Every week resident FADER selector Eddie STATS runs through dancehall riddims and other artifacts from the ghetto archipelago.
Like an actual ghetto palm, the direction this column leans on any given week is heavily determined by which way the wind is blowing. A year or two ago I was likely to be proactively bopping around the world myself, absorbing the vibes at a street dance in Jozi or leafing through a stack of dusty LPs in Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar (translation: thieves market) with one hand, a moleskine full of obscure bollywood titles in the other, fronting like a Bru Chatwin of the ghetto archipelago. Except not gay. And also less Aryan-looking. Now that I have reproduced myself upon this earth and can’t travel quite so easily, I am more on a beach-comber program, working the underside of the piers with a metal-detector and constructing fabulous narratives around whatever the gulfstream sends me.
Two things washed up this week that made me realize it’s been too long since anything resembling one drop or foundation dancehall has received more than a passing shout in this space—since the very first edition in fact. First there was the release of Buju Banton’s new LP. Then Tim Turbo eviscerated the brand new Major Lazer/Santigold joint “Hold the Line” and put it back together over a 101 of essential foundation riddims. And when those two pieces clicked the rest fell together by itself.
New Foundations blend:
Martei Korley, “Blessed Love” (One Crown Sound)
Major Lazer ft. Santigold and Lexxus, “Hold the Line” (20 riddims refix) (Mad Decent/Tim Turbo)
De Tropix, “BRAP,” (white label)
Buju Banton, “Make You Mine,” (Gargamel Music)
Martei Korley, “Next Fix” (Brukkout productions)
Download: Ghetto Palms New Foundations Blend
The blend is book-ended by two as-yet-unreleased tunes from Martei Korley. Readers of this column and the dancehall coverage in FADER may recognize his name as he is pretty much the go-to photographer for myself, not to mention VP records, Greensleeves and anybody else who specializes in Jamaican music. Unknown even to those who are well-familiar with his work is that he is one of the nicest singers currently recording in JA. This is in fact his secret weapon; the real reason he is able to get access to almost any reggae artist in their natural environment and with a candid vibe that nobody else can reproduce is that he records in the same studios and is friends with most of them. For the past few years whenever we are on assignment together he has been playing me 45s from an album project he is recording with studio legend Dean Fraser. I have been keeping ‘em under my hat but since a foundation mix was pre-destined this week by the previously mentioned wonders and signs, I figured it was time to unleash these King Korley classics on the world. Exclusive!
I love it when artists are not afraid to own their influences and although he is as knowledgeable an authority on both roots reggae and Motown-era soul as I've met, I happen to know Martei rates Maxi Priest as one of his favorite vocalists. Personally I prefer it when he channels Priest-ly levels of smoothness over a ruff-ruff step of a beat like Yo-Akim’s riddim for “Blessed Love.” But the trilling new roots of “Next Fix” shows he might could out-max the king of UK lover’s rock at his own game.
Likewise, if you follow FADER you are already up on the new Major Lazer tune “Hold the Line” ft. Santigold but you probably have not been hit in the head with the “20 riddims” refix Tim Turbo posted on the Seen blog yesterday. I’ve only included five or six of the 20 in this blend, but as the name implies, Turbo cut together Santi and Lexx’s acapellas over 20 of the most recognizable classic beats in reggae’s digital era. I would have just called it the Attention Deficit riddim and been done with it but Tim went and listed them all by name, thereby ruining the fun of naming them as they come up. He also transformed the track from a college radio selection into an infinitely playable bashment tool.
Next up is this week’s other exclusive: a brand new tune from London’s De Tropix who are so on the Ghetto Palms wavelength that by this point—between the 2000Tone column, the year’s end Ghetto Palms d’Or list and their debut in GP#3—I have posted pretty much their entire recorded output in this space and if I had a label I would sign ‘em. “BRAP”—all caps—is the closest thing to grimy foundation reggae they have ever done and although the lyrics are tough to follow I believe Cherry B is describing how she will win her true love’s affection by any means necessary up to and including Valerian root and bullets.“I Put a Spell on You” meets "Revolution.” So real.
In a thematically similar vein is “Make You Mine” from Rasta Got Soul, the aforementioned Buju album which just dropped yesterday. Buju still jumps on a juggling riddim now and then to show upstarts how it’s done, but on this project he takes reggae back to a roots-with-quality aesthetic not seen since the days of Marley and Tosh. Suffice to say it’s a keeper and I would link you to iTunes and tell you to go buy it but unlike most releases these days, Rasta comes in the kind of package that makes you want to own the actual object, with a beautiful black and white cover shot by FADER vet Jonathan Mannion and designed by Esquire magazine’s art director Darhil Crooks. Go buy it.