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Anthony B - Freedom Fighter

Anthony B - Freedom Fighter

Anthony B - Freedom Fighter

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The best Anthony B album out of Europe since Black Star with Frenchie in 2005.

Sampler

In recent times Jamaican artists have found the propulsive, rootsy but vaguely contemporary rhythms of Austria's Irievibrations a very good fit. 'Born Dead With Life', their album with Perfect, was one of the latter half of the last decade's highlights; 2011's 'Rub A Dub Market' with Luciano was solid enough; and now they have met their match in another 90s veteran - the deejay Anthony B. In a year when Jamaican reggae (the rumours of whose death were always exaggerated) stood up with longplayers by Busy Signal, Tarrus Riley and Romain Virgo, 'Freedom Fighter' is an international collaboration of comparable class.

Anthony B - Freedom FighterStarting with minor key calls to attention and ending with major key upliftment, these crisply-produced, summery horn-drenched roots pieces with tasteful hip-hop ingredients, showcase Anthony's striking voice and evocative lyrical imagery. Only the wordsmith from Trelawny could use the verb "gallivant" in the Soul Rebel-inspired title song and it not feel out of place. There are expansive messages of autonomy (Born To Be Free), community (Same Boat) and positivity in the face of suffering (Cry Blood) that will resonate at both a sound system dance or a European summer festival. Yet despite sounding more genial and laid-back these days, lyrically he is still as much Peter as Bob (who he invokes again towards the end of the record for Defend My Own). The rights of the poor and the abuse of the power of the police are recurring themes. And there is sour medicine for liberal-progressives in his disavowal of evolution during the hip-hop flavoured, library sfx littered No One Knows Tomorrow.

Soul Rebel aside, the Austrians have a habit of sailing deliberately close to foundation backings without fully relicking them. The bouncy Born To Be Free takes elements of Letter To Zion while their now familiar Jungle Skunk rhythm is a simplified edit of the classic BB Seaton/Sly & Robbie I Know Myself (recut by a fellow European fan of Mr B, Frenchie). But room is also made for funky, organic dancehall in single Beat Dem Bad featuring another friend of the producers, Konshens, who has a set with the label in the works...

A quibble with Anthony's albums is that his visceral yet rather unmelodic delivery can sound wearing when stretched across a full length disc. Here this is no issue, thanks to his judicious choice of singing parts and the quality of the production - the vocals softened and not particularly forward in the mix. With his usual strong songwriting and lyrics matched to well chosen rhythms, this is the best Anthony B album out of Europe since 'Black Star' with Frenchie in 2005.

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Posted by isaac imedi on 05.25.2012
I'm in lov with this boy.

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