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I-Octane - Crying To The Nation

I-Octane - Crying To The Nation

I-Octane - Crying To The Nation

By on - 2 comments

I-Octane considers himself a brand as well as an artist – and this record maintains his brand values.


I-Octane - Crying To The NationThus far, grainy-voiced singer-deejay I-Octane has built his upwardly-mobile career trajectory on a mass of simultaneously-rotated singles, periodic EPs, cross-brand multiplatform tie-ins and explosive live shows. Finally his official debut album (not counting Japanese Koyashi Kaikyu release 'Thank You Father') is ready - having been completed too late for the original September 2011 issue date.

Overseen by Shaggy impresario Robert Livingstone and distributed by VP records, it’s very much a "proper album" in that it most of it was laid down in an intensive one month period. It’s also a fairly lavish event with high production values, fusing digital dancehall synths with live instruments (often played by members of C-Sharp band) to create a hybrid sound suited to I-Octane's wide-scoping biddable vocal talents. Livingstone and Paul Cashflow Mitchell take the lion's share of producers credits, with engineers including marquee names Shane "Jukebox" Brown and Tippy of I Grade Records. With his multiple backers (Livingstone's Scikron Entertainment, VP, and Destine Media) and big budget (in these low fi times) the business-savvy Byiome Muir must know the pressure is on for this to be a success.

And in artistic terms, for a debut, it is. A big strength is that - bar proven hits like Lose A Friend and unusually candid herb anthem Puff It - much of this material is fresh. Yet despite being recorded under the clock little feels thrown together. Roots, pop hooks, and cyber dancehall elements are blended in a way that, oddly, recalls Gentleman’s last longplayer 'Diversity' in overall sound. The one-drop reggae-based tracks are particularly strong. First single, the Christopher Birch helmed L.O.V.E. Y.O.U. combines catchy sweetness and crafted simple lyrics with a propulsive mid-70s-inspired drumbeat belied by its slushy intro. All We Need Is Love (produced by DJ Frass) with friend and tour-mate Tarrus Riley is arguably one of the greatest message songs either man has committed to hard drive. Dean Fraser's Vanity Will Come and TJ Records' System A Beat Them are tightly wound minor key roots laments of quality - even if fans of pre dancehall reggae who refuse to accept the latter's significance may struggle with their, at times, futuristic instrumentation. As dancehall artists such as Busy Signal and Mr Vegas are making one drop albums, I-Octane offers a halfway house, with some tracks sitting so neatly in between that "Jamaican music" is the best description to hand. The pace sags in places (perhaps trio of ballads Once More, Master's Plan and Lose A Friend could have been broken up) but everything feels part of a cohesive whole.

I-Octane considers himself a brand as well as an artist – and this record maintains his brand values. Whether he conquers the globe (as the name of his production company suggests) or reaches status akin to Bob Marley or Shaggy (as he hopes) rests on the vicissitudes of fate. But 'Crying To The Nation' has enough memorable songs to send him further on his way.

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Read comments (2)

Posted by joe okech on 02.15.2012
A good album though the artist since the artist is nearly on every new riddim it hardly listens as new material but as a compilation. Safe fate like Tarrus Riley. They should not be putting songs that have appeared on riddims on their albums.

Posted by Camille on 02.15.2012
From what I know, 10 of the 16 songs of the album were never released before.

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