Sizzla Bobo Ashanti

Sizzla is among the very best reggae vocalists of the last 20 years. He can do it all, write, DJ and sing, and he has been prolific in doing so. Producer Philip "Fatis" Burrell is the perfect match for Sizzla's talent. Unusually, he helms the entire album and is really able to stretch out stylistically over these 13 tracks. This guy excels at straight up dancehall, roots and dub (one of the few Jamaican producers currently doing so). The team gets things cooking immediately - the first few notes of the dub-wise opener, "The World," will have you going, "Ahh, yeah." From there, Burrell throws in subtle and well-blended R&B and hip-hop accents that never seem fake, confirming his rep as one of the great producers of today. He has a mature sound in the great Jamaican tradition of absorbing and transforming the influence of American music. Sizzla commands each track with his righteous declarations of his faith and always seems to be coming up with new vocal tricks. The greatest joy of this album is that it has crossover appeal without any of the usual concessions of pasted-on guest stars or remixes. The strength of the rhythms, production and lyrics should interest anyone into "urban music." Perhaps there is a lesson for other Jamaican stars (and record companies) to be learned: give artists the space to do the things that made them great in the first place, without resorting to the gimmicky presence of inappropriate outside guests. (Greensleeves)