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Bobby Hustle - It's the Hustle

Bobby Hustle - It's the Hustle

Bobby Hustle - It's the Hustle

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An idealistic yankee debuts with a lilting reggae album.

Sampler

There are large amounts of Idealism and optimism infusing It’s the Hustle, the debut album from Seattle, USA-based singer Bobby Hustle. His easy delivery of social lyrics, ganga-praise, and romantic tunes carries with it a lilting sensitivity. I was lured in and, when the eleven reggae cuts were done, I wanted to listen again. Well, yes, Bobby Hustle’s youthful enthusiasm makes this a notable set of reggae vocals— but the underlying riddims are clear, uncluttered, so full of surprises, and rife with exciting accents and rhythm fills that a big up has to go to Dan Grossman of Dynasty Records and Michael Gore of Loud City for the recording, mixing, and mastering, and to Loud City Productions (and others) for excellent production work.

Bobby Hustle - It's The HustleBobby Hustle came from Bainbridge, Washington and was drawn in to Seattle’s reggae scene. Seattle music is grunge and Teen Spirit, yet the vibrant reggae musicians and one-drop lovers of this music-loving town paved the way for Bobby. Influenced by the far-away sounds of Nesta and of smooth crooners like Garnet Silk and Cocoa Tea, Bobby began to affect a Jamaican outlook in his singing style, pronunciation, and even adopted some patois, conjuring up a kinship to life-arch of Alborosie, not in style, oh no, but in commitment to reggae culture. The result has been the release this month of It’s the Hustle, and reggae is the better for it.

A great song open ups this debut album, Kush Morning. A young man gets up on a really nice day and smokes a spliff and all is well in the world. It’s going to be a good day. (Why not, it’s legal in Washington state.) Sure, it may be an affectation of youth but there is a kind of happy goofiness about the whole thing that coaxes a smile from the listener. Kush Morning dances over Dynasty’s Kush Morning riddim (a single-riddim album is available) with its tinkling bell fill that at times almost feels like a countermelody.

In Cancel My Plans Bobby delivers a very well-crafted melody over another clear and confident riddim. His calming voice is perfectly on key, rasp-free, and carries a sense of positivity that is perfect for this kind of open, upbeat reggae. But after Cancel My Plans comes Inna Rizzla, a song of driven intensity. Bobby is able to handle a really rocking song. The craftsmanship of the riddims on this albums comes through clearly in Inna Rizzla. A beautiful melodica interlude occurs in the conscious chant Life is What You Make It.

Bobby Hustle may be a young man on his way up but he is no stranger to the world reggae. There are a number of his singles out there on a range of riddims. He has traveled with no less that Konshens, Protoje, and Gappy Ranks and has carried the torch of reggae to Russia, Jamaica, and Japan. The great Toronto-based reggae master, Exco, joins him on Defend Them. The two bust some big chops over a clacking stick-driven riddim. And Sizzla himself shines with the dancehall duo bombast on Smoke Some Ganga.

This sweet album is deceptive. Kush Morning isn’t Fort Augustus and it shouldn’t be. And Bobby Hustle isn’t Junior Delgado and shouldn’t be. And though It’s the Hustle is kind and crystalline-don’t be fooled. There is excellence here. This optimism is no plastic smile. It’s the Hustle belies a real competence on the part of Bobby Hustle—but also rests on the creative talent at Dynasty Productions, Loud City, Royal Order, and Bizzarri Music.  

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