Ninjaman did a dancehall version of the tune. Now, out of the land of soca comes a nice version of the original African Beat riddim called here the 'One Shot riddim.' The top tune is Isasha, Black Loyalty & Jah Pachie with their version of 'Cover Me.' This new rendition has Isasha killing it and is a combination of the two previously mentioned.
The best version of a cover was
The best roots reggae outfit is a new band
Rootikal Yard 'Jah Vibrations'
This is real roots rockin' slow tempo reggae music. In the reggae world it's called 'Fiyah' and it has 'Fiyah Dub,' too. This album is produced by E N Young and he is truly putting a major stamp on real reggae music. This is Rootikal Yard with a true 'Jah Vibration' that has that real reggae sound with a touch of Latin/Spanish reggae lyrics. Their basis is the basis of reggae music: it comes from the 'Power of The Most High' so 'Tell Me Love,' too.
This years best reggae songs of love by a new band
Jahlistic 'Love Songs'
Jahlistic is a 4-piece Latin, Reggae Roots band based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Their sound has a heavy drum and bass foundation, with smooth, soulful female vocals, and a strong roots reggae rhythm section.
Their sound is also highly influenced by their Latin roots as three of the members are from South America and in South America they love roots reggae. Jahlistic picked things up 'Along The Way' and it was Jah. Their first true Kulcha Latino song on the album is also one of the singles from the album 'Locos,' which means crazy. Combine that with the title of the album "Love Songs' and you will get the idea. It's also spiked with English and is one of the better songs. Another single 'With Love' feat. Roots of a Rebellion and Ozzy Q and this is a great song lyrically and musically. 'Majesty' 'don't you see him, the one who loves us all.' Heavy vibes here. The title track secures it's place. We all have 'One Of Those Days' and this one turns to the music as their only recluse. 'Remedy' is a nice musical change into ska and message, medicine & 'Remedy' is love. Love it. Their love will get them through and far. The only other true Latin/Spanish reggae tune or as we call it Kulcha Latino song is 'Es Verdad.' The band only speaks the truth and lastly those that are afraid do not have the love of Jah to live by 'We Free.' “Love Songs” does not pursuit only the typical “romantic” connotation that its name sparks us to think, it takes us farther to the inexplicable love of Jah, the remarkably needed love for others and the love for music itself. A really good album for such a young band and being their first full album.
The best dancehall version of an old riddim is 'Retro Teng' riddim of 'Sleng Teng'
It's hard to go wrong with a good lick of an old riddim. This a great version of the big, bad Sleng Teng riddim. Every artists holds a firm on the riddim and all probably grew up with it too. The exception would be Beenie who was around when it was made just never got to touch it until now and he murders it. The other exception is Burro Banton who I'm sure touched it in his time. A side I have not heard since his early days (which makes sense). The skinny man's tune is 'Go Fi Mi Money.' The other top tracks are the starter Million Stylez's 'Watch & Pray.' Ward 21 bad it up with some bad words on 'Dread & Terrible.' Same with newcomer Lazee on 'My Type Ah Ting.' This riddim will 'Ram Up Session' any time it plays especially when Ranjah touch it.
The best version of an old reggae riddim was of 'African Beat' in this song
'Don Dadda' by PicStitch and the Reggaestra and could be one of the best in my opinion ever.
Never heard of PicStitch and the Reggaestra until the release of this song called 'Don Dadda.' The part that caught me in regards to this song was the band's rendition of a reggae standard of the track/riddim 'African Beat.' Their version is as good if not better then most. The topic of 'Don Dadda' fits well too since its an older nickname of a significant person within the community. PicStitch is a 'Don Dadda' as a Grammy nominated roots reggae producer and expanding into the artist/singer side.
This years best reggae songs of love by a veteran comes from one of reggae's most successful.
