Empire Isis Sound The Trumpets

Empire Isis Sound The Trumpets
On her new disc, Sound The Trumpets, Empire Isis reaffirms her reggae roots while stepping up her beat science on an international sound tip. From the get-go, the Montreal, QC-based dancehall vocalist/MC (aka Miriam Moufide AbdelKrim, who works with co-producers Prayon and Awane Jones) sequences these 13 tracks with an eye on multi-level market saturation. The disc starts with the straight up ragga crunk pop of "Get Up On It.” "Brand Nu Style” is crunchy reggaeton electro reminiscent of Santana’s Supernatural-era crossover vibe, and it almost works, except for the wonky paste-on guitar solo. Much better is "It’s About Time,” which is infectiously rugged ragga-hop that channels Sean Paul’s dutty groove while showcasing her Missy Elliot vocal callisthenics. Isis writes and performs everything here, with Jones and Prayon overlaying much of trumpets, and there’s a smooth, string-heavy production sheen that occasionally bangs, clangs and grates. Elsewhere, "Mission” reveals Isis chanting on a M.I.A.-styled sample-as-riddim beat. And it’s brilliant. But make no mistake: this is a reggae album. And reggae is where Isis gets her conscious socio-political lyrical steez on; she learned the roots ropes from old school masters Dean Fraser and Chinna Smith. And furthermore, her duet with Sizzla on the playfully X-rated "Undercover,” where Kalonji backs up Isis with his best falsetto, ends Sound The Trumpets with its sweetest lick. (Monumental)