I stumbled across the music of Jamaica-resident European Reggae artist Alborosie by accident while scouring Spotify for new music, although I distinctly remember only warming to one specific track at the time while I was skipping through from artist to artist. Spotify is both a blessing and a curse for this.
For me, in appraising Alborosie as an artist one of the most essential factors in consideration is the authenticity of the music. A clearly talented songwriter and producer, Alberto D’Ascola cuts a mean tune. Fronted bass and chattering percussion and that ever present ghostly off beat reggae chord-strike; it neither mimics the Reggae legacy nor pushes it too far away. It has authentic originality. The timbre sweaters under a hot sun, and the lyrics tell stories as exotic as Jamaica’s landscape.
It’s a rudeboy town It’s Kingston town
Kingston Town is a song that hands out a reality check. Behind the texture of sounds created to draw the listener into the experience, the lyrics tell a place of hardship and survival, of danger and violence. The simplicity of the song’s musical construction gives it a sparse slow-marching continuity, which Alborosie’s chanting proclamations fall in step.
I’ve added lyrics underneath the video, which might help the uninitiated decipher a few of Alborosie’s astute observations. I couldn’t understand the Jamaican Patois at first either, but it gets easier with a wider listening of Reggae.
Some man have no money and steal try fi beg a thing
If you no drop no green, a straight up dissing thing
Sound a bun(block)traffic it’s a slow riddim
Jay-z have a move rough, Dem buss di M-16
Some man a drive out pon dung dem have di latest thing
Machine fit inna dem jeans a show off girls and bling
Smell of marijuana round di corner dem juggling an
One mad man gettin frustate outta di garbage bin hey…
This a di gun land, blood run cool pon the white son
Concrete a bun baton path hope your teen but
Babylon bwoy them till a youth, and one whole woman no chance
While a next set a monster di ratatatantan
Them dig more grave than rooms up a Hilton
Small community, get what shoot by a blood star
Every weekend same routine, what you function
push them call more dead than 9/11 destruction, hey..
Di gal dem pants tight like rubber suite
And a dem blows one tidy sum dem do perfect boobs
Dem always a smile if you go bear di isle
Dem gonna play you one trick if you a mamas bwoy
It’s a tough man town, theres no crown and no throne, It a go,
lick you down, With a,dancehall sound
If you a stranger and you’re drive, make sure you know the route
You don’t wanna get salute by a, gun dispute
Two seemingly similar albums above, except that the one on the right is a more recent USA edition, which also features songs from the earlier EP ‘Kingdom of Zion’. Notably the song ‘America’ which was track #1 on the former release appears much later in the USA edition. I bet some marketing bodies were involved with that decision, as the song itself is less than complimentary about American ‘Foreign Policy’, and given this is Reggae -aka rebel music- rightly so.
America come to fyah(fire) di big gun
I and I see di old church bun(burn) down
America trick we and go all ways from di truth
I and I behind Jesus suit
stars and stripes nuh is not my salvation
dem want fi globalize di world
wid di americanization
uncle son Barry Johnny inna Vietnam
dem waan go Barry Johnny again inna Afganistan
Alborosie began his music career releasing singles, culminating in the Soul Pirate release. Another short set of much more commercially aware singles followed in the Kingdom of Zion EP. Escape to Babylon being Alborosie’s first studio album.
Check out Alborosie tracks on We7. Mek sure fi buy after yuh try!
Any other Alborosie fans out there feel free to shout up in the comments. I’ve yet to meet another fan, outside of social networking sites such as last.fm. I personally can’t wait to hear his next studio release, which going on recent interviews will be something with a big sound and taking his music to the next level: Alborosie interview on JahWorks.org.
* The title of this post is taken from the song Sound Killa, featuring the lyrics “Alborosie tell the people, Ring the Alarm, Another song is dying”, featured on the album Soul Pirate.