Italian born and Kingston bred Alborosie blesses the streets with ‘Sound The System,‘ a raucous album which melds dancehall, roots, and dub and creates a “street party” sound that continues to set him apart from other artists in the game right now. Al is at the top of his game here and no one dare try to disturb his groove. Jamaica extended a reluctant handshake to the Sicilian-born deejay/musician/producer in 2007 when the Observer described him as “Italy’s most authentic and best known reggae artiste.” That’s right, authentic. This writer, like Jamaica, was late to the Alborosie show. Aside from a few choice productions here and there, I had him pegged as just another boring and unremarkable voice in a long line of boring and unremarkable voices in modern reggae. Raver has arrived to the party, and I apologize for being tardy.
‘Sound The System,’ distributed by Greensleeves, opens strong with four “sure-shots,” commencing with the single “Play Fool (To Catch Wise)” which is nothing if not a ruff-n-tuff ragga anthem for the ghetto youth. This tune is pure fiyah and sets the vibe for what will be a wild ride through the rock, an island that Alborosie now calls home. “Rock The Dancehall,”Zion Train” feat. Kymani marley, and “To Whom It May Concern” follow strong and keep the party live. Nice up to Al for never forgetting where the music comes from, hailing Rasta throughout. H makes a bit of a misstep toward the middle of the album with the uninspired dancehall track “Who Run The Dance,” and a vibe-killing duet with Nina Zilli on “Goodbye” but he recovers on “U Got To Be Mine.” He holds strong to the end, giving reggae fans what they’ve been waiting for: conscious head bangers to take them through another blistering summer.
While Al is as agile on the mic as any deejay on the block, switching from ragga to dancehall to roots to lovers as if it were a first language, it is the production that really wins the day here. The riddims carry the vibe and Al dances over them in his own unmistakable style. He rounds the album out with a guest appearance by none other than The Abyssinians on “Give Thanks,” again paying respect to the foundation.
While I admit I was late to the party, I’m glad i finally arrived.