first thing I couldn't help noticing about Macka Bís new release
is the cover design. It is so bad it would make any graphic
designer rip the beating heart from his/her chest. It looks
like most of the bootleg reggae albums that you see being
sold daily on the streets of New York. I want to get my mind
past the artwork, but I kept thinking that I received a bad
demo tape from a first time reggae artist. Iíll just try to
from the U.K. sound systems, Macka B got his start as one
of the top ranking DJís of the time and began recording for
dub music veteran, Mad Professor and his respected Ariwa label.
After a string of number one hits on the U.K. Reggae charts,
Macka B has recorded over thirteen albums to date. The music
production on this album isnít anything original, but remains
strong, pulling its influences from older roots-reggae as
well as the digi-type dub from the eighties and nineties.
Mad Professor and producers Black Steel, Mafia and the Robotiks
piece together some decent reggae tracks for Macka B to strut
himself on, but Macka canít seem to find his strut.
opening track "Power of Mind" starts with a jungle/drum &
bass track, a nice innovation for a roots -reggae artist.
It is a great way to start an album and shows the open mind
of the artists involved. But the problem lies with the vocals.
A majority of Macka Bís lyrics have a socio-political message
with a positive undercurrent. This is a common thread in a
majority of reggae music and should be welcomed in a time
where a lot of dance-hall music cashes in on more violent
imagery. Somewhere in the positive messages and Macka Bís
delivery, I couldn't help but get the vibe of a college professor
or even a Sunday school teacher who decided to get hip and
use modern music to teach their daily lesson plan. The lyrics
are written well, but Macka B tends to establish one vocal
hook and wrap the lyrics around it making the track a little
monotonous at times.
of the album stays within the reggae and dub parameters. Mad
Professor and crew offer some nice EQ filters and delicious,
dubby sub-bass. The production isnít raw like that of the
early pioneers, but more polished like other Ariwa releases.
The primary party foul is the use of a bass line from the
oldie classic "Stand By Me" on Macka's "So Many Things." You
can attempt to use familiar melodies from other songs (though
done to death) but the "Stand By Me" piece only enhanced the
cheesy atmosphere. His songs cover racism, oppression, giving
respect to mother as queen of the universe etc--all topics
I knew would be covered on any predictable reggae release.
But Macka B surprised me with his humor and somewhat saved
his album with tracks like "Christmas Cancelled." This song
has a humorous take on the commercially saturated holiday
and is entertaining because it falls outside of the atypical
reggae album topics. "Santa Claus what a fraud never once
come a me yardÖDonít you see that Santa and Satan have got
Macka B pushes his humor even further on "Welcome The Grey"
when he sings about becoming a silver haired dread, and despite
the social notion that this is a bad thing, Macka has no problem
with it. "Some people say why donít you use a hair dye I say
why/ That is for other people and not for I."
Bís global message is so positive itís hard to tell him the
truth. Its like trying to tell your kids that their school
plays kind of sucked. The problem is that after thirteen previous
albums, you think he would be reggae master of the universe.
Global Messenger is an interesting listen but becomes
as cliché as the cover art.
of the Mind
You Feel Irie?