Welcome to Now Things, LargeUp’s weekly-updated playlist featuring our favorite new sounds from across the Caribbean and the Diaspora. Scroll down to preview all of the tracks, or listen to the playlist right now on our Apple Music channel.
We start out in North London this week with a track that’s been on constant repeat since we first heard it. It’s been a couple years since jungle’s original nuttah Shy FX re-emerged with the vintage Studio One-inspired “Soon Come” (featuring Liam Bailey), promising a full LP of similar sounds.”Honey,” featuring London singer Kiko Bun, makes up for the wait, delivering all of the vibes you’d hope for in a sequel to one of the most refreshin tunes of the decade.
King Jammy’s dropped his New Sounds of Freedom LP last month on VP Records, featuring dub interpretations of songs from Black Uhuru’s classic Black Sounds of Freedom album. This one featuring the Five-Star General Bounty Killer was a standout.
When it comes to dialing into a specific bygone era, nobody does it like U.K. Parly B‘s “This is Digital” is another fine example, a note-perfect revival of the digi-dancehall style of the ’80s.
Brooklyn-based songwriter and singer Andrea Martin linked up with U.K. producer Toddla T and singjay Silkki Wonda to take us back to the early ’90s era of dubwise dancehall riddims and wicked combination tunes — but with a dark, vengeful twist.
No-maddz put out our favorite album of 2015. You should check it out, if you haven’t. For their first new single of 2016, “Promises,” they take a more modern reggae approach, showcasing the talents of singer/guitarist Oneil Peart.
If you can get past the Kenny G-style sax at the beginning of this one, there’s a superb bluesy reggae ballad. Romain Virgo does these better than anybody right now. This one will play for years.
This one actually isn’t new. And it’s already massive — it’s been blowing up Latin radio and charts for months. But it’s come to our attention that many English-speaking reggae listeners, even Ky-mani Marley fans, don’t know “Chillax.” And they should. Puerto Rico’s Farruko continues to break down the lines between reggae and reggaeton.
Farruko collaborator and all-around pan-Caribbean production don RVSSIAN is behind this sleeper tune from Tarrus Riley. RVSSIAN has been at the forefront of dancehall and reggaeton’s recent reconnection, and his Crown Love riddim has a sound that suits Puerto Rico as much as it does Jamaica.
Pulling elements of Dave Kelly’s timeless/essential Bruk Out riddim from 1999, “Only U” is one of several dancehall-inspired tracks from P3, the latest album from Jamaican-Canadian crooner Jaron Brathwaite, aka PARTYNEXTDOOR.
We’re loving this dancehall production from Teflon out of the Zinc Fence camp, producer of early Chronixx hits like “Behind Curtain.”
The Kartel machine keeps rolling on. Vybz has probably dropped a dozen new tracks in the last month alone but “Catch A Fire,” with its ultra-minimal production, is one of the best.
“Alone,” the title track from Trini/UK production duo Jus Now‘s latest EP, is their best track to date, embodying numerous genres (soca, house, dancehall, Afrobeats) at once, and none in specific.
El Alfa is to dembow what Vybz Kartel and Machel Montano are to dancehall and soca: The leader. Everything this dude drops is totally original and off the wall and “Banda de Camion,” which translates to band on the truck, is no exception. Now who’s the first DJ who’s gonna bring this road anthem to the soca fetes?
Back at the forefront of pop music once more, Sean Paul gives us this bashment anthem featuring Jamaica’s people’s champ, Chi Ching Ching, and some Limonious-inspired cover artwork.
We heard this one is a Popcaan diss but with some fire production from the ever-reliable RVSSIAN, the lyrics are almost besides the point.
Speaking of Popcaan, he’s released a ton of new music over the last few months. While the Mavado diss tracks got much of the attention, we’re partial to this summer anthem produced by former Kartel right-hand man, Notnice. This one’s got legs.
This track, featuring chainsaw-like vocals from Assassin aka Agent Sasco, has a manic, mad energy. No wonder French perfume Kenzo chose it to soundtrack Spike Jonze’s similarly bonkers ad for their newest fragrance.
This collaboration between the UK’s Randy Valentine and Brooklyn’s CJ Fly comes from Be Inspired, a Walshy Fire-produced soundtrack for a ski movie of the same name that pairs reggae artists (Kabaka Pyramid, Sizzla) with rappers (Raekwon, Cormega).
Verse Simmonds killed it at our Austin Island showcase at South by Southwest, and this then-unreleased track was a highlight of his set. Turns out it’s produced by Black Chiney sound killer Supa Dups. No wonder it’s dope.
Machel Montano made his acting debut this summer in Bazodee, and now the movie’s soundtrack is out. Of the new tracks featured on the compilation, we’re partial to this remix of “I Forget” from LAZABeam out of the Jus Now crew.
The first music to drop for the 2017 Trinidad Carnival season, GBM Nutron and Fingas Production‘s Vicey riddim picks up where last year’s soca left off, incorporating live percussion vibes a la 2016’s breakout RR riddim. Shal Marshall turns in the best of several performances on “Famous.”
A sleeper hit from this year’s Crop Over festivities (or maybe we just slept on it; Rihanna apparently Snapchatted herself singing it) in Barbados, this bashment soca track (with an emphasis on the bashment) puts a soca spin on the riddim from Super Cat’s “Ghetto Red Hot.”
There is not enough jab jab on Apple Music/iTunes. Grenada massive, you’ve got some work to do. Fortunately we could find one tune from this year’s Spice Mas festivities on the platform, and it’s a master class from the master of jab jab, Skinny Banton.
Jamaican production team Equiknoxx Music have always been left of center with their riddims, but their new LP Word Sound Power is their most unusual work to date. “The Link” might be the closest thing to straightforward dancehall on the album, if you can imagine that.