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The Chanting Dread Inna Fine Style

Big Youth

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Album Review

Picking up where Some Great Big Youth left off, or more accurately left out, this compilation gathers up earlier cuts, and thus is a decided improvement over its predecessor. Once again, the set is culled from releases from Big Youth's own Negusa Negast label, all backed by guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith's marvelous Soul Syndicate band. Big Youth toasts over many classic rhythms, although as was usual by now, most have been so stripped down that they can be difficult to recognize. The exuberantly bouncy "Skyjuice," for example, employs John Holt's "Sister Big Stuff," and was also used by Dennis Alcapone for his hit "Teach the Children." Another much recycled rhythm, the Paragons' "Only a Smile," here is re-created as "Dread Inna Babylon." U Roy versioned the song as well on "Flashing My Whip," but in this DJ clash, Big Youth's is far superior. "Mama Look" employs Dennis Brown's masterpiece, "Money in My Pocket," one of several versions Big Youth cut of that hit, and boasts a fabulously loose and relaxed toast, the DJ at his best. Brown's vocals have been stripped from that, but they do feature on "Streets in Africa," where he's backed by the Heptones. (The song itself is a cover of War's "The World Is a Ghetto.") Cool ruler Gregory Isaacs can also be found within this set. By this point in his career, Big Youth was at his toasting best when rapping about cultural themes, and Chanting is stuffed with these cuts. The Soul Syndicate provide a steaming, rootsy backing that meshes perfectly with the DJ's toasts. Chanting dread in a fine style indeed.


Born: 19 April 1949 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A man with a message, Big Youth arrived on the music scene in the wake of U-Roy, Dennis Alcapone, and I-Roy, but quickly established his own style, threatening to eclipse them all. The consummate cultural toaster, the DJ ruled the dancehalls across the '70s, and although his career flagged in the next decade, he returned with a vengeance in the '90s, and continues to have an impact on both his own nation and beyond. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, on April 19, 1949, Manley Augustus Buchanan had his moniker...
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The Chanting Dread Inna Fine Style, Big Youth
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