Chuck Fenda The Living Fire

Chuck Fenda The Living Fire

Chuck Fenda is a rebel in his own country, at least since his single "Gash Dem” got banned from Jamaican radio last year for its assurances that Jah would cut and burn badness out of society. The controversy sparked track three of this disc, "Freedom of Speech,” with videos for both songs included, and the "Poor People Defenda” has redoubled his efforts to metaphorically "burn down” Babylon throughout The Living Fire. Fenda’s forceful singjay style gives many of these tracks an aggressive righteousness, especially given that the riddims are heavy and stark — ragga style — but with a roots vibe adding a certain warmth, thanks to many a live musician contributing. Of particular interest is "Long Road,” a song whose bass line is so large it deserves its own zip code, and "Gwaan Plant,” a smoking nu-roots tale of Rasta agriculture that samples John Holt’s "Police in Helicopter.” In contrast, however, some of the lighter material feels out of place, such as a duet with Cherine Anderson ("Coming Over”) and a shaky sparring with saxophonist Dean Fraser ("Put it on Me”). (Greensleeves)