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Marshall Law

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Album Review

When hip-hop draws influences from reggae, it is almost always enriched. When reggae draws influences from hip hop, it is almost always impoverished. This isn't because hip hop has nothing to offer reggae — it's just that reggae artists seem to be poor judges of what's worth stealing from hip hop. For example, reggae does not need hip hop's dumb, chest-pounding intros ("This is not a game! This is not a game!"). Nor does it have anything to learn from a rappers' tendency to go on and on about how rich they are (memo to Wayne Marshall: no one cares what kind of SUV you drive). What hip hop does have to offer is slamming beats, and to Wayne Marshall's credit, he knows how to make use of them without losing sight of the reggae verities. So "Ghetto People Song," a nice combo track featuring Assassin and Warfare, offers a smooth, dark fusion of Jamaica-flavored chatting and minimalist, hesitation-step R&B beats; the relatively rootsy "Captain" finds Marshall singing over a one-drop beat, old-school style; and on "Purple Skunk" he gets wistfully horticultural over a complex and churning dancehall beat. Perhaps most interesting of all is the faux Nyahbinghi drumming on "Beautiful Morning," which may be a first for dancehall reggae. A few more King Jammys' beats would have enlivened things a bit, but overall, this is a solid effort from a major young talent.

Marshall Law, Wayne Marshall
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