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Junior Kelly - Piece of the Pie

Junior Kelly - Piece of the Pie

Junior Kelly - Piece of the Pie

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A base of familiar all natural nutritious roots music filled with scorching lyrical content.

Sampler

Junior Kelly - Piece Of The PieJunior Kelly describes himself as a perfectionist. “I'm really critical of my work” he said back in 2010, “It keeps me hungry.” This may explain why, when Sizzla is announcing his 70th album, the lanky, late blooming Rasta rebel is bringing out his 10th. Yet despite portions being known to singles buyers, 'Piece of the Pie' is worth the wait. And with Jamaica now publicly acknowledging its live roots revival, his timing is perfect.

Previous effort 'Red Pond', released in 2010 on the tail of the Gully and Gaza era included forays into autotune and commercial hip hop sounds – and whatever the “not on my watch” forum fanboys might say, these were executed well. This record goes back to the rootsier template of 2005’s patchwork of European and Jamaican productions 'Tough Life' - with a more unified project feel.

'Piece of the Pie' is produced chiefly by Anthony Senior of Al.Ta.Fa.An. Records, who helmed Kelly’s Queen Ifrica combination Too Late, which appeared on 'Red Pond'. The rhythms here are played mainly by the same musicians as worked on Pond; the Firehouse Crew, but with a less over-produced quality suited to Kelly’s gritty rockstone-deejay-meets-crooning-singer’s voice. The horns are smooth yet never saccharine, and although there could be extra bass in the mix, this is true of most reggae since people started playing music on their phones.

All the components of classic Junior Kelly are here. He is still the master of breaking into fast chat on a slow rhythm without it sounding strange. Lots of Herbs on a hip hop patterned sample of Ras Michael None of Jah Children picks up where How Better Ah Go Come (on Java) from 'Red Pond' left off. The socially just title track continues Kelly’s romance with Afro Latin music (e.g. Ease My Pain on 'Tough Life' and Running From The Law on 2003’s 'Smile'). The kinship between Cuban and West African polyrhythms results in an almost Afrobeat sound.

Many of these sides have been issued before while some of their rhythms – like Addicted To Music and Security - have been around since 'Tough Life' came out nearly ten years ago. But as Junior sings, “Man a rock. To stand the test of time” and such ageless sounding backings possess plenty of life in them still. If ever an album summed up the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” this is it.

And there is evolution in evidence. Kelly breaks into a fleeting Sizzla style falsetto on Bun Babylon. His preoccupation with Satan as oppressor – marshalling corrupt politicians, police and soldiers – is even more pronounced. His combination partners are European up-and-comers (Smiley) or Jamaican refusers to play the industry game (Mark Wonder) rather than huge names.

In colonial times, homesick invaders would request that local cooks make their favourite dishes from indigenous ingredients. But they often found these variations on their comfort food far fierier than they expected. Built upon a base of familiar all natural nutritious roots music and filled with scorching social and romantic lyrical content, this is the kind of pie Junior Kelly has served.

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