Toppa Top 12: Twelve Caribbean Albums We Loved in 2016

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2. Akae Beka, Portals (I Grade Records)

Vaughn Benjamin is making music under a new name, but he hasn’t changed the way he does business. The co-founder and frontman of iconic Virgin Islands group Midnite has continued to release his lyrically-dense brand of reggae at a stupefyingly prolific clip in his new guise as Akae Beka. Portals was the first of two Akae Beka albums released this year, followed by October’s Livicated, and, in our estimation, the superior of the two. Benjamin has never left listeners with a lack of food for thought, but musically Portals was one of the most challenging releases to date, adding rock and jazz influences to his typically rich reggae stew.  — Jesse Serwer