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Sizzla - Ghetto Youth-Ology

Sizzla - Ghetto Youth-Ology

Sizzla - Ghetto Youth-Ology

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Sizzla goes back to basics with considerable success.

Sizzla’s last album Addicted featured trendy Teutonic electro influenced rhythms, plush psychedelic dreamscapes, repetitive love based lyrical conceits and some very shouty collaborations with Spragga Benz. In short, it was the sort of insouciant, experimental, genre busting Kalonji opus we’ve become used to of late.

Now he’s put together old and fresh material for a more traditional reggae set with George Dusty Miller and the Firehouse Crew. Tellingly he’s releasing it on Greensleeves, (issuers of Lutan Fyah’s Phantom War and Chezidek’s Inna Di Road) as part of a two fold modern roots release programme for early 2009 (the new Alborosie is due in the summer).

The loose delivery and pained howls are at a minimum, replaced by the raw punchy deejay and singing fusions of albums like 2002’s Da Real Thing. Another point of agreement with that record is the quality of the songwriting (neglected on some recent Kalonji efforts in favour of texture, mood and eclecticism). Examples include the catchy and uplifting Hey Youths and the serene, Just One Of Those Days reminiscent, What Am I To Do Baby. The lyrics eschew self-aggrandisement for community focus - telling those tricked by Babylon into committing crime to Stop It Right Now and warning governments to be mindful of Taxpayers Money. And there is also a rogue’s gallery of classic rhythms behind many tracks: Joe Frazier on the Obama tribute Black Man In The White House; None Of Jah Jah Children on Future Is Yours; and King In The Arena on Premeditate.

Of course, Sizzla can’t help but inject modernity and quirkiness into proceedings. Opener Jah Love cloaks his controversial falsetto in autotune over jaunty harpsichord style synths. Yet on both this track and the gurgling Open Up The Doors, the device is deployed artfully - reminding us why it first came into use.

How you rate Ghetto Youth-Ology will depend at which end of the Sizzla table you sit. If you’re a supporter of his more opaque and reggae-transcending moments this may strike you as a needless retread of a bygone era. To the more conservative in outlook it should be a welcome return to tunesmithery, the “one drop” and his conscious roots. But if that sounds like you, enjoy it while you can - for Kalonji will be wrong footing and confounding your expectations again soon enough.

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