While other, less talented Jamaican artists get all the hype, Kencot, Jamaica’s Samory I flies under the radar, but shatters the sound barrier with his new album Black Gold (Black Dub Records), a fine collaboration with RoryStoneLove. Simply put, Black Gold is one of the top three reggae albums to be released so far this year (the others being Christos DC’s Tessera and Presenting: Kingston All Stars). Samory breathes new life into the modern roots movement with a set of serious roots and culture tracks brilliantly-produced by RoryStoneLove. Perhaps the most gifted vocalist to emerge from the so-called “reggae revival,” Samory’s voice rolls from the tongue thick and beautiful as the water vapor from the steam chalice.
“Son of David” opens the album in fine style, a classic lilting roots track with modern swagger. Samory comes out of the gate swinging, claiming Rasta as his own in the first verse (“I am the offspring of David, black is the color of my skin”). He takes clear aim at the Jamaican police for their harassment of Rastas on “Rasta Nuh Gangsta” (“Rasta nuh gangsta, you represent the slave master, I’m here to set Jah people free, peace is my philosophy”). It seems that no one is safe when Samory takes the mic as he goes after those in his own community on “Not Because” (“Think because them black them betta than the old slave master”). I dare anyone find a weak track in this set.
Rory Gilligan has truly created a masterful soundscape over which Samory I weaves his tales. Calling on the talents of musicians like Donald Dennis and Aeion Hoilett (bass), Kirk Bennet (drums), Courtland “Gizmo” White (guitar), Franklin “Bubbler” Waul (keys), and a blinding horns from Dean Fraser, Nambo Robinson, and Everal Gayle. StoneLove seems to have the Midas touch as his most recent productions have been nothing if not stellar, and Black Gold is no different. This is the best reggae album to drop in Jamaica in some time – a heavy-hitting, head-knocking, bombs-away modern roots masterpiece that makes almost everything else sound inconsequential. Play this album loud and often.
Black Dub Records is working on a limited release double album that will be released on vinyl later this year. In addition to the album tracks, the double-LP will include vocals and dubs/instrumentals.