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Best of Yellowman

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Album Review

This is the Best of Yellowman? Doubtful; even the DJ's devoted fans would agree. In fact, this isn't a best-of collection at all. How could it be, without the inclusion of a single one of his early Henry "Junjo" Lawes hits? In reality, this set is basically a reissue of the much of King Yellow's 1991 Pow Wow album, Mi Hot, with a few tracks from his follow-up, 1993's Reggae on Top, scattered on top. Yellow Gold does the same in reverse, pulling the bulk from Reggae on Top and tossing in a few Mi Hot tracks. Although the DJ's star had long faded by this time, as fans will tell you, Yellowman continued to release fine albums, Mi Hot and Reggae on Top were no exception. Both sets were produced by Maurice "Jack Scorpio" Johnson, with riddims provided by Steely & Clevie and the Firehouse Crew. Over the taut, dancehall backings, Yellowman passionately condemns the latest operation eradications ("Don't Burn It Down"), urges condom use ("Red Light District"), and instructs the youthman on how to get ahead ("Step Up in Life"). But mostly this is a party set, as the King wines up the ladies, plumps up his reputation, and gets "Everybody Bawling" for him. As so often is the case with reissues, this set neither replaces the originals nor works well on its own as a compilation. Fans of Yellowman's later works are suggested to check the internet, where both Mi Hot and Reggae on Top can be found second-hand for almost the same price as this compilation. Otherwise you just encourage labels to license the material rather than reissue the full album, a loss for the artist, fans and collectors alike.


Born: 1956 in Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Jamaica's first dancehall superstar, Yellowman ushered in a new era in reggae music following Bob Marley's death. His early-'80s success brought the popularity of toasting -- the reggae equivalent of rapping -- to a whole new level, and helped establish dancehall as the wave of the future. For better or for worse, he also epitomized dancehall's penchant for "slack" lyrics -- that is, casual violence, sexism, homophobia, and general rudeness. Graphic sexuality was his particular forte, reaching levels...
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