Raver's 16 Best Reggae Albums of 2016! | MIDNIGHT RAVER
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Raver’s 16 Best Reggae Albums of 2016!

Akae Beka Portals

Although there were plenty of solid releases released this year, there was only one that truly caught my ear and kept it all year.  Much of what we are getting now, even from our  favorite artists, is a brand of formulaic reggae that is neither original or noteworthy – just words and sounds with very little power.

Akae Beka’s Portals, a collaboration between Vaughn Benjamin, producer Laurent “Tippy-I” Alfred, and the Zion I Kings [ZIK] band (led in part by bassie David “Jah David” Goldfine) is not only the year’s best reggae album but also the best-produced and most notable effort from Zion I Kings yet.  Portals sound is certainly “digital ancient” – a signature sound which has evolved over the past ten years as the result of the collaboration between Alfred, the Lustre Kings (Corrin Haskell and Andrew ‘Moon’ Bain), and Zion High Productions (David “Jah David” Goldfine, Ras Elliott and Quashi).

Guitarist Padraic Coursey is stellar on Portals. His brilliant guitar work is interwoven almost intrinsically with Benjamin’s commanding vocal. His guitar work is an essential element to the sound created on the album, which is unlike any sound I’ve heard in roots reggae. While Benjamin and Tippy-I shine bright as diamonds on the album, it is Coursey who comes through for the heist, creating atmospheric soundscapes through which Benjamin spins his street tales. Coursey, who owns Aqua Sounds Studio in Christiansted, USVI, uses his guitars in ways we do not expect – it is the sort of experimentation that most producers would frown upon, however, Alfred allows Coursey the freedom to create these strange and mysterious soundscapes which ultimately makes Portals a modern reggae album for the ages.

Padraic Coursey single-handedly redefines the role of the lead guitar in reggae. His experimentation with heavier rock riffs and abstract atmospherics is something entirely new to reggae. I hate to draw comparisons but his guitar work on this album is reminiscent of the soundscapes that U2 guitarist The Edge crafted for 1987’s The Joshua Tree, especially on songs like “Bullet The Blue Sky” and Exit.”

You simply cannot talk about the brilliance of Portals without discussing Coursey’s guitar work. Portals proves that roots reggae is not only alive and well but that there are still yet new frontiers that have yet to be explored.  And that is why I chose Akae Beka’s Portals as the best reggae album for 2016.

Here are fifteen additional albums that I also like in 2016…

Clinton Fearon – This Morning

That unmistakable voice from The Gladiators returns with yet another

Zion I Kings – Dub In Style

Various Artists – Silly Walks Discotheque’s Smile Jamaica

Tippa Lee – Cultural Ambassador

Jah Works – Believe

Various Artists – Lion Paw Riddim

The Viceroys Meet Lone Ark – Memories Showcase

Various Artists – Royal Step Riddim

Various Artists – Kingston 16 Riddim

Mykal Rose – Sidewalk Steppa

Quantic/Flowering Inferno – 1000 Watts

Alborosie – Freedom and Fyah


Ziggy Marley – Ziggy Marley

Raging Fyah – Everlasting




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