Walk Like Rasta, released in January this year on Reality Shock Records, hits all my sweet spots. Solo Banton delivers his view on ‘what kind of role a Rastafarian artist should play in the music world‘ (Solo’s words), but with his tounge in his cheek and a sparkle in his eye, and all the skills that nearly twenty years in the sound system industry gives you.

I think Undercover aptly described this album as ‘ruff n tuff’. Solo journeys through his trademark digi-dancehall riddims, brushes some deep roots and playful skank (see Roots Rock Reggae) and rounds off the album with five dubs from UK versionists Russ D and Dougie Wardrop.

Heaving slow drops on the title track keep tings rolling steady, though I can’t help but feel that Walk like Rasta is making a sly jab at Buju Banton’s Walk like a Champion and recent incarceration (though Art pointed out that the track was written and up on Solo’s MySpace long before Buju got done).

My only cringe the album came Mikey Murka’s dastardly use of the autotune (ugh) on Love And Understanding, but his soft lovers voice compliments the track. I’ve put aside my own perspective on the softly delivered anti-abortion messages in both that tune and Empress, given that general Rastafari belief place abortion on par with murder.

Solo is one of my top picks in both live and recorded vocalists coming out of the UK at the moment. His lyrics compliment Kris Kemist’s productions with a constant flow that doesn’t overwhelm the listener, or impede on the beats.  I can’t wait to see Solo Banton live in Aotearoa – yes, I’m manifesting a tour.

Fave tracks on the album include Herb Story, a version of Cham’s classic Ghetto Story; Old Time Something (check out the awesome original low-fi video clip, basically a slideshow of images pinched off the web synched with his rhymes); and Walk Like Rasta.

For further Solo Banton tuff cuts, check out his collaborations with Disrupt (on Jahtari), Riddim Tuffa, who produce a killer-mad jungle version of Kung Fu Masta (We are original kung fu masta/ Just like Bruce Lee but we faster), his live collaborations with Deadly Hunta, and I highly recommend listening to the latest track on his MySpace – Ganja is Good (to the tune of soul classic I Feel Good) for a laugh.

A must for any crate this year.

More info:
Reality Shock Facebook

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