Maxi Priest 'All Comes Back To Love"
The newest album is produced by Shaggy, sung by Maxi Priest, called "All Comes Back To Love" and opens with the first single 'I'm Alright.' It makes sense for these two to get together with the sweet sounds of Maxi and the gruff voice of Shaggy. Two of reggae's most successful combine energies. They connect in song, not just in production, three more times. The next one is definitely a cool one and I love how Maxi is trying to persuade this lady to give him a chance in 'Cool Nuh.,' which personifies Maxi to the maximum. Just the way he sings it alone sounds great. Maxi is at it again in 'If I was Your Man.' I absolutely love the title track 'All Comes Back To Love.' Just sweet, cool and sexy, Maxi's killing it on this album with the ladies. Even better reason why the album is called 'All Comes Back To Love.' Ultimately, it's what we all need. Maxi changes his plea in 'If I Could Change It' over a sexy dancehall beat to redeem himself. Really curious to know if he wrote this song. Turns out is a major team involved not only in this song, the album overall. Max does get credit, just not sure how or for what. The album releases just before summer ends and reggae always gets associated with summer so 'It's A Summer Vibe' y'all. Maybe next summer. An R&B sound has been key to Priest's success. With Estelle, Anthony Hamilton & Shaggy on 'Anything You Want' is geared for big things over an uptempo mixed vibe beat. Itt's sound works for the radio, clubs, street, and late night or even early morning. 'Out Of The Rain' joins two of reggae's more pop side of reggae when Inner Circle joins Maxi on 'Out In The Rain.' Persuasion is the name of Maxi & Shaggy's game as heard on 'My Pillow' and these two are very convincing. My philosophy has always been to put your best first and this album does just that. It's not to say the later part of the album is not good. The better songs are definitely consistently through track ten, the charm 'My Pillow.' 'Bridge You Burn' is the exception. I like the album. It has alot of good songs and a few greats.
The best album from a long lost veteran that you forgot about. His third album maybe his best
Keith Foundation & The Black Disciples "Showcase: Hi-Yo"
Keith was the former lead singer from Foundation, a vocal trio that was launched back in the day by the legendary Jack Ruby and signed to Island records. I believe they only did two albums. Both were great. So for this new album, the Black Disciples nucleus was reunited: Robbie Shakespeare on bass, Horsemouth Wallace on drums, Chinna Smith on guitar and Robbie Lyn on keyboards. Because of the superb musicianship and Bravo's exquisite dub mixes, we made this album a showcase one with the instrumental seamlessly blending into the song. So it makes for great dubs! This has been done for every song on the album except 'Tek It Like That.'
When I first hear about this album and got a few tracks I literally thought it was a classic. The sound and production for this one is superb. If not mistaken, there's an old Studio One styled song of the same name from someone like The Ethiopians. This just added to the nostalgia. Now to know this is a new album with this great line up, I am very excited to review it.
The album opens with the title track per say 'Hi Yo.' Keith's voice sounds as good as ever. 'Mr Wicked Man' is about babylon & asks where you going to run to, where you going to hide." We need more of this. 'Broadway' is the place to be and Keith won't be there, hopefully one day. Not sure if he's talking about the theatre or the road. Interesting song to say the least. A true soldier of roots reggae and 'Rub A Dub.' It's rub a dub in the morning, the evening and all night long with Kadina. Keith is saying people are feeling the pain all over the world because of the evilous system in 'Mother's Crying.' The song is called 'They Never Listen' yet it is targeted at a particular girl of 16 with a family and major responsibilities.
Every song is good. Such a great voice and definitely needs more credit. Maybe with more music Keith will start getting the respect he deserves. He has mine wholeheartedly.
here's most of the album.
Kulcha Latino reggae riddim of the year
Various Artists "Reggae Alerta" riddim
Kitra is the band behind this riddim and song of the same name which the riddim was named. These guys have a good sound. Love the riddim as well. It has a Latin reggae rock sound with a touch of 80's dancehall too. Kitra gives it that Jamaican flavor with a wicked intro, too. Then they invite their friends to sing on the riddim. Naiko wants you to 'Fly Natural' girl y quiero fumar. Naiko wants to smoke it with his girl and you cant blame him. Aflora comes with what Naiko was talking about 'Sinsemilla' and if you dont know by now, it's the healing of the nation. Nice rock guitar solo with a sweet female voice, too. A real ganja tune. It's an irie meditation. Ian Mixto Style knows that reggae is 'La Musica Perfecta,' the perfect music. These guys are killing it. Maria Zion has her planta and she's ready to turn up the reggae 'Que Lo Prenda.' This is the real latin reggae sound this is the real Kulcha Latino reggae. The last vocal tune is Zulu Dread with 'Sonido Real.' The final track is the dub of the title track & riddim Kultra Dub and 'Alerta Dub.' I listened totheir older stuff and I think this is their best riddim so far. All good stuff though. Their maturity shows. They are celebrating 20 years of reggae music.