Raver Reviews: Mykal Rose 'Sidewalk Steppa' (Foreign Key Records) | MIDNIGHT RAVER
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Raver Reviews: Mykal Rose ‘Sidewalk Steppa’ (Foreign Key Records)

When it comes to career choices you’d be hard-pressed to find another reggae artist who has made more brilliant decisions than Mykal Rose. It’s not just about how talented you are as an artist, it’s about who you choose to work with, and Mykal Rose has hit the jackpot more than once in his long and storied career as one of reggae’s preeminent vocalists. His choice to team up with Sly and Robbie early on in his career gave us one of reggae’s most original and enduring acts in Black Uhuru.

Rose had already laid down tracks with the likes of Niney the Observer and Lee “Scratch” Perry when he entered the studio in 1979 with the Revolutionaries only to emerge several months later with a sound so hard, heavy and original that they filled the void left vacant by Bob Marley in 1981. In 2004, Rose made the brilliant choice to work with a little-known sound system called Twilight Circus run by dubmixologist Ryan Moore. The collaboration resulted in four albums (two vocal, two dub) and a host of singles that represented his best work since leaving Black Uhuru in 1984.

His decision to collaborate with the Bay Area’s Siah Dowlatshani and Foreign Key Records on his latest album Sidewalk Steppa once again places him in familiar territory, voicing over stinging roots reggae riddims crafted by talented producers and players. One of the most self-aware artists in reggae, Rose knows what works best for his vocal stylings and he brings in some usual suspects to support him. Sly and Robbie and Ryan Moore bring the niceness once again, appearing on several tracks with Rose. The title track “Sidewalk Steppa” is vintage Rose with his signature Waterhouse style – the “tu-tu-twek” is in full effect.

Sidewalk Steppa is all live players and instrumentation, a tightly-wound set of ten modern roots reggae tracks with five alternate takes added on as a bonus.  As is the case with many Jamaican artists, the most talented reggae producers are foreign, forcing artists to travel to places like Germany, Netherlands, Spain, France, and the U.S. in order to work with a top notch production team. Dowlatshani is yet another producer on that short list, a very capable producer whose work stands up surprisingly well against the rest of Rose’s catalogue.  Steppa is a surprisingly strong set from Rose and just may be his best work since 2006’s Warrior.

Mykalrose Sidewalksteppa Album Review

Look for a Black Uhuru reunion featuring Rose alongside Sly and Robbie once again! Soon come!

Michael Rose Sidewalk Steppa (Foreign Key Records)
Digital/Vinyl Release
Release date: 5/21/2016


01. Sidewalk Steppa
02. Crown
03. Bad Names
04. Dutty Babylon Road
05. Sorry for the Man
06. You Never Know
07. High Grade Train
08. Chattabox
09. Jungle Justice
10. Shanty Shack
11. Dub Steppa
12. Crowning Dub
13. You Never Know (Moog Version)
14. High Grade (Instrumental)
15. Shanty (Instrumental)




  1. MrQuick says:

    The tracks with Sly & Robbie are songs that Michael recorded over riddims that Siah Dowlatshani asked Sly & Robbie to record for him. The riddims were not made to fit a articular Michael Rose song and there was no “collaboration” or “reunion” in the studio, contrary to what the producers of this album would like people to believe. They are using the Sly & Robbie name quite a bit to push this new Michael Rose album because they know it will help boost the album, but in doing so, they are pushing it a fair bit.

    1. Steve Austin says:

      Not an accurate statement. When the two songs for the album were recorded S&R were aware that the riddims were for a Mykal Rose album. The producers of this album never claimed any collaboration between the parties, just that the song brings back together a classic combo on 2 chunes..
      S&R gave the producers the ok to use studio shots of them in the video for the Sidewalk Steppa video with Mykal. Not sure why using the imagery & names of all parties in a song to promote the album would be considered to be “pushing it”, especially when the album is as good a release as anything coming out in 2016? If anything it helps all parties keep their names out there on a quality product, instead of the constant rehash of old riddims that are regurgitated over and over.
      Albums are recorded remotely in this fashion constantly these days, with artists collaborating across geographies. If you don’t enjoy the resulting tracks comment on that, but not the production process you know nothing about please…

      1. midnightraverblog says:

        One of the best albums of 2016 no doubt!

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