Alborosie’s ‘Freedom & Fyah’ (2016)

Alborosie’s long-anticipated follow-up to 2013’s Sound the System has finally arrived. Freedom & Fyah is a ruff and rugged musical escapade through the grime and gutta of Kingston, JA, the place Alborosie calls home. A searing set of thirteen Rasta ragga anthems, the album features collaborations with the likes of Protoje, Kymani Marley, Sugus, and Roots Radics.

Alborosie is one of the most innovative and dynamic producers and performers to ever step forth from Kingston Town, a true achievement when one considers the fact that his career began in his native home of Sicily. Albo moved to Jamaica in 2001 to test his skills against the best of the best. As they say “Iron Sharpen Iron” and the rest is history. Albo is one of the most respected figures in reggae today.

There are no lilting lovers songs or deeply meditative Rasta-themed tunes here. Freedom & Fyah is strictly ghetto poetry and politicking – a day in the life of a slum stroller. Albo has the unique ability to bring the ghetto to life with highly charged narratives about the lives of the island’s least fortunate. With a distinct vocal delivery reminiscent of Cutty Ranks, Albo redefines ragga, flowing effortlessly over each riddim. As an artist, he is keenly aware that he is at his best when he has a sounding board along for the ride. For this reason, it is the collaborations which grab the light on Freedom & Fyah.

Although several of the riddims are one dimensional, bordering at times on monotonous, Freedom & Fyah is an enjoyable listen from start to finish with very few weak spots. Albo loses no credibility as his lyricism is strong throughout and his guests step in to do some heavy lifting. A master of the dub genre, it would be great to hear what he can do to bring more life to this set with a companion dub album.

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