via The Guardian
Prince Buster - Hard Man De Dead
People like to think that the old-school reggae dudes were all peace, love and rum punch, but the reality is they were grinding just as hard as today. Prince Buster was battling with guys like Duke Reid and Leslie Kong. Nobody could kill Buster’s sound.
John Wayne - Call The Police
Artists had been copping names like Clint Eastwood for years, but John Wayne is the most uncool western guy you could name yourself after. His voice and delivery are so cool that you’re sold after the first “It’s a robbery!” One of the million good ones on the Sleng Teng riddim.
Ranking Dread - Superstar
Ranking Dread had an amazing run of tracks in the early-80s with Superstar and Fattie Boom Boom. Apparently this guy also has a crazy crime history in Jamaica and the UK and was once called “the most dangerous foreign national in Britain”. There’s a couple of albums worth of smashers.
Don Carlos - Laser Beam
The original Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Do. This is Don Carlos’ smooth reaction to all the gun tunes in the mid-80s. They got the right combination of melody and laser sound effects on here and there’s just something extra bad about mellow Don Carlos saying “pass me the laser beam”.
Jah Thomas & Barrington Levy - Moa Ambessa
This soundsystem tribute/clash tune is a cult classic that needs to be dug up more often. Super tough riddim from Black Kojak (he looked like Telly Savalas) with Jah Thomas and Barrington just messing around on the mic. You can tell this cut is completely off the cuff.
Sugar Minott- Herban Hustling
I was once told that there’s only four themes in dancehall: weed, girls, “badman” tunes, and “conscious” tunes. When he began recording he didn’t use a backing band, but sang over instrumental versions of old Studio One classics - a tradition that continues in Jamaica today.
Wayne Smith - Under Me Sleng Teng
This track defined a generation of dancehall and Jamaican music: the first fully “computerised riddim”. This track put King Jammy to the forefront of electronic and computerized dancehall and his camp would reign for years to come.
Beenie Man - Memories
Beenie has been writing and performing since he was, like, five. The bassline hits hard and you can’t deny its power in the club - but the double meaning and depth of the track are remarkable. It’s one of those preachy dancehall tracks that I can hear over and over.
Elephant Man - City Lock
Elephant Man is the king of co-opting sounds and movements. This particular track is on the diwali riddim: it’s built on a Indian vibe with ghostly handclaps and single kick pattern. A city anthem based on the tune of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons - and evidence that Jamaica doesnt live in a bubble.
Ricky Blaze - Cut Dem Off
Ricky is a Major Lazer collaborator, a kid from Brooklyn who can turn on and off his patois even though he’s only been back to Jamaica once in his 20 years. This is a self-named “trancehall” track co-opting a popular dance that didnt have a tune yet and making a melodic synth tune.
You can pre-order the new Major Lazer album Free The Universe on iTunes now! Featuring guest spots from Santigold, Flux Pavilion, Peaches, Bruno Mars, Shaggy, Wyclef Jean & Ezra from Vampire Weekend plus heaps more it’s set to be one of the more interesting albums of 2013.