Artists do it all nowadays. They run their own labels and management companies, develop in-house talent and, apparently, produce riddim albums. By sheer luck or coincidence, this week, two of reggae’s most recognizable figures, Buju Banton (a.k.a. Gargamel), and Ghetto Youths International (a.k.a. The Marley Brothers), have both announced their impending riddim albums, featuring multiple artists on the same backing track.
Buju’s Gargamel Music, Inc. will release Buju Banton Presents: Excalibur Sound Vol. 2 - Smile, scheduled to hit stores in the US and Canada next Tuesday, July 24. The riddim recalls the positive vibes of Studio One and features an amazing lineup of artists, including Gargamel Music's own New Kidz (on the title track) and Mitch, plus Anthony Cruz, Jah Cure, Tony Curtis, Lutan Fyah, Anthony B, and a fierce collaboration between Buju Banton and dancehall dynamo Sizzla, titled "All Shall Be Well." Preview tracks are available at the Gargamel MySpace page.
Meanwhile, Damien Marley and fam the Ghetto Youths Intl. have linked up with rapidly rising producer Trevor “Baby G” James (son and protégé of Lloyd “King Jammy” James) to create the Gang War riddim album. The release features eleven versions from fourteen of dancehall’s biggest names, including Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, with his metaphoric “One Loaf of Bread (Something for You);” and two of the hottest newer hands in dancehall, hardcore singer Mavado and three-man vocal threat Voice Mail, joining Vybz Kartel.
The compilation is rounded out by cuts from Elephant Man, Bounty Killer, Sizzla Kalonji, and Wayne Marshall. The riddim has been described as “symphonic, with propulsive drumming and a repeating woodwind hook.”
Run by Stephen and Damian Marley, along with brother Julian, the Ghetto Youths International label is currently prepping albums by reggae singing sensation Javaughn and world-renowned rapper Mr. Cheeks. Gang War is in stores now.