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Montego Bay

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Album Review

The number of female reggae artists has increased since the 1970s, but many of them are crossover artists with a slick, ultra-commercial approach; not many of them are expressing a decidedly Rastafarian point of view. But one female reggae artist of the 21st century who could honestly claim to be following in the footsteps of Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths is Ventrice Morgan, aka Queen I-Frica, whose Montego Bay makes no secret of her Rastawoman perspective. A few of the tracks venture into lover's rock territory with pleasingly romantic results, including "In My Dreams" and "Far Away." But all things considered, this 2009 release is roots reggae rather than crossover reggae — and the Rastafarian point of view is alive and well on sociopolitical offerings such as "Lioness on the Rise," "Calling Africa," "Streets Are Bloody," and "Coconut Shell." Comparing I-Frica to Marley and Griffiths isn't to say that the Montego Bay native is trying to be a carbon copy of either of them. I-Frica, who favors a gruffer vocal style, is much more dancehall-minded, and she does a considerable amount of toasting on Montego Bay; in fact, it's safe to say that I-Frica is as much of a toaster as a singer. But she avoids the hedonistic, thugged-out gangsta rap imagery that was so prominent in dancehall in the '90s and 2000s, and her lyrics are clearly indebted to old-school reggae's dreadlock Rasta/one love/i-ital aesthetic. Everything on Montego Bay is memorable, but if one track stands out more than any other, it is the hit single "Daddy" — a sobering tale of incest and child molestation. Montego Bay contains the popular English-language version of "Daddy" as well as a Spanish-language version, which uses a different track and has more of a salsa influence; inglés o español, "Daddy" is a powerful, disturbing gem of a song. But again, everything is memorable on the consistently rewarding Montego Bay.

Biography

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Jamaica's Ventrice Morgan, aka Queen Ifrica, is a popular singer/toaster known for her dancehall-influenced style. Like some of the neo-soul singers who have been affected by both classic soul and hip-hop, Ifrica has been greatly influenced by reggae's classic era (the '60s and '70s) but also has a strong appreciation of the more modern dancehall recordings of the '90s and 2000s. Ifrica, however, has steered clear of the hedonism, gun talk, and gangsta imagery that have been common in dancehall;...
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Montego Bay, Queen Ifrica
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