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Sizzla Ghetto Youth-ology Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Goes back to the sounds of the early 'zeroes' with some success.

Angus Taylor 2009

After the heavy beats, psychedelic love songs, electro rhythms and shouty combinations of 2008's Addicted, Sizzla Kalonji has assembled a more conventional reggae album. Ghetto Youthology, for George Dusty Miller with the Firehouse crew, goes back to the sounds of the early 'zeroes' with some success.

That said, it makes an uncharacteristic start. Jah Love sets Kalonji's divisive falsetto, audibly autotuned, over curious harpsichord style synths. Even so, this well crafted tune reflects the album's tendency towards catchy hooks and conscious lyrics.

Sizzla puts aside self-regard and sex for words with a community focus. During Stop It Right Now he tells petty criminals to do exactly that; for Tax Payers Money he warns governments to be wise with their budgets.

The songwriting chops are best illustrated by the ultra-positive Hey Youths and the dreamy What Am I To Do Baby, both of which sound like they could have come from 2002's highly regarded Da Real Thing.

Perennial rhythms also abound: Joe Frazier (on Black Man In The White House), None Of Jah Jah Children (revived 45 Future Is Yours) and King In The Arena (Premeditate).

The strained yowls are for the most part replaced by the punchy singer-deejay delivery of old. However this isn't a roots retro release by any means: there's autotune on two tracks and some egregious use of fake brass and strings.

Sizzla became reggae's new favourite son and celebrity representative of the bobo Ashanti rasta movement in the 1990s; changing the face of Jamaican music with his unusual flow and harsh mid range voice.

He has courted controversy over his homophobia, flirtations with gangsterism and slackness, and changes to his singing style. This album may seem a little pointless to supporters of his later more experimental work but will please fans of traditional roots music a great deal.

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