Dub Terminator consistently lives up to his namesake, and Dub Toys successfully pairs the Kiwi producer’s reliable low-end theory with a veritable crew of guests. The distinctive bass tone, amped-up yet still well-rooted, serves to connect the ten-track album tonally, while the meaningful topics and conscious lyrics provide a similar sense of continuity and an elevated listening experience.
Da Real Storm’s tough flow fits properly atop the heavyweight riddim, which is structured with ample space despite the intensity. “Live For Your Love” finds the emcee rising above the malarkey, instead staying focused on higher priorities: ‘I live for your love; I-thiopia I’m thinking of; Jah, I live for you love.’ Switching from religion to reality, Anblessnabi’s electro-tinged “Quality of Life” connects poverty to corruption even when the singer switches into Spanish for some verses.
“Babylon Evil” finds Sgt. Juggler making his first of two appearances, bouncing along with the effects, while “One Man Ban” is able to make a more lasting impact behind the catchy chorus and well-driven riddim (featuring Reality Chant). The lyrics sit nicely in the pocket created by the choppy bass, bringing appropriate attention to the dangers of the ghetto.
In between is the sprawling “Survive” from the still-dangerous Conroy Smith, an unexpectedly affecting reflection on grappling with suicide amidst presumed success. A digital stepper production along with Tony Waerea, it frames Smith’s delivery well.
Another legend arrives, the only remix on the album (of Roots&Fyah) with Earl Sixteen’s powerful delivery nearly overshadowing the relatively understated instrumental. A dedication to the Arab Spring, there are wobbles aplenty beneath lines about the importance of redemption for the still-unresolved conflict.
The cries of peace and freedom thematically spill over into Ras Stone’s “War,” the gloss of the vocal not belying the urgency of the message: ‘everything them do is war, just for economic gain.’ Iron Will joins Dub Terminator on the production work here, the last behind-the-boards collab.
Then an on-point melodica joins Jah Red Lion for the sativa dedication “Sweet Maria.” The smoothly-delivered bilingual lyrics work well with the laidback future roots style, a balance of light and heavy. Ras Stone returns for a more downtempo number, “Forward,” setting up the emotive final track from Jah Red Lion. Winding down the album, “Bella Africa” lets the guitar glide along an R&B-infused vibe.
A nice range of work from the reliable Dub Terminator, who shows his recent Kiwi collaborations and forays into Spanish-language reggae music are serious bass business indeed. Dub Toys, out now via Soul Island, is at its best when the lyrics hit as hard as the riddim.
The Groove Thief
.the future of dub is the present.
Reviews // Facebook // Soundcloud // Mixcloud
Featured in the South China Morning Post: “Tastemaker”
Featured in Boom Magazine: “Notes From The Underground“