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Album Review

Josey Wales didn't change his style much after he scored his biggest hits at King Jammy's. Rulin' is evidence enough that it really doesn't matter. Anyone who has listened to Yellowman's or Eek-a-Mouse's strongest early-'80s albums will recognize the rhythms. Without new rhythms to play over, Wales put all the responsibility on himself to make an album worth listening to. "I'm Rulin," "Mek Wi Rock," and "Mi Life Story" show he still has the skill to use any rhythm to create worthwhile tracks. Wales uses melody to give the rhythms new life and distinguish them from tracks that used the rhythm previously. "Natty" is the only track that sounds truly derivative. The album is really a throwback to the early-'80s DJ style made popular outside of Jamaica by Yellowman. Although it's a throwback, Wales doesn't appear to be taking the tracks any less seriously. They are well-crafted reggae songs that represent a distinct sound from a distinct era in reggae music even though they were made 20 years later. Rulin' is a surprising album that shows that Wales' skills have yet to erode. The tracks walk through all of the common topics in reggae music, but Wales has something to add and is able to the ideas on display in a fresh way. Rulin' comes out of nowhere and seems entirely wrong outside of the context of the early-'80s Jamaican DJ scene. Fans of the style will appreciate that Wales has stuck with the style and still manages to add something more to it.


Born: Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

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

Josey Wales was one of dancehall's founding fathers, building on the innovative DJ chatting of his mentor U-Roy and creating a highly influential style of his own. Along with Brigadier Jerry and his sound-system partner Charlie Chaplin, Wales was widely regarded as one of the best DJs in Jamaica when dancehall took over the reggae scene in the early '80s. His gruff, gravelly voice and half-spoken, half-sung delivery were instantly recognizable, and were copied by many an up-and-coming DJ. Unlike...
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Rulin', Josey Wales
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