King Django Roots Tonic

Roots Tonic is King Django’s ragamuffin cure-all for exasperated reggae fans disheartened with the hip-hop direction of much of modern reggae; and what a tasty tonic it is. Django’s Version City studio — known for everything from reggae to punk to Klezmer — plays a large part in this release because many tracks are versions of riddims from the studio’s decade-long history, and Django has always embraced the Jamaican practice of versioning a song. As such, the album is organic, fun and heavily rooted in the era when natty culture was giving way to dancehall riddims. The cross pollination of these two sounds is what many tracks are based on here but there’s also the addition of the excitement of the late ’80s New York scene — check out the horns on "In This Time” and the lyrics on "New York Neighbors” — and even the current European roots revival. This diversity keeps the tracklisting stimulating and the guest list, which includes Germany’s Dr. Ring Ding with his meaty back and forth with Django on "Rock and Come In,” members of the Slackers and even Jamaican singing sensation Sugar Minott on percussion, giving a cooperative feel to the studio and Django’s solo material. Despite the sweetness in his singing voice Django can be an excellent and forceful toaster and the album’s strongest tracks, like "Fistful a Riddim” and "Lyrics Architect,” let him show off in style and owe a creative debt to that other great New York deejay, Shinehead. (Bacteria Buffet)